2013-01-26 20:31:15 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 26, 2013): Bills which would treat nicotine like most other drugs, and require a prescription to purchase cigarettes, are being considered in Oregon and Iceland where they are creating controversy and opposition from the tobacco industry, notes the man who has been called "Mr. Anti-Smoking," "One of the Most Vocal and Effective Anti-Tobacco Attorneys," and "a Driving Force Behind the Lawsuits That Have Cost Tobacco Companies Billions of Dollars." SEE: FOXNEWS: Prescription to smoke? Bill Would Make Cigarettes Prescription-Only
Requiring users to get a prescription to get nicotine, just as we do with far less dangerous and non-addictive drugs like birth control pills, erectile dysfunction medications, and statins, would save taxpayers billions of dollars in several ways, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
First, it would very substantially deter teen smoking, since teens would have to obtain a fake prescription as well as a fake ID (to establish their age) in the same name, and pharmacists by law must take far more care in controlling the sale of prescription drugs than other products they handle.
The savings from teens who were forced to quit smoking, as well as those who were never able to start, would be
enormous, so taxpayers would pay far less in taxes to cover unnecessary expenses under Medicare and Medicaid, and would enjoy lower health insurance premiums.
Second, the proposal would help the overwhelming majority of current adult smokers who already want to quit to do so in several ways, thereby producing even more cost savings.
As with other drugs, their doctor would have to explain in detail the many deadly dangers of both smoking and addiction to nicotine, provide appropriate medical tests if necessary (e.g., to detect incipient emphysema or lung cancer), and medical assistance (pharmaceutical or otherwise) in quitting if necessary.
During Prof. Banzhaf's appearance Saturday on Fox News to debate the issue, host Tucker Carlson characterized the bill as one which would prevent adults from smoking, but it clearly would not since adults would be permitted to smoke simply by obtaining a prescription. SEE: FOXNEWS: Prescription to smoke? Bill Would Make Cigarettes Prescription-Only
Carlson also asserted that the revenue from cigarette taxes exceeded the costs smoking imposes on society, and even tried to refute Prof. Banzhaf's claim that the total amount governments collect in cigarette taxes is only a tiny percentage of the huge costs smokers impose on society, largely on nonsmokers.
But according to the most recent figures, combined revenue from federal, state, and local cigarette taxes amounts to only slightly more than $30 billion annually, whereas the cost of smoking in economic terms is over $300 billion each year. This does not include the toll in human lives: over 50,000 nonsmokers, including more than 1,000 children, are killed by smoking each and every year. huff.to/OWJE33
Although the idea of treating nicotine like any other drug may take some time to catch on and be adopted into law, Banzhaf notes that many of the other causes he has championed – including total bans on smoking in many public places, FDA regulation of cigarettes, a 50% surcharge on health insurance purchased by smokers under Obamacare – have now been adopted.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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Washington, DC 20052, USA
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