Boycott Watch  
July 5, 2009
Smokers Boycott a Cigarette Maker
Summary: New law makes smokers feel betrayed as they attempt to quit
    To the dismay of many smokers, on June 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a law that allows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to completely regulate tobacco products and the nicotine derivative. The law is undoubtedly intended to curb smoking habits, but had the unintentional affect of making it more difficult for some to quit smoking, thus resulting in a large number of upset smokers, many of whom felt betrayed by the company whose products they had been purchasing for years, and left wondering why their advocate has turned on them.

    Altria corporation, the parent of cigarette maker Philip Morris USA actively participated in the passing of the bill, which has made many smokers unhappy, especially people who are trying to quit smoking by using the e-cigarettes which are essentially fake cigarettes that have a nicotine delivery system and a light bulb at the tip to simulate the look and feel of a cigarette, thus helping people who are in the process of quitting smoking have the feel of a cigarette with a nicotine delivery. The e-cigarettes clearly do not break the nicotine addiction, but it does curb the smoke inhalation while people work toward limiting and even eliminating their nicotine intake.

    The new law allows the FDA to regulate nicotine, thus all cigarette-free nicotine delivery products may soon require a prescription, but since e-cigarettes have yet to be approved by the FDA, many smokers and people trying to break the habit may be forced to go back to smoking to satisfy their cravings, the opposite of the intention of the law.

    "This is clearly a case of a law being pushed through without due diligence and proper hearings to make sure the law is written properly. Politics aside, government should be helping people, and in this case the new law may hurt the very people Washington is trying to help quit smoking" said Fred Taub, President of Boycott Watch. "I am not a smoker and second hand cigarette smoke generally makes me cough, but I certainly respect people's rights to smoke and especially those who want to quit smoking. This is nothing more than a government roadblock to consumer rights."

    At the moment, the FDA is seeking input about how to regulate tobacco products including nicotine. On their website, the FDA stated the "FDA looks forward to taking on this challenge and in doing so will partner with public health leaders at our sister agencies, at the state level, and in localities all around the country. FDA will perform its duties by using the best available science to guide the development and implementation of effective public health strategies to reduce the burden of illness and death caused by tobacco products. FDA will seek input from the public as we begin working to implement the Act."

    While one would expect the FDA to implement restrictions in stages thus making it easy for smokers to quit, the rush to pass laws by the Obama administration may signal a green light for the FDA to implement stringent rules and regulations quickly. In the past, high added state taxes on cigarettes have resulted in people crossing state and even international borders to save money on cigarettes. The implementation of new regulations will likely result in the same, including international purchases since addicted people will do anything to satisfy their cravings.

    While many smokers may be boycotting Philip Morris and their products, the company surely has plans to offer alternative products, or perhaps they are banking on smokers finding alternative ways to obtain their cigarettes. Philip Morris will be an interesting company to watch, especially on Wall Street.

    For clarification, Philip Morris once owned Kraft Foods, but spun it off in 2007. Some of the boycotters are apparently unaware of the fact that Philip Morris no longer owns Kraft, so smoker's boycotts of Kraft are invalid in this case.

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