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Why ban the sale of cigarettes? The case for abolition
  1. Robert N Proctor
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert N Proctor, Department of History, Stanford University, Bldg 200, Stanford, CA 94305, USA; rproctor{at}stanford.edu

Abstract

The cigarette is the deadliest artefact in the history of human civilisation. Most of the richer countries of the globe, however, are making progress in reducing both smoking rates and overall consumption. Many different methods have been proposed to steepen this downward slope, including increased taxation, bans on advertising, promotion of cessation, and expansion of smoke-free spaces. One option that deserves more attention is the enactment of local or national bans on the sale of cigarettes. There are precedents: 15 US states enacted bans on the sale of cigarettes from 1890 to 1927, for instance, and such laws are still fully within the power of local communities and state governments. Apart from reducing human suffering, abolishing the sale of cigarettes would result in savings in the realm of healthcare costs, increased labour productivity, lessened harms from fires, reduced consumption of scarce physical resources, and a smaller global carbon footprint. Abolition would also put a halt to one of the principal sources of corruption in modern civilisation, and would effectively eliminate one of the historical forces behind global warming denial and environmental obfuscation. The primary reason for abolition, however, is that smokers themselves dislike the fact they smoke. Smoking is not a recreational drug, and abolishing cigarettes would therefore enlarge rather than restrict human liberties. Abolition would also help cigarette makers fulfil their repeated promises to ‘cease production’ if cigarettes were ever found to be causing harm.

  • Advocacy
  • Denormalization
  • End Game
  • Prevention
  • Tobacco Industry Documents

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