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Rethinking Tobacco Control

The past 30 years have brought ever more assertive public health campaigns against cigarette smoking. A coalition of well-funded public and private agencies has as its goal a reduction in the prevalence of cigarette smoking. The coalition's influence has resulted in pervasive health warnings, ever more intensive quit-smoking programs, and recently the social ostracism of smokers and the industry that supplies them. Yet many Americans continue to smoke, and far too many die from smoking-related diseases.

In this article we have presented the scientific foundation and practical rationale for a thorough rethinking of tobacco control policies and their premises. Our proposal empowers smokers to gain control over the consequences of their nicotine addiction. It also empowers society to avoid burdensome and intrusive tobacco control measures -- those involving unnecessary legislation, regulation and litigation -- that have become popular recently. Since our proposal is entirely unintrusive and solely educational, it has a strong fundamental, moral rationale and so will be welcomed both by smokers and the health care professionals who take care of them.

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