Let's Keep Up the Pressure against Tobacco

By Erickson, Carlton K. | Addiction Professional, September/October 2007 | Go to article overview

Let's Keep Up the Pressure against Tobacco


Erickson, Carlton K., Addiction Professional


For those like me who would prefer to see tobacco products disappear, some heartening news has surfaced. Two reports posted on the Join Together Direct website on June 27 suggest that tobacco companies have hit hard times. One report indicated that tobacco giant Philip Morris will close its 2,500-worker cigarette manufacturing plant in Cabarrus, North Carolina, relocating operations to Europe by 2010. This action is being taken because of declining U.S. cigarette sales.

The other report cited an astonishing decline in advertising by U.S. tobacco companies, with advertising spending down from $932 million in 1985 to just $56 million in 2005. Thus, 2005 advertising spending was just 6% of what tobacco firms had spent two decades earlier. The report added that tobacco firms still spent $13.1 billion total on advertising and promotions in 2005, with in-store promotions such as price discounting programs accounting for much of that figure.

While some would say they feel sorry for imperiled tobacco workers, others would stress that good people can always find good jobs. Picture farm workers in Colombia losing jobs when their cocaine and marijuana crops are dusted with insecticides. Landowners who hire such workers choose to make money from lethal products instead of making a living growing crops that would feed people.

Building momentum

Lest you think I'm being too harsh, pharmacologically nicotine is a highly toxic chemical sometimes used in animal tranquilizers and insecticides. Just because the world has a tradition of smoking tobacco doesn't mean we have to put up with dangerous second-hand cigarette smoke and fetal effects resulting from pregnant women's smoking. All indications are that nicotine has the highest risk of producing dependence of all abused chemicals.1 Non-smoking policies in workplaces and public areas suggest most everyone is getting tired of the products.

We must remain aware that tobacco companies will focus toward other countries where their products are still used. Europe is one destination, although it is only a matter of time until sales there fall dramatically as well (Great Britain, for example, has just become smoke-free indoors). And of course, tobacco companies are still selling a legal product. If the U.S. should ever prohibit cigarettes, black-market cigarettes undoubtedly will turn up, probably at very high prices and with accompanying crime scenarios perhaps as bad as what was seen during Prohibition. …

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