Elijah Friedeman, The Millennial Perspective
On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration issued its new guidelines for cigarette companies' advertising and product packaging. And the guidelines are the most ridiculous, invasive overreach of government into an industry's advertising ever.
Already cigarette advertisements feature a warning from the surgeon general that smoking can cause cancer. I thought it was slightly ridiculous for the government to mandate that a company put warnings on its product, but I could live with that. The new guidelines from the FDA, however, go far beyond what anyone should possibly deem as acceptable for the government to mandate.
Starting in 2012, every single package of cigarettes sold in the United States must devote 50% of both the front panel and back panel to a government-mandated anti-smoking ad. On general cigarette advertisements, the government-mandated anti-smoking graphics must occupy at least 20% of the ad space.
And these graphics that the FDA is forcing cigarette companies to use aren't just text warnings about the dangers of cigarettes. Many of them are quite graphic. One of the ads features a man holding a cigarette, with a hole in his throat that is belching out smoke. Another shows a person with cancer, displaying his mouth with brown and missing teeth, and a cancerous lesion on his lip. In one of the ads, a man is shown with an oxygen mask over his mouth helping him to breathe, accompanied by a warning that smoking causes strokes and heart disease.
Probably the most striking of all the anti-smoking graphics is one of a corpse on a table with its chest stapled up. Under the picture of the corpse is a warning that smoking can kill you.
All of the warnings are true. There is nothing wrong with the ads by themselves. But is it right for the government to force companies to advertise against their own products?
In the near future are there going to be government-mandated warnings on products from fast food chains? Will kids meals be required to give 50% of their packaging to a government ad warning about the dangers of kids meals?
Right now cigarettes are the product under attack, but who knows what the government will go after tomorrow. When does the madness stop?
No one is questioning whether or not smoking is deadly. It's a generally accepted fact that smoking is bad for you, but does that alone give the government authority to pass such egregious regulations as this?
Instead of spending so much time and money on putting cigarette companies out of business, I think the FDA should turn to more worthy pursuits, like putting the abortion industry out of business.
Just think about it. If cigarette companies are required to give 50% of their packaging to anti-smoking graphics and 20% of their general advertising to the same anti-cigarette ads, why shouldn't abortion clinics be forced to do the same?
The evidence clearly shows that abortions are dangerous for women, both physically and emotionally. With that in mind, I think the FDA should mandate that every piece of literature offered by an abortion clinic devote at least 50% of its space to a warning and graphic, depicting the danger of an abortion to the pregnant mother.
In the interest of truth in advertising, it would only be fair for the government to mandate that 50% of every abortion clinic sign be a picture of an aborted baby in full color, with a warning, detailing how that picture represents the effects of abortion.
The FDA's anti-smoking campaign features a graphic of a man wearing a shirt that says, "I quit." It's only fair, then, that every abortion clinic should be required to put up several posters showing women who were going to get abortions but instead decided to keep their babies. In the pictures, the smiling women could be holding their babies and wearing shirts that say, "I chose life."
The FDA is trying to save lives by putting anti-smoking ads on cigarette packages. I'm sure that these efforts will save a few lives. But think of the hundreds of babies that could be saved by a government-mandated anti-abortion ad campaign at abortion clinics.
Why couldn't it work? If it's legal for the FDA to take half of a cigarette package to broadcast its anti-smoking message, then it should be legal for the FDA to mandate that abortion clinics do the same with pro-life messaging.