Half-Assed Regulations Ultimately Don't Save Us

I've been balking for months at the ridiculous television ads for the Smoke-Free Illinois Act (formerly the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act) that promise "air free of cancer-causing toxins" when the only difference in the air is a lack of cigarette smoke. There are still other toxins in the air, and plenty of other ways to get cancer other than from those airborne toxins. Cancer aside, think of all the other irritants polluting our indoor air: wearers of too much cologne, bearers of body odor (ranging from homeless dude to indie rocker in severity), and pet owners who transmit pet dander (allergens) on their skin, hair and clothing. Is our legislature sincerely trying to improve air quality, or just pretending to save people from their beloved vices? Take a guess.

In Illinois, 71.82% of us believe that smoking a pack or more a day poses a significant health risk. Only 38.75% of us believe there is a significant risk in the consumption of five or more alcoholic drinks, once or twice a week. Roughly .2% of deaths in Illinois are caused by cancer. But 45% of traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Why haven't we outlawed alcohol from public places? Or automobiles? We need to be saved from booze and cars more than we need to be saved from cancer or cigarettes.

Today I'm snickering at New York City's new menu labeling regulations, which claim to help guide consumers to healthier choices - by displaying only caloric information. What about fat, sodium and cholesterol? Sure, 20% of New Yorkers are obese, but 25.3% of them have high blood pressure and 34.9% of them have high cholesterol. If health were the true priority, the labeling wouldn't begin and end with calories alone.

And since when is it the restaurant's job to teach the ignorant masses how to eat properly? Why aren't grocery stores tasked with educating us more? Wait, what about schools - they're supposed to have educated us already, right? Oh, and our parents... we learn our eating habits from our parents more than anyone else. You need a license to drive a car and you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol, but any dumb-ass can have kids and instill unhealthy habits in them.

Why do we feel the need to demonize a fashionable bad guy instead of address the real problems in their entirety? Why does legislature feel the need to save us from ourselves only when convenient? And why do I think that one of my blog readers is going to have the answers to these questions?

Today is just one of those days, I guess.
UPDATE: DC Lies has the answer.


DC Liar said...

Here's something I wrote about the looming ban back in '05 on my old blog.


PYLB said...

That was superbly written, my friend. Righteous.

Chris B. said...

Sorry to be so late to the party, (and I didn't read the Liar's stuff - forgive) but hamburgers are double jeopardy, no? Especially flame-broiled burgers, as the charring flesh contains the same (or worse) carcinogens as cigarettes. Am I wrong on this? How come hamburgers have not been outlawed?

PYLB said...

One day soon, hamburgers may very well be outlawed. And when that day comes, only outlaws will enjoy hamburgers.