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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Happiness Quotient" Jeopardizes FDA Ability to Act Against Tobacco

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Smoking is considered one of the hardest vices to let go of, despite knowing the fact that cigarettes kill. While the FDA has put up a strong fight over the years, using advertisements that highlight the dangers of smoking, which has led a number of people away from cigarettes; sadly, many smokers simply do not respond to the FDA’s call to action. It turns out that the FDA may find that their job of dissuading smokers may get harder due to what is called the “happiness quotient,” according to The New York Times.

New federal tobacco regulations, scheduled to be finalized by summer 2015, have within them a cost-benefit calculation known as the happiness quotient; the calculation weighs the health benefits of quitting smoking against the pleasure a smoker loses from quitting. The benefits from reducing smoking must be discounted by 70 percent in order to offset the loss of pleasure smokers experience when they quit, according to the article.

The happiness quotient could make the new tobacco regulations much more susceptible to legal challenges, experts told the newspaper. Economists argued that the happiness quotient is too high, in a paper submitted to the FDA. They are calling on the FDA to change the quotient before the regulations go into effect.

A spokeswoman for the FDA, Jennifer Haliski, told the newspaper there is “still a great deal of uncertainty” surrounding the calculation, and that the agency was helping fund research to explore the issue.

More than 69,000 public comments have been made to the FDA regarding the proposed tobacco regulations.

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