The parallels between cigarette smoking and meat consumption are uncanny:
• The chronic diseases linked to both activities and costs of associated medical care and lost productivity are very similar.
• The first government reports warning consumers about health hazards of cigarette smoking and meat consumption were issued in 1964 by the Surgeon General and in 1977 by the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs.
• The first warning labels on cigarette and meat packaging were required in 1966 and 1994, respectively.
• Both activities are discouraged by health advocates and both are declining.
But there is one important difference: the meat industry impacts more state economies with a stronger congressional clout than the tobacco industry. A Surgeon General's report on the hazards of meat consumption is most unlikely. Our health remains our personal responsibility.