This cartoon is running in the opinion section today of the Birmingham News. The blurb appearing under the comic explains it a bit more.
A bill before Congress would let the Food and Drug Administration regulate tobacco products but not permit it to ban the sale or promotion of cigarettes. The bill is likely to come up for a committee vote in the Senate in July. Dr. Alan Blum, director of the University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society, testified against the bill at the committee's hearing earlier this year. Blum worked with cartoonist Matt Bors of Portland, Ore., to shed light on the bill's glaring inconsistencies and the strange bedfellows who are supporting it. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.Putting the cigarettes under the FDA doesn't make sense to me (or Alan Blum, who commissioned this strip). The "Drug" part of FDA applies to medicine, not things like alcohol or tobacco. If they applied the same standards that they do to evaluating the safety of medicine, what conclusion could they possibly come to other than banning cigarettes entirely? That obviously isn't going to happen (nor should it).
Instead we have a situation where people will be buying "FDA approved" smokes while other brands are banned by arbitrary standards involving the packaging and marketing of the cigarettes instead of the actual result of using the products. Just to be clear, I am in favor of certain restrictions on Tobacco's claims and advertising--anyone who knows me is aware of my loathing f0r this product. This Bill is just misguided.
Don't let anyone ever say that Democrats or Liberal leaning interest groups don't give bills deceitful titles: The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. You see, by putting cigarettes under the FDA we will protect families from smoking. Not any individuals, single people, couples, or orphans. families.
Democrats and Republicans have split according to party lines; Democrats want to look like they are doing something to save the children and Republicans oppose putting any industry under regulation regardless of its merits.
As Dr. Blum said in his testimony against this Bill to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:
The proposed FDA bill will simply change who is committing consumer fraud. Currently, it’s still the tobacco companies, marketing reduced tar and nicotine cigarettes in a way that deceives consumers into believing that these products are safer. If the FDA bill is enacted, then the government will be doing the dirty work for the tobacco companies. Small wonder why Philip Morris embraces this bill, which will permit it to tell consumers that it is complying with strict product safety standards, making government-approved cigarettes.
Check back regularly this week. I'm going to be releasing a bunch of new comics.