Why should tobacco remain a consumer product????

cigarettesI am often intrigued by the fact that how come a consumer product which kills five million people worldwide still enjoys the status of a legal product. What perplexes me further is that even most of the hardcore tobacco control workers are still not thinking about ending tobacco as a consumer product and are not considering it as one of the options. Why? I have failed to understand this till now. Some believe that it can not be done as tobacco is very much a part of day-to-day life, others parrot the tobacco companies rhetoric that there has to be “Freedom of choice” and still some others are so deeply involved in microscopic technicalities that they even fail to see what is the most obvious and basic. More so, even the international treaty on tobacco control (FCTC) fails to envisage an end date for tobacco and among its objectives does not consider phasing out/ending tobacco consumption. This is despite the fact that tobacco consumption and production is still increasing exponentially.

I am surprised as to how people can be misled with the syllogistically false association of “Freedom of choice” with “tobacco consumption.” If tobacco consumption is just a question of freedom of choice then the same “Freedom of choice” argument also exists with consumption of “Opium,” “Marijuana,” “Smack,” “Ecstasy,” “Heroine,” and hundreds of other drugs and intoxicants. Logically then one should also have the right to market and consume any other drug or intoxicating substance and the consumer should have a right to choose whether or not he/she should consume it. Does that mean that the governments all over the world are infringing the rights of the common man by banning many harmful drugs and intoxicants? Extending it further, then “Freedom of choice” argument must also be valid with many other violent actions which are currently labelled as criminal actions. It is quite surprising that people (Including media) buy this argument without realising that there are individuals who are earning billions of dollars at the cost of millions of lives by forwarding such illogical arguments .

A number of possibilities exist to finally phase out tobacco as a consumer product in another 30 year. As the first step towards this direction, we must be receptive to all the ideas and opinions and should explore all the possibilities with an open mindset. Tobacco is not a life saving drug which needs to be sold in the interest of the mankind, neither is it an indispensable nutritious concoction which is essential for the humanity. Tobacco is clearly a harmful substance which kills its legal consumers (Who consume it as prescribed after paying for it). It was clearly an historical accident which made tobacco a legal product. This mistake needs to be rectified. The civilised world has seen many other similar social changes in the past 200 years and there is no reason why a social change regarding tobacco can not be achieved.

It is absolutely possible to finish tobacco as a consumer product and it must be done now.


Hemant Goswami

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