Endgame: The Scary Truth of the Truth Initiative’s Plan

The Truth Initiative’s proposed “End Game” plan has revealed its true intentions of pursuing total prohibition of tobacco. Their strategy, defined as moving towards the end of commercial tobacco and nicotine use, seeks to implement policies like flavor bans, tax increases, and indoor smoking bans, all aimed at outlawing tobacco entirely. While the organization justifies these actions by claiming they are for public health, it becomes evident that their real objective is control over individual choices and behaviors. 

The Truth Initiative proposes their “End Game,” which may be the “true” intentions these controlling non-profits want, to end tobacco. “Endgame” refers to a strategy to move toward the end of commercial tobacco and nicotine use.” This is complete prohibition, not a balanced public health policy, but a full-on ban. It is important to note that all of the ‘small’ gains along the way have been for this ultimate goal of outlawing tobacco. Every tax increase, flavor ban, and indoor smoking ban has been for one reason: prohibition. Do not get lost in their rhetoric surrounding these usual state issues. Their goal is not to ‘protect public health’; it is to control you and what you do in your free time. Sugar, caffeine, meat, and alcohol could be next. 

Directly from the Truth Initiative: ” These policies served a necessary and critical role in beginning the denormalization of tobacco and saved many lives through smoke-free air policies, increased prices through taxation of tobacco products, and funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs.” 

Every action against tobacco goes in one direction: banning all tobacco products. Lawmakers may hide behind the notion that they want a particular anti-tobacco policy, but it is being pushed and supported by the same organizations pushing for prohibition. 

The Truth Initiative states, “For example, recent CDC data showed that 62.3% of adults supported a policy ending the sale of menthol cigarettes, and more than 57.3% of adults supported a policy eliminating the sale of all tobacco products.” James Madison warned us of the tyranny of the majority. Suppose there is such overwhelming support for policies to end flavored tobacco sales. Why would the anti-tobacco movement push it through FDA rule-making and not Congress? Because they know it would never pass. They understand that the legislative process has stakeholder input, scrutiny from those who disagree, and debate and discussion. All notions break down the Truth Initiative’s assertion that this overwhelming support exists. They know that many members of Congress would support consumer choice over the draconian policies of this so-called movement. Here is what the Truth Initiative had to say: “The FDA must act quickly to finalize the menthol cigarette and flavored cigar rules to remove them from the market and proceed with plans to cap nicotine levels in combustible products.” But there is allegedly significant support for these policies. Couldn’t you just ask Congress to act? Of course not, because that would be following proper procedure, something the anti-tobacco activists are not interested in doing. 

The Truth Initiative touts the public’s overwhelming support for banning tobacco products. Still, it follows up with, “Ending tobacco must start with shifting the societal mindset that assumes and accepts tobacco’s continued long-term presence to one that rejects its use entirely. (…) This change in mindset is gaining acceptance.” This statement admits that they do not have public support for these policies, which is underlined by the fact that they will not move policies through Congress. They rely on the administrative state and the FDA to move their policies because the only way to get support is through career health policy analysts in the FDA. They directly follow all of these statements up with “more than 57.3% of adults supported a policy prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products” So, which one is it? Do they need more support, or do they have the majority support? 

The Truth Initiative continues by offering that they need to end all tobacco sales because the tobacco industry targets different minority groups, trying to get them to smoke. This is a classic tactic from the anti-tobacco movement, and they assume that these minority groups have slightly higher use of tobacco products and could never make a decision for themselves. This notion from the Truth Initiative is incredibly offensive. They suggest that certain groups of people cannot make decisions regarding their own choice to consume tobacco products. The Center for Tobacco Products is even spreading this rhetoric as justification for characterizing flavor prohibition under the guise of health equity. Every of-age adult should be able to decide whether they would like to use tobacco products.

The Truth Initiative continues by highlighting the generational smoking ban in New Zealand as sound public policy. At the same time, they do not even offer constructive criticisms or discuss how they would possibly police this policy. In the United States, a policy like New Zealand’s generational smoking ban would be practically impossible, even if adopted into law. But, the constitutionality of this policy is a glaring point we cannot ignore. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution may offer insight into the legality of this potential move,  “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall (…) deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

The Truth Initiative outlines 8 points for their short and medium-term goals:

  1. Implement flavor restrictions
    1. Which they only have a chance of passing if they use the FDA and not Congress. This is also likely to have a heavy legal battle ahead of it. 
  2. Restrict points of sale
    1. They just admitted that they want to restrict the amount of retailers selling tobacco products. This is the same move New Zealand implemented following its generational smoking ban. They want to kill small businesses, harming Main Street USA, state and local economies, and consumer choice. 
  3. Reduce nicotine levels in combustible tobacco products
    1. This is also angled to be pushed through FDA regulations instead of Congress. A move replicated repeatedly, these groups say they have the support of the public, then hide behind the administrative state. 
  4. Improve cessation access
  5. Develop new cessation interventions
  6. Cap nicotine levels and delivery in all tobacco and nicotine products
    1. They are pushing things through the FDA and not Congress because they know it does not have the public support they claim to have. Regarding testing regimes, they do not exist for premium cigars. 
  7. Prohibit sales to younger generations
    1. They are suggesting implementing a generational smoking ban. The FDA has failed to issue regulations or guidance on Tobacco 21, which was passed by Congress and signed into law. Instead of working on common ground solutions and implementations, the anti-tobacco movement is set on moving the goalposts. 
  8. Restrict commercial sales of cigarettes and all other combustible tobacco products
    1. Again, lack of creativity. They are restating the same point again. 

The Truth Initiative’s “End Game” proposal raises important questions about the organization’s true intentions and methods in pursuit of a tobacco-free society. While they tout public support for their policies, the lack of willingness to go through the legislative process and their reliance on the administrative state raises concerns about the legitimacy of their claims. Prohibition of tobacco products poses significant legal, economic, and ethical challenges. As we consider the future of tobacco control and public health policy, it is crucial to engage in open and transparent discussions that respect diverse viewpoints and the principles of democratic governance. 

Prohibition is a drastic step that would destroy the economies of localities, states, and nations around the world that rely on the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industry. There is scant evidence that it would do little to anything to improve public health outcomes. Just know where the anti-tobacco groups are coming from; they do not want dialogue; they do not want compromise. Their sole focus is removing tobacco from the marketplace for everyone.