Reducing Tobacco Risks: Individual Choice vs. Imposed Abstinence
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Jody Clarke, 202.331.2252
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, D.C., June 3, 2003—As congressional committees begin to examine the issue of reduced-risk tobacco products, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is urging that all parties keep in mind the fact that adults have a right to take risks. Sales of tobacco products to children are rightfully banned, but adult knowledge of the risks of smoking is assured by mandatory government warnings.
“Attempts to reduce the risks of tobacco products through new products, new tobacco formulations, and new research should be encouraged, not stymied,” says Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel. “So long as such research is scientifically supported, tobacco companies should be able to use it as a basis for product claims even in the absence of full scientific consensus. If government involvement is necessary, then it should be through the mechanism of advertising disclaimers, rather than through bans on either tobacco products or tobacco advertising.”
Anti-tobacco activists claim that reduced-risk tobacco products, such as smokeless tobacco, will only entice smokers to switch rather than stop, and will also encourage nonsmokers to use such products rather than avoid tobacco altogether. “We believe that such an approach imposes an across-the-board lifestyle choice on individuals who are fully capable of making their own decisions,” explains Kazman. “People should be able to make such choices in areas ranging from the cars they buy to the sports they engage in to the food they eat. Tobacco, we submit, is fundamentally no different.”
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CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.