Rebuttal to “Killing Them Softly”
“Killing Them Softly,” an essay by Jacob Sullum, addresses the issue of Senator Judd Gregg’s bill to give the Food and Drug Administration control over tobacco products. This bill would allow the FDA to make such decisions as halting tobacco companies’ marketing of safer tobacco products and reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes. Sullum argues that by giving the FDA the power to make such decisions, individual consumers would be disadvantaged and lives could possibly be lost instead of saved. If given control of such decisions, the FDA would not allow the introduction of safer tobacco products as they feel this will increase the number of smokers. They feel more people will begin using these products that are advertised as less harmful substances, whereas Sullum feels it would be better for people to change their habits to these “safer alternatives.” Sullum fails to consider benefits of relinquishing control to the FDA, however. By considering some of the positive results, Sullum might develop a different opinion and support the bill as he should.
One major point that Sullum tries to emphasize is how people’s health will be disadvantaged once the FDA is given control. When making the decision about marketing safer tobacco products, the FDA is concerned about how the introduction of smokeless tobacco will be interpreted by the “population as a whole.” Sullum, on the other hand, believes the concern should be with individual consumers. He believes smokers could be doing something healthier for themselves if the FDA promoted smokeless tobacco. However, the FDA believes advertising smokeless tobacco as a less harmful substitute for cigarette smoking misleads people and encourages nonsmokers to adopt this harmful habit. This is a point that Sullum is missing. Smokeless tobacco, although perhaps not as bad for people as regular cigarettes, is still an unhealthy habit. Smokeless tobacco is more likely to cause certain diseases, such as lip cancer and other cancers of the mouth, that cigarette smoking does not cause as often (1Up Health). If smokers are so concerned about improving their health, they should quit smoking altogether. By quitting, smokers would improve their health much more than if they took up smokeless tobacco.
In his essay, Sullum tries to defend smoking. I agree with him that it is a person’s own choice to decide whether they will smoke or not, but if a person makes the choice to smoke knowing its negative effects, then their health is not their first priority. Someone who has their health as one of their first priorities would not engage in a habit that is at all detrimental to their health. Sullum wants to introduce smokeless tobacco to the public as a safer alternative to smoking, but this would only make this unhealthy habit more appealing to people. Why try to make a bad habit more appealing when those efforts could be put to use more productively by stopping...