Efforts by tobacco companies
to protect their profits have sometimes shocked the American public.
In 1994, the CEOs of major U.S. cigarette companies testified before
the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment
that in their opinion?as I recall, not one dissented?cancer was
not caused by cigarette smoking.
In my opinion, even though these witnesses were deliberately misleading
Congress, they were permitted to escape sanctions because of their
power and wealth.
I think we should help addicted tobacco users by outlawing the manufacture
and supply of cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco in the U.S. While
some can break the addiction on their own, most cannot. As reported
in a June 23, 2007, New York Times article, "The number of
smokers in New York City had declined by 240,000 in the last five
years“.That translates to a drop of 19 percent. But more than 80
percent are still puffing away.
Those who use tobacco products should not be deemed criminals, only
those who engage in the manufacture and sale of these products.
There will, of course, be those who will argue that Prohibition
did not work and neither will a tobacco ban. During Prohibition,
liquor remained available under the counter, and with the failure
of law enforcement, came the rise of organized crime in the takeover
of the liquor industry.
However, history also shows that while the overall effort failed,
health for many was improved, and crimes related to the consumption
of alcohol dropped sharply. The real reason Prohibition failed is
because the American public did not support it, believing correctly
that most people could handle liquor without becoming alcoholics.
However, that distinction does not exist in cigarette smoking. Those
who smoke today are or will become addicted.
At worst, if a ban on manufacturing and selling of cigarettes fails,
we could revoke the law. In NYC, cigarette smoking was first banned
in my administration in 1988 by city council legislation. The prohibitions
impacted restaurants, offices and other public facilities.
Subsequent administrations, particularly that of Mayor Bloomberg,
made the legislation even more encompassing and eliminated most
of the exemptions. The public, initially in opposition, ultimately
became fully supportive. Similarly, I believe that the nation would
support banning the sale of tobacco.
Here in NYC, when I enter my building in the morning, there will
often be a few harried souls at the entrance puffing away. If they
look friendly, I often say with a smile, "Good morning, criminals."
They mostly laugh and say, "Good morning, mayor."
Cigarette smoking is not only dangerous to your health, it’s a dirty,
filthy habit which can give you bad breath, a wrinkled face, yellow
fingers and holes in your clothes. Let’s save smokers from themselves
and eliminate the enormous societal costs. Let’s ban the manufacture
and sale of tobacco products in the United States.