Making Cigarette Smoking Uncool

Pause to consider the logic here. We decide it is not a good idea to let the government ban this product, or to require a doctor’s prescription to consume it. We think everyone should be allowed to consume it if they choose. But, we also decide it is a good idea to let government to decide if this product can seem “cool.”

Actually, I see a fundamental contradiction in the idea of government regulating “cool.” While we have many social processes which tell us about what others might approve or disapprove, the “cool” process seems inherently decentralized, and not to be mediated by authorities. We the masses are supposed to each decide what we think is “cool,” and we are not supposed to accept declarations by teachers, employers, etc. on the subject. Whatever authorities recommend as a good idea, it can only accidentally be “cool.”

“Cool” just doesn’t seem the sort of thing government can actually regulate.

This is from Robin Hanson. See also Megan McArdle, plus gruesome pictures.

Comments (8)

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  1. Tom says:

    I think it’s fairly safe to assume that death is not cool nor will it ever be…

  2. Vicki says:

    I don’t think this is going to work.

  3. Nancy says:

    Ditto Vicki.

  4. Candace says:

    There are petitions to do this with abortion too. Scaring woman with graphic images.

  5. Devon Herrick says:

    The whole idea of the government creating gruesome images and requiring cigarette companies to cover half the pack with one of the approved images seems somewhat odd.

  6. Tom says:

    Newsflash- smokers are feeling more and more harassed by new laws, but increasing numbers of people don’t care. I take that back, not caring implies apathy. Americans increasingly support such sanctions.

    But not because it kills people or anything…

  7. Brian Williams. says:

    From what little I know about rebellious teenagers, this will only encourage them to smoke.

  8. Jesse_EngAmer says:

    Fantastic point. Even beyond deciding what’s cool and uncool, do legal entities not have the right to design their own advertisement anymore? Labels are advertisement and advertising falls under commercial speech which is constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. Consumers have every right to be well informed and to know the potential side effects of a product hence labels including warnings such as “may be hazardous to your health” and “may result in death” that have been in effect for years, not as small fine print, but large bold proclamations, you can’t get any clearer than that. A government entity should not have the power to design advertisements for a company. Regardless of whether this is the tobacco industry or not. Seems a lot like over reach.