The "Quit-Or-Die" Lobby
September 22, 2003
For the past four decades, the anti-tobacco lobby has consistently encouraged the government to issue warnings on the health risks of smoking, and efforts have paid off: Between 1965 and 2000, the proportion of U.S. adults who smoked dropped from 42 to 25 percent.
However, one-quarter of adults continue to smoke despite the well-known risks, and the anti-tobacco lobby rejects attempts to educate smokers about "safer" alternatives like smokeless tobacco.
Sweden, however, has improved public health by encouraging smokers to switch to smokeless tobacco:
- Half of all tobacco use in Sweden is now smokeless, and the country has the lowest level of tobacco-related death in the developed world.
- Sweden has the lowest male smoking rate in Europe: 16 percent.
- Its rate of cancer mortality is among the lowest in Europe.
Furthermore, a study conducted by the European Union found that smokeless tobacco has a cessation effect on smoking: Many smokers quit using cigarettes after switching to smokeless tobacco.
Although smokeless tobacco is not entirely risk-free -- it increases the risk of oral cancer -- it is far less harmful than cigarettes, yet anti-tobacco lobbyists refuse to endorse it as an alternative to smoking.
In February 2002, 39 public health groups signed a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking it to reject the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company's petition to advertise the relative benefits of smokeless tobacco.
Source: John K. Carlisle, "The Dangerous Anti-Smoking Lobby," Organization Trends, July 2003, Capital Research Center.
Browse more articles on Government Issues