Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tobacco Control and Free Speech — An American Dilemma

An old nemesis of the werewolf sent him this article, "Tobacco Control and Free Speech - An American Dilemma" recently published in the The New England Journal of Medicine. It provides interesting analysis of how the attempts to restrict tobacco advertising in the name of public health have shaped up recently. For anyone with an interest in free speech, advertising, public health, tobacco, advocacy, and democratic societies this makes for a great read.

A few things struck the werewolf from this article.

-Public health officials hate the 1st Amendment and view it as an impediment.

-People assume that their something virtuous in European social democracies where censorship, conditional speech, and state supremacy all kick around the individual. We have a constitution that guarantees us scared rights and has been cornerstone of our civil society since it was founded. The Europeans lack the same sense of history, document, or tradition. This needs to be highlighted and emulating them needs to be avoided like a case of the clap from $5 Mexican hooker.

-Public health officials still hide behind yesterday's "save the kids" argument. This cynicism needs to end. It's dishonest.

-Tobacco companies have ceded too much of their communications authority over the years and are scared to fight back with full effectiveness. They should be able to transparently communicate efficacy of alternative tobacco products as a worthy substitute.

-A commenter posted that there needs to be an unapologetic tobacco company. The werewolf wholeheartedly agrees. The company should be called 6 Feet Under, have three brands Death, Tumors, and Black Spot, the packs should be black, and coffin shaped,  featuring the grim reaper on them, and the slogan should read "this shit is risky as hell and may kill you, make an adult F*CKING decision, and enjoy."It would usher in a new paradigm for corporate social responsibility.

-There seems to be a desire to obstruct communications about these products or else allow the narrow-minded folks at the FDA and health groups to monopolize all information. Information should never be trusted from a single source, especially when the motives are questionable. What ever happened to the free exchange of ideas and allowing room for debate. Instead of launching new studies and coming to new conclusions, there seems to be a dependence of the health officials on yesterday's data and thoughts. Instead of being permanently adversarial, have public health officials ever thought to partner with big  tobacco in way to shape honest advertising, that allows the market to operate in the interest of the consumer, explains the risk, and allows for inter-brand competition?

Those are just a few thoughts on the article. It is a great read. The werewolf can't get over how strange the times we live in are. 

1 comment:

  1. In addition to being offended at the way smokers get treated by the government, I'm also concerned about my booze. What if we have a populist revolution (again) and it turns out our new Tea Party overlords are against imported beer, wine, and froofy drinks? We yuppies shouldn't be oppressing predominantly older and lower-class smokers -- if not for principle, then for our own safety's sake!