RICHMOND, Va. — A judge on Wednesday blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing U.S. tobacco companies to put large graphic images on their cigarette packages later this year to show the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit lighting up.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington ruled that the federal mandate to put the images, which include a sewn-up corpse of a smoker and a picture of diseased lungs, on cigarette packs violates the free speech amendment to the Constitution.
full article @ washingtonpost.com
People should be able to smoke if they want to. I don't think pictures will have any effect. However, they should not expect me to pay for their decision. As a doctor, I tell people things about smoking that they might care about. For example, smoking causes small blood vessel disease and it just happens that the penis is full of small vessels. 40% of male smokers will be unable to get it up by age 40. It has also been found that each cigarette cuts blood flow to facial tissues by 50% for several hours after smoking. That's half the nutrition and hydration your face needs. Six cigarettes could starve your face all day. That's why smokers look older. Smokers also have trouble healing bone fractures, get bladder cancer, are three times more likely to get skin cancer, and I've never seen an aortic aneurysm in a non-smoker unless they had collagen disease or trauma. By all means, though, it's a personal decision.
I agree with blocking the requirement. If the wish is to discourage smokers, then beef up the education via schoolhouse health classes. Forcing tabacco companies to put pictures on their products that some might find offensive is ridiculous. If a product is legal and allowed to be sold, there should be NO restrictions whatsoever on the sale of the item (aside from the restriction of sale to minors - which makes SOME sense). Smoking is a choice, and the arguments regarding "second hand smoke" are tenuous at best and barely statistically sound. (see http://craigwestover.blogspot.com/2005/01/reference-full-text-of-ed... for example). As far as smoking being associated with disease "that you have to pay for", I could rant all day. The association of smoking with heart disease is not at a definitive cause and effect level, and the statistics might very well be skewed by the fact that typically if someone dies of heart failure and it is determined that they were a smoker, then the relation between the two is ASSUMED, based on previous studies, NOT on any forensically based proof (see http://ge.tt/9rj6BYE/v/0?c). You have to pay for it? Indirectly only. Any medical cost not covered by insurance (which is payed for by premiums charged to customers) is paid by the hospital. That hospital might receive assistance or subsidies which help defray this cost (e.g. a county hospital, not a private one), but it also goes to pay for every uninsured idiot who may come in to the ER because of their bad decisions - skateboard enthusiasts who don't wear protective gear, teenagers who think jumping off roofs is a cool thing to do, alcoholics (legal) and drug addicts (illegal I know, but still a personal choice) who choose to overdose, and yes, smokers, who MAY have a condition related to their choice to smoke, just like your heart blockage MAY be related to the thousands of cheeseburgers you have eaten or the genes you inherited. This is a free speech issue at it's core. I'm a smoker of cigars, and I'm free to do it. I should also be free, by the way, to drive without a seat belt, ride my motorcycle without a helmet and exercise the freedom to do anything which affects only ME, not you, does not infringe on your freedoms and, yes, MAY be something you find offensive or stupid.
The best reason not to do this is it won't really work that well. Have you read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell? According to his research, a lot of kids start smoking to look cool because they know it's bad for them. A lot of them end up being "chippers" (they only smoke a little bit socially, and can easily quit). I think it was the 3rd episode where they were saying Obama is probably a chipper. There's a specific reason nicotine is particularly helpful for some psychological disorders (bipolar disorder and schizophrenia?). Some antidepressant works similarly, but most of them don't. A lot of people are actually self-medicating by smoking.
Gladwell's solution to reduce smoking is to cut the nicotine per cigarette to a low enough level that everyone who tries smoking will become a chipper instead of becoming addicted.
Ha! Yeah, that's a bad idea for a lot of reasons. You know what made me not smoke? My dad handing me a pack of cigarettes and telling me to smoke up. He totally ruined the forbidden fruit aspect of it and made it seem really pointless. The more you tell people not to do something, the more they are going to want to do it.