"Prohibition... goes beyond the bounds of reason in that
it attempts to control a man's
appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes... A prohibition
law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
... Abraham Lincoln ( December 1840 )
Citizens in this great land were once able to enjoy a cigar or a cigarette
at restaurants and bars. Over the
years, however, most state governments have succumbed to anti-tobacco groups and have infringed upon
the right of private establishments to determine for themselves their smoking policy.
Any settlement between "Big Tobacco" and various state governments would
in place two destructive precedents: that government has the "right" to control
virtually all that we consume and that individuals need not be held responsible for their
own foolish behavior (like smoking) as long as a corporation with deep pockets can be
[Posted September 27, 1999]
The hypocrisy of the federal government appears limitless. Now it’s suing
tobacco companies for $25 billion. Mind you, they’re not going after the cigar
companies, which, of course, don’t have "deep pockets." Just cigarettes smokers and
makers—America’s most embattled minority.
Some Americans are no doubt touched by Bill Clinton's concern for the health
children. His press secretary even declared that it was now the President's personal
responsibility to prevent American youth from smoking.
But Clinton's ten-point program to prevent teenage smoking, designed by
Czar-for-Life David Kessler, will fail like all previous attempts at government nannyism.
Worse yet, the program will backfire and retrace some of the progress already made in
tobacco consumption. There is also no doubt that all Americans will be "touched" to
pay for this program.
By L. Neil Smith
I've had a long, thoughtful letter from someone who likes my writing (he
mentions me in the same breath as
Rand and Bob Wilson!) and is beginning to think that he may be a Libertarian. Like many another beginner (yours
truly, back in the 60s) he has a little sticking-point he can't get past, and he isn't being helped in his moral struggle
by government or the popular culture. That isn't what government or the popular culture are for, after all. On the
A friend of mine calls himself a "political smoker".
He doesn't smoke. He never has.
But told some time ago at a Los Angeles supper club that he and other members would henceforward be
forbidden to smoke, his immediate reaction was to borrow a cigarette from somebody sitting nearby, stand, and
light it up in protest. As he sees it, his interests, in terms of his individual and civil rights, run parallel with those of
smokers who are being increasingly stripped of theirs.
On August 8, CAGE, an international coalition of groups advocating general
non-interference in the private lives
of citizens, issued a challenge to the EPA, ASH, Tobacco Free Kids, and Smokefree. to provide verifiable evidence --
not statistics, anecdotal testimony, instances "attributed" to ETS, nor reference to any "studies’ or such --
but incontrovertible proof supported by valid clinical evidence, of any single death caused specifically and
exclusively by ETS. In view of the fact that none of the recipients was able to do so the inevitable conclusion is
that such proof is non-existent.
Our entry into the 21st Century won’t be marked by a clean break. There will be numerous holdovers, some
desirable, some not. Among those society at large could well do without are the self-anointed purists who
would remake the world according to their personal preferences, imposing their standards and values, their
likes and dislikes on all. In their view a world entirely populated by clones of themselves would be a utopian
place, perhaps even Paradise.
The World Health Organization lists smoking as a disorder under its International
Classification of Diseases.
Because of this sleight of hand, smoking is being treated as an epidemic, and one of the largest health
crusades ever devised has been set in motion.
The sad truth is that
there are many people who get their kicks out of seizing the moral high
ground (in this
case, opposition to smoking tobacco) and then beating the daylights out of people who refuse to toe the line.
When I started 30 years ago as a consumer reporter, I took the approach
that most young reporters take
today. My attitude was that capitalism is essentially cruel and unfair, and that the job of government, with
the help of lawyers and the press, is to protect people from it. For years I did stories along those lines
stories about Coffee Associ-ation ads claiming that coffee ³picks you up while it calms you down,²
or Libby-Owens-Ford Glass Company ads touting the clarity of its product by showing cars with their
windows rolled down. I and other consumer activists said, ³We¹ve got to have regulation. We¹ve got to
police these ads. We¹ve got to have a Federal Trade Commission.² And I¹m embarrassed at how long it
took me to realize that these regulations make things worse, not better, for ordinary people.
rightly thinks of itself as a country conceived in liberty. But it
is also a country that was conceived by
puritans. Again and again, these days, puritanism seems to be trumping freedom. No country treats smokers (or
indeed tobacco companies) with such petty vindictiveness as the United States. As for safety, America seems to have
convinced itself that the world is an astonishingly dangerous place, and that the only way to keep these dangers at
bay is to regulate even the most trivial bits of behaviour.
The most outstanding feature
of the new virtue-mongers is their pretense to a painfully exquisite sensibility.
Surely not since Edgar Allan Poe created the preposterous Roderick Usher,
who had to conceal himself in the falling family manse lest his delicate
senses be deranged by humanity’s sights and smells, have we seen such exquisiteness
abroad. Americans can’t walk past a knot of smokers without fainting? Who’s
kidding whom? The continuing efforts to manipulate smokers have little
or nothing to do with health, but everything to do with malice impersonating
It's that time of the year – with Independence Day approaching – when the pundits will be proclaiming how wonderful it is to live in a democracy.
As usual, the pundits will be wrong.
Not only is democracy not wonderful,
America is not one and never has been.
Too many Americans, in my opinion,
are overly concerned with safety and security, and not nearly enough are
concerned about freedom and liberty.
If there was any doubt whether
President Bush would squander tax dollars on the Justice Department’s suit,
it was dispelled by the May 23 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit. A unanimous court — joining
seven other appellate courts that have considered these issues— threw out tort and racketeering (RICO) claims by foreign governments and union health funds against cigarette makers. In the similar Justice Department suit, federal judge Gladys Kessler had dismissed all allegations except RICO. Now that the higher court has spoken, she’ll reject the rest of the case.
I quit smoking three months ago. I smoked for 23 years. It was tough, but I did it (thank you, my sweet wife!). But I made the decision to quit smoking – just like I made the decision to start smoking. In both instances, it was up to me to decide what to do.
And in a free society, isn't that the way it's supposed to be?
Real freedom and liberty cannot survive in Canada or the United States or anywhere else it is trying to bloom as long as anal-retentive Huns are in charge. Today's postmodern "western" politician talks a good "democracy and freedom" game, but anymore he or she plays the game as though there is no choice for the common man but that which is ceded him by the ruling elite.
This phenomenon is called rising authoritarianism and it's moving free people closer to slavery each day.
What common folk fail to realize,
until it is too late, is that each erosion of personal freedom means that
someday there will be virtually no personal freedom. The "state" will run
everything, including your mind and your life.
Smokers, after all, also pay taxes that fund parks. They have rights.
Not that Perry seemed to notice. Ditto Sonya Vasquez, chairperson of the Committee for Smoke-Free Parks. Vasquez said that her biggest issue isn't the health of park-goers, it's that adult smokers are bad role models for kids.
Too bad she's not content to
nag. She instead advocates outlawing non-role- model behavior.
Surely there can no longer be any doubt that America is well on its way
down the slippery slope to socialism. The
government continues to grow in size, power and arrogance as it asserts increasing sovereignty over the lives and
behavior of its subjects. The noose tightens, and the rabble wear it like a badge of honor.
Now, part of restoring honor to the White House is keeping promises. It is, therefore, curious that, more than a year into the Bush administration, the Justice Department has not dropped its lawsuit against the tobacco companies.
Even one of the Clinton administration's
most notorious commissars, then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich, called
lawsuits such as those against tobacco companies "end-runs around the democratic process." In the Jan. 12, 2000, edition of the Wall Street Journal, he stated that "[w]e used to be a nation of laws, but this new strategy presents novel means of legislating — within settlement negotiations of large civil lawsuits initiated by the executive branch. This is faux legislation which sacrifices democracy to the discretion of administration officials operating in secret."
Quick: which is America's Most Persecuted Minority? No, you're wrong. (And it's not Big Business either: one of Ayn Rand's more ludicrous pronouncements.)
All right, consider this: Which group has been increasingly illegalized, shamed and denigrated first by the Establishment, and then, following its lead, by society at large? Which group, far from coming out of the "closet," has been literally forced back into the closet after centuries of walking proudly in the public square? And which group has tragically internalized the value-system of its oppressors, so that they are deeply ashamed and guilty about practicing their rites and customs? Which group is so brow-beaten that it never thinks of defending itself, any attempt at which is publicly condemned and ridiculed? Which group is considered such sinners that the use of doctored statistics against them is considered legitimate means in a worthy cause?
I refer, of course, to that once proud race, tobacco-smokers, a group once revered and envied, but now there are none so poor as to do them reverence.
So low has this group sunk in the public esteem that, in rushing to their defense, I am obliged to point out that I myself am not and never have been a smoker. Can you imagine having to put in such a disclaimer against special pleading in behalf of the rights of blacks, Jews, or gays against oppression?
And so, smokers! Are you mice or are you men? Smokers, rise up, be proud, throw off the guilt imposed on you by your oppressors! Stand tall, and smoke! Defend your rights! Do you really think that someone can get instant lung cancer by imbibing a bit of smoke from someone sitting twenty feet away in an outdoor arena? How do you explain the fact that millions of people have smoked all their lives without ill effect?
And remember, if today they come for the smoker, tomorrow they will come for you. If today they grab your cigarette, tomorrow they will seize your junk food, your carbohydrates, your yummy but "empty" calories. And don't think that your liquor is safe either; neo-Prohibitionism has been long on the march, what with "sin taxes" (revealing term, isn't it?), outlawing of advertising, higher drinking ages, and the neo-Puritan harpies of MADD. Are you ready for the Left Nutritional Kingdom, with everyone forced to confine his food to yogurt and tofu and bean sprouts? Are you ready to be confined in a cage, to make sure that your diet is perfect, and that you get the prescribed Compulsory Exercise? All to be governed by a Hillary Clinton National Health Board?
Smokers, if you have the guts
to form a Smokers Defense League, I will be happy to join a Non-Smokers
Auxiliary! How about smokers as one important mass base for a right-wing