NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 14, 2007

It's not surprising that Democrats Ted Kennedy and Henry Waxman are promoting something called "The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act."  But you'll never guess who else is thrilled by their proposal: the Marlboro Man himself, says the Wall Street Journal.

So why does Philip Morris, maker of the famous Marlboro brand, and other major cigarette manufacturers like the bill?   Many analysts believe the regulation will actually help tobacco industry leaders by entrenching their position further, allowing them to maintain market share or increase it, says the Journal.  For instance:

  • The bill specifically prohibits the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning tobacco products, so some in the industry feel it gives companies like Marlboro and Camel brand a new lease on life.
  • It also calls for new advertising restrictions, which protect the dominant name-recognized brands, according to Dr. Gilbert Ross, a tobacco specialist at the American Council on Science and Health.
  • The bill would prevent the smokeless tobacco industry from claiming that it is safer than cigarettes, the big cigarette makers figure that this will reduce the appeal of smokeless products that are the biggest competitive threat to cigarettes.

Health experts are skeptical of another part of the bill, which would be to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, says the Journal.  Reducing nicotine could have the perverse effect of inducing current smokers to light up more often to get their nicotine "high."  That might mean more cigarette sales and more deaths.

This wouldn't be the first time that politicians assisted Big Tobacco in the name of opposing it, says the Journal. The state Medicaid settlement was supposed to finance antismoking campaigns, but much of the cash has gone to the state budget coffers.  The tobacco companies merely raised their prices to finance the settlement.

Source: Editorial, "Ted and Henry Camel," Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2007.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues