Cigarettes: United States Constitution and American Medical Association

Topics: United States Constitution, Cigarette, United States Congress Pages: 5 (1983 words) Published: May 12, 2013
Should the production and sale of cigarettes be made illegal? Cigarettes have had a declining reputation ever since they were linked to various forms of cancer, and other debilitating conditions. Cigarettes were not seen as harmful until public awareness was raised about the issue. Now, there are many advocates for cigarettes and many against them, but does the government have the right to make decisions for the public? Sadly, in the democracy we live in today, there is not much democracy at all. If the government wanted cigarettes to be banned, cigarettes would be banned. The government follows its own agenda, regardless of the general public opinion. The government will always find a way to put a façade over the law and argue that no rights are being violated. According to the United States Constitution, under the authority of Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, better known as the commerce clause, it reads, “The congress shall have power … To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes…”. This states that the federal government has the authority to govern and regulate any commerce within the states. Article one also states, “The congress shall have power… provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States…”. So if the government decided to ban cigarettes they could use this Article to argue that they are looking out for the best of the public. It is under this law that the government is able to place bans on uncontrolled substances as well. So, if the Supreme Court holds power to ban an uncontrolled substance, like marijuana, but not cigarettes, it would be inconsistent. If it has the power to ban one, it has the power to ban both, under United States law. Both marijuana and cigarettes are considered parts of commerce amongst the states, so the federal government is able to place bans where they find applicable on both. How constitutional this is is infinitely arguable, and all bans placed on uncontrolled substances have been narrowly constitutional; however, it is the law. Cigarettes should not be banned because of the amount of money the government would lose from tobacco taxes. The government makes a considerable amount of money every year from cigarette taxes. Banning cigarettes would also create a black-market for the product and cause more trouble than good. Also, a ban on cigarettes would cause an increase in unemployment worldwide.

Even with tens of thousands of people becoming unemployed, the potential for black-market cigarette retail, and a proportional loss in revenue for the government, critics argue cigarettes need to be banned. The problem with these critics is that their points of argument are thin at best, and fail to give substantial reasons for banning cigarettes. Most notably, the outcry of non-smokers claiming they have to pay extra taxes for old-aged smokers that have acquired costly health problems. An interesting proposal when there are so many studies that suggest the opposite. An article from The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that in order to have full fairness, smokers should be paid between 22 cents and $1.28 by non-smokers for each pack smoked. This would balance out the societal costs and savings from the smokers habits (Manning 261:1604). So, while statistics say smokers get cancers, heart disease and other conditions that require costly care at a younger age, the same statistics state that smokers die at an earlier age. Therefore, they are not collecting their full potential of pension and social security benefits in their older age. They also do not cause long-term geriatric or nursing home bills like non-smokers do. Another point to make is that when a non-smoker gets lung cancer it is blamed on genetics, but when a smoker gets lung cancer it is assumed it was from smoking. Who is to say that the smoker’s lung cancer was not genetics as well? It should also be noted that lung...

Cited: Barendregt, JJ, L. Bonneux, and PJ Van Der Mas. "Cardiovascular Risk of Smoking and Benefits of Smoking Cessation." New England Journal of Medicine (1996): n. pag. 2001. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.
Manning. "The Taxes of Sin; Do Smokers and Drinkers Pay Their Way?" Journal of the American Medical Association (1989): 261-62. 2000. Web. Nov. 2012.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Sources. "Field Crops - Tobacco." NC Tobacco GAP Guideline Document. N.p., 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <>.
Sullum, Jacob. Chapter 7. For Your Own Good: The Anti-smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health. New York: Free, 1998. 130-31. Print.
United States. Department of Treasury. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureaeu, FY 2013, Presidents Budget Submission. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
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