First They Came For The Flavored Cigarettes...

Steve Chapman asks for evidence of the connection between flavored cigarettes and teen smoking:

Only a few small companies still offer the sort of flavors targeted by the government. According to one maker, Kretek International, these cigarettes account for less than two-tenths of 1 percent of all U.S. sales.

When I asked an FDA spokesperson what portion of the cigarettes smoked by teens are flavored, she told me the agency doesn't know. So how does it know they serve as "a gateway for many children"? How does it know that banning them will have any effect on the number of new tobacco addicts? Actually, it doesn't.

In any case, the number of kids using these products can't be very large. Michael Siegel, a physician and public health professor at Boston University, says that 87 percent of all high school smokers choose Marlboro, Camel, or Newport, which don't come in tutti-frutti flavors.