The Tobacco industry

December 8, 2009
Tobacco products are dangerous to your health. It is undisputed. But does that justify the treatment of these companies? Tobacco became a highly profitable crop until the mid 1900’s when health concerns were raised about nicotine. Yet this is a capitalistic nation and they have every right to sell their product like any other company. Nevertheless, the companies are still looked down on and are constricted by the government.

Tobacco was introduced to arriving colonists by the Native Americans and through trade was spread throughout the world by 1620. It had become the 6th largest cash crop in the world. Tobacco consumption eventually reached a peak in 1963 when it became a health concern. For nicotine is a powerful neurotoxin that is used as an insecticide and is deadly in large doses. Through studies it has been proven to cause lung cancer, bronchitis and many other diseases. In 1965, all tobacco products had to warn that they may be hazardous to your health. By 1969, “may be hazardous” was changed to “is dangerous”. However, since tobacco’s adverse affects weren’t known until the 1960’s, that is hardly the companies fault. Even after that it is still not their fault, it is a worldwide fact. So does the blame go to the companies, or the person that picks up the cigarette?

This is a capitalistic country, the tobacco industry found a product that people wanted and they sold it for money. After all, buying their product is all they want you to do. They in turn prosper from those sales. That is how any business works. Almost anything they do to help their business is likewise beneficial to them. So is raising nicotine levels bad? It’s not much different from McDonalds raising sodium levels or Kellogg’s raising sugar levels. They just want to continue selling their product and bring in more costumers. The same thing goes for commercials yet the tobacco industry is divested from their right to make commercials. As long as there is still large enough of a demand and a profit to be made they will continue to sell it. That is the whole idea of capitalism.

Our government has set up rules and regulations that limit the tobacco industry’s ability to sell. Some are well-founded like not having advertising aimed at adolescents, or having smoking only areas being considerate to others. However others are just unreasonable, like not allowing them commercials which infringes upon their first amendment rights and the taxes are just outrageous. The government takes 54% of all sales of tobacco products, which has so far has added up to $319 BILLION while the manufactures only get(minus manufacturing costs) 6%! Nicotine certainly fits all the descriptions of an addictive substance, so why hasn’t it been made an illegal drug? Well, the government $66,000 per minute off tobacco sales, which makes you question their motives for those taxes in the first place..

The companies aren’t doing anything wrong in a capitalistic nation. My view is simply that the companies aren’t at fault here it’s the person who decides to pick up the cigarette, the government shouldn’t try to control that. After all, if you decide to do something that is harmful to your health, no one is to blame but yourself. For everybody has the common sense to decide if the risks are worth it.

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