Once again, the U.S. government is attempting to mandate healthy habits, this time by banning flavored and clove cigarettes.
As of September 22, it won’t be illegal to possess flavored cigarettes, but it will be illegal to sell them. As a result, clove cigarettes, which have been imported from Indonesia and sold in the U.S. since 1968, and cigarettes flavors like cherry and chocolate mocha are about to become a controlled substance.
Ostensibly, this portion of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on June 22, will prevent yummy-sounding cigarette flavors like cherry and chocolate mocha from tempting young people into smoking.
In fact, this law—which passed handily in both houses of congress—will have little impact on teen smoking and a great deal of impact on adults’ freedom of choice (or perhaps I should say freedom of vice.)
Pay no attention to the cigarette company behind the curtain
The act, which was sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and championed by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA)), benefited from an unusual ally.
Philip-Morris—the tobacco giant who controls fully half of the U.S. cigarette market share—had its tarry hands all over the passage of this legislation.
At first blush, it seems strange that the company would join forces with the likes of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids )—which champions itself as an organization “working to expose Big Tobacco’s lies”—to achieve what Obama calls “a victory for health care reform.”
A closer look, however, reveals that Philip-Morris has nothing to lose with this legislation and everything to gain.