Let's not be shortsighted in debate on ban of plastic bag

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Polyethylene bags are known to amass in landfills, litter streets, obstruct sewer systems and hurt marine life. Net photo.

Editor,

RE: “Ban on plastic bags: EAC should focus on control” (The New Times, March 13).

Matt’s position is akin to saying cigarettes should not be banned but rather controlled because banning smoking would result in massive job losses.

Does this concern for “jobs” take into account the economic and emotional losses of the deaths and blighted lives from chronic illness related to smoking? Similarly, do the meager jobs salvaged in the short-term from not banning plastics take into account their environmental and, eventually, economic costs of failing to ban them?

I bring in tobacco because that industry pioneered these kinds of arguments clothed in pseudo appeals to the necessity to protect the general welfare when they couldn’t give a hoot about the general welfare – only their own pecuniary self-interest.

The best example of this genre is an Arthur Anderson study commissioned by Philip Morris in the Czech Republic a few years back extolling the benefits of cigarette smoking by Czech citizens to that country’s pension system; wait for it: Because many smoker-contributors to that system died before they reached the legal age of retirement and therefore never drew anything from that system after years of contribution.

Of course these conclusions do not reflect the health and social costs of caring for large numbers of citizens and family members sickened by tobacco products.

By the way, the storm of scandal caused by this study forced Philip Morris to withdraw the report of the ‘study’ from the Internet and try to bury it forever.

Moral: Any time any industry begins appealing to the selfless benefits for general welfare in their push for their wares (for example the hyperbolic claims of the GMO industry) – beware!

It is an old marketing stance, used to clothe narrow and rapacious self-interest (often at the expense of public welfare) in falsely selfless intentions for the general welfare.

Mwene Kalinda