Published in Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 14, Issue 3, Fall October 1, 2009, pages 79-80.
Copyright © 2009 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. The definitive version is available at Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Online.
Tobacco is unhealthy, and apparently it is not hard to convince people that government programs are somehow not only effective but necessary to reduce smoking. Early efforts were successful because they focused on raising prices through tax hikes. Then smoking bans became the focus. Bans have so far been imposed on restaurants and bars in 27 states and Washington, D.C., and it is argued that they will change social norms in ways that lower smoking.
Spending programs represent a more recent strategy, and these are the focus of this commentary. State governments fund antismoking advertisements that run in newspapers and magazines, and on television; visits to schools to educate children; cessation interventions (intensive counseling services and cessation medications); grants for researchers to demonstrate effectiveness of tobacco-control programs; and many other activities. These programs hire many people, are very expensive, and thereby create many tobacco-control advocates.