Agency doesn’t inform, it hectors

JEFF JACOBY makes it clear that the graphic images of disease — some critics call them “medical pornography’’ — which the Food and Drug Administration will force tobacco companies to put on cigarette packs are meant to hector rather than to inform (“The wasted warnings,’’ Op-ed, Nov. 17). While the Federal Trade Commission monitors private business advertising to make sure its content is accurate, there will be no such scrutiny of the FDA. Can we trust them?

The New York Health Department recently produced television ads showing children supposedly sickened by secondhand smoke. When confronted, however, the department admitted it had made no effort to determine whether the children had ever even been exposed to tobacco smoke. If a business had run such ads, the FTC would have taken action. The health department, however, without apology, continued running them.

The images the FDA will use will undoubtedly be computer-enhanced, and the public will have no way of knowing whether the diseased organs or rotting teeth depicted are actually those of smokers. After all, not smoking does not guarantee freedom from disease or death..

Some studies have shown that smoking protects against Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s disease. If the government wanted to educate, rather than only intimidate, it might require that the image of a normal brain of a smoker be displayed next to one ravaged by either of these dread diseases.

source: Globe Newspaper Company

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