Someone tampers with Sudafed and three people are poisoned and die. The manufacturer and the retailers remove the product from stores. The public is frightened but comforted by the response.
No one tampers with tobacco products but they kill approximately 400,000 smokers a year, along with approximately 53,000 involuntary smokers. The manufacturers do not remove the product from the stores and deny the results of scientific studies. In addition, they provide sizable contributions to the reelection campaigns of some well-placed politicians so that effective laws and educational campaigns to protect the public are circumvented or prevented.
Three cheers for the California Medical Assn., which has decided to battle the cigarette companies. In the interest of public health (the EPA says that tobacco smoke is a Class A carcinogen), the CMA is calling for laws to prohibit smoking in public places ("Doctors Group Urges Toughest No Smoking Law," Part A, March 12). The Tobacco Institute suggests that California is "from another planet." The question is, if we can't get the tobacco companies to become as responsible as the manufacturers of Sudafed, can we arrange to send the tobacco companies to another planet?