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While smoking has been shown to be bad for the health of an individual, it is up to the individual, not the government as to what a person may wish to do with the body he or she is given. The tobacco industry employs thousands of people. No one is forcing anyone to smoke, or to drink alcohol for that matter. However, if someone wishes to do these things, that is their personal business. If you designate one industry as bad, why not designate the meat industry, or fur industry, or leather industry, or a chemical company as something we need to eliminate? Isn't this country based on capitalism and on personal freedoms? I don't choose to smoke, but that is my business alone.
I have to concur with other posters, the black market created by outlawing cigarettes would be huge. Most states have already raised the tobacco tax to near-prohibitive levels, with little corresponding decrease in smoking. I can forsee street corners dealers selling cigarettes, and students sneaking nicotine patches into school.
I agree with #3, doing something about junk food would improve people's health more. We have all sorts of campaigns to raise awareness about cancer and so on, to the point that few people realize that heart disease is actually our number-one killer; yet you never see anyone handing out ribbons saying "skip the fries".
I think that Kikie needs to realize that even asking the question is a bit idealistic. It's all about money. Our country was developed based on a free-market economy. The FDA isn't even allowed to enter onto the property of a tobacco farm without advance written permission.
If cigarettes are outlawed, only outlaws would have cigarettes... and there would be more arrests and fines on those rebellious outlaws than ever before. Seriously, we've done this already: Prohibition, anyone? We created an entire crime industry out of nothing simply by banning alcohol, and that crime industry continues today. We would see dime-bags of tobacco sold on school property, just like weed is now, and except for the massive intrusion into our private lives by a suddenly-necessary police state, nothing would change. People want to smoke, people will smoke, and there's nothing you can do about it except to educate and inform.
In an ideal world, there would be no tobacco use and thus no tobacco industry. But, of course, an ideal world is impossible. Attempts to ban tobacco completely would probably only lead to yet another illegal drug trade, with all the expenses and social disorder that would imply. Fortunately, good progress seems to have been made since the 1960s in making cigarrette smoking less attractive, and apparently further such efforts are planned. Perhaps medical innovations will help decrease our attraction, in the future, to all kinds of drugs. In other words, paradoxically, new drugs may help us combat the harmful drugs currently in existence.
Regarding health, society would be better off. The problem would arise with the loss of jobs for those in the tobacco industry. With the state of the Nation now, it would compound the financial crisis.
Sure we would be better off. It would cost us some jobs and some agricultural profits, but we would more than make up for those costs in terms of the health savings over time, not to mention the stimulative affect of the billions of dollars Americans spend each year on cigarettes entering the economy in other ways. My father spent the equivalent of an entire home mortgage on cigarettes in his lifetime, and would have lived better economically without that daily drag on his health and his bank account.
There are lots of things in this world that aren't good for us. Tobacco is only one of many. Instead of getting rid of harmful substances, the government should undertake to educate people about things that are harmful and then let them choose for themselves. There was a time when cigarettes were on the grocery shelves. Now they are behind lock and key at the front of the store and customers have to ask for them. Does having them less accessible make them any less desirable?
I think some of these other posts are correct in saying that if tobacco is declared illegal there will always be ways to get it on the black market. So, it really doesn't make any sense to stop tobacco growers from producing tobacco.
I would say that America would probably not be better if there were no tobacco companies. If people want to buy tobacco product, they should. Moreover, we tax tobacco products. So, the government gets much needed money. Also tobacco companies try to do other charitable and good works. Finally, there is a lot of education on tobacco available for consumers as well as an age restrictions. With these in place, it really is up to people to decide.
Excellent points are made in the previous posts. While the entire world would be better off without tobacco, like all popular substances, there will always be a demand. Like alcohol during Prohibition, or marijuana and cocaine today, people who want it will find a way to obtain it. And, as the previous post mentioned, sugar and transfats are equally dangerous to a person's health, but there is about as much likelihood of banning sweets as there is eliminating big tobacco.
Yes, we'd be better off health wise. But we'd probably be helped even more if the government were to ban fatty and/or sugary foods. I really think that obesity is a bigger health problem than anything related to tobacco. So if the government wanted to ban something, I don't think tobacco would be the thing.
But America would not be a better place. It is better for us to have more freedom rather than less. If people want to use a substance that harms them, they probably ought to have that right. (I know that that argument would hold for marijuana and everything else, but still...) Anyway, I just don't think the health benefit of banning tobacco would be enough to counteract the loss of freedom.
In order to destroy the tobacco industry the government would have to make tobacco illegal. Even then, as with all addicting substances, the industry would survive...only underground. A whole new illegal industry and all the associated problems of enforcement would spring up. True, tobacco use would decrease overall, but at what cost? Plus, what about the legitimate tobacco growers and tobacco companies who would be affected? What would become of them if the government made such a change?
The situation you propose would be akin to prohibition on the 1930's. It had little or no effect on the consumption of alcohol (people drank illegally at speak easies, and drank as much as before prohibition when prohibition was lifted). I don't think banning of tobacco would work.
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