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Focus on News, Politics, etc.
by Jim Wrenn, Editor

Tobacco--   Shouldn't these questions be answered?.   (10-30-99).

    A recently released movie, "The Insider," implies that tobacco company agents sent death threats to the protagonist in the movie and placed a bullet in his mailbox in an attempt to deter him from making accusations against tobacco companies.  On October 29, 1999, Brown & Williamson, a tobacco company, issued a press release detailing previously undisclosed FBI affidavits indicating that FBI agents had reason to believe the protagonist and/or collaborators had faked the death-threats and placed the bullet into his own mailbox.  See .Brown & Williamson's Press Release, which includes copies of such FBI documents and raises questions about the course of such investigation.  B&W's questions deserve answers.
    In the wake of anti-tobacco zealots' demonization of Joe Camel as a sinister effort by "Big Tobacco" to lure children into smoking, why is it those same zealots have failed to even criticize -- much less demonize -- a beer company which uses animated frogs and lizards in advertising beer on sporting events viewed by large numbers of children?  Could it be the presence of large beer breweries and distributorships in those politicians' districts or states?
    Assuming for purposes of argument that a tobacco company intended Joe Camel to make smoking seem attractive to minors, why should we make the opposite assumption about a beer company's use of animated frogs and lizards?  How could encouragement of youthful smoking, which at worst is a habit statistically associated with slightly shorter life spans among long-term smokers in comparison to non-smokers, be deemed morally reprehensible but not comparable beer-company marketing to make alcohol consumption seem "cool" to minors and thereby increase the incidence of youthful consumption of alcohol (a potentially addictive substance) and also increase the incidence of drunk driving resulting in thousands of youthful deaths each year?  How can the anti-tobacco zealots rationally argue that Joe Camel posed a greater threat to the well-being of youths than the beer-commercial lizards?
    What about effects on third parties?  Except in the mind of an anti-tobacco zealot, can "second-hand smoke" rationally be considered more dangerous to third parties than drunk driving?  Should we now mount a campaign to demonize the beer company that uses the animated frogs and lizards?  No!  Such approach would take us down an endless slippery slope leading to demonization of red meat, mayonnaise, bacon, eggs, whole milk, etc. -- the list would be endless.  The solution is to un-demonize Joe Camel and recognize that in a free society, we allow people to make foolish decisions and refuse to let zealots run our lives for us.

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