Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Great Stupefaction

I realize that life is not a clear-cut set of choices and decisions. There are often grey areas that muddle seemingly obvious conclusions. Grey areas are bad, because they give decision makers the ability to cater to any special interest that either pays the bills or in some way floats their boat.

Specifically, I refer to the grey area of what we may or may not consume. On September 30, 2004, Merck announced the voluntarily worldwide withdrawal of VIOXX® (rofecoxib) from the market. There is a trial currently concluding where a man claims to have suffered a heart attack from taking Vioxx. Meanwhile, RJ Reynolds and Altria (the more user-friendly name for Philip Morris) continue to produce and sell cigarettes, knowing that they are killing people. The boxes used to say “may cause…” or “may result…” Now, they use words like “will” and “does,” as if there is no doubt that the product is causing harm.

Maybe Vioxx and similar drugs help people, maybe not, but it surely didn’t take long for the FDA and consumers to force the companies to take them off the market. As Merck said: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have concluded that an increased risk of serious thrombotic cardiovascular adverse events is associated with all COX 2 selective NSAIDs. They go on to say that out of concern for their patients (and, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s out of concern for a lawsuit) they have voluntarily taken it off the market.

So, the point is (finally) that I suppose our government is more concerned about people who do not smoke than they are about people who do, and that the FDA, RJR and Altria are not concerned about their customers or ethics, only about their profits. Not a surprise, right? Otherwise, they would be acting on behalf of the health of everyone and prohibiting the further sale of cigarettes. Instead, we prefer to make laws prohibiting their sale to minors and dictating where or when people can smoke, when in fact, they should not be smoking at all. We would not need the laws if we had no cigarettes.

I have voiced this argument before, and the response I get is on the order of “well, you know the cigarette companies are very powerful in Washington.” They may well be, but you still have to ask yourself, who is looking out for our best interests? I don’t understand why the FDA allows people to slowly kill themselves when they are so quick to act on other products that may be killing us.

One function of government should be to help people who cannot help themselves. Smokers are addicts, and almost powerless to help themselves. It’s time for our government to act in our best interests and find a way to get these deadly products off the market and put an end to my stupefaction – at least for now.


Firestarter5 said...

Unlike the US, in Canada, the taxes they make off cig's pretty much guarantee's they'll never outlaw them considering the amount of money they bring in.

Anthony said...

Precisely my point. It's all about the money, not the people. Government has it backwards.