27/03/09 Fight or Die

The title of this article may be slightly exaggerated. Then again, it may not be. All that is known for certain is the fact that smokers are steadily and consistently being increasingly hounded and ostracised – and there is no way out of that other than to fight.

We have watched the development of the bogus statistics of active smoking, then the downright lies about second-hand smoke. We watched in disbelief, and with no small amount of uncomfortable, shocked laughter, at the advent of third-hand smoke. Now comes the next step in demonising us: banning outdoor smokers.

I have spoken before about Nova Scotia’s outdoor ban, and we are all aware of being forbidden to smoke on various university campuses, outdoor train station platforms and so forth. These are all bad enough and the people behind them deserve all the verbal abuse they receive. But this takes it one step further and makes no attempt to hide its real motives: ridding society of smokers, with apparently more vigour and effort than solving murders.

An article in the San Jose Mercury-News on the 20th March 2009  [1] stated how Hayward, California, is trying to clean up its image by banning the appearance of “unattractive” smokers in the city by issuing tickets to people caught smoking on the streets:

“The law, passed by the City Council last May, mandates a $50 fine for smoking on sidewalks, streets and other public places, including a 20-foot no smoking zone around outdoor patio areas of restaurants and bars, as well as parks, sports fields, playgrounds and municipal parking lots. That zone also applies to windows, doors and ventilation ducts.”

Personally, I am not entirely sure what to say at this measure – I am nothing short of flabbergasted. At least when the Tobacco Control movement was hiding behind the pretense of public health there was some semblance of credibility to it, but they are now so confident and so cock-sure that they no longer even feel the need to lie about their motives. Instead, they just come right out and say that they do not like to look at smokers. What is worse, though, is that this is allowed.  Imagine them trying to get away with that by banning people of a certain religious persuasion – some people may find the parade of Hare Krishnas unsightly, they may even offend some people, but they are permitted to continue outwardly expressing their faith. And rightly so! We apparently live in a country, as do Americans, with freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As such, we should all be allowed to exert that right.

Some people believe these new anti-smokers measures are justified because they view smoking as an “addiction” and cigarettes as a “drug”. As misguided as this is, there is no room to criticise too heavily for one simple reason: tobacco products are legal.  It is one thing not permitting people to inject heroin or snort cocaine in a public place, because that is against the law. However, smoking is not – cigarettes are taxed, and taxed very heavily. They are available in almost every street in every town and city, the whole world over. Smokers pay more than any other group in taxes. Smoking outdoors causes no problems, if for no other reason than the fact that there are countless vehicles emitting countless tonnes of toxic fumes less than a foot away. In such circumstances, how, exactly, can smoking be banned on grounds of being “unhealthy”?

I have maintained for quite some time that the more the Tobacco Control movement is going to dig its own grave, and that is happening almost as rapidly as it is penalising smokers. Now that the movement is openly admitting to have no basis in public health at all, but the whimsical pandering to spoilt, loud brats trying to get their own way, it is only a matter of time before people see through it and reject it.

[1] http://www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_11963722?nclick_check=1

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