Anti-smoking movement’s overbearing approach helps no one

Smoking is bad for you. Smoking will eventually kill you. Smoking will cost you thousands of dollars per year. Those three facts surprise no one, but for some reason, the general population of America is constantly bombarded by taxpayer funded anti-smoking ads. Ads that, more often than not, deliberately use sickening images and warnings that disgust non-smokers, but have no discernable effect on smokers.

Educating children has done its job; it’s now common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, and today 19% of the adult population have made the conscious choice to smoke.”

— Andy Hudlow

Smoking, by its very nature, is dangerous––as is alcohol and fast food; nevertheless alcohol is a widely accepted part of American culture and any attempt to overregulate is vigorously opposed, just as it was in the Prohibition era. American fast food, while regularly attacked by opportunistic politicians for its role in the obesity epidemic, is left untaxed and accepted by modern America. American Tobacco on the other hand is forbidden to advertise in any form except magazines. Every pack of cigarettes is subject to a $1.01 federal tax, not including the state tax that is placed over the federal tax. The high taxes are supposedly there to promote health and fund anti-tobacco commercials.

The new, government funded, graphic TV ads include a man shaving with the caption “Be careful not to cut your stoma,” referring to the hole at the base of his neck that is surgically created when the trachea is too damaged to work. On the cigarette boxes themselves the CDC and FDA are currently planning to feature tasteful images of cadavers, mouth cancer, and lungs lying on a table. These ads that we’ve all come to know and love are funded by the US government’s anti-smoking budget of $500 million. Spending $500 million on graphic ads may seem reasonable to some, but to anyone who knows the value of a dollar, this is a tremendous waste, funded without the consent of U.S taxpayer.

The conception of the anti-smoking movement in the 50s and 60s saw activists trying to inform a largely uneducated youth population on the dangers of smoking, and that education obviously still plays a role today.The percentage of adults smoking in the 60s hovered around 40%. Today, thanks to in-school education, smoking has moved down to 19% of all adults, and has held steady at that percent since 2003. Educating children has done its job; it’s now common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, and today 19% of the adult population have made the conscious choice to smoke. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to change their mind is both pointless and costly.

Ads such as the ‘Demon Awards’ really have no practicality at all, serving only to literally demonize tobacco companies, without bettering anyone’s health. There’s nothing illegal with demonizing television ads––politicians use them all the time––but any negative ads should be done with private money. Spending $500 million in taxpayer money to demonize a company doesn’t keep with the government’s purported image of being focused on the health of America.

We can all hope, that going forward into the future, smoking rates will decline even further. Smoking is dangerous, and no one could rightfully encourage the act of smoking. But we don’t have to encourage smoking to respect the choices and freedoms of others, and not waste hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to influence a choice that, in reality, is none of our business.