Big Tobacco is Profiting off Your Loss of Freedom

Discussion in 'General' started by bronco, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. #1 bronco, Sep 24, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2009
    Hey guys, this is an article I'm writing for my college's newspaper. Care to read it? Critique's are welcome, thanks a lot. :D

    TL, DR people need not apply.



    Big Tobacco is Profiting off Your Loss of Freedom


    If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of cigarette smokers in this country, you've probably heard the news, or found out for yourself at a gas station; On Tuesday, September 22nd, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was put into effect, banning the production, import, and sale of all flavored cigarettes, except for menthol. This ban includes clove cigarettes brands such as Djarum Blacks, which have been around for decades. Signed by Barack Obama on June 22 of this year, the bill was readily passed in both houses of Congress, and is aimed at curbing teen smoking by eliminating flavors thought to be aimed at a predominately younger audience. The bill was sponsored by North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, and championed by the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. Various organizations have expressed their support of the bill, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society, and Phillip Morris Tobacco. Yes, you read that correctly. Phillip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament, and Basic cigarettes, is not only entirely behind the bill, but reportedly spent on average $40,000 a day lobbying for it. It doesn't take a genius to realize that something smells when the biggest of the Big Tobacco companies is fighting alongside the American Lung Association, but why would the makers of Marlboro support, let alone fund a ban on cigarettes? Why are they not publicly lamenting the loss of consumer freedom? The answer is simple; money. Phillip Morris has absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain from this bill; they do not manufacture any flavored cigarettes except for menthol, meaning they lose no revenue. The bill only serves to eliminate smaller, third party competition of Big Tobacco. As it turns out, in order to gain the support of Phillip Morris, all parties involved decided that menthol cigarettes (which make up 28% of the total cigarette market share) would not be included in the bill. But don't expect Phillip Morris to admit any of this. On their website, they declare that “We believe it (the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act) represents an important opportunity to establish a comprehensive and coherent national tobacco policy.” Admittedly, this sounds a whole lot better than “We want to make a shitload of money by helping to eliminate smaller companies and limit American consumer freedom,” but I digress. This is not the only thing that is fishy about this bill. Besides the shady dealings going on in the background, it is virtually guaranteed not to achieve the purpose it was intended to. The cigarette ban will have little impact on the levels of teenage smoking in this country, simply because not many teens smoke the kinds of cigarettes it is prohibiting the sale of. According to data analyzed from the 2004 and 2006 National Youth Tobacco Survey, the vast majority of teenage smokers prefer two brands, Marlboro (sound familiar?) and Newport. According to the survey, 43.3% of middle school smokers and 52.3% of high school smokers prefer Marlboro tobacco, while Newport is favored by 26.4% of [/COLOR]middle school smokers and 21.4% of high school smokers respectively. Furthermore, menthol cigarettes (of which Newport is the most popular) are preferred by a colossal 75% of African American smokers. What is the conclusion, among all these statistics? The bill is a sham. If Congress really wanted to curb teenage smoking, they would target both Phillip Morris and menthol cigarettes on the whole; as it is this ban will only limit the freedom of choice for American smokers, and develop more revenue for Big Tobacco. Upon signing the bill, Barack Obama proclaimed victory by announcing that “Today, despite decades of lobbying and advertising by the tobacco industry, we've passed a law to help protect the next generation of Americans from growing up with a deadly habit. …” Unfortunately, Obama's victory is a hollow one. In the end, the evil empire of the cigarette industry will be the primary benefactor, and not the youth of America. It seems Samuel Johnson was correct when he said that “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
     
  2. Whats funny about this is that I was using blacks to help curve my addiction to cigs. Blacks are not the kind that you can chain smoke.

    Thank you Obama for keeping me addicted to cigs!
     
  3. Good artical, just use paragraphs.

    But shit I can't get my dajrums anymore :(
     
  4. What a joke, Obama smokes.
     
  5. God damn I hate Marlboro.
     
  6. Nothing you say in the article is incorrect, and there is no question that menthol cigarettes pose a problem...

    However, you don't seem to understand how the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) from 1998 works, and so the conclusions you reach are a little faulty.

    First, what you get right: major cigarette companies want to eliminate small-time independent producers in order to maximize their profits. This is absolutely correct, no question.

    But here's what you miss: ONLY the major tobacco companies are subject to the MSA. This means that independent manufacturers are not bound by the same legal restrictions simply because they are not parties to the MSA. Included in the MSA are clauses specifically prohibiting youth marketing.

    More importantly, the MSA also links the amount of money that cigarette manufacturers have to pay for benefiting at the expense of American's health. But here's the kicker: the amount the manufacturers have to pay is linked to their market share. When a major tobacco company loses market share to an independent manufacturer, that tobacco company is allowed to reduce it's payment. Furthermore, this reduction is NOT linear, a 2% reduction in market share can lead to a reduction in payment to the public of up to 6%.

    Most states (44 of them) have passed laws requiring the creation of escrow funds by independent companies (called NPMs for "non-participating manufacturers" because they did not participate in the MSA). However, escrow funds are NOT a direct payment, and individual states must prove a right to withdraw from the escrow. As of today a legal battle is still being waged over the right of states to withdraw $1.15 billion in 2003. If the independent tobacco companies have their way, the American public will have lost out on over $5 Billion in payments for the time from 2004-2008 (whether or not be lose out is heavily dependent upon the decision still in the works from 2003).

    If the independent manufacturers did not exist, the major tobacco companies would have already made these payments as required by the MSA.

    So, while it's usually nice to support independent business, in the specific case of tobacco, independent manufacturers' gain is the public's loss.
    Sources:
    NAAG | NAAG Tobacco Project: 11 Years of MSA Coordination
    Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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