Where’s the Rest of The Rest of the Story?

Generally I am a fan of Dr. Siegel, but I do not always agree with him. Here is one example. I am not a fan of the kind of analysis offered in yesterday’s post.

Siegel has picked an enemy…The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and he grabs a hold of a recent press release of theirs where they are encouraging states to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The central component of his rant is that the Campaign supports this law even though it was the Campaign itself that helped prevent the FDA from gaining that power. He calls them disingenuous. That’s it. A charge of hypocrisy and nothing more substantive.

  1. There are two things to point out here:
    Either raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products is a good policy or a bad one. There are good arguments on both sides, but Siegel presents none of them. He seems to support it, so he should ally himself with organizations that also support it, regardless of how they felt about it last week, last year, or ten or twenty years ago. When organizations or individuals come around to your way of thinking, that should be applauded, not used as another opportunity to vilify them. This raises the specter of ulterior motives on Siegel’s part, which makes his stance appear to be the disingenuous one. I’m not making any accusations here. I wouldn’t know what accusations to make. I normally consider Siegel an authentic and committed voice in tobacco control. This doesn’t feel like what’s happening here.
  2. If it is a good policy, that does not imply that it is equally good if implemented by either the states or the federal government. In a federalized system like the US has, one could easily advocate for all 50 states adopting a policy but combat the federal government adopting that same policy or overseeing its administration. There’s no hypocrisy there. I don’t know if the Campaign’s stance was that this would be better as a state decision or not–it doesn’t really make any sense in this particular instance to support state-level decision making over federal action–but it’s possible and without exploring that possibility, Siegel performs a disservice.

Siegel always calls the second half of his posts “The Rest of the Story,” but I think this is an instance where The Rest of the Story needs its own The Rest of the Story.

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