Fourth quarter blog post

Here is my fourth quarter blog post

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alcohol vs. Tobacco: According To US Law, One Is Worse Than The Other

Recently in class, we discussed the banning of tobacco advertisements to prevent the consumption of this product by US citizens. I think that smoking is truly a threat to public health, which therefore makes this measure justified. But what about alcohol, which also is a threat to public health? Why are alcohol advertisements allowed but not smoking advertisements?

Advertisement for alcohol is not even close to banned; in fact, I see commercials on TV for alcoholic beverages all the time. Many commercials for alcoholic drinks glorify the consumption of these beverages. For example, I have seen plenty of beer commercials implying that drinking a specific type of beer will attract women or make you a "cooler" person. This is encouraging people to use this alcoholic product in large amounts and frequently, as who would not want to be "cool" all the time? One would think that even if alcohol advertisement was allowed, it would be regulated heavily as to not to encourage the over-consumption of this substance, but according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, "The Federal Alcohol Administration Act does not require alcohol beverage advertisements to be approved prior to appearing in print or broadcast". Without advertisements being "approved", alcohol companies can encourage the over-consumption and abuse of alcohol as much as they please, which, based on the ads I have seen such as the beer commercials, is quite a lot.

This allowance of any type of advertisement for alcohol sharply contrasts with the ban on tobacco advertising that we discussed in class. What does not make sense is that both of these products and result in horrible health issues for the consumer: alcohol, for example, can cause liver cancer, and tobacco can cause lung cancer. Also, they both pose a threat to people around the consumer; smoking can hurt others through secondhand smoke, and drinking can do the same through dangerous practices by the drinker such as drunk driving.

In my opinion, these strange inequalities in the advertising laws of these products could be related to differences in attitudes people have towards the abuse of these products. Today, overuse of tobacco products is commonly viewed as disgusting, but abuse of alcohol seems to be viewed as the norm, as I have heard people talk about their overuse of alcohol in common conversation and are never judged for it. I believe that the ban on tobacco advertisement caused society to have a negative attitude towards it. In the past, when there were no regulations on tobacco advertisement, many people smoked and it seemed to be viewed as normal, which can be seen in The Great Gatsby: "'Aren't we going to let anyone smoke a cigarette first?' 'Everybody smoked all through lunch'". Daisy and Tom, of upper class, speak of smoking as something "anyone" and "everyone" does, so it was obviously the norm back then. Now that there is a ban on tobacco advertisement, smoking is generally viewed in a much more negative way because tobacco is no longer being glorified in advertisements like alcohol is.

I think that alcohol advertisement should have the same ban that tobacco advertisement does. The health and safety of its citizens should be the primary concerns of a government, and this obviously is not the case with the US government if they continue to allow the glorification of alcoholic products through advertisements.