Policy Documents

Stoking the Rigged Terror of Secondhand Smoke

Gio Batta Gori –
April 1, 2007

Should it be permissible — in an avowedly enlightened and
rational society — to legislate draconian regulation solely
because some high priesthood of epidemiology thinks there
might be some ephemeral risk, without any testable clue to its
quantification or probability? Indeed, who stands to gain from
such a distortion? To paraphrase the French crime novel’s
cliche: cherchez l’argent! The money is good, and many in the science
and advocacy of public health have been persuaded to follow
the current, aware or not. It is the co-opted public money
and the enormous amount of funds from nonprofits linked to
industrial interest, keen to the medicinal opportunities opened
by a reduced demand for cigarettes. Marketing with tax-exempt
money under the guise of philanthropy — brilliant!

By any sensible account, the anachronism of the tobacco
culture should be slated for extinction in an advancing civilization.
Why must it happen under the tyranny of deception,
when intelligent and transparent ways are available? The mild
and pleasurable addictivity of nicotine and a lurking black
market have continued to frustrate the abolitionist crusade,
and abolition will not work in the long run.

Instead, a humane and enlightened policy would first seek
to reduce the risk of smokers who cannot quit. A recipe for this
policy was given almost 40 years ago by the Smoking and Health
Program of the National Cancer Institute, but was quickly suppressed
by abolitionist intransigence.