If You Thought Nonalcoholic Beer Was a Great Idea, You'll Love This

Back in the mid-1990s, when the FDA was pretending it already had the authority to regulate tobacco products that Congress is currently thinking about giving it, the agency considered a proposal to stop people from smoking by forcing tobacco companies to gradually reduce the amount of nicotine in their cigarettess. When the level became too low to initiate and maintain addiction, it was suggested, no one would want to smoke anymore. There were a few problems with this plan, not least of which was that it would make cigarettes more dangerous by exposing smokers to higher levels of toxins and carcinogens for the same dose of nicotine.

Now David Adams, a former FDA official who proudly takes credit for the nicotine reduction plan, has a new idea. In a New York Times op-ed piece, Adams says the government should force tobacco companies to make two kinds of cigarettes: regular, for smokers 21 or older, and "non-addictive," for anyone younger than that. "Better yet," he writes, "sales of addictive cigarettes could be restricted to individuals born 19 or more years before the two-cigarette strategy was put into effect. Under this approach, 18-year-olds who start smoking non-addictive cigarettes would be prohibited from switching to addictive cigarettes even after they turned 21." In other words, instead of gradually introducing nicotine-free cigarettes, as in Adams' original nicotine reduction plan, he wants to introduce them right away and gradually increase the number of people forced to smoke them.

I have a different idea: Why not have various kinds of cigarettes for adults and no cigarettes at all for minors? Wait, that rule already exists in every state. Perhaps Adams thinks it should be enforced more vigorously, in which case he may be right. Or perhaps he thinks the cigarette purchase age should be raised to 21, in which case he should explain why that cutoff is more appropriate than 18, which is considered old enough to vote, marry, live independently, sign contracts, own firearms, and enlist in the armed forces. But it is hard to see how the task of enforcing age restrictions would be made easier by extending the prohibition to people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, permitting them to buy only the sort of cigarettes that Adams admits no one would want to smoke.

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  • ||

    It depresses me to think that David Adams probably pulls down a nice six-figure income for coming up with shit so stupid you literally don't know where to start tearing it apart.

  • SIV||

    Alabama law requires one be 19 to purchase cigarettes.

    If I skimmed correctly he is proposing grandfathering in current smokers for a total ban on nicotine delivering cigarettes.
    for future adults?

    Paternalistic nannyism knows no bounds.

  • GILMORE||

    Actually, Non-Alcoholic Beer is pretty popular stuff, given the apparent paradox...my schizoid brother loves the stuff. the simulacra of having a beer with your bro is apparently good enough sans the buzz.

    that said, the guy's idea above is ludicrous. if anything, they'd teach people to smoke through giving them 'play guns' before the real thing. in any case, i think the more government gets intertwined with tobacco, the worse things generally get. Tobacco companies respond to changing demands without the govt telling them what to do. The whole snus thing is in that direction. people are quitting/changing behaviors for many reasons, and govt tobacco control efforts are marginally effective in changing the rates that are occurring naturally. Not unlike Guilini on NYC crime, or Al Gore and the internet... things change not because they were there and doing something, but because they happened to be there when it happened. The more they think their mechanizations are actually impactful, the more they tend to fuck things up with these kinds of schemes.

  • Paul||

    than 18, which is considered old enough to vote, marry, live independently, sign contracts, own firearms,

    Slow down, there, Snoop Dogg, they're working on that last one.

  • The Owner\'s Manual||

    Back in the fifties, you could buy 'cigarettes' made from lettuce. Nicotine-free, they were, and if you see a point in drinking alcohol-free beer, you might wonder why lettuce smokes aren't still around today. But I don't, so I don't.

  • ||

    It depresses me to think that David Adams probably pulls down a nice six-figure income for coming up with shit so stupid you literally don't know where to start tearing it apart.

    Wry chuckle.

  • ||

    "The simulacra of having a beer with your bro is apparently good enough sans the buzz."

    Nice Baudillard reference, Gill. Soon maybe you can have a hyperreal smoke with your non-brewski.

  • GILMORE||

    R C Dean | October 23, 2007, 6:10pm | #
    It depresses me to think that David Adams probably pulls down a nice six-figure income for coming up with shit so stupid you literally don't know where to start tearing it apart.


    No kidding. thats usually my first thought whenever i read stuff like this. There was an article in the times a while back... here =

    "Long Live the Nanny State"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/business/yourmoney/23cont.html

    I got a letter printed where i called the guy a douche, basically

    He does have a point about taxation incentives helping change behaviors, and letting people gamble via regulation rather than banning it (which may also be a rational way of changing US drug law)... but his whole premise for me is fucked up because all the examples of past efforts to 'regulate sin' he brings up are such godawful failures that i cant begin to understand why he'd think it should ever suddenly start working now

  • GILMORE||

    Nice Baudillard reference, Gill. Soon maybe you can have a hyperreal smoke with your non-brewsk

    I think it's Baudrillard

    I mix that shit up with Baudelaire and other frogs all the time

    to be clear, *I* dont drink non alcoholic beer, and i dont think non-nicotine cigs would work on the market now, because otherwise Big Tobacco would have made that move already

  • ||

    GILMORE,

    They just didn't do it right then. This time we'll do better.
    This time results will be different.

  • ||

    I think it's Baudrillard


    I always thought it was Bo Dillard.

  • ||

    I always thought it was Bo Dillard.

    No, that's Bo Diddley.

  • Anon Y. Mous||

    Having a nicotine-free cigarette would probably help at least some people quit smoking. If you can first wean yourself from the nicotine, then stopping the smoking habit would probably become easier.

    As far as the kiddie-smokes idea - what a twit.

  • Stowaway||

    Eventually people would start enjoying these new ciggies, some killjoy would notice and the ball would start rolling to ban them...it's not harmful substances or addiction they resent, it's pleasure. It always has to be stamped out.

  • ||

    It's 18 to own rifles and shotguns, 21 to own handguns.

    Of course, if you search the VPC archives, they would have you believe that this means that high school students are buying .50 BMG sniper rifles like they're going out of style.

    As to the non-addictive cigs, I have to say, that's an utterly stupid idea.

  • ||

    it's like quit-dip, that tobacco-free chewing tobacco. It's cool if you want to quit, but if you don't, it's epically stupid.

  • ||

    There is no such thing as "Nonalcoholic beer". All beer has alcohol in it.

  • Rhywun||

    I actually think the non-nicotine cigarettes are a good idea. But totally voluntary, of course.

    Part of the reason gums and patches hardly work at all is that they don't provide the "feel" of smoking. Maybe working at the problem from the opposite angle would be more successful.

  • Edward||

    You're posting this banal shit and nothing on the California fires?

  • Jerry||

    Why not let smokers pay for higher health insurance premiums? Oh wait, maybe they will actually stop smoking then, thereby greatly reducing government revenue.

  • ||

    Edward, I though you left forever. And what would the Reason staff post about a wildfire? "There's a wildfire?"

  • GILMORE||

    tim | October 23, 2007, 8:39pm | #
    There is no such thing as "Nonalcoholic beer". All beer has alcohol in it.


    Yes, yes, we know... but thats what *they call it*, so we're forced into the contradiction

    do you have a handier name for the stuff other than, 'no way did i order this!'

  • Edward||

    Randolf

    You though [sic] I left forever? Obviously not.

    I thought maybe Reasonoids might want to rethink their skepticism on climate warming. Probably not, huh?

  • M||

    18-year-olds who start smoking non-addictive cigarettes


    Youth-appealing, seductively paradoxicaly collocated brand name: Nicoteens?

  • GILMORE||

    Edward | October 23, 2007, 9:34pm | #
    Randolf

    You though [sic] I left forever? Obviously not.

    I thought maybe Reasonoids might want to rethink their skepticism on climate warming


    Reasonoids?

    Talk to Bailey. My air conditioner is running in NYC on Oct 23rd. I have no argument for you.

  • ||

    I thought maybe Reasonoids might want to rethink their skepticism on climate warming. Probably not, huh?

    Umm, Edward, the severity of the wildfires in the West is due to the unintended consequences of decades of government suppression of natural small wildfires, resulting in a buildup of tinder and other fuel that when ignited cause huge destructive fires.

    But the proposed government destruction of the vestiges of a free market to slow down global warming that may or may not be primarily due to natural causes, and may or may not result in an overall more liveable world -- no way that government intervention will turn out to be counterproductive and wrong-headed, yeah?

  • ||

    Edward, regarding his whining that Reason hasn't covered the fires in California:

    I thought maybe Reasonoids might want to rethink their skepticism on climate warming.

    It's a good thing you don't have any credibility to lose, because saying something that stupid would usually cost someone a good deal of it.

  • ||

    When it comes to the health of our children…well, you know the drill.

    I recognize that this is an opinion piece and not an editorial, but I could take the NYT a bit more seriously on this subject if 1) they stopped referring to my children as our children and 2) they were not so rabidly pro-choice. I guess when it is your body and you want to impact the health of an (unborn) child it is a constitutional right peeking out from the shadows to terminate said life; but when you want to put some chemicals in your bloodstream for a mild high with a potential risk downstream of adverse health we need agents of the state supervising. Yeah, that makes sense.

  • TLB||

    Jacob Sullum has just outed himself as a statist of the worst kind.

    The State has no right to restrict tobacco or any other sales. If someone wants to smoke, let them. Remember Prohibition!

    I can't believe I read this in Reason.

  • Smoke!||

    I can't believe I read this in Reason

  • ||

    Actually, Edward has a point here.

    Those places in California that are currently on fire have all been through a pretty drastic warming trend in the recent past. It's probably no coincidence that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air in those locations is also extremely high.

    Take note, ye skeptics.

  • Doctor Duck||

    Edward has a point here

    Yeah, we see it.

  • ||

    It's a rather small point and he posts a lot of drivel on the internet to compensate.

    Did I spell everything right in that one?

  • ||

    Arkady wins the thread for his snarky post!(You all did get the double entendre, yeah?)

  • Edward||

    No, I missed the double entendre.

    As for credibility, nitwits who get all excited about Ron Paul's silly run for the nomination should never bring it up.

  • Rich Ard||

    Ecstasy has been making no-nic smokes for years (like these. They're not bad.

  • Rich Ard||

    ).

  • ||

    "As for credibility, nitwits who get all excited about Ron Paul's silly run for the nomination should never bring it up."

    Nor should people who repeatedly declare that _this_ is their last post but refuse to shut up and crawl back under their rock.

    Bye, Edward...please...?

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Having a nicotine-free cigarette would probably help at least some people quit smoking. If you can first wean yourself from the nicotine, then stopping the smoking habit would probably become easier.

    Except that it won't. New studies show that the sensation in the mouth and throat is as addictive as the nicotine itself.

  • ||

    Back in the fifties, you could buy 'cigarettes' made from lettuce. Nicotine-free, they were, and if you see a point in drinking alcohol-free beer, you might wonder why lettuce smokes aren't still around today. But I don't, so I don't

    It was back in the middle sixties actually, and they tasted like shit, which is why they are no longer around.

  • ||

    ...which is why they are no longer around.

    Oh, good god! They've brought them back

  • ||

  • ||

    As to nonalcoholic beer (and yeah, it has a trace amount of alcohol..BFD), the one good thing about it is that it is one of the few alternatives if you want a cold beverage that doesn't taste sweet.

    Regarding the multi-tiered cigarette idea? So incredibly stupid that only a (former) federal bureaucrat could have dreamed it up. Besides the obvious liberty issues, it just plain wouldn't work.

  • ed||

    The cigarette debate has long since passed from the logical to the absurd. Rational conversation is no longer possible. Common sense is out the window. It doesn't matter. It's over. Smokers are the Moors and prohibition is the new Inquisition.

  • bromo98||

    ...explain why that cutoff is more appropriate than 18, which is considered old enough to vote, marry, live independently, sign contracts, own firearms, and enlist in the armed forces....but not actually have a real drink with alcohol, because...uh...why is that, again?

  • robc||

    On a somewhat on topic note (at least more so that Edward):

    When I was growing up in the 70s, my Dad use to send me to the store to buy him cigarettes. I was never hassled until about middle school, when I guess I was finally old enough to be theoretically buying them for myself. It only happened one time though.

    Having never actually smoked a cigarette (or any other product for that matter) I am always surprised when I see how much a pack costs now. My Dad wasnt sending me to the store with THAT much money.

  • dhex||

    if you search the VPC archives

    did you do that just to hurt your brain? (due to all the head into desk motions that the vpc archives no doubt cause, i mean.)

  • Russell||

    Tip O'the hat and a Caffeine Free Dehydrated Diet Crystal Coke to JS for catching up to :

    http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2007/10/prohibition-lit.html

    Which concluded :
    'Mr.Adams prodigious legal talent is utterly wasted on the Op-ed page of The New York Times

    He should proceed to the White House, where his proactive view of torture and bills of attainder can be put to current use. Since the wife of his previous employer there purloined all the ash trays in the Oval Office, his place on the transition team seems magnificently assured.'

  • ||

    Having never actually smoked a cigarette (or any other product for that matter)

    I find the use of the term "product" here to be intriguingly ambiguous, almost a "non-denial denial" regarding smokage of non-commercial substances.

  • Minion of URKOBOLD||

    HAY EDDIE!

    THANKS TO YOU THIS MINION IS NOW EXCITED ABOUT RON PAUL. WE HAVE SENT MR. STEVEN CRANE TO SERVICE YOU.

    REMEMBER TO USE THE SPECIAL SHAMPOO THIS TIME - THE LICE WERE A BIT MUCH, BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE AN OMELET.

  • ||

    ...explain why that cutoff is more appropriate than 18, which is considered old enough to vote, marry, live independently, sign contracts, own firearms, and enlist in the armed forces....but not actually have a real drink with alcohol, because...uh...why is that, again?

    MADD.

  • robc||

    RC Dean

    I find the use of the term "product" here to be intriguingly ambiguous, almost a "non-denial denial" regarding smokage of non-commercial substances.

    Wasnt meant to be ambiguous. I have never smoked tobacco, in cigarette or cigar form, or cloves, or pot, or crack, or ummm, what else can be smoked? peyote?

    I have never set afire and then inhaled in an intoxicating substance. Not even in a Clinton "I didnt inhale" way.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Can it be that David Adams and all of the public policy geniuses like him are unburdened by awareness of the existence of multi-variable mathematics?

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