It is clear that businesses have an obligation to inform their customers about their product’s ingredients and dangers. Looking at the case of Rose Cipollone we see that she was a heavy smoker. Her doctor’s had to remove part of her right cancerous lung and informed her that she had to quit smoking. Unfortunately, she was addicted. Her doctor’s removed the rest of her lung that year and she finally quit smoking. She then sued the Liggett Group, the makers of the cigarettes she smoked. The lawsuit charged that the company knew of the link between cancer and smoking in the early 1940’s. The company was found innocent of conspiring with other tobacco companies to hide the dangers of cigarette smoking but guilty on the grounds of falsely claiming its products were safe.
However, things have changed. It is not 1940 anymore, when people were ignorant about the dangers of smoking. Tobacco companies now have Surgeon General warnings on cigarette packs. Unless they have been living under a rock, the general public should have been exposed to enough information by this time when it comes to cigarettes and addiction. Nicotine information is but a click away. Tobacco companies should no longer have the obligation to warn their customers, except if a new ingredient is added, in which case they should be notified. No one is saying get rid of the Surgeon General warnings, but enough is enough! If a person wants to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day, then that is their choice; tobacco companies should not be held responsible.
Let us examine the hype surrounding the supposed danger and addition of nicotine. The Food and Drug Administration tells us that nicotine (the addictive drug found in cigarettes) is just as addictive as cocaine and should be illegal.
“Much of the rhetoric of the anti-smoking movement seeks to demonize tobacco smokers as “nicotine addicts”. In the past, of course, the term “addict” has been generally applied only to mind-altering drugs, e.g., heroin and cocaine. Even alcohol, which is mind-altering, is not generally referred to as “additive”. So, the argument is one of semantics. If nicotine is addictive, so are chocolate candies, pies and cakes, etc. Indeed, if “addiction” is defined as dependence upon some chemical, everyone is addicted, to air!”
Nicotine and cocaine are two different things. They may be just as addictive as each other but they certainly do not produce the same effect. Let us take a closer look at the properties of nicotine.
“Nicotine is a chemical, C10H 14N 2, which is found in the tobacco plant. Anti-smokers are quick to point out that pure nicotine is a poison, used as a pesticide. And it’s true that pure nicotine (a colorless, odorous liquid) is poisonous. What that means is that to kill a 180-lb man, he’d have to drink about 80 mg of the stuff. Many other common substances, however, also have minimum lethal doses. According to the same source, ingesting a gram of caffeine is fatal.
Most of the nicotine in tobacco is lost in the process of smoking. Only a little finds its way into the smoker’s bloodstream. That small quantity may account for some of the beneficial effects of smoking, e.g., improved mental concentration. Strangely, fine Havana cigars, when they were available, contained only 2% nicotine. If, in fact, nicotine is the reason why people smoke, it seems strange that people would pay enormous amounts of money for Havana cigars, which contain so little nicotine.” (Colby, Chapter 11).
Nicotine is quite different from cocaine. Here are most of the effects of cocaine:
“The effects of any drug depend on several factors:
The amount taken at one time. The user’s past drug experience The manner in which the drug is taken The circumstances under which the drug is taken (the place, the user’s psychological and emotional stability, the presence of other people, the simultaneous use of alcohol or other drugs, etc.).
Cocaine’s short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappears within a few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert – especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarily dispel the need for food and sleep. Paradoxically, it can make some people feel contemplative, anxious, or even panic-stricken. Some people find that the drug helps them perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly; others experience just the opposite effect.
Physical symptoms include accelerated heartbeat and breathing, and higher blood pressure and body temperature. Large amounts (several hundred milligrams or more) intensify users’ “high,” but may also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. These users may experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or, with repeated doses, a toxic reaction closely resembling amphetamine poisoning. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, nausea, blurred vision, fever, muscle spasms, convulsions, and coma. Death from a cocaine overdose can occur from convulsions, heart failure, or the depression of vital brain centers controlling respiration.
With repeated administration over time, users experience the drug’s long-term effects. Restlessness, extreme excitability, insomnia, and paranoia – and eventually hallucinations and delusions gradually displace euphoria. These conditions, clinically identical to amphetamine psychosis and very similar to paranoid schizophrenia, disappear rapidly in most cases after cocaine use is ended.
While many of the physical effects of heavy continuous use are essentially the same as those of short-term use, the heavy user may also suffer from mood swings, paranoia, loss of interest in sex, weight loss, and insomnia. Chronic cocaine snorting often causes stuffiness, runny nose, eczema around the nostrils, and a perforated nasal septum. Users who inject the drug risk not only verdosing but also infections from unsterile needles and hepatitis or AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) from needles shared with others. Severe respiratory tract irritation has been noted in some heavy users of cocaine free base.”
How can anyone suggest to the American public that cocaine and nicotine are equally dangerous, damaging and addictive? While they are both allegedly addictive that is where the similarity ends, because the effects of cocaine abuse are rapid and more damaging to more body systems that anything that nicotine could ever produce.
Further, if cocaine is illegal and then tobacco is illegal then you might as well make alcohol illegal again too. In fact alcohol abuse is much more similar to cocaine abuse in that it affects major body systems rather quickly and can produce mental illnesses, hallucinations, etc. As Colby said, “If nicotine is addictive, so are chocolate candies, pies and cakes, etc.” So, many things are harmful and addictive but people do it knowing the consequences. Companies are just trying to run a business. If you buy you buy. I don’t see companies shoving lit cigarettes in people’s mouths. Sure, they advertise but it’s a business and they need to make their money somehow. Companies need to do what’s best for the company. They should not be blamed for other people’s addictions since in the end people do what they want to do. As I stated previously, if someone wants to smoke 3 packs a day then so be it. Companies should not be held accountable.
But why aren’t we trying to make alcohol illegal? The answer is simple: Because the government is making money off of it, plain and simple. Not like in the case of nicotine where the government is losing money paying farmers not to plant tobacco and trying to persuade them to plant other things. The government, in its efforts to stop subsidizing the tobacco industry has resorted to great lengths to exercise its political powers in order to force tobacco companies to allegedly exercise corporate social responsibility, knowing full well that smoking is not a societal ill. It is not an issue that affects society at large, such as pollution or other environmental issues which the government has a full right to interfere in, as it affects all its citizens. As amply illustrated in previous commentaries, it exercises its political might through agencies it controls, such as the FDA to “demonize” tobacco smokers. We see ever day how the media is used to whip up the mob mentality about the evils of smoking, the dangers to our children, etc.
Fredman said it best when he indicated “there is only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engages in activities designed to increase its profits, so long as it stays within the rules of the game which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” (Fredman 432, Chapter 7)
Tobacco companies have been playing within the rules. Its time the government stopped trying to change the rules just to try and stop what they started. Government should have never gotten into the business in general of subsidizing farmers, regardless of the product. If there was no demand for the product, then it stops being sold, plain and simple. This is how it should be. This is what the “open market” was designed to do.
Instead of pressuring the tobacco companies to exercise social responsibility let’s propose to the US government that it exercise some “governmental responsibility”. Stop trying to circumvent the national democratic system of trade just to please parties with special interests. Stop subsidizing tobacco and let the chips fall where they may. Put our tax dollars into real “societal” issues that affect us all and act like the government by the people and for the people which we, as an American society, have a right to expect it to be.