What’s to be done after the company gets away with doing that for 50 years, and gets millions of people hooked on the product, and continually fights toogh-and-nail against every regulation to inform or protect consumers? They get to continue reaping the fruits of those years of targeted deception, and the victims of the exploitation reap cancer and heart disease?
Set aside the arguments about racial paternalism. These companies shouldn’t get to say “oh we stopped doing bad things, don’t bother us.” They still reap the benefits of the exploitation machine they spent years building. They still prey on children, new smokers, uninformed smokers. They rely on it and they always have. They’re doing the same thing in third-world countries where they can get away with it. They need to pay for those sins by seeing that revenue stream wiped off the face of the earth, not continue to profit from their past misdeeds.
No you couldn’t, with the exception of maybe alcohol, and I’d propose the same thing for alcohol as for tobacco or any other drug: require it to be sold in a state-operated store, in brown paper bags marked “Alcohol, a dangerous drug, 40%, rum-flavored. Must be 21 years old with proof of recent physical and psychiatric examination.” Or some such. On the same shelf as the heroin. Yes the aesthetics are blah and unappealing, and that’t the point. Provide a stash clean enough to protect consumers, cheap enough to discourage gang activity, and boring enough not to add aesthetic enticement. It’s a drug, it sells itself, it needs no peppy advertising or branding.
Yes government regulation is good, bring on the nanny state, let the government tell you what you can smoke and how you’re going to do it. Bring it on, and the sooner the better. I find the whole thing about “I don’t like gummint regulations” to be a veneer on “I don’t care if powerful interests exploit their information advantage to kill consumers.” Call me a nanny-state socialist, bonus points if you can casually work Mao and Stalin into the conversation.
I don’t cede an inch to the casually indifferent libertarian perspective on that, nor the the weak slippery-slope arguments about “what’s next, red meat” Let’s try it and see what happens. If we drive every private recreational drug enterprise out of business, whether it’s the Sinaloa cartel, or Philip Morris, well, oopsie, sorry (not sorry). With the same casual indifference that they said “oops, we killed millions of people with cancer and heart disease.” Murder tobacco stocks. Destroy alcohol companies. Kill every associated job. I Do. Not. Care.