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Edward Irving Koch : United States Congressman from 1969 to 1977 and the Mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989

SMOKE OUT

July 11, 2007

IT'S TIME TO OUTLAW THE MANUFACTURE AND SALE OF TOBACCO
PRODUCTS IN THE U.S.

Edward Irving Koch

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.

 
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