Government overreach on cigarette warnings

Government overreach on cigarette warnings

June 28th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

This file image provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on June 21, 2011 shows one of nine new warning labels cigarette makers will have to use by the fall of 2012. In the most significant change to U.S. cigarette packs in 25 years, the FDA's the new warning labels depict in graphic detail the negative health effects of tobacco use. (AP Photo/U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

This file image provided by the U.S. Food...

Should the federal government force beer and wine makers to attach to their products grisly pictures of people killed in drunken-driving accidents?

Should labels on packages of fattening foods have to include photos of diabetics or people who are morbidly obese?

Obviously many people die in drunken-driving accidents, and many suffer from the serious health effects of eating too many fattening foods. But whatever harm the abuse of alcohol and overindulgence in unwholesome foods may cause, those are legal products. So it would not be appropriate for government to force manufacturers of those products to put gruesome images on their packaging to discourage the public from buying their goods.

Well, the federal government has not proposed requiring such labeling on alcohol and food.

But the Food and Drug Administration is going to start requiring tobacco companies to place grisly images of smokers on cigarette packs.

The shocking images include things such as the corpse of a smoker, diseased lungs, and smoke coming out of a tracheotomy hole in a smoker's neck.

Let there be no mistake: Cigarette smoking has awful consequences. It should be vigorously discouraged among adults and forbidden to children.

But tobacco remains a legal product in the United States.

As such, forcing cigarette makers to place gruesome images on their products in order to persuade people not to buy those products is not an appropriate use of government power.