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Where are YOUR rights headed?

Updated on August 18, 2011

I promise unless you live under a rock this pertains to you

Before seeing the next paragraph and saying to yourself “I don’t smoke this doesn’t pertain to me”. Stop, take a minute, read it and realize IT DOES PERTAIN TO YOU!! If you live in the United States and enjoy freedom’s such as ‘Freedom of Speech’, it pertains to you.

Big Tobacco

Tobacco Companies are finally standing up for their 1st amendment rights. Freedom of speech. To be able to put what they want on Cigarette package labels, at the very least to NOT put on labels what they have been ordered to by the FDA. In June these new labels were announced to be put on Cigarette packs. Nine were approved for use, pictures of lungs, one perfect and clean, one diseased. a picture of a dead person. A picture of rotted teeth. A picture of a person that has a hole in their neck with smoke coming out etc.

Is this in any way shape or form fair? Fair at all? Tobacco companies lost the BIG fight long ago in the courts. The Courts awarding millions of dollars to families of diseased family members due to lung cancer. The Tobacco companies are forced to pay for ads that run on television, speaking out against smoking. The Tobacco companies have been ordered to pay for smoking cessation ads etc.

What we already know

We've known for a long time that smoking is bad for us. Not one person in America can say they haven't been warned. On every package there is a label stating smoking is dangerous, can cause lung cancer, can lead to heart disease, cause low birth weight etc. This has been on these labels for years. How much more do these companies have to pay? Some will say ‘Not enough’ the others who aren't sure, read on.

The taxes alone, the Government both State and Federal assess on each pack is astronomical. Which of course is passed on to the consumer. Is this stopping people from smoking? Some have quit. Some struggle to quit. Some don't. Some are stubborn and refuse to give it up, only because they are being forced to. I am one of the stubborn ones. If they would have left it alone, I might have quit years ago. In fact it was my intention to do so, for my own health. Then the Government stepped in and decided to TELL me what to do, for my own good. You can suggest all day long, but when you start to tell me what to do, my hackles raise and I get stubborn.

My thoughts

This is what I have to say:

Smoking is bad for me, yep I know it. There are warning labels on the package. I have read them for years. Will I quit? Maybe, but when I do it will be on my terms, not because someone has told me I have to.

Is this what you want to see on your bag of food?
Is this what you want to see on your bag of food?

Fast Food

McDonalds is bad for me, so does that mean they are going to insist that pictures of fat people be put on the packaging to the 'bad for you' foods? Same goes for Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell etc. I can see it now, all those folks who weigh well over 500 lbs lining up to have their picture taken with grease dripping down their shirt! Just to be stuck right on the side of that bucket of fried chicken.

YUM... makes you want another glass doesn't it?
YUM... makes you want another glass doesn't it?

Drink Pop? Energy drinks?

Soda pop is bad for your teeth, as most dentists will agree. The acid erodes the enamel on the teeth, causing tooth decay. Does this mean that on all bottles of carbonated beverages ie; pop, energy drinks, there should be the gaping open mouths of those who suffer tooth decay?

Hey!!  MY eyes are still open!!  Give me another shot!
Hey!! MY eyes are still open!! Give me another shot!


Alcohol is bad for me. When are they going to put pictures of people who are in alcohol stupors on those labels? I'm sure you can find them all over the Internet, young people passed out at parties from drinking to much only to have their so called friends write on them, pile garbage on top of them etc. Wouldn't it then be correct to assume this would be a proper label for all forms of alcohol?

Let's take it one step further

Or how about the packaging of children’s protective gear. Maybe they should have the body of a child splattered all over the road on the labels, as a warning of what COULD happen if you don’t wear a helmet or protective gear.

On and on and on

The list can go on and on of things that are bad for you or even things that you should be doing. Eventually will everything be outlawed? Will everything have a label on it that is disgusting?

What really happened to Freedom of Speech? Freedom to advertise is included within that freedom of speech. Was it really lost in the Court Rooms? Or have we just handed it over, by not defending the rights of those we might not agree with.

Just THINK for a minute!!

I for one, hope that the big tobacco companies win their case in Court and you should too, or one day you may be taking a swig of your soda while looking inside the mouth of a five year old who's teeth have rotted out because they were allowed to drink pop. Or as you're taking a big bite of that burger you love, the eyes of a 600 pound person will be squinting back at you. Or as you decide to relax on a Saturday in your backyard having a barbeque, some drunk who was caught sleeping in the gutter after being robbed and killed for being drunk, will be on the side of your beer can.


Come on PEOPLE WAKE UP!!! If we don’t stand up for our rights, they will be slowly ripped away one at a time!! The smokers of this Country are feeling the effects first hand. We the smokers, are the first guinea pigs. We have sat back and quietly said NOTHING!!! We’ve let you berate us for our choices, tell us we stink, you give us dirty looks when you see us light up. You’ve shoved us out into the cold so we can have a few moments of quiet to smoke, kicked us out of our cars in some states, off the sidewalks in others. Yet we have sat back and agreed with you, why? Because deep down we know smoking is bad for us and we don’t want to offend YOU! But in the process of us caring what you think, we have begun the process of giving up rights.

Our rights have been taken from us, which ones are you willing to give up? For your own good.


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    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! All I am asking is people take notice of what is going on. Not that they necessarily agree with me on my subject, just that they notice where things are going. Thanks for stopping by!

    • slaffery profile image

      slaffery 6 years ago from Kansas, USA

      I appreciate your hub but have to agree with Road2hell on their points as well as several others who have commented. You got me thinking and looking at it from a different point of view and you have a lot of courage for broaching such a sensitive subject.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read and process this Hub.

    • TinaLynn profile image

      TinaLynn 6 years ago

      I'm not a smoker, nor do I even like smelling smoke, but I see your point here. I think our rights to choose are slowly (or not so slowly) being taken away. I think the government is butting in way too much and needs to step back and let people make their own decisions.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Let's start over here - What I am defending the the 1st Amendment right. The right for freedom of speech, the right for companies to advertise the way they want. We have enough regulations and limitations as it is. That is what I am defending, I used tobacco companies as the example of a precedence that is trying to be set.

    • road2hell profile image

      road2hell 6 years ago from Linden, AB

      Am I missing something here? I don't think we should have rights. I believe in priveledges and they can be taken away if abuse. If one wants to damage to oneself, so be it. I have no problems with that. But if other people's health and safety is invovled then I feel someone has to step in and rectified it. Smoking should not be allowed in closed areas. Second-hand smoke and third-hand has been proven more serious than one smoking for themselves. The tobacco company is making unbelievable amount of money and at the same time costing our economy through health costs millions of dollars. One thing I don't understand why do tobacco companies need to put so many chemicals in their products? Many of these chemicals are proven to be carcinogens. Are they supporting some petrochemical companies? Surely, 99% of these chemcals are totally unneccessary.

      Gee, I think I got onto a different subject. This could be a HubPage.

      Maybe in the near future ...

    • jcoop profile image

      jcoop 6 years ago from Long Beach, California

      "Or as you're taking a big bite of that burger you love, the eyes of a 600 pound person will be squinting back at you."

      Look around any fast food restaurant and you already see this, they're just real 600-pound people.

      I don't think you can really compare tobacco to chocolate or aspirin. Both of those have proven health benefits (yes, even chocolate). What benefit does tobacco have at all? Quite the slippery slope here.

      I don't think the pictures are aimed at people who have been smoking most their lives. Yes, we all know smoking is bad for you, but the truth is that kids start smoking everyday. And while they know it's bad for them, they don't know how it's bad for them. Yes, it's just a scare tactic, but if it keeps kids from smoking then so be it. The point is that too many people die prematurely due to smoking (443,000 a year). It's ridiculous.

      Tobacco's history with this country does not allow the harm it causes. Many say Miami was built with Cocaine money, should cocaine be legal?

      And companies don't have 1st amendment rights when they are governed by the FDA; they can't be trusted with them. Example: High-fructose corn syrup being changed to just "corn sugar." That is one letter off from cane sugar even though the two are worlds apart. You might think the difference is clear, but let's be honest: people don't pay attention.

      I understand where you're coming from, but are you really defending tobacco companies?

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      And since you've had that job the laws have changed. Smoking is not allowed in most public buildings. That is fine. It is now a moot point.

      Yes, Tobacco did build this Country to what it is today. Way back when, before automobiles, before women got the right to vote. One of the first products that were shipped out of this Country to the rest of the world was Tobacco. So yes, it is a big part of our history. Since 1612. Tobacco paid the way for other products to be sold.

      Free enterprise, that's why it is still legal. For now, we still have free enterprise, as long as it is still legal, it can be produced.

      So then you believe that anything that 'COULD' be bad for you should be outlawed? That would eliminate about 98% of the products on the shelf. Anything that is done without moderation can be bad for you. Vitamins. Take too many and you could die. Aspirin, take too many and you could die. Chocolate - eat too much and you could get fat and have heart failure. This list goes on and on.

      Does the FDA need to step in and ban these products from the shelves because they COULD be bad for you? Or does the FDA need to step in and order certain labels to be put on?

      We have entirely enough stupidity going on in this Country, tags on hair dryers "Do not use while bathing or in the shower"... Obviously someone did this.

      My point once again is this: The freedom of the 1st Amendment - Freedom of speech. Certain companies being forced to put pictures on the packaging. Pictures that are not only offensive but WILL without a doubt cause arguments among the people.

      They want truth in advertising correct? These pictures are not true, they are reconstructions of someone's version of the truth.

    • imgreencat profile image

      imgreencat 6 years ago

      I once had a job at a company where everyone smoked in a very small office. Everyone had cigaretts going all day long. I stayed there one day. So you really think that the tobacco industry helped this country be what it is today? It helped the tobacco industry make a pile of money and all the politians who they paid off. Sure it gave lots of people jobs but what about all the people it killed? You would probably say they were warned, but not in the beginning. Smoking was considered cool and safe. Many doctors smoked and still do, but that's not the point I was making. When you talk about rights, the most important consideration should be,the health of the general public. I might not have to sit next to you while you smoke but your children can't go anywhere. When you go out to eat, other patrons get your smoke. That's even when you sit in the smoking section. I don't what to stop you from smoking but I don't want to be subjected to smoke. If I did, I too would be a smoker. The labeling on packages of cigaretts is ridiculous,if something is dangerous, why have it out there in the first place. The FDA is not protecting anyone. I think they want to change the packaging on these products to clear the conscience for allowing and continuing it to be sold. Remember the job of the FDA is to check for product safety. Yes, there are other things out there that are unhealthy and sold; alcohol, many prescriptions drugs, many foods and city water, but the FDA is being paid off, in some way, to get it through. Sorry to go off about this, I know there are many gullible people out there, with many others who just want to smoke. So smoke um if you got em. Have a good day.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      @ drbj - Thank you! You get it! I knew you would. You are one smart cookie!! Take away one's right's you take away another.

      @ imgreencat - There is no except. No where. I am not here to debate whether or not tobacco should ever have been allowed. Though if you want to bring it up, check your history. Tobacco is what helped make this Country what it is today. That's all I will say on that subject.

      You are failing to understand my point. When my rights as a smoker are taken away, your rights to do something else will be next on the list. You are standing there cheering at the top of your lungs for my rights as a smoker to be halted. When your rights to do as you wish are on the chopping block, do you think those that spoke so loudly against our rights are going to get us to stand up for you? We will ONLY if it effects us.

      I was not asking you to sit next to be while I smoked. That is your right not to do so. What I am saying is choices. Shouldn't we be allowed choices? If I, as a business owner want to have smokers in my place of business, shouldn't that be allowed? If I have a sign on my door that clearly states 'This is a SMOKING establishment" what is the problem? Your choice as a non-smoker to enter the establishment is just that, your's. If you as a worker do not want to be around the smoke, find another job. It should be a choice, not a law.

      As far as the packaging on the cigarettes, WHY should the law insist that these pictures are put on them? What good will come of it? It will just cause dissension and resentment. How so? (1 possible scenario) You are walking with your small child, I am carrying a pack of smokes with this offensive picture on it. It scares your child. Rather than you explaining to your child it is just a picture, you demand of me to hide the offending picture. Do you see where I am going with this? So with this offending picture we have now violated many rights.

      1. The companies right to put what they want on a package.

      2. My right to carry such package (because I am offending you and your child, and you have just violated my rights to do so)

      3. The child's right to view something NOT offensive.

      4. Your rights as a parent to protect your child from something offensive.

      Now you may argue "well, don't smoke, it's bad for you anyway". This too is violating my right. Cigarettes are perfectly legal, it's my right to do so. We are again back at square 1.

      Now lets take this one step further.

      Should the Tobacco Companies be forced to put the offensive pictures on their cigarette package by the FDA.. It is almost guaranteed the fast food industry will be next on the chopping block. (the law suits abounding because parents can't tell children NO). So here goes. We will have photos of people on the packaging of products that are offensive. So you happen to pick up a 'happy meal' for your child. You take it to the park so you can eat in private with your child and have playtime as well. I am a parent who does not feed Happy Meals to my children. I see this packaging and am offended, my children are offended. So I say something, causing an argument. Or better yet, a large person goes to buy a quick meal, as the person grabs their bag, someone from the 'peanut gallery' decides to say something offensive. Causing an argument.

      So you may say you don't feel sorry for the Tobacco industry, that is fine. But when it effects a Company you happen to support, will you then be up in arms? Guaranteed, by then it will be too late.

      Thank you both for stopping by!!

    • imgreencat profile image

      imgreencat 6 years ago

      Good hub and great points on rights except that the tabacco should have never been allowed to put out this product in the first place. Then you would'nt have to struggle with trying to quit someday. It is not a matter of right for the tabacco industry or anyone else out there who has products that cause health problems but the risks for the people who can buy there products. They don't have pot on the market because it's "such a dangerous drug" but cigarettes can be purchased at the corner store. It would be one thing if a person chooses to ruin their own health, I don't have a problem with that. That's your right! But cigarett smoke does not stay in one area. If I sit next to you and your are smoking, so am I. Don't I have the right not to be poisoned? I don't feel sorry for the cigarett industry. They are like big pharma in that they cover their losses. When they have to pay out money for their products that kill people, they make it up with more sales on another pill. So it is with cigarettes. The only reason cigarettes are sold at all is because of all the money they make for the government. It matters not how unhealty they are. When you talk about rights, consider my right as a non smoker or the rights of children who's parents smoke in the home or car.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Although I am not a smoker, I will defend your right, susie, or that of any other person to smoke if that is what they choose to do.

      With the new proposed FDA guidelines for tobacco companies, it feels more and more like we are no longer living in a democracy but in a stifling dictatorship. Which freedom will they attempt to banish next?

    • profile image

      Val 6 years ago

      Good question: how DO we get back to a time of tolerance? We need to make tolerance cool (and I'm not talking about "tolerance" in the sense it is often used today... currently that word is used to mean that you don't have any standards rather than accepting what you don't like or approve of in others. Hint: you can't "tolerate" something you already approve of)

      You mentioned a few catch phrases: "say what you feel" "life is too short to be miserable". Gee, we're a bunch of writers on this forum, we should be able to come up with some catchy phrases that express "I'm glad to give you the freedom to be whatever you like as long as you don't force me to join you"

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Oh yeah!! Back in the good old days!! LOL When I was growing up all the friends of my my parents smoked. In 1970 my dad quit never to pick one up again. It never bothered him that my mom still smoked. He still attended functions where smoking was allowed and never said a word. No one spoke out against each other. Everyone treated each other with respect.

      The change came about with the younger generation, younger than them (not any one in particular). The generation that preaches intolerance of others. You hear it in the words such as 'say what you feel'... 'life is too short to be miserable, so don't hold back'...

      An example of intolerance might be someone turning without using a turning signal... Intolerant behavior would be to yell in their direction and flip them off. Tolerance might be muttering under your breath, at your being inconvenienced, but other wise doing nothing.

      We are never going to placate everyone ALL the time. Someone is always going to complain. So unless we learn tolerance of others we are always going to have these fights of who gets to do what.

      How do we get back to a time of tolerance? I honestly don't know.

    • profile image

      Valerye M 6 years ago

      You are spot-on, Susie! I don't smoke, but I do respect the right of others to do so as long as they aren't exhaling in my face or bringing it into my home. Smoking isn't as "cool" as it once was; remember all those Golden Age movie stars lighting up? Back then the act was shown as sophisticated and sexy. Now that the popular sentiment is anti-smoking, only the villains partake and "respectable" people can look the other way when the "villains" are pilloried for their habit and pretend that they won't be next when the two minutes hate is focused on them.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! yes, the Gov't needs to butt out.. pun intended! Truly I think it would just serve to cause more division of the people in this Country. Why? Because say for instance you are not a smoker, you happen to see the packaging on the cigarettes and become offended at the photo's... Next thing you know it will be a knock down drag out fight in the parking lot of a convenience store.

      There will just be no end to the complications from this!!

    • profile image

      Kari_24 6 years ago

      Great Hub. I don't think there is a person out there that doesn't know that smoking is bad for you. Or even drinking pop or alcohol for that matter. We do it because we choose to. They do not need to be throwing disgusting pictures at us. Honestly, I doubt it would make much of a difference in sales because people do have a hard time quitting anyway. My parents actually buy their own tobacco and roll their own cigarettes. They have been smoking for 30 years and no end in sight. They know it's bad but they choose to do it. Government needs to butt out!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      @ LL Woodward - Absolutely!! The tax dollars that are paid to the Gov't is probably the only thing that has prevented smoking legal.

      Most smokers have agreed with the laws, saying 'Well, yes, it really is bad for me'... yet some smoke on the sly.. Some truly do try to quit. But because they don't want to offend anyone, they put it out... In their quest to be conscientious they have handed over their rights.

      What really burns my butt is this... In Michigan they have outlawed smoking in ANY establishment... All bars, hotel, motels, etc.. I understand that non-smokers don't want to smell it... But here is my question... Shouldn't the owners of such establishments have the RIGHT to say if they are smoking or non-smoking? Put up a BIG sign outside the bar "This is a SMOKING ALLOWED BAR, enter at your own risk".

      In Kansas I stayed at a hotel that had smoking rooms. The state had allowed business owners the RIGHT to make that decision. They even had smoking in some restaurants, with a sign on the door. This was just a little over a year ago, I don't know if those laws have changed.

      @ Joe Macho - I think the reason you haven't seen it before is just this... We smokers don't want to be told on a Hub that it is bad for you!! I'm breaking out of the mold!! I'm standing up for my rights, albeit behind a computer screen, but darn I'm still here!!

    • Joe Macho profile image

      Zach 6 years ago from Colorado

      I was wondering when I would come across a hub that addresses this issue. I sure hope that the tobacco companies win their battle in court as well. Lately the regs by the gov on the tobacco companies has gotten a little too much. I don't need a scary picture to show me its bad, I can read the Surgeons General warning.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      The government has done everything short of making tobacco illegal...have to wonder why. Oh, I know--the government gleans lots of tax dollars from tobacco sales.

      I agree with you, Susie, tobacco is only a first stop and because it doesn't directly effect as many people as say a war on junk food, the populace has just gone with the flow.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Thanks Dexter!! Yep, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) are re-writing the laws all the time!! They want to do studies, fine I have no problem with that. They want the Surgeon General to tell us what has been deemed 'bad' for us? That too is fine.. BUT, if it's legal and we CHOOSE to use the product, why should 'they' get to control what goes on the label? Information is fine - after all How many people don't know that soda pop has sugar? Those folks who count calories, hey, they wanted it they got it... Now pictures? Well I think that is going above and beyond telling us what is bad for us...

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Hi Sweet! Great hub. You certainly show the hypocrisy of how the the tobacco industry is treated in relation to food, soft drinks and alcohol. Bravo! (And I hope they win)!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      Yep, it's getting really bad. If they lose in Court... well it could be really bad for the rest of the companies. Which of course means jobs.

    • Nspeel profile image

      Nspeel 6 years ago from Myrtle Beach

      wow great point. very well written and that is ridiculous i did not know they were pushing on cigarette company's like this. voted up