I have another post due up soon but in the meanwhile wander over to ep-ology where Carl has a thoughtful post on how the institutional culture at the FDA does not portend for the best when it comes to determining good tobacco policy.
An institution that is used to being obeyed, and that does not function well in a realm where that does not happen, and that primarily measures life years saved and dollars spent and ignores most other human desires. Merge in a political movement that has been itching for more police powers and tends toward utopian (i.e., overly optimistic fascism) extremism. I am not sure whether the better metaphor is The Drug War or Afghanistan. Either way, I fear that even most of the pessimists have not predicted just where this is going to end up.