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There are 20 comments on POV: Antismoking Movement Has Been Co-Opted

  1. I am trying to figure out exactly why I should care that people still choose to smoke. We allow people to make all kinds of lifestyle choices that entail the risk of injury, illness, and death. It is far more dangerous for a BU student to ride a bike on Comm Ave than to smoke a cigarette, but we not only tolerate bike riding, we actually provide the bikes. Drinking is a health risk, as is mountain climbing, whitewater rafting, snowboarding, fast food, promiscuous sex, and (at least in Boston) just crossing the street. Are these next on your list of activities that must be extirpated from society?

    There is a reason why people smoke, and it obviously has nothing to do with being scammed by “Big Tobacco”. Everyone knows that cigarette smoking carries serious long-term health risks, and that it is an expensive and inconvenient habit. I presume that people smoke now for the same reason that people have been smoking for the past half-millenium – because it gives them pleasure to do so. Apart from the wildly exaggerated risks of “second-hand smoke” (when was the last time that anyone was forced to be exposed to cigarette smoke in a public place?), and unlike the function-impairing use of alcohol and drugs, smoking is a blessedly private vice that should be of no one else’s concern but the smoker’s. I would be curious to know if you can provide us with some principled reason why smoking should be the one and only recreational activity that must be completely eliminated, even as far more dangerous and socially-destructive endeavors are tolerated and in some cases encouraged?

    1. I’d guess economics. I don’t want to pay your higher premiums for health issues you developed courtesy of a habit you know better than to indulge in. It’s the same reason we encourage people not to eat only junk food, and we make a big deal about exercising. A healthy populous is more economical because of fewer drains on medical funds and more healthy, active workers making more money and then spending it.

      I wouldn’t say second-hand smoke issues are all that exaggerated. Without the positive steps that *have* been taken, it would be awful to be a non-smoker (I remember the days, and not fondly).

      And the marketing to kids issue is pretty abhorrent. Then again, lots of products marketed to kids are addicting and bad for them, but it’s one of a list of easy targets for things we ought to eliminate.

      Sending a message to the up-and-coming generations that good habits and healthy choices can enhance your quality of life isn’t exactly a bad idea. I get why you want people (esp govt) to stay out, and I also think we can afford to be a bit more hands-off in many respects, yet I still find anti-smoking sentiments to be among the least offensive rhetoric. Like, don’t touch this hot burner, you guys, because it’s hot.

    2. I understand what you are saying, but the examples you named are very different situations from smoking. Risks like riding a bike or crossing the street can be eliminated by being careful, as with activities such as mountain-climbing and snowboarding. By being vigilant and not taking major risks, these activities can deliver thrills without risk of horrible injury. There is no equivalent safe way to smoke that allows the pleasure without the risk (except e-cigarettes but it’s not the same thing, is it?). Fast food is encouraged against, and the risks are way lower than smoking and fast food can be balanced nutritious food with exercise, unlike smoking. Trans fats made fast food dangerous, so they were banned. A comparison to promiscuous or unprotected sex does not help your point because it is quite strongly discouraged by everyone.

      There is also the more tragic point of how cigarettes kill people in a very different way from extreme sports or accidents. Clearly you’ve never lost a family member to lung cancer because you wouldn’t be asking if you had to see them deteriorate slowly over years. People can live over 5 years with lung cancer or COPD, and they will be very difficult years for the smoker and their family. Smoking is a selfish activity, because if you get sick, your entire family has to experience your decline from cancer. Not to mention the huge medical bills and financial cost. It could ruin you or your family. Unlike crossing the street, were the risks, if mitigated, are low and the payoff (of being able to go outside) is high, the downsides of cigarettes far outweigh the risks. If you have no one that cares about you and you are going to smoke somewhere so other people don’t have to inhale it (read: not right outside a doorway), that’s fine. If you are that person you can also free-climb and snowboard without a helmet. But if you have friends and family, remember that a death from cancer or COPD is different from being hit by a car and breaking a hip. Not to mention the tremendous financial cost to society that you will incur.

      1. “Risks like riding a bike or crossing the street can be eliminated by being careful, as with activities such as mountain-climbing and snowboarding. By being vigilant and not taking major risks, these activities can deliver thrills without risk of horrible injury.”

        Nonsense. I’ve been riding a bicycle as a primary means of transportation since my early 20s, and it is TERRIBLY risky, no matter HOW careful you are. Your bicycle weighs 30 pounds and travels at five or ten miles an hour. The average car weighs about 3,000 pounds and travels at 30 to 60 miles an hour. If a driver’s attention is distracted for a quarter of a second by a cell phone ringing, or a passenger spilling a drink or by a loud honk behind them, they can swerve that killing machine into the bike lane and instantly kill or seriously injure a bicyclist. You can NOT “eliminate” the risks of bicycling unless you eliminate cars from the streets that bicyclists use to travel. Would you be supportive of that?

        – MJM
        (And technically, even then, the risks wouldn’t be *truly* eliminated: people’s bikes DO slip on ice, hit potholes, etc.)

    3. I care. People who smoke cigarettes affect those around them, not just themselves. I can’t walk around campus without walking by a carcinogenic miasma. So I disagree on your point that no one is ever forced to be around secondhand smoke. Am I expected to never go outside? Just walk around campus, and you’ll notice that people are smoking all over the place–even where there are clearly posted signs prohibiting it. It’s not okay. I think this piece is important. I really couldn’t care less whether any decides to smoke, but when they do it like they do here, it affects me. I shouldn’t have to deal with the repercussions of smokers’ actions.

    4. Jim, you ask for “some principled reason why smoking should be the one and only recreational activity that must be completely eliminated, even as far more dangerous and socially-destructive endeavors are tolerated and in some cases encouraged?”

      Simple: $500 million to $900 million dollars a year spent by “Tobacco Control” (as defined by the American Medical Association) from the MSA taxes levied upon smokers.

      Add in the money pumped through the NicoGummyPatchyPeople trying to drum up customers for their products (probably another hundred million or so) and the various charities that know heart-string-plucking pictures of cute little children being enveloped in clouds of evil smoke is a GREAT way to get pocketbooks opened and charity checks written …

      … and you’ve got all the “principled reasons” the world could ask for in promoting this campaign.

      – MJM

  2. @Beatrice. You should be relieved that your fears of encountering “carcinogenic miasma” by passing smokers outside on campus are unwarranted. You may, however, be in danger of those carcinogenic miasmas by simply standing on the street corner or walking down Boston streets due to the traffic fumes you inhale daily. The World Health Organization can give you the stats for that. Although you may be offended by the sight of someone enjoying a cigarette outside, there is no chance of you being struck with cancer because of this. If you want to avoid “carcinogenic miasma” you should seriously consider turning Amish and moving to a place where cars and buses and trucks never assault and endanger you. It would be interesting to know that if you do not face any real danger from speeding past people smoking outdoors what is it that you fear, and how does it really affect you? What are those repercussions other than you being offended by the sight of someone smoking a cigarette? In case you missed it, here is a summary and analysis of the latest study of secondhand smoke and the absence of risk to you and other anti-smokers

  3. I agree with Jim. However, you all forget something. What has today’s society struggled for the most? What is the issue mostly fought for in the last 4-5 years? It’s all about peoples rights. Why is everyone respecting different races, different sexual orientations, religious beliefs, taste in food etc.? It happens because people deserve to make their own choices as long as tgey don’t affect anyone around them. The truth is that all the examples I gave above may have some impact (viewed as negative by many people) but they are all accepted by the society. This antismoking movement has done nothing more than antisocializing smokers, making them feel like the black sheep. Why accept all these things and not smoking? Because of second-hand smoke? There is no possible way unless your husband, wife gf or bf being a chain smoker and smoking more than 30 ciggaretes around you indoors. Its not just exaggerated, its overexaggerated and not only that, but also the act of smoking itself! My grandfather is 78 and smoked from his 20’s to 65, 5 packs a day which is 100 ciggaretes. He is completely healthy and still is enjoying his tasty cigars. What is wrong with letting people make their own choices? If you are so scared of smokers just make places for them. Do you make someone go outside
    To drink because you don’t like alcohol? NO. Respect for smokers has been lost and it is a shame of everyone who hasn’t even thought of that.

  4. It’s America that’s popularized antismoking insanity – again, and which other countries are following suit. The problem with Americans is that they are clueless to even their own recent history. America has a terrible history with this sort of “health” fanaticism/zealotry/extremism or “clean living” hysteria – including antismoking – that goes back more than a century.

    Antismoking is not new. It has a long, sordid, 400+ year history, much of it predating even the semblance of a scientific basis or the more recent concoction of secondhand smoke “danger”. Antismoking crusades typically run on inflammatory propaganda, i.e., lies, in order to get law-makers to institute bans. Statistics and causal attribution galore are conjured. The current antismoking rhetoric has all been heard before. All it produces is irrational fear and hatred, discord, enmity, animosity, social division, oppression, and bigotry. One of the two major antismoking (and anti-alcohol, dietary prescriptions/proscriptions, physical exercise) crusades early last century was in America. [The other crusade was in WWII Germany and the two crusades were intimately connected by physician-led eugenics]. The USA has been down this twisted, divisive path before. Consider the following: The bulk of claims made about smoking/tobacco were erroneous, baseless, but highly inflammatory. Unfortunately, the propaganda did its destructive job in the short term, producing mass hysteria or a bigotry bandwagon. When supported by the State, zealots seriously mess with people’s minds on a mass scale.

  5. The current antismoking crusade, very much in the eugenics tradition – involving the same personnel and methodology, is much like crusades over the previous 400 years. It is a moralizing, social-engineering, eradication/prohibition crusade decided upon in the 1970s by a small, self-installed clique of [medically-oriented] fanatics operating under the auspices of the World Health Organization and sponsored by the American Cancer Society (see the Godber Blueprint ). This little, unelected group, using much the same inflammatory rhetoric of its fanatical predecessors, decided for everyone that tobacco-use should be eradicated from the world – for a “better” (according to them) world. These fanatics were speaking of secondhand smoke “danger” and advocating indoor and OUTDOOR smoking bans years before the first study on SHS: In the 1970s, populations – particularly in relatively free societies – weren’t interested in elitist social-engineering, particularly by a group (medically-aligned) that had a horrible recent track record (eugenics). Given that their antismoking crusade would have otherwise stalled, the zealots conjured secondhand smoke “danger” to advance the social-engineering agenda, i.e., inflammatory propaganda. Until only recently the zealots claimed they weren’t doing social engineering, that they weren’t moralizing. Well, that’s a lie that’s been told many times over the last few decades.

    The zealots’ goal this time is not to ban the sale of tobacco but to ban smoking in essentially all the places that people smoke (combined with extortionate taxes). Up until recently the social-engineering intent has been masqueraded as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke “danger”. But even this fraud can no longer be hidden in that bans are now being instituted for large outdoor areas such as parks, beaches, campuses where there is no demonstrable “health” issue for nonsmokers. This dangerous mix of the medically-aligned attempting social engineering is a throwback to a century ago. We seem to have learned nothing of value from very painful lessons of only the recent past.


    Then: “In 1904, for example, a New York judge ordered a woman to jail for 30 days for smoking in front of her children.”
    Now: Parents warned they could face court for lighting up at home in front of kids

    Then: A few years later [early 1900s], a Seattle woman won a divorce on the grounds that her husband was “a cigarette fiend.”
    Now: Saudi Women Add Divorce To List Of Smoking Dangers
    40% of university graduates reject marriage
    proposals from smokers
    According to a report published on Monday in Saudi
    Arabia, more than 100 women in the Western city of
    Madinah have filed for divorce after their husbands
    refused or were unable to quit smoking.

    Then: “Many companies, large and small, refused to hire cigarette smokers. Workers who indulged even on their own time could lose their jobs. When a rural Washington school board found out that one of its teachers had been smoking in the schoolyard after class, it fired him; the teacher sued for reinstatement but lost. Likewise, a teacher in Secaucus, N.J., failed to get her job back after she was fired for cigarette smoking in 1923, despite an appeal that reached the state Supreme Court.”
    Now: There are now many similar examples of employment discrimination against smokers, particularly in America.

    Then: “….an anti-cigarette activist proposed that each package be stamped with the word “poison” in capital letters above a skull and crossbones.”
    Now: Currently we have “plain packaging” draped with medical pornography, including skull and crossbones (e.g., Australia).

    Then: “The effects of “secondhand smoke” on nonsmokers were being debated in the 1920s.”
    Now: The concoction of secondhand smoke “danger” has been the basis for the current antismoking crusade (see Godber Blueprint). Contemporary zealots are now in the process of manufacturing thirdhand smoke “danger”.

    Then: Her [Gaston] goal was “a smokeless America by 1925”.
    Now: There are currently many “endgame” claims being made. A smokefree society by 2000?, 2020?, 2034? Etc.

  7. The saddest thing to come from the Champagne Tower of Tobacco Control is the creation of the largest group of flat out lying “researchers” and scientists that the world has ever known. If a pharma company gave them a quarter to prove the earth was flat, by golly, they would DO IT! And with much fanfare and enthusiasm!

    Rather like the tailors of the Emperor’s new suit, they make complete fools of themselves continuing and expanding their total BS.

    Another thing I find abhorrent in this is that these “researchers” are teaching those eager fresh faced college kids how to lie for grants and how to get around the truth and integrity.

    It should be noted that the origination/funding of the most recent second hand smoke myth started with the “philanthropic arm” of the from company that sells the patches and gums.

    You may want to read the cumbersome 990 of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a 501c3, who holds over 13,000,000 shares of Johnson and Johnson stock, and who funds lobbying for smoking bans.

    You may also find interesting that on the CDC Foundation Board, sits Dr Satcher, a Board member of J&J. The CDC has been the government’s conduit in the funding of illegal lobbying for smoking bans, and THEN they promote patches and gums!

    Look at the CDC site and SEE what they say “works best!” (This, after the Harvard study came out saying that cold turkey is more effective than patches and gums!)

    I consider these activities as fraud on American tax payers. I cannot understand how the CDC is funding illegal lobbying with federal funds, and how a 501c3 is getting away with lobbying and funding lobbying to other once respected “charities” who proclaim they are “trying to find a cure” while sitting on a $5 billion interest earning savings account! (And, when you go to their site, they tell you to contact your elected officials and tell them to give funding to THEM to find a cure! So they’re using donations to find a cure to lobby the government for money to find a cure, and getting grants from pharma to illegally lobby for smoking bans!)

    Truth is stranger than fiction. But the Champagne Tower must be maintained, as we don’t want grant moochers and spongers (and liars) to be unemployed!

  8. I always forget something!!! Could anyone please direct me to to ONE researcher who spouts the second hand smoke myth, who has NOT received grants, directly or indirectly, from RWJF? I have not been able to find one.

  9. Do you people realize how ridiculous you sound arguing for smoking? Second hand smoke is a very serious issue. Have any of you read any scientific papers on effects of first and second hand smoke? Using blogspot as a resource is pathetic

  10. Second-hand smoke is a big deal not just in the long term (contributing factor- lung cancer, #1 cancer worldwide), also in the short-term for at least the subpopulation of people with respiratory conditions (transient or chronic, total numbers growing in the population for chronic).

    I disagree with previous posters…there are so many people that smoke in public places in our area (e.g. bus stops) where I and many others are “forced” to be exposed to their decision to smoke. Other air pollutants (e.g. previous given example as exhaust from cars, buses) may also be bad for general health, but I can tell you that generally, people with respiratory conditions are immediately more affected by tobacco smoke then many of those outdoor air pollutants.

    Is it fair for other people’s choices to negatively impact others? Generally, those types of situation are when the justice system gets involved.

    I realize some people are addicted, but there are so many benefits for them to quit/never start (besides no longer impacting others who have “no say” in being affected)… including their health & decreased expenses related to cigarettes and insurance costs (higher rates for smokers, and health issues down the line associated with smoking).

  11. Discrimination against smokers should not be discounted either!

    This discrimination in the workplace and in relationships is very real. But unfair. Some of us smokers really are too addicted to quit! When you smoke nearly three packs a day like I have since I was a teenager, it doesnt make quitting easy. Ive been smoking since I was twelve years old, almost twenty years now, and no matter how hard I try I can’t quit. Last time I tried to cut back, I could barely make it smoking only two packs a day, and even then I was having withdrawls and headaches.

    Look, Im not entirely against the anti-smoking movement. I know its bad for my health. My blood pressure is sky high, despite being a fairly petite woman with slight build, but my lung capacity is terrible and my doctor has already warned me that I am at high risk for early onset emphesyema. I can barely make it up a flight of stairs without wheezing and gasping for air.Its really frightening to think that in my early thirties I might already be showing signs of lung disease, but I can’t stop my addiction to cigarettes. But I shouldn’t be banned from working certian places just cause I need to smoke. Thats dscrimination!

    So, while I do think its ok if city counsels or state legislatures want to pass laws or ordinances banning smoking in public places, they need to be respectful of smokers rights too!

    I’ve had employers who commented on me smoking too much before they ended up firing me, and I was a model employee. I never missed work, was always on time, always completed my assignments, and always helped others when asked, and tried to always be cheerful in the office. Thats alot more than some others in the office who didn’t get fired, but then again they were non smokers.

    The discrimination that smokers face is very real, and very unfair. Most of us are too addicted to ever quit. Even when most smokers try to quit, we fail. Given that consideration, shouldnt we be more understanding and supportive of preventing unreasonable discrimination against non-smokers?

  12. Wow! The ANTZ have been lying much longer than just over e cigs/personal vaporizers! You see, as a smoker, I used to believe all the SHS BS, but never saw the point in outdoor bans. Still don’t. Started vaping after 36 years smoking…would otherwise still be smoking to this day.
    So people who aren’t corporations came up with vaping, and vape shops NOT brought to us by Big Tobacco help smokers switch to a safER alternative at no cost to the taxpayer, employ local people, and bring revenue to their communities. Hey! Tobacco Control! We solved the problem! We quit smoking! Yeay!
    And then the ANTZ went full blown prehistoric hysteria on us, moving the goal post from tobacco to nicotine addiction. Nicotine addiction by itself is not that big a deal, or vapers wouldn’t lower their amounts of nicotine, over time, many to zero. But it still looks like smoking, and risks undoing their hateful campaign against smokers…which never helped anyone quit, by the way. One fifth of the adult population still uses nicotine. But the ANTZ have not only been telling the same lies since 2009, when a federal court struck down their move to squash vaping. No, they’re been telling the same lies since letting Big Tobacco buy them off. Even earlier. Wow.
    News flash: since everybody seems to want to make decisions for adult smokers/vapers without even talking to us: there are 2 kinds of smokers left in America:
    A: Those who have already tried, and quit, with the expensive (and dangerous) Pharma fails. To keep encouraging smokers to try all that BS again only lines the pockets of Big Pusher – I mean, Pharma. These smokers already know from experience these methods don’t work for them, and they can’t go cold turkey like the rare, lucky few who have more success that way.
    B: Those for whom a day without nicotine is like a day without sunshine. They are never going to be shamed/taxed/reasoned into quitting, and treating them hatefully just made it worse.
    Tobacco control has plateaued, and will never reach these last 2 groups of smokers.
    Vaping – with flavored e liquid from vape shops or online, not the Big Tobacco trojan horses sold at gas stations/convenience stores designed to fail or keep folks dual using the proven killers, burned tobacco cigarettes – has been, and is, working for those smokers.
    And out come the nanny death squads, panicking because if everybody really DID quit smoking, they would have no reason to exist as professional deadbeat scolds. They lobby the governent – who makes more money off of smoking than tobacco companies do, due to the MSA – to squash this upstart vaping for them. Not for anybody’s health – I believe they stated out loud they are not concerned with the health of current smokers – but so their bullet proof cash cow keeps rolling profitably over the dead bodies of smokers and their families. Big Tobacco chimes in lobbying the government, since wink wink we play golf together, and even though we never voluntarily pulled our death sticks off the market, and we never will, we want to ban these open systems made by people who aren’t corporations, and which actually help smokers quit tobacco use, and we can own the market and let’s all pretend it’s just as bad as cigarettes, or even add crap to our closed systems to make them less healthy and more addictive just like we do with cigarettes. Let’s call real users who disagree with us astroturf, tobacco shills, or other insulting untrue things that make a mockery of us claiming to care about the public or their health. Then let’s laugh all the way to the bank.
    Well, Big Interests, up yours. Even multibillion dollar global corporations need consumers…and that’s us. And we don’t need you anymore. So grow a backbone, go cold turkey, and quit being so weak willed, you pathetic addicts to cigarette dollars and desperate smokers. We’re over you. Have fun becoming obsolete. It’s nice how karma works.

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