Hypocrisy Running Amuck in Hammering the Tobacco Industry and Smokers!

Hypocrisy Running Amuck in Hammering the
Tobacco Industry and Smokers!

Ok, ok! I know it already! Following the statements I am about to make I easily could be accused of being a devil's advocate on this one.

After all, as soon as a plague of politicians, opportunistic lawyers, and "victims" in their successful law suits got finished with the members of the tobacco industry, billions of dollars were involved in settlements. And there seemed to be a sense of deep satisfaction that finally the evil tobacco industry was paying for damage it had caused to the health of large numbers of persons. And as this is being written many states are soaking tobacco products with huge tax increases, including my home state of Pennsylvania which has upped the cigarette tax to a buck a pack.

If you look closely, you can see the politicians licking their chops in excited anticipation at the prospect of more revenue to spend! And more revenue means a more than outside chance that they will feel the need to increase their salaries and perks!

But a disturbing question must be asked about the matter of making one particular industry pay for damage resulting from use of its products, especially when it can be easily established that no one put a gun to anyone's head and forced that person to use those products!

That question is this -- if the tobacco industry was considered guilty of causing a massive amount of damage and should be made to pay for such, then why has the alcoholic beverage industry not been called on the carpet and made to pay due to damages resulting from use of its products?

And if the tobacco industry has to pay billions of dollars as a penalty, should not the alcohol industry pay many times more -- that is, if you are willing to examine and cite the extent of damage inflicted as people have guzzled beverages which are saturated with alcohol?

Actually the use of tobacco has been mainly a health issue resulting in such things as cancer, respiratory problems, etc.

But what has happened when alcoholic beverages have been consumed? Let's just do some simple basic comparisons -- ok?

For instance:
    How many people have been killed in traffic accidents as a direct result of smoking as compared to consumption of alcoholic beverages? Huh? Come on now, you politicians, lawyers, judges, and juries -- show us the numbers on that -- and you have more than a little bit of qualified stupidity to label the tobacco people as the bad guys who need to pay BIG!

    How many people have been beaten and/or killed because of arguments resulting from smoking as compared to indulging in booze?

    How many family members (children and/or spouses) have been physically and verbally abused because of smoking as compared to drinking alcoholic beverages?

    How many marriages have been broken up because of smoking as compared to use of beverage alcohol?

    How many work hours have been lost -- how much has job performance decreased -- how many jobs have been lost as a result of smoking as compared to drinking alcoholic beverages?

    How much property damage has resulted from smoking as compared to soaking up that booze? Yea, you can cite some buildings burned because somebody smoked in bed, but don't forget all those drunks in vehicles who took out themselves and innocent victims and the situations where some drunk got out of control while driving and smacked into a building or two!

Sources for information on alcohol and other substance abuses can be found at Office of Applied Studies, Reports & Data, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- you have to roam a bit, but it doesn't take long to be reminded that while tobacco contributed to problems, it is like looking at a mole hill and then looking at Mt. Everest, as you look at what alcoholic beverages do in bringing tragedy of the first magnitude, heartache, misery, indescribable pain, and hopelessness into people's lives!

Now why do you suppose there has not been the massive "slap 'em down and make 'em pay" campaign against the alcoholic beverage industry and consumers who imbibe its products as has been done to the tobacco industry and users of its products? You know -- hit the brewers and distillers with a few hundreds of billions of dollars for damages caused to individual human lives, families, and property -- and slap an additional $1.00 tax on each bottle of beer, a $5.00 tax on each fifth of hard stuff, and a $1.00 tax on each pint! You'd think the politicians would really be overcome with ecstasy (no, not the drug) -- much more than over the tobacco settlements, but no -- no singing and dancing in the street at Washington DC nor in any state capitol!

Here are possibilities why the celebration will never happen:

    - too many politicians like their booze too much to do to the alcoholic beverage industry what they were willing to do to the tobacco industry, and the ones that don't use the stuff don't have enough guts to take up the challenge or risk incurring the wrath of those who do use it!

    - likewise a lot of little greedy beady eyed lawyers (part of the 98% who make the honest and hard working 2% look real bad) who were willing to cash in on the tobacco blood bath are not so willing to go after the alcoholic beverage people because that might jeopardize the inventory of their booze cabinets at home and office!

    - the entertainment industry which is a strong and faithful client of the alcoholic beverage industry would lobby heavily against such a move -- and the TV people in particular would not relish the possibility of losing large advertising revenue which they receive from the breweries of the USA -- uh, what would it be like to watch a super bowl without a bunch of beer bottles running all over the place -- naw, we can't afford to do that can we?

No doubt about it -- hypocrisy is very much alive and well in that republic known as the United States of America when it comes to dealing with the tobacco industry and smokers as opposed to our dealings with the alcoholic beverage industry and consumers of its products! Besides, we can coast for a long time on the billions contributed by the tobacco industry, even if the politicians personally pocket a percentage for themselves, right?

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way. Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
Psalm 119:126-129 NKJV


July 18, 2002
by Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
W. PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy PA

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