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The Role of the Government on Tobacco Use Essay

The article, “If It’s Good For Philip Morris, Can It Also Be Good for Public Health?,” which was written by business columnist Joe Nocera and published in the New York Times, basically explores the realities concerning the government, particularly the Food and Drug Administration, and the regulation of tobacco use.

According to the article, although tobacco company executives themselves, notably Steve Parrish, senior vice-president of Philip Morris have openly supported the regulation of tobacco use, it appears that the move lacks a concerted effort from the government. Moreover, it is also apparent that tobacco executives like Parrish have their personal business agendas in advocating tobacco regulation.

In general, it is safe to assume that the public is more than aware about the dangers and health risks associated with tobacco smoking such as lung cancer, emphysema, and various heart diseases, among others. However, it is interesting to note that despite the various campaigns against tobacco smoking and other educational advertisements about it, there are still millions of people around the world who smoke. In fact, based on the article, in 2005, Philip Morris USA alone hauled in $4.6 billion in profits.

In this regard, it is quite obvious that the government’s main role is to somehow regulate tobacco use so that smokers will not suffer its deadly effects. However, this is easier said that done. According to the article, while there have been several initiatives to regulate tobacco use in the past, such as the ban on all cigarette advertisements, it seems to fall short when it comes to the actual implementation.

The first plausible reason behind this is that the regulation would mean decrease in profits for tobacco companies, which in turn, would affect tobacco factory workers. And considering the global financial crisis, loss of jobs is not a logical option even though it’s for the benefit of the public’s health.

In short, while the government’s duty in tobacco use is clear, it is virtually powerless to make any strong moves that would fulfill their role. The tobacco executives, on the other hand, may show that they support tobacco regulation, but their true motives are unclear. After all, they are still businessmen and it would not be surprising if their actions are simply meant to earn additional profits.


Nocera, J. (2006). If It’s Good For Philip Morris, Can It Also Be Good for Public Health? The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2009 from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/18/magazine/18tobacco.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1.

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