Stating the obvious

Photo Illustration by Vanessa Martinez / Daily Titan

 

Last week, a federal judge ruled that tobacco companies must admit to the public that they have been deceiving them about the dangers of smoking in both their advertising and package warnings.

There’s certainly something to be said for trying to wage a war on devious corporations that deceive the public, but one can’t help but feel that this ruling is extremely outdated.

It would be a fair wager to say that there’s almost nobody left on this planet who don’t know about the dangers of smoking by now; decades of nonstop bureaucratic hailing upon the tobacco industry have seen to that. One can’t help but feel that this latest ruling is just beating a dead horse.

It’s honestly surprising that judges are continuing to find new ways to press tobacco companies. After the Food and Drug Administration revealed its ridiculously over-the-top new labels for cigarette packs—which included graphics of toe tags on dead bodies and people with holes in their necks—it’s surprising that we could go any further.

Yes, it’s true, cigarettes are addictive and hazardous to your health. In other breaking news, staring at the sun for too long will damage your eyes, and a busy freeway might not be the best locale for a game of Red Rover.

The action that has already been taken against tobacco companies in the past 20 years is more than enough.

How many people can honestly say that they’ve seen an advertisement for cigarettes recently? It’s very likely that every single person reading this article has seen more than five times as many ads about the dangers of smoking as they have actual cigarette advertisements.

Putting a label on cigarette packs that says, “By the way, we’ve lied to you for decades, smoking is actually bad for you” isn’t going to do anything but make people who actually choose to smoke feel miserable. Everybody knows that smoking is bad for you, and yet some people still do it. Anybody who’s still smoking in this day and age is either doing it out of a conscious decision or they are somehow addicted and already know that it’s a bad thing.

Imagine if we started mandating that every can of Pepsi have a picture of a morbidly obese person sitting in a hospital bed, with a warning that reads, “We’ve been feeding you misinformation for quite some time, believe it or not, drinking Pepsi won’t actually make you popular and summon Britney Spears circa 1997 to dance for you.”

For anybody who drinks Pepsi, that would be pretty terrible, right?

Well, drinking Pepsi is a life choice, just like smoking cigarettes. They’re both bad for your health, they’ll both shave years off your life if you overindulge in them, and yet only one of them is being lambasted by the media and the court systems.

The excuse given for this insane abundance of legislation and action against tobacco companies is usually something along the lines of “we’ve got to protect the children!” That’s a noble goal, but you can rest assured that it’s now pretty close to impossible for any children to enter this world and not learn about the dangers of smoking. All of the colorful cartoon characters that told kids how cool smoking is were outlawed before the vast majority of Cal State Fullerton students were even old enough to watch TV.

Even if children were to grow up in house where their parents smoke, they wouldn’t be able to escape the tidal wave of information that we’ve so lovingly prepared for them about how smoking can ruin your life.

Wasting further legislation and effort on tobacco companies seems to be a laughable waste of time in a world that is already about as accepting of it as they are public drunkenness. Perhaps we would do better to spend our time taking action against the whole host of other corporate entities that lie to us on a daily basis, rather than treating one grain of sand on the beach like it’s the devil incarnate.

About Jonathan Winslow

Jonathan is a staff writer on the Daily Titan. Serving as a staff writer of the Daily Titan is a requirement for all Journalism majors.