With the U.S. smoking rate in a nosedive, the nation's three largest tobacco companies -- Altria , Reynolds American , and Lorillard -- face an existential threat. A committed cadre of anti-tobacco activists is determined to drop the smoking rate all the way to zero. By acting on a number of fronts that include excise tax hikes, laws that ban smoking in public places, and legal victories for anti-tobacco groups, activists have helped lower the U.S. smoking rate from 32% in the 1980s to 18.1% in 2012. However, new measures must be found and implemented in order to drop the rate to zero.
Americans have a strong sense of their right to do to themselves what they please, even when it involves activities they would be better off avoiding. Just look at the push for marijuana legalization, which is starting to sweep across the nation on a state-by-state basis. Except in certain medical contexts, Americans would be better off not smoking marijuana. However, public sentiment is starting to sway in favor of individual rights. This is all the more evidence that anti-tobacco activists need to find a solution other than the heavy hand of government to put an end to the smoking epidemic. (click for more)