You always thought that the leading cause of preventable death was stupidity – and there are certainly examples. But it’s not. It’s tobacco.

So what should be our stance as a nation on this most American of all products, once our largest cash crop and leafily adorning our greenbacks to this day?

From the Wall Street Journal:

‘Big Tobacco, on the ropes politically and legally only two years ago, today faces an acquiescent administration, a Congress intent on honoring the investment tobacco made in them, and a friendlier bunch of regulators – some of whom are more like wholly owned subsidiaries. The crackdowns domestically have subsided and this administration is determined to help American tobacco spread its virulence around the world” — Albert R. Hunt, The Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2001

To remain healthy, the tobacco industry needs to replace thousands of dead smokers each day with new children smokers. The last administration wasn’t sympathetic.  This administration is.

Writes Hunt: “[T]obacco has never had a better friend in the attorney general’s chair than John Ashcroft.”

And, writes Hunt, don’t expect much from the FTC.  “Two appointments at the Federal Trade Commission, under new Chairman Timothy Muris, tell all. Howard Beales is the head of the consumer-protection bureau. He was a George Washington professor and consultant to RJR when he wrote a piece insisting that the old Joe Camel ads certainly weren’t designed to encourage teenagers to smoke. (Of course, Howard, they were aimed at the GW faculty.) David Scheffman, the head of the FTC’s economic bureau, testified that the tobacco companies never schemed to suppress research on safer cigarettes because, being such good citizens, they surely would have wanted healthier products.”

It is truly a grand time to be rich and powerful in America.


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