Tobacco is one of the many products in the United States over which there is a large debate raging. Some people within the government and other organizations feel that the sale of tobacco should be regulated or even banned in the United States. Given its enormous impact on the both state economies and the federal economy, there is some reason to believe that it should be kept legal. Those who want to make the sale of tobacco illegal cite health reasons because cigarettes and other tobacco products are so dangerous.
Still, the political considerations behind the issue make it a testy one when someone looks at the overall scene. In Washington, special interest groups make it nearly impossible for the legalization of tobacco to ever be considered seriously. That raises the all important question of whether or not the products should be legal in the United States. Given the widespread economic impact that they have on the American economy, the answer is most certainly yes for the time being.
The primary argument for keeping tobacco products legal has to do with the economic impact that the products have on the economy. Though it is certainly true that the impact is greater in certain areas over other areas of the country, the overall economy of the United States depends upon this product greatly. This is why there are plenty of special interest groups in Washington that are out in force lobbying for the interests of tobacco companies.
The overall economic impact of lessening tobacco sales in the United States would exist mostly on a local level, as the people who depend upon tobacco for a living would have a very hard time recovering from such a move. In general, the farmers who produce the tobacco and the other people involved in the production and sale of the product would struggle to put food on the table if tobacco was taken off of the free market. This is indicated by a United States Food and Drug Administration study that was conducted on that very issue. The USDA came up with the following in their report, which was first released in November of 2000.
The report states, “Public health policies intended to reduce the incidence of smoking-related disease adversely affect thousands of tobacco farmers, manufacturers, and other businesses that produce, distribute, and sell tobacco products. Many tobacco farmers lack good alternatives to tobacco, and they have tobacco-specific equipment, buildings, and experience” (USDA). This means that the people associated with producing the tobacco in cigarettes would struggle to survive. This is especially true for certain areas of the country, like in the Deep South, where tobacco makes up an even greater part of the economy.
Those areas also feature extremely high unemployment rates already, so adding to the problem would have awful economic impacts for those specific areas. There is another side to the economic story, though. Though most people figure that cutting out tobacco will hurt the farmers who make it, they fail to understand the other side of the coin. Smoking costs millions of dollars to taxpayers each year for a number of different reasons. According to research that is readily available, one can find out that taxpayers have to foot the bill for the majority of the healthcare costs associated with cigarette smoking.
In addition, there are the other costs, including homes and other properties that are burned down because of cigarettes. A University of California report on the costs of smoking indicated that these fires cost an estimated $27 billion per year in the United States alone (Leistikow). These things must be taken into account when one considers the financial impact created by tobacco. The cost of fires cannot be completely attributed to cigarettes, though, as human error plays a huge role in causing all fires. Those who would like to see tobacco made illegal have some interesting arguments on their side, as well.
They will always come back to the negative health effects associated with smoking. Though it is pretty much common knowledge that smoking causes negative health effects, there are also interesting studies on the open market to support such claims. In fact, these detailed studies go into what sort of problems smoking can cause for people who do it too much. Health problems are so serious with smoking that people are even warned on the cigarette cartons themselves. This government regulation has had a negative impact on cigarette sales, but despite the warnings, people still purchase cigarettes in large numbers.
One study that shows these things clearly is one done by a Canadian anti-smoking group known as Action on Smoking and Health. In their report, they state, “Indeed, only half of smokers will reach age 65 without getting a chronic condition such as bronchitis, asthma or high-blood pressure, while two-thirds of those who don’t smoke will reach retirement age without such an illness” (Laghi). That reports goes on to list more examples of how cigarettes can affect a person’s health over the long haul. Cigarette smoking causes a host of different adverse health effects, including cancer and heart disease.
These killers are wiping out people all over the world at astonishing rates and even with this knowledge, people continue to enjoy smoking. That is because some of the products found in cigarettes cause addiction to them. Once people get hooked on the nicotine found in cigarettes, it is very difficult to get off of them. Cigarettes and tobacco have been able to survive because of a few different reasons. As mentioned before, the economy is highly dependent upon them. This has always been the case, as well. Even in the past, the economy has depended upon selling tobacco for many states.
In many areas where farming has always been the order of the day, tobacco sales were the primary economic factor in the past. In a way, the American economy has become much more industrialized over the last two hundred years, so the need to sell tobacco has become much less. That does not change the fact that it remains very important to plenty of individuals, though. In the past and continuing into today, there are people that could not and cannot live without being able to farm tobacco. Many of these people are tied to huge tobacco companies, such as R. J.
Reynolds, which operates out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. That is one of the nation’s largest companies and easily the biggest producer of tobacco products. Not only do they have a lot of pull within their given areas, but they also have a lot of pull in Washington, D. C. , where the big decisions are made. There is one interesting resource that people who study tobacco might not consider when doing their research. There is a fictional book that was written by Christopher Buckley known as Thank You for Smoking that was turned into a movie a little bit later.
This book is a commentary on the relationship between big tobacco companies and those people who want to shut down smoking in the United States. In that book, a lobbyist for the big tobacco companies has to fight an uphill battle against those individuals who have control of the government (Buckley). Because this book was based upon real events, it is a very viable resource and one that must be used for discussion in this case. Big tobacco companies have a huge amount of pull in Washington and they are a major player in American politics. This comes mostly because they have a ton of money at their disposal.
This is why the tobacco companies can get away with using their marketing tactics and they can get away with producing dangerous cigarettes, without ever having to worry about the government cracking down. Still, they have had to preserve a very strong lobby organization because the government has done its best to put regulations on cigarettes. This is why there are warnings on all cigarette cartons and there is no marketing allowed that targets children. In a way, these are positive changes that have actually helped the tobacco companies gain legitimacy, which is why they have been allowed to pass by the powerful conglomerates.
There is another very important issue at play that is worth taking a look at. If the country were to make cigarettes illegal, they would be taking basic freedoms away from the American people and they would be taking away decision making power. This is a basic issue of rights that the American people have had to fight. Since tobacco companies warn their customers of the negative effects of smoking, the decision can be made by the responsible adults of the United States. The counter argument to this is that smoking has negative impacts on those people who do not choose to smoke.
Some of these include the economic impacts of rising healthcare costs and second hand smoke, just to name a couple. One important resource to be consulted on this is Second-Hand Smoke, a medical dictionary. In that book that is produced by Icon Health Publications, there is a lot of evidence presented to tell exactly what is wrong with second hand smoke. It goes into detail about how second hand smoke can be lethal in many cases (Icon Health). The debate about tobacco is sure to rage on in the future, especially since more and more people are learning about the negative health risks associated with cigarettes.
Still, there is much more to consider than just the health effects of cigarettes. The politics of cigarette smoking are important and they run all of the way to Washington. The economics of tobacco smoke are also very important, as it is clear that making tobacco illegal would cause many people to lose their only way of making money. Those things, taken into consideration, all combine to create some very complicated discussions on a topic that causes hard emotions.