Our current war on drugs overlooks the most important health issue of our times.

Drug abuse has been given its due in 1986—and the cigarette industry should be glad for it. Why? Because while multiple cover stories rightfully decried a nation “crack”-ing up, between 350,000 and 485,000 Americans died of tobacco-related illnesses.

While Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, and ex-offender, ex-football star Mercury Morris warned against cocaine—“the big lie”—a white-washed lie in the form of attractive cigarette advertisements encouraged men and women (and inescapably, boys and girls) to, among other things, “Share a new adventure.”

And while the Reagan administration declared no mercy in its all-out war against drug dealers, the same administration failed to take a stand this past summer on proposed legislation that would have banned all tobacco advertising and promotion.

Clearly, the court of public opinion (influenced by an almost drug-obsessed media and a Washington officialdom looking, in some cases, to get votes) has found cocaine, crack, and its life-draining offspring the plague of 1986—public health enemy number one. But as for the havoc wrought by cigarette smoking, there has been nary a word, save for that ubiquitous, almost schizophrenic warning boxed at the bottom of every ad implying that cigarette smoking can be hazardous to your health.

Lives Up In Smoke

Americans have been reading that warning for over 20 years, ever since the initial Report of the Surgeon General of the United States announced a definite link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Yet according to Kenneth Warner, a University of Michigan researcher writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, ...

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