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Anti-Smoking Campaign is Anti-Freedom
by Alan Caruba
07 November 2003Cigarettes

Discriminating against smokers has become an acceptable prejudice in America, thanks to the way they have been identified as a threat to everyone around them.

I am a smoker. I literally start my workday by lighting up one of the two or three cigars I puff my way through every day. I could quit if I wanted to, but I don’t. I like smoking cigars. My father smoked a pipe for as long as I knew him. My Mother never smoked, but was around his so-called “second-hand smoke” her entire life. She died at age 98. He died at age 93.

I was moved to think about this by an intriguing book by Michael J. McFadden, “Dissecting Antismoker’s Brains." Its ultimate concern is yet another United Nations’ plan to control everyone’s life; a ban on all tobacco use initiated in 1975 and being pursued by its World Health Organization. Its immediate concern is the way Americans in particular have been lied to and manipulated by a diabolical campaign to deprive us of the choice to smoke or not. This campaign is essentially about taking away a freedom we thought we had.

Two organizations, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Group Against Smoker’s Pollution (GASP) have been around a long time, spewing out enough lies about smoking to fill a library or two. McFadden points out their tactic was to make non-smokers feel separated from smokers as “a distinctly important group.” The threat smokers were said to represent never existed. Going all the way back to the 1979 Surgeon General’s report, the science then and now demonstrates that “Evidence that tobacco smoke is antigenic in man, however, is meager and controversial…”

A leading epidemiologist, Michael Thun, was quoted in the Washington Post earlier this year saying, “There’s no definitive way of establishing the cause of a cancer in an individual. Are there people that develop lung cancer without exposures (to any of the known cancer-causing agents)? No one knows.”  While logic suggests that smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer, the fact is, “no one knows” if this is the trigger or whether a genetic or other factor played a role. However, on the basis that smoking automatically leads to lung cancer, the American Lung Association is the third organization, along with ASH and GASP, to work endlessly to restrict the right to smoke anywhere and everywhere.

So, if you eliminate the argument that smoking in the workplace, in restaurants and other public places poses no scientifically verifiable threat to anyone, it is simply astounding to contemplate that, by the middle of 2001, the American Medical Association reported that states were spending more than $880 million on antismoking activities. This is such an appalling waste of money that could be allocated to the real social problems, one would expect some public outrage. But as McFadden points out, we’ve been effectively brainwashed to think that a real health threat exists, smokers are less deserving of their Constitutional rights as others, and that anti-smoking programs are working.

Columnist George Will wrote in May that “tobacco policy radiates contempt for law. Cynical lawmaking produced the $246 billion settlement of an extortionate suit by 46 state governments against major tobacco companies, purportedly as recompense for smoking-related health care costs. Never mind that governments probably profit from smoking in two ways. Cigarettes are the most heavily taxed consumer product, but are usually not taxed so heavily that too many smokers give up the lucrative (for governments) habit. Furthermore, governments reap savings in the form of reduced spending for Social Security, pensions and nursing home care for persons who die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses.” The hypocrisy, if not outright criminality, i.e., extortion, involved in the punitive lawsuits against the tobacco companies, is yet another cause for outrage, but it’s just not there.

Discriminating against smokers has become an acceptable prejudice in America, thanks to the way they have been identified as a threat to everyone around them.  As McFadden points out though, “If by some chance they (the anti-smoking campaigners) succeeded in eliminating smoking from the face of the earth there would be virtually no time lapse before they sank their fangs into Big Auto, Big Meat, Big Soda, or whatever supposedly idealistic cause was out there that would promise them Big Money and Big Power.”

The fact is, there are groups already engaged in activities designed to exploit or destroy these industries and we see this in the work of the “food police” advocates, the “animal rights” propagandists, and the incessant hatred directed against SUVs by environmentalists.

In America, the power to control your life and everyone else’s presumably is based on the “consent of the governed,” but the restrictions on smoking were generated primarily from the courts. Legislators went along because it promised a new source of funding for their endless schemes. The problem is that everyone lost and everyone loses when the lifestyle choice to smoke or not is denied.

It is a pure fiction that people are safer in so-called “smoke-free” facilities. The science concerning the amount of measurable compounds to which they are exposed demonstrates it is so infinitesimal as to pose no threat whatever. In 1989, the report of the Surgeon General noted that close to 90% of the weight of tobacco smoke is composed of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and plain water. These are natural and necessary components of the environment. Scare campaigns, however, have succeeded in creating fears about smoking that have ultimately deprived everyone of the freedom to smoke anywhere.

Giving up just one freedom is giving up one freedom too many. Everyone pays a price for the loss of any freedom to anyone or any group. That is why, in America, we defend the right of people with whom we disagree to express themselves. You may or may not be a smoker, but you should have a very real concern about the anti-smoking politicians and others who continue to trample on freedom.

Alan Caruba is the author of Warning Signs, published by Merril Press. His weekly commentaries are posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center.

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