Regulating Tobacco

Regulating Tobacco

Regulating Tobacco

Regulating Tobacco

Synopsis

The proliferation of lawsuits against the tobacco industry has had profound implications for American health policy, tort law, civil law, and welfare and social policy. Since the publication of Rabin and Sugarman's Smoking Policy, class action suits, FDA regulation, clean air legislation, health insurance reimbursement, and extensive advertising have brought tobacco to the forefront of national and public policy debates. This collection includes essays by eleven leading public health experts, economists, physicians, political scientists, and lawyers, whose activities encompass Congressional testimonies, Surgeon General's reports on youth smoking, and clinical trials for drugs for smoking cessation. They analyze specific strategies that have been used to influence tobacco use--including taxation, regulation of advertising and promotion, regulation of indoor smoking, control of youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products, litigation, and subsidies of smoking cessation--and set them against the latest scientific findings about tobacco use and the changing cultural and political setting against which policy decisions are being made. In addition to Rabin and Sugarman, contributors include Frank Chaloupka, Peter Jacobson, Robert Kagan, Nancy Rigotti, John Slade, and Ken Warner.

Excerpt

Tobacco policy has assumed center stage in recent years. A product responsible for more than 400,000 premature deaths annually in the United States alone clearly raises a serious public health concern. Yet in our society there is a strong presumption that freedom of choice to engage in risky activities ought to be protected from paternalistic regulation (at least so long as the activities result in no harm to others). As a consequence, it does not follow inexorably that public health concerns require governmental action. Perhaps the clearest evidence in support of this proposition is the lack of any discernible current support for an absolute prohibition on the sale and consumption of tobacco products. Correspondingly, until very recently, the tobacco industry relied, with unbroken success, on this same personal responsibility theme in the judicial forum as the foundation of its defense to smokers' compensation lawsuits.

Nevertheless, over the course of almost four decades, since the surgeon general's famous 1964 report on smoking, a consensus has arisen that governmental intervention to control tobacco use is not only legitimate but essential. Indeed, the tobacco industry itself, in the face of unassailable evidence and public indignation, no longer contests the need to curtail youth access and ensure adult awareness of the dangers of smoking. But there has been and remains intense controversy over precisely what tobacco control policy should include.

There is, after all, a broad continuum of potential tobacco control strategies that lie between prohibition as a proactive extreme at one end and health risk warnings as a minimalist measure at the other. This book is aimed at . . .

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