Grisly Smoking Ads: Big Brother Butts In?

These upcoming anti-tobacco messages, which will cover the top half of cigarette packages beginning next year, make me glad, so glad, I’ve never been a smoker. I lean in favor of the government’s decision to order them, but I can’t say it’s a slam-dunk case–maybe 55-45 right now.

Reason? First, let’s stipulate that there can be no living American with an IQ above 70 who does not know that cigarettes will harm and kill you. I’ve never heard anyone challenge the science on this. (We should be so lucky on global warming.) This is cold fact.

Which delivers us to the doorstep of the always-somewhat-alluring libertarian argument: Acknowledging all the science and the accuracy of these warnings, is it within the government’s legitimate scope of power to discourage people from damaging their health through some still-legal activity they consider–for reasons that have always escaped me–pleasurable?

Discuss. 50 points.

Bonus question. Make the case for or against similarly graphic warnings about liquor, factory farming and slaughterhouses, and extremely violent chainsaw-maniac movies. 20 points.

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