Let's Be Reasonable 
    Newspaper, Magazine and Periodical Columnist's Opinions & News

When you're done with this collection there's more!
Why you should buy cigarettes on the Fourth of July (even if you don't smoke)
Reason Magazine
A collection of articles that rail against anti-tobacco antics.
Are smoky bars and restaurants intolerable?
Townhall.com - Jacob Sullum - December 13, 2002
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed that New York City ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, one of his aides made a revealing comment to The New York Times. He said: "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax." 

In approving an unprecedented 1,800 percent hike in the city's cigarette tax, Bloomberg had emphasized that he wanted to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive. Likewise, the main point of his smoking ban, which the New York City Council is on the verge of passing, is to make the habit less convenient and less socially acceptable, thereby encouraging smokers to quit. 

Christine Quinn, who chairs the city council's health committee, confirmed this agenda last summer, when she imagined smoking bans covering lower New York state. "If someone is going to drive from Manhattan to Orange County (New Jersey) to have a cigarette," she told the Times, "then there is really not much we can do to help that person." 

Smokers, of course, did not ask for Quinn's "help," and they're not exactly grateful for it. Recognizing that naked paternalism has limited appeal, Bloomberg and his allies insist that workplace safety is their primary concern. According to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, "The purpose here is not to punish smokers but to protect employees." 

When it comes to the dangers posed by secondhand smoke, anti-smoking activists and government officials have greatly exaggerated both the strength of the evidence and the level of risk involved.

The Unintended Consequences of Cigarette Tax Hikes
Mackinac Center for Public Policy - Michael LaFaive - December 13, 2002
The term "unintended consequences" was first coined by sociologist Robert Merton. Merton described five sources of them, but the first three are the most widely used and recognized. They are: ignorance, error, and "an imperious immediacy of interest." 

With respect to ignorance, many people just don’t understand that the policies they advocate may have side effects that do more than they intend — that the policies hurt those they wish to help. Error is a similar category, but one in which the policy advocates understand the law of unintended consequences, and simply fail to anticipate the type and degree of those consequences. The third category, the "imperious immediacy of interests" describes policy changes marked by the desire to ignore the unintended effects because policymakers’ desire for some new policy overrides their concern for the unanticipated effects.

Regardless of the "unintended consequences" category that a policy fits into we now know that large cigarette tax increases in a number of states have led to at least three ancillary problems that must be reckoned with. They include: Interstate smuggling, theft, and "channeling." Channeling simply describes changes in the way people obtain the product they seek. "Rolling your own," is a good example. In Michigan, sales of kits to help people make their own unfiltered cigarettes have leapt.

The reason that well-intentioned officials keep trying such policies is because they may either not understand the adverse consequences, don’t care about them, or have a view of the role of government that is not consistent with the limited one envisioned by America’s Founding Fathers, and ALEC.

Blowin' Smoke
Yonkers Tribune - Bob Weir - December 12, 2002
Discrimination and segregation are on the rise again. People are being turned away at restaurants, bars, and other public facilities. In many cases they are forced to stand outside buildings in the cold air while their more privileged counterparts are comfortable within. Often, after having been seated in a public establishment, they have been asked to leave when their presence has caused complaints to the management. These modern day pariahs don’t look any different from the rest of the population; they don’t have any physical abnormalities that might cause consternation and alarm; they don’t evince any psychopathic personality traits; nor do they display any criminal tendencies. They come from every strata of society; from the poorest to the richest, from the least educated to the most scholarly. Yet, in a country that prides itself on being a fierce advocate of civil rights and human dignity, it seems we have a tendency to always find someone to discriminate against. 

Perhaps there is something in the human condition that has a gnawing, nagging, almost violent compulsion to discriminate against something or someone. 

But in order to pull it off in this highly sophisticated, enlightened era we must become very creative in the selection process. First we must decide what the pro and con numbers tell us; one must have a majority before one can begin the bullying process. We must also be certain that our actions are not politically incorrect. In addition, we must pick on those who are generally docile and not part of any organized group that is likely to fight back. Then, we can begin carefully selecting scientific studies that favor our position while eschewing any reference to opposing data. Once we have enough propaganda to sell to the masses, we can begin again to satisfy that deep-seated craving for the humble blood of inferior people. As we get stronger and more dominant, we can impose ever-greater indignities on those beneath us. In so doing, we can enjoy that all consuming, albeit pitiful, hunger for self-importance. Alas, such is the nature of prejudice. 

Yes, I’m talking about the most denigrated, abused, criticized and demoralized group in contemporary America: smokers. 

French fries kill?
TownHall.com - Dennis Prager- December 10, 2002
It was hard to miss. Just about every news organization in the Western world reported last week that french fries can kill you.

American media widely reported the Food and Drug Administration's announcement confirming earlier Swedish findings that acrylamide, which is found in french fries and other fried foods, causes cancer in rodents. Health agencies throughout the West have also announced this, and the Western media have sounded their latest alarm about fatal foods.

Almost no week goes by without a report on some food or environmental danger that can kill us. It is quite remarkable that any of us are alive given our exposure to secondhand smoke, asbestos, lead in paint, cellular phones and seesaws; our ingesting alcohol, sugar, fat and arsenic-laden water; and our inhaling polluted air.

Yet, not only are we alive, we Westerners are the healthiest and longest living generation of humans since the 900-year-olds of Genesis.

Why all this fear? Why do people really believe that they will die if someone smokes in another part of the restaurant they're eating in?

Here are the reasons:

First, the present generation of Westerners has suffered so little -- compared with all previous generations and compared with non-Westerners today -- that minuscule threats frighten them.

Second, the media thrive on scaring people. You don't catch the attention of readers, viewers or listeners with reports on things that aren't dangerous.

Third, there exists a huge world of health groups employing hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on funding from people who are scared. No fears, no funds, no work.

Fourth, not only do these interest group professionals depend on discovering threats to your health, their very raison d'etre is dependent on it. The professionals who fight smoking not only make a good living doing so, their lives are given purpose by this fight. For most of those who dedicate their lives to fighting tobacco, that fight takes on religious meaning. For them, fighting Big Tobacco is as important, as meaningful, and as personally sacred as fighting abortion is to Christians who fight abortion.

The Big Lie of secondhand smoke
San Francisco Examiner - November 29, 2002 - Sidney Zion
Once upon a time in America, it was non-negotiable that the two boldest towns in the country were San Francisco and New York. The Barbary Coast and Hell's Kitchen were bound together thumb-to-nose against prohibitionists, who were described by our patron saint H.L. Mencken as those who feared that "somewhere, someone is having a good time."

Then, nine years ago, San Francisco left our hearts smoldering in an empty ashtray. Of all the gin joints in all the world, San Francisco was the first to ban smoking. And guess who wants to come to that smoke-free dinner -- the reformed smoker, the billionaire mayor of New York, Michael M. Bloomberg.

So it's time to talk turkey about this secondhand smoke craze to my once-upon-a-time second city, and let you know just how bonkers you are and just how you began the greatest brainwashing of the 20th century.

Because despite the rantings of the lung and heart "experts" (the former claim 3,000 deaths a year from secondhand smoke; the latter, centered at UC San Francisco, claim 30,000 to 60,000 a year, and without blushing state that a half-hour exposure in a smoke-filled bar can cause heart disease), the second you take these "studies" out in the sunlight they give junk science a bad name.

Open season on Mickey D
Townhall.com - Oliver North - Novermber 29, 2002
Liberals and their trial lawyer allies, however, offer a version of self-government that is best summarized as, "Let's sue!" The Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) is blazing new legal terrain by holding corporations responsible for individuals who misuse or abuse their products. The anti-tobacco litigation was just a prelude to class-action lawsuits against gun manufacturers, automakers, home-builders and even fast food restaurants.

Those who track the avant garde of frivolous personal injury litigation point to John Banzhaf as the mastermind behind the legal assault on lawful products. A longtime liberal activist and George Washington University professor who uses the judicial system to achieve what the legislative process does not yield, Banzhaf, decades ago, popularized the idea of suing tobacco companies. Fast food is his newest target. Already, he has assisted with a class-action suit filed by indignant Hindus in Seattle who allege that McDonald's fails to disclose that its fries are made with beef fat. 

The Anglo-American legal system, with its presumption of innocence and jury system, is one of the West's singular achievements. But it also demands a high level of civic responsibility, because it's meant as a last recourse for the problems that neighbors cannot resolve among themselves. In searching to blame corporations for what actually are self-inflicted problems, trial lawyers and their clients undermine the ideal of self-government that we rightly applaud the Pilgrims' Mayflower Compact for inaugurating in the New World. Ronald McDonald is not the new "Camel Joe." He's just a straw man for liberal activists unwilling to take responsibility for themselves. 

Rated "R" for Smoking
Reason Online - Charles Paul Freund - November 26, 2002
Bond lit a cigar. The ace secret agent was, after all, in Havana, and it was almost as natural to smoke a Cuban cigar in that city as it was in the capital, Miami. Pausing to exhale appreciatively, Bond prepared to resume his conversation with the gentleman next to him, a mobster whom he would surely have to kill eventually. There would be time enough for that later, however. For now, it was time to talk tobacco.

But Bond's pleasant train of thought was suddenly interrupted by a shrill and hysterical scream. "Put that out! Put it out right now!" Bond turned his head slowly, an eyebrow arching. What he saw was a San Francisco academic looming over him and wagging his finger furiously. "Didn't you hear me?" squeaked the professor. "You can't smoke in this movie! Or in any other movie! If you do, you get an 'R' rating!"

"Shall I keel heem, Meester Bond?" asked Bond's mobster friend. He'd already pulled a gun and was prepared to blow the professor's brains out where they stood.

A smile flickered across Bond's face. "Not yet." Bond sized up the professor, who was still wagging his finger. "Just who are you?" asked the agent.

"I work with Stanton Glantz, head of Smoke Free Movies, an organization of scolds based at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. Glantz is now demanding that any movie that shows characters smoking be rated R, unless those characters become ill as a result. If you insist on smoking cigars in this scene, I'm going to have to ask you to turn green and vomit."

Bond and the mobster exchanged glances. They started giggling.

The professor was unperturbed. "Go ahead and laugh. You don't get it, because you grew up in a world where men like me were dismissed as crackpots. But it's our world now, a world where cigarettes are airbrushed out of postage stamps, where bar owners have to telephone each other to warn that the smoke police are in the neighborhood, where you can get fined for smoking on the sidewalk. Giggle all you want, but the World Health Organization has endorsed Glantz's movie demands."

Bond and the mobster had been trying to restrain themselves, but at the mention of WHO, they collapsed to the floor with laughter.

"WHO?" sputtered a nearly helpless Bond. "The outfit that spent seven years studying second-hand smoke in seven different countries, but refused to release the study?"

Smoke Another Day
National Post - Patricia Pearson - November 21, 2002
Call the police! Notify the censors! James Bond has been caught smoking a cigar! I mean, who do we get in touch with? We need to send a letter at once to the Department of Role Model Development in the Hollywood Ministry of Socialist Realism! How dare those filmmakers and actors show someone smoking a cigar, we'll demand to know. That scene in the film Die Another Day in which actor Pierce Brosnan enjoys a stogie with some Cuban guys in Havana is a "deadly ploy by the tobacco industry," in the words of Britain's Action on Smoking and Health Group. It's a terrible role model for children, as the American Lung Association points out.

What exactly is the anti-smoking lobby's ideal role model for children, at any rate? How about Michael Jackson? He doesn't smoke, he just dangles infants out of windows and walks around with a disintegrating nose.

The problem, here, is that the anti-smoking lobby has completely lost perspective on the validity and sweep of their demands. 

Moreover, if it is health that concerns the anti-smoking lobby, and not just their singular obsession with the tobacco industry, then they must logically demand that fictional characters in movies refrain from everything from drinking gin to engaging in madcap car chases. Fat characters who enjoy their burgers must be banned as bad role models, and so too must thin characters eating too little, and sleep-deprived characters who refuse to get rest.

This is the logic implicit in the anti-smoking lobby's demand, and where it gets them eventually is to socialist realism, where utopian ideals are propagandized and human realities concealed. 

The risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated
The Record.com - Eric Boyd - November 20, 2002


BMJ 2000;321:378 ( 5 August )

"Smoking and dementia in male British doctors" 

Authors did not, strictly speaking, compare smokers with non-smokers

Doll et al's finding that "persistent smoking does not substantially reduce the age specific onset rate of Alzheimer's disease or of dementia in general" is not surprising.  The authors didn't compare smokers with 

By combining lifelong non-smokers and ex-smokers in the non-continuing group 
they effectively stopped comparing smokers with non-smokers. To complicate 
the issue further they then note, "As questionnaires were sent out only every six to 12 years, the mean time before death that the relevant smoking habits 
had been recorded was not 10 but 15 years." In the end this study compares a group including non-smokers and ex-smokers who may have started smoking in the previous 15 years with a group of smokers who may have stopped in the previous 15 years. 

Has the BMJ fallen prey to the concerted and unrelenting efforts of health organisations determined to dictate an antismoking social policy rather than provide the honest and unbiased facts that people need to make informed personal choices? Or is the BMJ part of the team? 

Eric Boyd, facilities manager. 
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Too much is made of the 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. We're told these chemicals are so harmful that they are responsible for the deaths of millions worldwide. Untold in this "war on tobacco" is that each of the plants we consume consists of an equally daunting thousands of chemicals many of which are recognized poisons or suspected cancer-causing agents. 

Cayenne peppers, carrots and strawberries each contain six suspected carcinogens; onions, grapefruit and tomato each contain five -- some the same as the seven suspected carcinogens found in tobacco. 

High-heat cooking creates yet more dietary carcinogens from otherwise harmless chemical constituents. 

Sure, these plant chemicals are measured in infinitesimal amounts. An independent study calculated 222,000 smoking cigarettes would be needed to reach unacceptable levels of benzo(a)pyrene. One million smoking cigarettes would be needed to produce unacceptable levels of toluene. To reach these estimated danger levels, the cigarettes must be smoked simultaneously and completely in a sealed 20-square-foot room with a nine-foot ceiling. 

Many other chemicals in tobacco smoke can also be found in normal diets. Smoking 3,000 packages of cigarettes would supply the same amount of arsenic as a nutritious 200 gram serving of sole. 

Half a bottle of now healthy wine can supply 32 times the amount of lead as one pack of cigarettes. The same amount of cadmium obtained from smoking eight packs of cigarettes can be enjoyed in half a pound of crab. 

That's one problem with the anti-smoking crusade. The risks of smoking are greatly exaggerated. 

If both the chemical constituents of tobacco smoke and the numbers of smoking-related deaths are overstated -- and clearly they are -- how can we trust the claim that tobacco smoke is harmful to non-smokers?

TownHall.com - Dennis Prager - November 19, 2002
The latest James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," follows the pattern of previous Bond films with scenes of glamorized violence including murder and mayhem, and titillating nudity with suggestive sex scenes. These, of course, garner no protest (nor am I advocating any such protest).

But it is surely an illustration of the moral confusion of our times that while scenes of gratuitous violence and sex, whose only purpose is to titillate the viewer, not to mention scenes of alcohol drinking, arouse no controversy, one scene is seething with controversy: Pierce Brosnan as James Bond smokes a cigar!

According to news reports about the Havana-based film, "In one scene, Bond extols the virtues of a cigar with a Cuban gangster." Anti-smoking groups around the world have reacted with a fury that no other imaginable scene would elicit. Movies that "extol the virtues" of underage sex, drug use, extra-marital sex or criminal behavior from bank robbing to murder elicit far less condemnation than a movie that depicts cigar smoking. We truly live in the Age of Stupidity.

Just as it was mostly religious zealots who fought to prohibit alcohol in the 1920s, mostly secular zealots fight against tobacco in our time.

The one group for whom liberals have no tolerance at all.
Wall Street Journal - Peggy Noonan - November 15, 2002
There's a lot to think about this week--the rise of Nancy Pelosi, the meaning of the Republican triumph--but my thoughts keep tugging toward a group of people who are abused, ostracized and facing a cold winter. It's not right what we do to them, and we should pay attention.

I saw them again the other day, shivering in the cold, in the rain, without jackets or coats. The looked out, expressionless, as the great world, busy and purposeful, hurried by on the street. They were lined up along the wall of a business office. At their feet were a small mountain of cigarette butts and litter.

They are the punished, the shamed. They are the Smokers. As they stood there--I imagined a wreath of smoke curling round their shoulders like the wooden collar of the stocks of the 17th century--I thought: Why don't we stop this?

I think it is an insufficiently commented-upon irony that cigarette prohibition and the public shaming it entails is the work of modern liberals. They're supposed to be the ones who are nonjudgmental, who live and let live, but they approach smoking like Carry Nation with her ax. Conservatives on the other hand let you smoke. They acknowledge sin and accept imperfection. Also most of them are culturally inclined toward courtesy of the old-fashioned sort.

How Smoking Saves Money
Insight on the News - James Lacey - November 15, 2002
Self-appointed watchdogs of our health and well-being have approached the elimination of tobacco from our daily lives with crusading zeal. Continual efforts to ban smoking in every public nook and cranny have forced smokers to behave akin to medieval lepers. It would be interesting to know the productivity cost of smokers deserting their jobs to gather furtively in dark corners beyond the reach of the antismoking zealots. Thrown together with the savings caused by smokers' pronounced tendency to die off early (therefore no longer needing expensive senior care), there probably is a decent argument that society would realize a large fiscal gain by encouraging smoking. 

However, this type of cost-benefit analysis is not the strong suit of professional zealots. So, it is no real wonder that they completely missed the massive health costs that increased
tobacco taxes and huge settlements have inflicted on the public they have sworn to save. As every smoker or person even associated with a smoker knows, when you quit smoking you gain weight. Common sense makes the reason obvious and we will not dwell on it now. What has not been missing is the cost of this increased caloric consumption. 

The problem is that the health effects of obesity far outweigh the negative effects of smoking.

Of course the zealots have a ready answer for all of this: Just add a little more social engineering and everything will be okay. All we have to do now is take all the smokers who no longer can afford their vice of choice and force them to eat healthily. The great legal tort machine, well funded by tobacco settlements, already is gearing up for this new effort. 

Look for a lot more lawsuits filed against McDonald's and Burger King as the zealots try to make us all better people.

Up In Smoke: ban bad for New Yorkers
The Tartan - Annie Berg Jolis - November 11, 2002
Okay, forget the economy. Forget the fact that Mike Bloomberg’s absurd tax on cigarettes ($7.50 for a pack, at last count) has only deepened New York’s recession and encouraged people to smuggle cigarettes in from out-of-state and Long Island's Native American reservations. Forget the study conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that concluded that secondhand smoke inhaled by diners and workers in New York’s restaurants and bars is far below Occupational Safety and Health Administration limits. Forget, if you can, 57% of California's restaurants losing business after the smoking ban went into effect there (www.pmoptions.com). Forget all about this, Bloomberg and you who count yourselves among his proud anti-smoking minions; disregard the facts, you righteous, pious, roll-your-eyes-when-I-get-on-a-bus-smelling-like-cigarettes activists (you’ve never paid any attention to the facts before.... ) and just consider, for a moment, what city you’re talking about. 

Let me help you. This is New York City. The city of grime, sweat, and dust. 

This is absolutely the wrong city to be sterilized, sanitized, and anesthetized. Go to LA, go to Ann Arbor, go to Corvallis; and take your laws, your fines, your air purifiers, and your SPF eight trillion sunscreen. Move somewhere out West where your health insurance will soon cover your smoke-free helmets and those plastic bubbles that people can live in, so that you will never have to touch, drink, or breathe anything unclean for the rest of your lives. Better yet, go live in a bio-dome — Bloomberg, you can be mayor. Do what you want, but keep your vile Puritannical propaganda out of my city. 

Lawyers run amok
Townhall.com - Doug Bandow - November 5, 2002
As Washington, D.C., prepared to receive thousands of anti-globalization protesters, George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf proposed deploying the ultimate weapon: trial lawyers. 

Hit the demonstrators with a class-action lawsuit! Luckily, the city was able to cope without resorting to such extreme measures. 

But the proposal was in keeping for Banzhaf, who believes that just about every decision in life should be decided by judges.

He really hates the tobacco companies and adults who choose to smoke. In September he put out a press release lauding a judge for banning parental smoking around a child in a custody case. 

Threatens Banzhaf, we could see "state lawsuits against fast food companies for the public costs of obesity, just as states were so successful in suing tobacco companies for the public costs of smoking." 

The argument is superficially attractive. But the fact that government tries to socialize the cost of everything -- taking over ever more of the expense of health care, for instance -- doesn't entitle it to control our lives. 

Should people be able to hang glide? Should people be forced to exercise? Why let individuals decide anything about their lives? 

Banzhaf's objective is simple social engineering. After all, he told one critic, "the problem is, the remedies that you proposed -- exercise, moderation in eating -- and what some others propose -- parental responsibilities, individual responsibility, education -- aren't working." 

So government, or the courts, must act. At least Banzhaf sees some limits: "I can't think of any way we can legislate that people go out and jog a mile a day." Lucky us. 

"But we can change how fast foods are advertised, promoted, sold. We can adopt taxes on fast foods so the losses are borne much more by people who eat them," he notes. Who cares if people like fast food? If government won't do his bidding, then it will be "as in the tobacco area, where the legislatures did not act, we were forced to litigate." 

Freedom requires a willingness to bear the cost of one's actions. Increasingly, however, Americans want someone else to bear the consequences, to pay if they mess up their own lives. 

For social engineers like Banzhaf, this is a convenient excuse to discard freedom itself. Crazed litigators, no less than collectivist legislators, threaten the survival of America as a free society. 

Learn From Prohibition
USA Today - Patrick Cox - October 15, 2002
Until 1993, the best argument presented in favor of increased government regulation of smoking was that tobacco-related illnesses were costing taxpayers hundreds of millions annually. Researchers found, however, that smokers' lives tend to be shortened through diseases that kill quickly, actually reducing the greater costs associated with lingering illnesses. One researcher proposed sardonically that tobacco use be subsidized if the goal is to reduce health-care costs. 

In 1993, though, the Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) adopted the melodramatic stand that secondhand smoke is a kind of negligent homicide, killing as many as 3,000 Americans annually. This argument, too, was quickly discredited by legitimate researchers, as well as the courts, because of inexcusable, purposeful flaws in the EPA's methodology. There is, in fact, no evidence of any significant increase in illness from the occasional inhalation of other people's smoke.

Though the media did, to their credit, cover the debunking of the secondhand-smoke ploy, the public has simply never caught on. I suspect this is due, in large part, to the fact that many of us wish there were a legitimate reason to ban unpleasant tobacco fumes, raw garlic breath, cheap perfume and unwashed body odor. Personally, I'd probably include rap music and Dell commercials.

Unpleasantness, however, isn't a sufficient justification for dismantling the principles of individual and property rights that America was founded on. And the case simply has not been made that the federal regulation of tobacco is necessary or advisable.

Even Bible Is Censored These Days
NY Daily News - John Leo - October 15, 2002
If you think, as I do, that we are living in the golden age of dubious legal coercion, there is plenty of evidence to support your view.

Take the anti-smoking movement. After prohibiting most indoor smoking, the activists noticed that people were still trying to smoke outdoors. So communities banned lighting up on outdoor movie lines, on beaches, in parks, near schools or in any publicly owned space. Alameda County, Calif., forbids smoking within 15 feet of any window or doorway of any building. Until it became a laughingstock, Maryland's Montgomery County planned to ban smoking even in smokers' homes if neighbors were offended.

Reaching into homes intrigues a lot of the new prohibitionists. A New York judge ruled that a divorced woman could not smoke in her own home when her 13-year-old son came to visit. The woman smoked only in her bathroom, but that wasn't good enough for the judge.

Bloomberg Smokes Out Property Rights
A crusade trumps freedom.
National Review Online - 
Robert A. Levy - October 9, 2002
To put it bluntly, the owner of the property should be able to determine — for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all — whether to admit smokers, nonsmokers, neither, or both. Customers or employees who object may go elsewhere. They would not be relinquishing any right that they ever possessed. By contrast, when a businessman is forced to effect an unwanted smoking policy on his own property, the government violates his rights.

That's the controlling principle. Private property does not belong to the public. Employing a large staff, or providing services to lots of people, is not sufficient to transform private property into public property. The litmus test for private property is ownership, not the size of the customer base or the workforce. 

Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban is about unrestrained government — an anti-tobacco crusade against 13,000 private businesses without grounding in fairness or common sense, and without an appreciation for the principles that nourish a free society.

Nanny State Says No Smoking Allowed
The American Partisan - W. James Antle III - October 7, 2002
I have never been a smoker, other than an occasional cigar (and I haven't even smoked one of them for two or three years). Certainly, I'm aware of the health risks of smoking which is one of the reasons the habit has never appealed to me. I would never advise anyone to smoke and have at times prevailed upon friends to quit. 

Nevertheless, I am troubled by the current wave of anti-smoking fanaticism seen in some quarters. Crusades to make "smoking history" or create a "smoke-free society" are rooted in a type of absolutism that should concern liberty-loving people, especially when these crusades are backed by government coercion. 

Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (right) proposed a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars, pool halls and the like. Now Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has proposed a similar ban in a city that already has what can fairly be described as Byzantine smoking regulations. (I have been to places where smoking was allowed at a particular table but people standing next to the table could not smoke.) Both mayors argue that the people who work in restaurants and bars should be as free to work in smoke-free environments as those in other workplaces. Presumably, bar patrons should be as protected from second-hand smoke as those who sip lattes at the Starbuck's down the street. 

In other words, the government should intervene to protect people who drink beer while downing greasy cheeseburgers from the adverse health affects of smoking even if it is against their will. The columnist Jacob Sullum, author of For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health, observed in a 1998 Newsday article: "If smoking is a matter of 'public health,' and therefore subject to government control, then so is any behavior that might lead to disease or injury. And in fact, public health officials target a wide range of risky habits, including not just smoking but drinking, overeating, failing to exercise, owning a gun, and riding a bicycle without a helmet." 

There is virtually no end to the individual choices that the nanny state can restrict in the name of keeping us healthy. Government exists to protect individuals from external aggression - these powers should not be expanded in an effort to protect people from their own choices. 

Smoking is a voluntary activity; the resultant health risks are non-contagious diseases like lung cancer and emphysema. So why should government get involved? Anti-smoking statists offer three principle justifications. 

The first is that the diseases caused by smoking increase insurance premiums and cost the taxpayers money by increasing the cost of public health programs. In order to prevent smokers from being a drain on the public treasury, the government is justified in restricting their behavior. Remember this the next time someone argues that the welfare state, and such proposed extensions of American welfarism as national health care, does not reduce individual freedom. In any event, this argument is false even on its own crass terms. Studies have repeatedly shown that smokers, due to their shorter life spans, impose less of a cost on Social Security and Medicare. Factor in the handsome tobacco-product tax revenues they supply, and smokers are actually not a net cost to the taxpayers. 

Those pushing for greater regulation of tobacco products also dispute the claim that smoking is entirely a free choice. Their argument is that smoking is so addictive that people cannot stop when they want to. Now, many people do find it extremely difficult to quit smoking. However, there are about as many former smokers as smokers in the United States, and according to the Centers of Disease Control, over 90 percent of those who have quit smoking did so without any formal treatment. Many of them quit cold turkey. According to the 1994 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, while 73 percent of respondents had tried smoking at one time, only 29 percent had done so in the last month. 

The third and most popular argument for slouching toward prohibition is that smoking not only endangers smokers but anyone exposed to second-hand smoke. But the risks of second-hand smoke are largely dependent on concentration and the degree of exposure. The data on even these risks are less conclusive than the data showing the risks smoking imposes on smokers themselves. The evidence does not warrant the claim that second-hand smoke is so dangerous that smoking should only be allowed in private residences. 

Ironically, private residences - the one area that anti-smokers fear to tread - are the very places where second-hand smoke is most likely to do damage. The most persuasive epidemiological data about the negative affects of second-hand smoke involve studies of non-smokers living with smokers. This tends to be longer-term exposure than what the Bloomberg and Menino bans seek to prevent. Yet if banning smoking in the privacy of one's home is as an unthinkable violation of private property rights, perhaps we should begin to think of the property rights of business owners. 

The neo-prohibitionists overlook a perfectly valid free-market solution to the problem of smoking in the workplace and public accommodations. Businesses should be free to set their own smoking policies on their own property. If people do not want to patronize businesses that allow smoking, they will be free to go elsewhere. It is no different than choosing to go to a bar or nightclub based on whether they play loud music. People seeking employment can also take the presence or absence of smoking into consideration when they look for jobs. This will allow the market to decide which businesses will flourish; such a voluntary measure would also allow more diversity and choice than a one-size-fits-all government-imposed policy. 

Rather than allowing people to make decisions for themselves peacefully and voluntarily, many anti-smoking activists prefer to use the health risks of smoking to justify government imposition of their preferences on everyone else. Even those who have no sympathy for smoking should be wary of using government power in this fashion. When it comes to regulating our lives, the health police isn't just blowing smoke.

Smoke Screens And Health Statistics
Tampa Tribune - Joseph H. Brown - October 6, 2002
I don't smoke. Never have, never will. But I hang out with a lot of folks who do, and they are greatly concerned about how the November election will affect them. 

To hear them tell it, if Bill McBride is elected governor of Florida and the ballot initiative banning smoking in restaurants passes, they'll be forced to go outside to smoke and pay 50 cents more a pack for the privilege, thus getting persecuted socially and financially. 

Taxes on cigarettes have become a quick fix for many states struggling to close budget deficits. But smoking bans in restaurants, under the guise of protecting workers, represent a more disturbing national trend because they're based on flimsy scientific evidence.

Smoking's bad, big government is even worse
Boston Herald - David Brudnoy - October 1, 2002
A free society should tell restaurateurs and bar owners: do as you will, announce your policy, let the free market make you or break you. Obsessed anti-smoking types will go to smoke-free places, habitual smokers will go only where puffing's welcome, and folks who aren't in a tizzy about this one way or the other will go where they please and abide by the rules of the house. 

Speaking of houses, I tried on radio the other night to get state Public Health Commissioner Howard Koh to tell us when he'll demand that people be forbidden to smoke in their own homes. Dr. Koh went into what I guess is his standard riff about how devoted he is to protecting everybody's health (yada, yada, yada), but I heard no persuasive commitment to stay out of our domiciles. 

Meanwhile, the anti-smoker absolutists move in for the kill. Defenders of the citizenry's liberties ought to be combating this latest bit of mock-medicinal quackery and outright authoritarianism. Smoking may not be good for you, but Big Government is worse. 

Butting Heads
Puritanical politicians impose their morals on
everyone else
Calgary Sun - Paul Jackson - September 29, 2002
Sadly, in a province that prides itself on being egalitarian and libertarian, we have down at Calgary's city hall some of the smallest-minded, mean-spirited and socialistic politicians in our entire country. 

These individuals want to impose their will on every man, woman and child in the city and regiment us like the "proles" in George Orwell's prophetic novel 1984 or Fritz Lang's harrowing movie Metropolis. 

What they care about is imposing their own totalitarian values on others. 

In their campaign of "denormalization" -- yes, that word rings of insidiousness -- they are determined to paint people who enjoy a cigarette, cigar or a pipe as abhorrent. 

What is really abhorrent, in my opinion, are individuals who are determined to stuff their sham values down other people's throats. 

There are many flaws in their argument -- but a glaring one is that a bar or a restaurant is not a "public" place by any measure. A public place is a park or a bus station. A bar is owned by someone and that owner has the right to prohibit anyone from entering their premises or to throw anyone out for misbehaving or going against their rules. 

Under the stringent view of the politicians and bureaucrats down at city hall, a person's home might well soon also be deemed to be a public place.

The World Without Cigarettes
Townhall.com - George Will - September 26, 2002
Let us stipulate that the world would be better without cigarettes. But steadily accumulating evidence indicates that many government tobacco policies, purportedly designed to discourage smoking, but not too much, are bizarre. 

In the 1990s, states sued tobacco companies, ostensibly to recoup costs to them of their residents' smoking. Put plainly, which is not how states like to have it put, the primary aim was to recoup the cost of treating illnesses related to the legal use of a legal product universally known to pose health hazards. However, smoking may be self-financing, perhaps even a net financial gain to government. Cigarettes are the most heavily taxed consumer product, and one in three smokers dies prematurely, before collecting pensions and medical and nursing-home entitlements they would have received had they lived longer.

Litigation: The death of democracy
Townhall.com - Malcolm Wallop - September 25, 2002
America's constitutional representative democracy is under attack. This plot is not being carried out by terrorists or an opposing army, but by greedy and power hungry lawyers who seek to over throw our constitutional representative democracy and install in its place a system governance by litigation in which lawyers rule supreme. With the assistance and backing of trial lawyers, small and extreme groups are finding it increasingly easy to bypass and subvert the democratic process and impose their agenda on the rest of society by abusing litigation and manipulating the courts. 

For example, for years, a small number political extremists have proposed everything from banning fatty foods to imposing heavy taxes on unhealthy foods. According to this proposal, green beans and carrots would receive a favored tax treatment, but bacon and hamburgers and french fries would all have a very high tax placed on them.

One of the turning points for this troubling development of lawyer run governance came in 1998, when state governments obtained a $246 billion settlement from the tobacco industry. To gain an advantage in the litigation and force the tobacco industry to settle, state governments changed centuries of legal precedent and dramatically loosened age-old checks on the abuse of power. The federal government, seeing the huge sums of money to be obtained, filed a copycat case against the tobacco industry, contravening its own laws in the process and contradicting its earlier public statements that the federal government had no case under the law or the facts. 

Some are willing to overlook the lawlessness of the tobacco litigation because it had the effect of punishing the unpopular tobacco companies. However, our justice system is supposed to work for everyone, not just the popular. One of the most sacred things in our constitutional representative democracy is the defense of the unpopular citizen. Popular folks generally do not need constitutional protections ­ their popularity is their protection. The whole point of the Bill of Rights was to protect the unpopular citizen from an overreaching government. Today, there is a long list of companies and industries that are deemed as not worthy of fair treatment. But this is a dangerous attitude and a perilous precedent. What and who are unpopular changes. You could be next. 

A portion of toxic nonsense from food fanatics
Times Online - Mick Hume - September 16, 2002
One American war that Europe is keen to sign up to is the War on Fat. Last week the EU found time to stage a weighty summit where experts from something called the International Obesity Taskforce gave government ministers warning that the “epidemic” of obesity — which could apparently soon affect three quarters of Britons — is becoming the health problem of the century. They called on governments to treat the junk food industry the same as tobacco, with new regulations and bans on advertising. 

A place where there does seem to have been a build-up of fat is between these people’s ears. People in the developed world are now healthier than at any time in human history. We lead longer, healthier lives than our ancestors; our children are no longer massacred by hunger or disease. And contrary to all the junk propaganda, the food we eat today is more nutritious and less contaminated than ever before.

One epidemic we do face today is the rash of public health professionals, constantly searching for the next big thing against which to launch a crusade. Having done all that they can to stop people smoking, they move on to police our eating and drinking habits. These experts are keen to expose how big business has “vested interests” in selling our children junk food. They are less keen to admit their own vested interest in heightening public anxieties, as major stakeholders in the health scare industry. 

Behind the medical mask, what the public health zealots really seem to object to is any lifestyle that involves risk, individual choice or the pursuit of personal pleasure. 

Burned Up By the Tobacco War
Miami Herald - Dave Barry - September 15, 2002 
In these troubled times, it's nice to know that there is one thing that can always bring a smile to our faces, and maybe even cause us to laugh so hard that we cry.

I am referring, of course, to the War On Tobacco. Rarely in the annals of government -- and I do not mean to suggest anything juvenile by the phrase ''annals of government'' -- will you find a program so consistently hilarious as the campaign against the Evil Weed.

The price of eating what you like
Telegraph - Tom Utley - September 14, 2002
According to Professor Philip James, of the International Obesity Task Force, an epidemic of child obesity will "rip through Europe" unless something is done about it PDQ. He warned on the Radio 4 Today programme: "We will have clinics of diabetic children aged 13 or 14, where they'll be having major problems of blindness by the time they go into their thirties.

Two questions arise from all this scaremongering: why do the experts go in for it so?; and what harm, if any, do they do by it?

The answer to the first is pretty obvious. Anybody who works for an institution called the International Obesity Task Force has a strong interest in persuading the world that obesity is a grave problem. The more dramatic the statements these people make, and the more alarming the figures they produce, the more they justify their jobs.

As for the harm that the experts do, for a start it is decidedly anti-social to go around trying to scare people out of their wits. But it goes deeper than that. Any pressure group, if it sounds important enough, can be more or less guaranteed a sympathetic hearing from the Government. Ministers hate to be told that a serious problem exists that they are doing nothing to solve. So they will do almost anything suggested to them by the relevant lobby.

Norah Vincent's Smoky View of Libertarianism
Strike The Root - Duke Heberlein - August 25, 2002
New York writer Norah Vincent claims in a recent op-ed piece that smoking advocates like to think of themselves as “big libertarians,” in response to a new proposal by N.Y. mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants.

Vincent is obviously a non-smoker, but her accusations of smokers bastardizing the ideals of libertarian philosophy fall way short. 

Norah, you do not have a RIGHT to patronize any establishment. Your rights extend only to the extent that the owner of said business wishes to bring you into his circle of clientele. If he or she does not wish to do business with you, or anyone else, that is their right.

A Bite Out of the Freedom Apple
National Review Online - Dave Shiflett - August 22, 2002
Down here in tobacco country we're reading the news from New York with much interest. The mayor wants to ban smoking from all bars and restaurants, along with office buildings, gardens, clubs, arena, bowling alleys, pool halls — just about everywhere you can think of outside the home, which is surely next. He's got support from the city's leading daily, which would have us believe that it's all about freedom but which scolds with all the furor of Aunt Polly with a belly full of gin. We're feeling bad for New Yorkers, whose freedoms are under attack not only from without but from within.

The mayor's motive is the Greater Health: Second-hand smoke, he argues, endangers people who work in these places. This is a questionable proposition to begin with, but even if the danger were established beyond a doubt, people should still be able to smoke in bars, poolrooms, etc. If a person doesn't like the environment, he or she should simply avoid it. 

Assignment America: Smoke screens
UPI - John Bloom - August 22, 2002
If you were to be strapped down on a surgical table while four guys exhaled smoke directly into your mouth and nostrils for 30 years, you MIGHT get lung cancer 40 years after they stopped -- but it's not likely.

I'm using this absurd example, because ALL of the other examples in the available scientific literature are equally absurd. 

The second-hand smoke scare is a political farce. It was invented in the mid-1990s by the Clinton administration -- it has Hillary's hands all over it -- because anti-smoking radicals, who tend to be like anti-abortion radicals in their zealous devotion to the cause, actually convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to change its "conventional standard for statistical significance" so that second-hand smoke could be proven to be a killer.

Whose business is it?
Townhall.com - Walter Williams - August 21, 2002
I'm afraid that most Americans believe that government should be able to force people to do what's in their health, safety and welfare interests. Their reasoning might be that if I don't wear a helmet while biking or a seatbelt while driving, I might have an accident, become a vegetable and become a burden on other Americans as taxpayers. 

That reasoning fueled much of the anti-tobacco zealotry, confiscatory cigarette taxes, and federal, state and local government lawsuits against tobacco companies in the name of recouping tobacco-related healthcare costs. Emboldened by their dramatic success in their war against smokers, America's neo-Nazis have now turned their attention to the food industry, with lawsuits against the McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC, alleging that they have created an addiction to fatty foods. 

Should the fact that if I become injured by not wearing a seatbelt or sick from eating and smoking too much, and become a burden on taxpayers, determine whether I'm free to not wear a seatbelt or puff cigarettes and gorge myself? Is there a problem with freedom? I say no, it's a problem of socialism. There is absolutely no moral case for government's taking another American's earnings, through taxes, to care for me for any reason whatsoever. Doing so is simply a slightly less offensive form of slavery. Keep in mind that the essence of slavery is the forceful use of one person to serve the purposes or benefit of another. 

Allowing government to be in the business of caring for people for any reason moves us farther down the road to serfdom. After all, if government is going to take care of us, it will assume it has a right to dictate how we live.

The unfree society of Michael Bloomberg
Townhall.com - Pat Buchanan - August 19, 2002
"You have no right to impose your moral values on me!" How often have we all heard that defiant remark tossed into a blazing debate on social issues to clinch the argument? Yet, most of our laws represent the imposition of moral values on a minority.

Segregation was law rooted in the moral belief of white folks that social mixing of the races was wrong and ruinous.

Not long ago, smoking was a pleasurable minor vice indulged in by millions. Today, it is being everywhere outlawed, even though the lion's share of tobacco-company profits go into the coffers of government, as it weeps crocodile tears for the cancer victims.

Billionaire Bloomberg also wants the city council to outlaw smoking in all restaurants and bars, though in many neighborhoods, bar owners and their patrons like things as they are. Bloomberg has a problem more serious than a smoking habit. He is a blindly intolerant man who does not understand freedom, but thinks himself a great progressive. He is like the Puritans of old of whom it was said they opposed bear-bating, not because of the suffering it caused the bear, but because of the pleasure it gave the spectators. 

The mayor calls smokers "crazy" and "stupid." And given the cost to human health of the habit, the mayor has a point and a right to express it. But which is worse -- those who know the risks of smoking and freely choose to smoke, or those who demonize, tyrannize and rob smokers, for indulging in a habit of which they disapprove.

Smoke screen / Health warnings during film scenes will have moviegoers
Calgary Sun - Paul Jackson - August 18, 2002 
In "Really bad habit" (Aug. 4), I struck out against the frightening zealots and sanctimonious types who want to bankrupt hundreds of bar owners in Calgary and throw thousands of young waiters and waitresses out of jobs by banning smoking -- in its entirety -- in restaurants, bars and pool halls in 2005. 

For that I received an avalanche of abusive, threatening and obscene e-mails from the anti-smoking crowd declaring my views should not be allowed to be expressed. 

Freedom of speech must be banned along with cigarettes! 

Well, at least I now know the kind of individuals with whom I'm dealing. . . 

Legislation introduced in January imposes a $350 (Cdn) fine for anyone caught smoking in a no-smoking zone. Now Sirchia, wants to tackle the woe at its source.

Sirchia penned letters to the three national television companies, drawing their attention to the "pernicious" influence of the cinema in promoting smoking among the young. 

He was not calling for censorship, he explained, but for government health warnings to accompany the most risque tobacco-wreathed scenes. 

What an asinine idea!

Anti-smoking crusade is noble but misquided
Townhall.com - Kathleen Parker - August 14, 2002
I'm all for Hollywood seeking enlightenment. We deserve better films than many of those penned by Eszterhas, though, to be fair, he's responsible for some I liked: "Music Box," "Betrayed," "Jagged Edge." And while smoking is dangerous to health - and cigarettes may be appealing held between certain lips - characters smoking cigarettes on the big screen is hardly the worst of Hollywood's sins.
Prohibition is back?
Townhall.com - R. Emmett Tyrrell - August 8, 2002
How did the Prohibitionists take the news? I am thinking of the Prohibitionists, who are patrolling our diets and lifestyles always with their loyal servitors, the trial lawyers, at their side. The news I have in mind is that George W. Bush, archetypical middle-aged Americano, has just passed his physical with glowing marks. His heart rate is that of a varsity athlete, 44 beats a minute. He runs seven-minute miles. His total cholesterol level is 177, considered in the "desirable" range. His body fat is 14.5 percent. He achieved all this without benefit of the Prohibitionists, and despite an occasional cigar. 

The vigorous president has taken personal responsibility for his diet and his lifestyle. He did not need the Prohibitionists' remonstrances. 

So now here come the Prohibitionists after fast food or "junk food," and this is but the latest assault on American industry and private citizens. 

The scenario is precisely the same that was followed in pursuing the tobacco industry. Those who predicted that these Prohibitionists' campaigns would spread from campaigns against tobacco to campaigns against other industries have been vindicated. Now it is the fast food industry that will be depicted as unscrupulous in its advertising and its health claims.

Cigarette smuggling
Townhall.com - Bruce Bartlett - August 6, 2002
In a recent column on cigarette smuggling,  mentioned that organized crime and even terrorist groups have now become engaged in this lucrative trade. It exists because of wide variations in state taxation of tobacco. Cigarettes are taxed just 2.5 cents per pack in Virginia, but $3 per pack in New York City. It is naive to think that nefarious groups are not going to exploit this difference for easy profits. 

Organized crime has been deeply involved in interstate cigarette smuggling for decades. However, recent sharp increases in state cigarette taxes have increased its involvement, according to law enforcement officials and numerous press reports. 

As long as tobacco remains a legal product and as long as sovereign governments tax it at widely different rates, massive smuggling is inevitable and impossible to stop. To even make a dent in it would require making tobacco illegal, as alcohol was during Prohibition. Although this is unlikely, anti-smoking zealots are hoping to use taxes for the same purpose. "If it were totally up to me, I would raise the cigarette tax so high the revenue from it would go to zero," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently said. 

One has to ask, If instead of prohibiting the production and sale of alcohol in the 1920s, would it have made any difference, substantively, if the federal government had simply imposed a tax of $1,000 per ounce on alcohol? In other words, high rates of taxation can have the same effect as prohibition at some point. 

Thus, the anti-smoking crowd hopes to achieve through the back door what it cannot achieve through the front: raising taxes to such a level that tobacco effectively is an illegal product. It won't stop people from smoking, just ensure that only smugglers make any money from it. 

Really Bad Habit
Calgary Sun - Paul Jackson - August 4, 2002
With their fanatical zeal, you have to wonder how far busybodies will go.

Duck Soup Groucho died at the ripe old age of 87, which surely shows smoking cigars was not bad for his health.

Sir Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest man of the 20th century, smoked cigars incessantly, drank like a fish, and ate as much red meat as he could get his hands on.

Winnie lived to be 91.

Adolf Hitler, along with Josef Stalwas one of the most evil men of the 20th century, was a vegetarian, abstained from alcohol, and would not allow smoking anywhere he was. Hitler shot himself in despair at the age of 64.

Now, would you rather pattern yourself after Winston Churchill or Adolf Hitler?

Well, the anti-smoking zealots surely don't want to you to pattern yourself after Churchill and from their rigid, fanatical authoritarian and totalitarian psyche, you might well wonder just how far they'll go if they successfully ban smoking.

Some are already pushing the vegetarian agenda, others animal "rights."

Junk food and fast food are already being targeted, and some 'animal rights' types don't believe people should be allowed to keep pets -- that's enslaving an animal.

Yes, we're dealing not only with zealots here, but 100% proof crackpots. It's amazing politicians -- even Calgary's city council -- listen to them.

The fast food III vs. the whopper
Townhall.com - Larry Elder - August 1, 2002
Stop me before I eat again!

This explains a recently filed lawsuit against four fast-food restaurant chains: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC Corporation. A lawyer, seeking to eventually file a class-action lawsuit, found three plaintiffs who claim that the fast-food chains "addicted" them to non-nutritious food, inducing obesity and other related medical problems. Call them the Fast-Food Three. 

Just as smokers sue tobacco companies, despite 40 years of warning labels, this lawsuit asks us to believe people too stupid, too ignorant to distinguish between healthy and non-healthy diets. Incredibly, these people wish to hold Burger King responsible for their walking in, ordering and then consuming a meal which they later claim caused their obesity and health-related problems. 

...the claim that fat causes 300,000 deaths per year should be dismissed as an assertion for which there is essentially no evidence." 

Undaunted by facts, a Los Angeles councilwoman proposes to attack the problem of obesity by reducing the number of fast-food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods! According to her press release, "Poor nutrition is also common in low-income areas. Often low-income areas are inundated with fast-food restaurants that serve over-processed food that is high in fat, sugar and sodium." "Inundated"? What about the loss of taxes, loss of jobs and the big "screw-you" to consumer demand? Can't let those things interfere with good government, now can we?

Supply-Side Smokers
New York City is about to learn the cost of high cigarette taxes.
Wall Street Journal - July 31, 2002
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has done the impossible--he's turned Representative Charlie Rangel into a supply-sider. Harlem's new Arthur Laffer is upset about Mr. Bloomberg's new $1.50-per-pack tax on cigarettes, which Hizzoner hopes will bring in some revenue and encourage New Yorkers to kick the habit. Mr. Rangel blasted the hike as "totally unfair to tax poor folks."

The effects of the tax, which has raised the price of a typical pack to $7.50, are already careening through the local economy. Indian reservations, which are allowed under federal law to sell cigarettes tax-free, are booming with the new business. Smokers don't even have to get in their cars for the privilege, as the tribes now run Web sites exclusively dedicated to the cigarette trade. Meanwhile, many New York City bodegas, which exist on the
coffee-bagel-and-cigarettes business, are wondering whether they'll survive. 

Canada went up this learning curve a few years ago when it enacted a New York-size
cigarette tax. It finally threw in the towel when it realized that the revenues were being
captured by cross-border smugglers instead of the budget. Mayor Bloomberg seems
determined to learn the lesson himself the hard way.

In war on fat, it's the food's fault
Townhall.com - Kathleen Parker - July 31, 2002
The new hefty-man lawsuit against four fast-food companies seems too silly to be true, but it's as serious as it was inevitable. 

The strategy behind the lawsuit, filed by New York City attorney Samuel Hirsch, is familiar to anyone acquainted with the anti-tobacco movement. First you create a demon and a victim -Big Burger vs. Unhealthy, Overweight Person.

Having milked the tobacco industry dry, the health police need a new target. Food was bound to be next.

Beware of high-fat tort-feasors
Townhall.com - David Limbaugh - July 31, 2002
Is any claim too ridiculous to be entertained by American courts? The latest outrage -- a class action suit by fast food foragers against the beguiling burger behemoths -- should
make Jerry Springer proud, if not jealous. 

Caesar Barber is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought in a New York state court against McDonald's Corp., Burger King Corp., Wendy's International and KFC Corp. The
claimants allege these chains injured them by enticing them (through deceptive advertising) to eat their "unhealthy" products. 

Barber's lawyer, Samuel Hirsch, also, I assume, incomplete seriousness, reportedly said the burgers create a de facto addiction, or a "craving," especially in kids (ah yes, we must always mention the children) and the poor. 

We can't just dismiss these claims out of hand -- at least not until the judge dismisses them out of court. They are an inevitable consequence of our society's increasing trend toward victimhood and the erosion of individual responsibility. 

Sadly, these plaintiffs, judges and juries are simply a reflection of a society that has lost its fundamental appreciation for liberty and is following an inexorable path toward forfeiting all of it.

Cigarette Taxes Are Hazardous To Our Health
Mackinac Center for Public Policy - Lawrence W. Reed - July 29, 2002
Armed with the rhetoric of moral righteousness, the Carrie Nations of the cigarette wars are jacking up taxes on smokes higher than smoke itself. It’ll discourage a bad habit, they tell us, as they spend the revenues at least as fast as they roll in.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the latest tax hike into law at a news conference on June 30, a citizen tossed him a very cogent inquiry. According to The New York Times, Audrey Silk of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment asked Hizzoner, “I know that you love to eat chunky peanut butter with bacon and bananas. How about I come out and start a campaign to tax that bacon that’s going to cause heart disease, and tax that super-chunky peanut butter that’s going to kill you?” After conferring with an expert at his side, the mayor essentially said that smoking was different because it’s addictive. Besides, the city’s deficit-ridden budget needed the expected $111 million a year the $1.50 per pack would yield.

Who’s really the addict here? I know of many people who have given up smoking. I don’t know of any politicians who have given up on gouging revenue from it.

Haynes: Tobacco taxes needed 
POLITICS: The Inland lawmaker jokes that California can't afford to
discourage smoking. 
The Press-Enterprise - Robert T. Garrett - July 26, 2002
SACRAMENTO - Light up another cigarette. California's counting on you. 

The state is so addicted to tobacco-tax revenue, a Riverside lawmaker says, that California can't afford to discourage smoking -- or let anyone else do so. 

On Thursday, Senate Republican Whip Ray Haynes unveiled a resolution that would discourage California from supporting anti-smoking efforts, such as the Great American Smokeout held each November. 

"I've never smoked in my life and I'm truly sorry about that, because . . . I'm not paying taxes for programs for kids that save their lives," Haynes jokingly said. "This is sort of a tongue-in-cheek reference to all of the absurd things being said in the Capitol right now" about the state budget.

However, anti-smoking groups didn't see much humor in Haynes' Senate Concurrent Resolution 97, which he vowed to introduce when the Senate reconvenes on Aug. 5. 

SCR 97 pokes fun at arguments by Gov. Davis and Senate Democrats that at least some tax increases, on cars and smokers, are needed as part of the solution to the state's $24 billion budget shortfall. 

Haynes' resolution notes that Democrats have said a failure to raise any taxes would lead to cuts in vital health and social programs. 

"If tobacco use is stopped for one day, the state could lose $3 million in revenue," it says. That's enough money to pay for health insurance for 3,000 children for a year, the resolution says. 

Haynes said he wanted to turn Democrats' logic on its head. 

"Three thousand kids losing their health care, in the eyes of my left-wing friends in the Legislature, means kids are going to die everywhere," he said. "So how can we stop smoking if kids are going to die?" 

Fat chance: food cops are closing in
Townhall.com - Jonah Goldberg - July 24, 2002
The latest anti-fat efforts from include everything from new so-called "Twinkie taxes" on snacks, to advertising bans for fatty (i.e. tasty) foods and mandatory nutrition guides on restaurant menus (i.e. "Bacon Cheeseburger: 7,012 calories, 79 grams of fat," or the more straightforward warning, "Don't enjoy dinner ever again").

All of this smells fishy to me. Consider the hypocrisy of liberals who normally champion personal liberty over everything. How can you believe that sexual freedom is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but that dietary freedom can be infringed upon by a well-meaning government? If pro-choice feminists can declare "keep your rosaries off my ovaries!" I can chant "keep your laws off my bear claws!" 

Fat cops say that overeating is different because, like with smoking cigarettes, it costs society money in healthcare costs. That's true, but that's a backdoor argument for allowing the government to meddle in every nook and cranny of your private life. 

Cigarette taxes
Townhall.com - Bruce Bartlett - July 18, 2002
A new report from the Federation of Tax Administrators shows that 17 states have raised their cigarette tax rates so far this year. These increases will exacerbate an already serious interstate smuggling problem, which has been linked to terrorist activity. They will also further burden the poor, who are principally impacted by cigarette taxes. 

As much as politicians and anti-smoking zealots hate to admit it, there are limits to how much states can tax tobacco. At some point, they may have to admit that the spillover consequences of high cigarette taxes might be worse than the effects of smoking. 

Van Dough
Townhall.com - Jacob Sullum - July 9, 2002
For politicians confronting budget deficits, the opportunity to raise money at the expense of an unpopular minority while expressing sympathy for the people they're fleecing is hard to resist. So far this year 10 states have raised their cigarette taxes, and several others are considering it. The levies in New Jersey and Massachusetts may soon match or exceed New York's. 

But this competition to pick smokers' pockets -- I mean, to save smokers' lives -- does have limits. Although Bloomberg seems to think that a high enough tax would eliminate smoking, in the real world smokers have alternatives.

Yet Bloomberg, who equates zero tax revenue with zero smoking, apparently thinks smokers will not be resourceful enough to avoid his tax. He also seems to discount the possibility that they will respond to higher prices by, say, economizing on other expenditures, getting a second job, dipping into their savings, going into debt or turning to crime. 

These assumptions are surprising, since Bloomberg also believes that life without
nicotine is unthinkable for the average smoker. "This is not exactly freedom of choice," he informed opponents of the tax hike, "given that smoking is addictive and that the industry spends billions of dollars to get people hooked on it."

No doubt Bloomberg is right that some smokers will quit rather than pay exorbitant prices or go to the trouble of finding alternative supplies. But that choice will demonstrate that they were never the helpless victims he makes them out to be. 

Smokers, the new minority
The Plain Dealer -  *Phillip Morris (no joke!) - July 9, 2002
*Morris is an associate editor of The Plain Dealer's editorial pages. 
Don't get me wrong; I'm not totally comfortable around smokers. I recognize their right to exist, but they should stay in their place. I wouldn't invite one to my house, for instance. I don't enjoy sharing water fountains or beaches with them, and although I count some of them as friends, I certainly wouldn't want my daughter to grow up and marry one. 

Sound familiar? 

Smokers are the new minority. The once-popular Marlboro Man is now scorned and avoided. Federal and multiple state agencies spend millions to promote the message that if you smoke you are a social parasite. Indeed, smokers are on the verge of being pushed deep into a corner from which they cannot escape. That makes them dangerous.

Other Opinion: Anti-smoking campaign takes tyrannical turn
Amarillo Globe-News - July 9, 2002 - Greg Sagan
I see New York City has raised its tax on cigarettes from 8 cents to $1.50 a pack. To many across the country this tax increase may appear to be a simple and legally acceptable municipal revenue enhancement, but to me it is another disturbing sign of America clubbing Americans into molded behaviors.

We seem to have solved this problem in a most irrational way. Smoking is not illegal, but it is something our government prefers to see terminated throughout society. So we permit smokers, who act out of pure choice, to sue the companies that provide them with what they want, and then we add a punitive tax to the product as a way of dampening demand and adding to the common treasury monies that can be spent as general revenue. 

If any other country acted this way, we would wonder what scrambled their brains.

Lest you think that, because you don't smoke, this problem isn't your problem, consider for a moment. Take out "smoking" and insert any practice that others, not you, consider to be a danger - not to them but to yourself. Think for a moment what it would mean for you to be "free" to do whatever that practice is while the government taxed it to the point you couldn't afford it. Would "freedom" mean anything?

It is time and past time that we Americans noticed these trends and put a stop to them. If we do not somehow find the courage to stop our own government from infringing on individual liberties that we, ourselves, choose not to exercise, we will all one day find our government standing in the way of those freedoms we do exercise.

That means that individual consumption of alcohol or other drugs, including tobacco, is both a personal choice and a personal problem. That means that taxing things most of us don't use as a way of striking at some of us who do must be opposed on principle as something abhorrent to a free society. That means accepting the idea that all of us are going to be offended by the ways in which others exercise their freedoms, but that the law must not be used to drive the herd into someone else's chute.

A New York Smoker? Considering a Second Mortgage?
NY Times - Tim Geary - July 7, 2002
A COUPLE of days after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed into law a $1.42 increase in the city's tax on cigarettes, I was at a bar with my friend Sara when an acquaintance of hers stopped to ask if he could bum a smoke. "Nah," she shrugged. "I'm all out." This clearly wasn't true. Sara's such an addict, she sleeps with a pack under her pillow. I asked her why she had lied. "You know how much a pack costs these days?" she asked. "Seven bucks! I'm not going to waste one on a jerk like him."

What Sara was saying, of course, was that her cigarette mattered more than his friendship. There have always been myriad ways to lose friends in Manhattan — unsent invitations, stolen boyfriends, contradictory comments to, say, the Securities and Exchange Commission about the timing of sell orders. Hoarding cigarettes should now be added to the list. 

This new tax won't simply hurt smokers' friendships; it will damage our hearts and lungs and stomachs. Although the mayor argued that the cigarette tax "may be the most important measure my administration takes to save people's lives," he doesn't seem to have considered how it will mess with smokers' lives. Since I am not going to give up my habit, I will continue to load up on pricey smokes at the expense of artery-friendly items like fresh fruit, organic lettuces and alfalfa sprouts. I plan to buy only those items my smoking will allow, like Hostess cakes or Twizzlers on sale at Rite Aid. 

I am going to defy the new rules of smoking. I may start handing cigarettes out to
panhandlers. If I am in the mood, I'll scoot across town to a PATH station so I can taunt New Jersey commuters with the sight of my conspicuous consumption of New York smokes. And from now on, when friends sheepishly ask me for a cigarette, I'll give them two, just to prove what a big deal I am. Instead of losing friends, I intend to buy some; and I don't care how much it costs. 

Thanks to smokers for budget bailout
Wisconsin State Journal - Bill Wineke - July 6, 2002
I hope someone in state government has the good grace to thank Wisconsin's cigarette smokers for their contribution to our way of life.

Without them, our government would be bankrupt, essential services would go down the tubes and we'd no doubt all be paying even higher taxes than we are now. 

The least we could do would be to say "thank you."

Smokers, don't hold your breath - assuming, of course, you still have breath to hold. We, as a society, like to rip you off and then spit in your collective face.

Here's the reason for the above diatribe:

In 1998, Wisconsin learned the joyful news that it would receive $5.9 billion over 25 years as part of a "settlement" with the nation's tobacco companies. The settlement, essentially, was to help us pay the added costs of providing medical care to smokers who ruin their lungs, hearts and God-knows-what-else because of their habit.

Now, where was that money going to come from, ultimately? It was going to come from the smokers, of course. The cigarette companies get the $5.9 billion by selling their product to smokers.

Since the cigarette companies have no intention of cutting their profits, the only way they have to get the money is to raise prices.

The cigarette money seemed huge at the time. It seemed so huge that visionaries even thought we might put together an effective program to discourage people from smoking.

You'd think we might even have thought about cutting the taxes on cigarettes, given they were about to contribute so much to our treasury. 

Ha! What we did, instead, was raise cigarette taxes.

We also decided to sell the settlement for $1.59 billion. We take the $1.59 billion up front instead of $5.9 billion spread out over 25 years. 

And what did we do with the money? Well, I'm compressing a lot of stuff here, but the essential truth remains: We used it to balance the state budget.

As soon as Gov. Scott McCallum signs the budget bill agreed to Tuesday, whatever money was left from last year's budget debacle will be blown on this year's budget debacle.

We had $5.9 billion - which, to my mind, is a lot of money - and we blew it.

Again, that money, in the long run, comes from the wallets of cigarette smokers. Approximately one of every four Wisconsin residents smokes cigarettes. Sociological studies suggest that smokers also tend to be among the lower-paid and less-educated of our residents. That's not completely true, but it's basically true.

So, once again, we are balancing the state budget on the backs of a minority of its residents and on the backs of those residents who have less ability to pay than many of us.

This is unfair. It is wrong. It is miserable public policy.

The only reason we get away with it is that smokers are a despised minority. Those who don't smoke feel morally superior to those who do. We aren't. We are just lucky enough to have been spared that addiction. Being lucky doesn't make us superior. Each of us has his own faults.

In the meantime, we've blown the smokers' money. The least we can do is to say "thanks." 

Paper blowing scientific smoke
Post's coverage of possible smoking ban in Fort Collins comes up short on 'facts'
Rocky Mountain News - Dave Kopel - June 30, 2002
As Fort Collins considers banning smoking in restaurants and all other public indoor places, The Denver Post's Northern Colorado Bureau did a good job interviewing Fort Collins residents on all sides of the issue: smokers, anti-smokers and property owners (June 16). But the Post's coverage of the science regarding secondhand smoke was a litany of misinformation. 
French Fry Scare, Part II
FOX News - Steven Milloy - June 28, 2002
The food police at the Center for Science in the Public Interest have jumped on the recent health scare involving French fries and potato chips. Not surprisingly, its new effort at food terrorism is self-debunking.

CSPI stated in its press release that the Food and Drug Administration "should be advising consumers to cut back on the most contaminated and least nutritious foods while more testing is done across the food supply." 

The "most contaminated and least nutritious foods" just happen to be the same foods — fast food French fries, for example — that CSPI routinely attacks as being unhealthy. Acrylamide hysteria is nothing more than a convenient, if not cynical, tactic of CSPI to advance its anti-fun food agenda.

President Goody-Goody is getting on my nerves
Townhall.com - Kathleen Parker - June 26, 2002


Bush's four-day plug for more nutritious eating habits and improved fitness for a Better America has left me wishing for a bag Cheetos, a cooler of Bud and a pack of Marlboros. Not to be a square-dance pooper or anything, but there's such a thing as too much goodness.

When government decides that Americans should do something, it usually isn't long before government figures a way to change "should" to "must." Ask a smoker. One day, the government determined that smoking was bad for you. In no time, government agencies conceived a plan to make smokers into social pariahs. 

Can it be long before we make overweight, unfit Americans equally unattractive and morally reprehensible? 

The fact is, anyone who can read a newspaper, operate a remote control or plug in a toaster knows -or should know -what it takes to be healthy and fit. It's just that certain people choose to ignore the information, just as some 50 million Americans choose to continue smoking cigarettes despite knowing that they're increasing their risks for heart disease and lung cancer, as well as mind-boggling jury awards following contraction of said diseases. 

You eats your burgers; you takes your chances. It is also fact of human nature,
meanwhile, that few people change their habits because someone else says they ought to. Indeed, the opposite result is almost guaranteed, she said, brushing orange crumbs and ashes from her desk. 

Big Fat Lie
Townhall.com - Jacob Sullum - June 6, 2002
The other day I got a call from a producer who wanted me to appear on an NPR talk show as a critic of the burgeoning war on obesity. To illustrate the importance of the precedent set by the anti-smoking crusade, I suggested to her how the same arguments that were used against the tobacco companies could be used against fast food chains: They know their products are unhealthy! They deliberately target children! They hook them before they're old enough to know better! 

"You agree with those arguments?" she asked. I should have learned from that conversation how risky it is to play devil's advocate when yesterday's satire is today's news story. Instead, I decided to take it up a notch. 

Smoke get in your eyes?
Townhall.com - William F. Buckley, Jr. - May 27, 2002
Have the long fingernails of the state's smoking laws scratched up your life? There are two federal laws that authorize interventions to prohibit people from smoking.

But the law seems to know no limit to the ambition to blow smoke away from the face of the land. 

But the law doesn't make way for compromises, or adjustments, or extenuations. The law is "a ass, a idiot," said Charles Dickens' Mr. Bumble 160 years ago, and nothing has changed.

Calculated Risks
Harvard professor says smokers know exactly what they're doing
Chronicle of Higher Education - David Glenn - May 31, 2002
Smokers have a very solid understanding of tobacco's health risks. In multibillion-dollar lawsuits, individual smokers and state attorneys general have claimed that tobacco companies have duped the public about the risks of smoking. But Mr. Viscusi insists that
just isn't so. Even if tobacco companies have churned out misinformation and propaganda, he says, they've failed to deceive their customers.

In a heavily antismoking society, one way to shut up your critics is to say, Well, of course I intend to quit. So [his] results might seriously overstate the number of smokers who actually intend to quit, and how serious their intention is."

Ralph Moyed of delawareonline.com The News Journal goes on a month long rant Delaware Bans Smoking Everywhere, including bars, casinos and race tracks

Anti-smoking activists need outside interest - 06/06/2002

Smokers do it to spite those superior nags - 05/30/2002

Now muster will to enforce pollution laws - 05/23/2002

Once smoke is out of way, ban perfume - 05/09/2002

Sinners vote too after taxes go up and up - 05/02/2002

Smoked Out
Boston Globe - W. Kip Viscusi - May 19, 2002
In the end, the massive 1998 civil settlement penalized those who light up, not the offending tobacco firms.

The landmark 1998 settlement of state cigarette suits for $243 billion broke all records for civil litigation in the United States, yet it set an unfortunate precedent and remains widely misunderstood.

But smokers, not tobacco companies, on several levels bear the brunt of the deal, which established penalties equivalent to an additional tax on cigarettes. In most years this tax will be about 40 cents. Whether the states get paid off at all hinges on whether people continue to smoke and how much.

Bad Science Never Dies
TCS - Howard Fienberg - May 20, 2002
Splashy science news reports draw eyeballs and move policy, but sometimes the scientific heart of the news comes up short. Worse, it can be dead wrong. So what happens in the news when a study is found to be faulty or false and ends up being retracted or thrown out? 

Not much, usually. 

The researchers reported that, "Retracted articles continue to be cited as valid work in the biomedical literature after publication of the retraction." 

Budd and his colleagues acknowledged that there is sometimes a significant time lag (an average of 28 months) between publication and retraction. But they found that the flawed articles were cited in the scientific literature an astonishing 2,034 times after they had been
retracted. The vast majority of these post-retraction citations treated the work as still valid, making no reference to the retraction.

At a certain level, these studies have become urban myths. Despite no longer possessing scientific authority, their repeated publication has let them take on a life of their own -- regardless of any grounding in truth.

Cigarette taxes and terrorism
Jewish World Review - Michelle Malkin - May 15, 2002
Federal prosecutors say that Mohammad Youssef Hammoud, his brothers, and more than a dozen others collaborated in a major cigarette smuggling, money laundering, and immigration fraud business to support Hezbollah activities abroad. The ring members purchased cheap cigarettes in Charlotte, where the tobacco tax is just five cents a pack, then hauled them to high-tax Michigan, which raised tobacco taxes from 25 cents a pack to 75 cents in 1994. Hammoud's operation is believed to have reaped millions of dollars of profit over a four-year period.

If not for taxaholic bureaucrats, this suspected terrorist operation wouldn't have gotten off the ground. States addicted to nicotine-stained revenue are all too happy to participate in the sanctimonious charade of condemning the vice while pocketing a chunk of the profits. But those who advocate punitive tobacco taxes to reduce smoking and "protect kids" continue to ignore the connection between sin taxes and illegal sales. Every state along the East Coast that has slapped astronomical and regressive taxes on tobacco has been invaded by increasingly savvy and organized smugglers. 

Tommy Thompson Floats New Tobacco Tax
Human Events - Terence P. Jeffrey - May 13, 2002
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson just dumped a load of toxic waste on two of President Bush’s most pristine principles: Taxes should be cut, not raised, and tax cuts should go to everyone, not a privileged few.

Specifically, Thompson floated proposals for a new tax on tobacco and for a tax credit that would be granted only to people who engage in healthy behavior as judged by government bureaucrats.

The day after the Chicago Tribune ran this story Thompson taped an interview with Judy Woodruff of CNN’s "Inside Politics." Here is their exchange:

Woodruff: ". . . I read that among other things you are considering a tax credit for people who take good care of themselves. Are you serious about that?"

Thompson: "I am serious about advocating new ways in which we can try and make people healthier, Judy. And one of those things is exploring the possibility of a tax credit. The problem with it is how do we show proof that people are actually doing what they say they are? It’s very hard to monitor."

Woodruff: "You’re also looking at maybe a tax increase for people who use cigarettes?"

Thompson: "Well, I’m looking at a tax on tobacco and thinking that that’s certainly . . . all part of the thing to remain healthy."

This is a totalitarian idea. Washington liberals never stop trying to convert the tax code into a tyrant’s tool—a weapon to force Americans to behave the way liberals want them to behave. Targeted tax credits and tobacco taxes topped Al Gore’s agenda. But Tommy Thompson works for Bush, not Gore. And Bush was elected promising to cut taxes, and not target tax relief to a privileged few.

A Thompson tobacco tax would infringe on the freedom of smokers by making them pay more to government, and on the freedom of non-smokers by using tobacco taxes to fund more government.

The Puritans Run Amok Over Smoking
NY Times - Clyde Haberman - May 4, 2002
...Now that fairness is out of the way, we can return to the main concern here, which is the obsessiveness gripping New Yorkers on the issue of tobacco. Sure, smoking is terrible. Everybody knows that. But don't you find yourself wondering sometimes why people can't lighten up about others' lighting up?

Instead, the intolerance of a self-satisfied majority toward the smoking minority seems to be growing.

A new form of Puritanism is afoot, calling itself purity and wrapped in a mantle of health and safety.

No Smoking as a Way of Life
NY Times - Bruce McCall - May 5, 2002
A Manhattan co-op board has forbidden new buyers to smoke in their apartments. The board has said if buyers admit to being smokers, it could lead to the rejection of their applications.

YOUR request for an interview with the Co-op Board is dependent on completion of this form. Smoking while considering your answers will disqualify you.

1. Answer YES or NO:

• If Winston Churchill had ever come to my house for dinner, I would have kicked him out. 

• Everybody should spend an afternoon at the library, crossing out smoking scenes in great novels.

• If my only child were to marry a smoker, everyone on our family's side at the wedding would wear gas masks.

Abandon this application if you did not compile a perfect score of 3 yesses.

Tax Happy
Taxing your way to self-control.
Reason - Mike Lynch - May 2, 2002
It is dangerous for economists to assume that they can measure happiness among "potential smokers" and other groups, given the profession’s penchant for hanging out with legislators and bureaucrats. The government’s job is to provide the framework in which free individuals can pursue their own happiness. It’s a giant step backward when it tries to maximize our happiness for us, especially when all it has to go on is survey answers.
Butting In 
A co-op board bans smoking--and strikes a blow for freedom.
WSJ.com - Collin Levey - May 2, 2002

See related news story:
Co-op board bars new owners from smoking

NEW YORK--This week a co-op board on Manhattan's Upper West Side announced that smokers are no longer welcome. Puffing on tobacco will be prohibited in all apartments inhabited by those who purchase after the rule takes effect. Judging by the rumpus that greeted the announcement, you'd almost think smokers were valued members of society. Could it be that the arbitrary exclusiveness of New York's co-op boards has finally gone too far? 

The smoking ban may look like an example of American persnicketiness, and the desire to regulate the behavior of others, taken to an unhealthy extreme. In fact, it is evidence of a free-choice society rooted in property rights.

Roger Pilon, head of constitutional studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, says the issue isn't smoking at all, even though it has become a politically incorrect habit in recent years and has documented ill-health effects.

The real question is how far the state wants to go in telling property owners what kind of behavior they must indulge, and what kind they are free to discriminate against. Once you step on the slippery slope, he points out, there's no logical end to government intrusion in questions of private taste and choice. You would have courts being asked to "choose between good and bad discrimination," he explains. "There is no end to the battles. You'll have the children vs. the non children people, the curry people vs. the garlic people." 

In other words, we leave such matters to private choice and private contract for a good reason: The alternative is a tyranny greater than that of any co-op board. 

While we believe overall that this article is reasonable it still begs the question:
Why then have private owners of bars and restaurants been tyrannized by government in not allowing them to choose?

New Round Fired in Fat Wars
Health Care News - Conrad F. Meier and Diane Carol Bast - May 2002
The March/April 2002 issue of Health Affairs magazine offers up new ammunition in the nation’s most recently launched War: not on terrorism, but on obesity.

In “The Effects of Obesity, Smoking, and Drinking on Medical Problems and Costs,” Ronald Sturm, a senior economist at RAND Corp., compares the effects of obesity, overweight, smoking, and problem drinking on health care use and health status based on national survey data. 

Sturm finds obesity has “roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as does 20 years’ aging,” a link he says “greatly exceeds” the associations of smoking or problem drinking. He finds obesity to be associated with a 36 percent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 77 percent increase in medications. By comparison, he says, smoking is associated with a mere 21 percent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 28 percent increase in medications.

Free-market.net’s Tucille reminds us,

“The ultimate ‘villain’ in America’s epidemic of blubber has more to do with lifestyle choices than nefarious businesses peddling fattening foods. Many people eat too much of whatever they eat, and don’t exercise enough. This may well harm their health, but obesity comes as a tradeoff for the pleasure that people take in eating and leading sedentary lifestyles. Some of us may not agree with that tradeoff, but we are free to make other choices.”

Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, a public policy think tank in Chicago, sees dangerous parallels to the tobacco wars.

“I don’t object to government officials, particularly elected ones, using their offices as bully pulpits to preach their beliefs,” said Bast. “If voters don’t like what they say or do, they can either vote them out of office or ignore them. But government has no Constitutional authority to use public funds or the force of regulation to impose the personal beliefs of a few on the lives of the many.”

Bast concludes, “A government-sponsored ‘war on fat’ will resemble the war on drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and other products disliked by the elite but valued by the majority. All these campaigns are sources of human suffering, public costs, and violations of individual rights that must be weighed against the slight benefits to public health they may engender.”

Budgetary Drag
Revenues go up in smoke when states raise cigarette taxes.
WSJ.com - Kimberley A. Strassel - April 18, 2002
At this point I could bring up all the obvious, and good, arguments against cigarette taxes. I could ask why adults are penalized for making adult decisions. Or why a country that shies away from any sort of moral judgement still levies sin taxes. (And if we are going to tax socially unacceptable behavior, I suggest we include levies on student activists and people who walk slowly on crowded sidewalks.)

But it might be more fun, especially for smokers, to instead indulge in a little Shadenfreude. The latest news suggests lawmakers have twisted themselves into an uncomfortable knot with their petty addiction to cigarette taxes. Even as they move to raise taxes again, reports show that they've already raised them so high that some people are quitting. Others are simply buying from tax-free sources. Which means states are bleeding more red ink, not less. 

Is it the government's job to protect you from yourself?
FOX News - Neil Cavuto - April 15, 2002
We've been telling you about a bill in California to tax soda to fight childhood obesity. The idea is make the soft drink pricey enough so that kids won't buy it. And I guess they won't get fat. I don't think so.

It's not the government's job to safeguard us from us.

The whole idea of a democracy is essentially letting us screw up our own lives.

We know cigarettes kill. But it's up to us not to smoke. Not the government.

We know certain foods can clog our arteries and lead to heart attacks. But it's up to us to eat healthy, not the government to force us to eat healthy. And it's up to us to raise our kids. Not to the government to raise them for us.

Workers oppose a ban on smoking - TC Health Department staffers say ban may discourage people from visiting county offices 
Traverse City Record Eagle - Bill O'Brien - April 8, 2002
A proposal to create a smoke-free campus at the Grand Traverse County Health Department has encountered some unexpected opposition - other county health workers.

More than a dozen Health Department staffers signed a letter opposing the smoking ban, saying it could discourage people from visiting county health offices.

"We feel if our building is a 'no smoking' campus, it will discourage our clients from coming to participate in the programs they need," the employee letter said. "We would like to see a nice designated smoking area, preferably away from our front doors, with some nice visible signs."

The Fat Tax Cut
Reason - Brian Doherty - April 4, 2002
The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that medical expenses related to managing obesity are eligible for a tax deduction under the same rules governing any other medical expense. This means that, as far as the IRS is concerned, obesity is officially a disease. That could end up making this a very expensive tax break indeed.

Making obesity an official disease will provide more ammunition for those who insist that we need more taxes on certain foods to manipulate our eating choices -- part of a grand tradition of both conservatives and liberals to muddy up the tax code for social
engineering purposes.

We can expect a replay of the tobacco game of more taxes, more regulation, and  huge lawsuits...

Taxing Ways
Townhall.com - Debra Saunders - April 3, 2002
California State Sen. Don Perata wants to tax bullets -- at a rate of five cents per round -- and he plans to ask the state legislature to put a bullet tax on the November ballot.

Great idea. So, as long as we're calling for new taxes on things we don't like under the pretense that the tax makes sense because of government costs incurred by a minority of practitioners, why stop there? 

Let's levy a new health-care tax on cars because, according to the Centers for Disease Control, cars injure more kids than guns. 

Let's tax fashion magazines because they contribute to anorexia, which drives up health costs. 

Let's tax potato-chip makers for contributing to obesity, which also increases health-care costs...

Let's tax everyone who does things we don't like because they should be more
like us. 

Let's tax bills proposed by busybody politicians who feel it's their job to single out activities they don't like for extra taxation. 

Better yet, let's not vote for them. 

The Campaign Against Big Food
Townhall.com - Bruce Bartlett - April 2, 2002
All along, there were a few people warning that if the campaign against tobacco was successful, it would inevitably lead to special taxes and lawsuits against other products. Such concerns were universally dismissed as paranoid or tobacco-industry propaganda. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. The same people behind the campaign against tobacco are gearing up to do it again to sugar, fat and the foods that contain them.

In short, the campaign against Big Food is following the attack on Big Tobacco almost to a tee. 

It will be too bad if most Americans react to the campaign against Big Food the
same way they reacted to that on Big Tobacco. They may think that using taxes to discourage obesity is reasonable. But if the zealots are successful, we will have lost a little more of our freedom and given the government yet another means of controlling our behavior and picking our pockets. 

Child-Free Dining
A smoking ban backfires
Reason - Charles Paul Freund - April 2002
Chilly Winnipeg, Manitoba’s metropolis, kicked off its new year with the best of intentions, at least from the viewpoint of smoke prohibitionists. In an effort to separate children from ambient smoke, the Canadian city banned smoking, beginning January 1, in those establishments where minors are present. By January 2, however, it was apparent that the consequences of the new law were not exactly what the lawmakers had envisioned. A number of Winnipeg establishments had opted to keep the smoke and ban the kids instead.

A donut shop manager explained the logic behind the changes. "We tried to obey the bylaw for one day and we lost half our business," she told the Globe and Mail. "But now that we’ve allowed smoking and banned minors, our business has doubled today [January 4]." 

Politicizing science degrades research, one scholar warns 
Special interests replace objectivity on critical issues 
San Francisco Chronicle - Keay Davidson - April 1, 2002 
The "character assassination" and political extremism of recent scientific debates is undermining the scientific community's ability to advise policymakers on urgent issues such as global warming and biodiversity. 

So warns one of the nation's top experts in a little-known but vital scholarly field: science policy studies. Its scholars analyze how the nation spends -- and sometimes wastes -- tax dollars on scientific, biomedical and environmental research. 

Whether it's the debate over how to handle mad cow disease or quarrels over "ecosystem functioning, genetically modified organisms, cloning or vaccination, " science is "increasingly the battlefield on which political advocates, not to mention lawyers and those with commercial interests, manipulate 'facts' to support their positions," says Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado. 

"As political battles are waged through 'science,' many scientists are willing to adopt tactics of demagoguery and character assassination as well as, or even instead of, reasoned argument -- take, for example, the extremes of debates on genetically modified crops or global warming," Pielke says. 

Smoke And Lose Your Son
WorldNetDaily - Dennis Prager - March 26, 2002

View the Poll results:
Should a parent's smoking be a factor  in child-custody cases? 

There you have it. In what will surely be one of many candidates for Scariest Ruling of the Year, a judge will not allow a son to visit his mother if she smokes, despite the fact that the boy is perfectly healthy. 

And it gets worse. The poor mother smokes only in the bathroom when her son visits. So unless you confuse secondhand smoke with nuclear fallout, the boy is obviously not adversely affected by any secondhand smoke. What, then, is this case really about? It is about using secondhand smoke as a weapon in a custody dispute. And it is about the consequences of the secondhand-smoke hysteria – a judge actually believes that secondhand smoke's risk to a person's health is so great that a child can be removed from a smoking parent's home.

...those Americans not prone to hysteria about secondhand smoke should be quaking because of this imperious ruling. 

Adolph Hitler never touched tobacco and led the Nazi campaign against smoking – the most forceful ever waged. Until America's today. 

Whatever you think about smoking, weep for the mother who cannot smoke in her own bathroom, lest her son be forbidden from staying with her. In fact, weep for America.

Tobacco's road to Hollywood
Townhall.com - Brent Bozell - March 21, 2002
The head of Rogers and Cowan wrote to a Reynolds executive, informing him that his firm had placed product in the "green rooms of the major TV talk shows ... During the last few days we have been able to get Zsa Zsa Gabor and (novelist) Harold Robbins to smoke during the taping of 'The Merv Griffin Show.'" 

Zsa Zsa Gabor? 

All that suggests that the Rogers and Cowan/R. J. Reynolds collaboration was meant not to induce the young to start smoking, but to persuade the middle-aged and older not to stop. Only the most hardcore anti-tobacco zealot would fail to distinguish between the two goals in ethical terms. 

One anecdote in the report points up the ideology-driven brainlock to which many
anti-smoking crusaders are prone. It mentions that in 1983, an advertisement for Kool
cigarettes ran before showings of a G-rated Disney film, but neither those who protested the appearance of the ad in that context nor the authors of this report seem to understand that the ad was directed not at the children in the audience, but rather at the parents who accompanied them to the theater, and that if one or both parents of a child smoke, that will influence that child's tobacco use infinitely more than one ad, or a thousand ads, ever could.

'Disturbing Statistics' 
TCS - James K. Glassman - March 20, 2002
Milloy [JunkScience.com] [in Junk Science Judo] warns of political activists who turn their activism into organizations that operate under benign banners like "physicians committees" or  "public-interest" groups. "Activists often place their agendas ahead of the facts," he writes. "They will say and do virtually anything to promote their cause. If a health scare will help, then a health scare can be manufactured."

Thanks to the efforts of environmental groups, scheming politicians, and media enablers willing to pass along spoon-fed alarmism without subjecting it to scrutiny, many Americans are convinced that the world (and the marketplace) is a lot more dangerous than it is. 

Most junk science claims use evidence that is (at best) weak, employing dubious statistical associations using suspect data. Which is why it would be smart to note Milloy's point that statistics is not science. Neither is epidemiology. That's just statistics. And it is important not to assume that something that is scientific sounding - like a parade of statistics – is scientific. After all, stats don't prove cause and effect.

The key to learning junk science judo is developing a healthy skepticism and a willingness to question conventional wisdom. Question everything, including the prestigious medical journals. There are too many parties that often have vested interests that can be advanced by dubious science, too many people for whom science is merely a tool and never an end in and of itself.

Airports Open Smoking Facilities To Combat Drop-Off in Travel
Wall Street Journal - Jesse Drucker and Jane Costello - March 15, 2002 
Several airports -- including LAX, Dallas/Fort Worth, Boston and Detroit -- are considering opening new smoking facilities in terminals. An important reason for the change: With retail sales off 14%, airports are looking for ways to keep travelers in the terminal. Right now, many of them have to go outside to smoke.
In film, where there's no smoke, there's a fire
Variety - Todd McCarthy - March 14, 2002
Now that smoking has effectively been banned from all offices, restaurants, sporting venues and public places, with open-air parks looking like the next target, the banner is clearly being taken up for the next frontier of prohibition, for what I'll call third-hand smoke, stuff you can't actually inhale or even smell but that evidently can pollute you all the same. The charge is being led by one Stanton Glantz, a UC San Francisco School of Medicine professor, who, through his org Smoke Free Movies, has been taking ads, appearing on talkshows and lobbying industryites on behalf of his idea that smoking should be considered on par with graphic garroting, disembowelment, chainsaw dismemberment, decapitation, torture, machine gun massacres and all other manner of splatter-film violence, along with full-frontal nudity and a cascade of f-words, as far as film ratings are concerned.

If common sense prevailed in such matters, such a proposal would be laughed off or filed away deep in a don't-bother-to-reply drawer. But zealots gripped by a cause, no matter how nonsensical, won't go away quietly, so they must be addressed, albeit, one hopes, from a more logical mindset and in a less emotional tone than they employ. Where Glantz and his brethren, including Rob Reiner, who is apparently already trying to snuff out smoking in pictures at Castle Rock, score the most points is in their charge that onscreen smoking glamorizes the habit, that the sight of beautiful young people puffing away will encourage kids to emulate their idols.

Glantz also vehemently denies that he's calling for censorship, which of course is the first tip-off that it is exactly what he's interested in.

To an industry (and a country) that likes to congratulate itself for its devotion to freedom of expression, it should be apparent that Glantz's movement, which is obviously gathering some steam, represents anti-democratic social engineering of the first order and should be resisted on principle regardless of one's personal disposition toward smoking.

The author goes on to describe Mr. Glantz as "embraces the role of censor and enforcer" and "self-appointed regulator" and "single-issue crusader."

Libertarians Accuse Justice Department Of 'Health Fascism'
CNSNews.com - Jim Burns - March 14, 2002
The Justice Department's plan to restrict cigarette advertising, criminalize all cigarette vending machines and slap new health warnings on cigarette labels has prompted the Libertarian Party to come up with its own label -- "Nanny State health fascism."

"This plan treats adults like children, and violates the First Amendment," said Steve Dasbach, Libertarian Party executive director. "In the interest of forcing Americans to make healthier decisions about smoking, and in an effort to prove it is tough on big tobacco, the Bush administration is running roughshod over civil liberties and the free market."

Tobacco ratings may be offensive to free thinkers
Herald News Staff - March 14, 2002
The call for new movie warnings isn't coming from civil rights or feminist groups -- yet. Today, the demand for a new type of rating is coming from the anti-tobacco crowd, which is nothing if not determined in their belief that we all need protection from ourselves.

U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass., has criticized movies like "The Godfather" for stereotyping Italian-Americans as Mafia hitmen. Muslim groups say Hollywood stereotypes them as terrorists. The list goes on and on.

Whether any of these groups has a legitimate complaint is not the point; movie ratings can't conform to the notion that a single scene might offend a particular group. That's particularly true if a film features 10 seconds of an actor taking a puff from a cigarette, or merely holding a lit one in his hand.

One day we may all agree that life comes with no guarantees that we'll never be offended by anything. Until then, let's keep the movie rating system as an advisory for parents, and not a free-for-all among every group with a grievance and a chip on its shoulder.

Lighting up on No Smoking Day
BBC News - Richard Klein - March 13, 2002
The propaganda always claims to tell teenagers the "truth" about smoking: that
tobacco is bad for their health and harmful to developing bodies. But young people, always alert to adult hypocrisy, are apparently not impressed.

They recognise what adults rarely acknowledge, that they need to experiment
with risky pleasures, because they are probably going to spend the rest of their life struggling with and against them. 

States Invest Tobacco Settlements in – Tobacco Stocks! 
CNSNews.com - Matt Pyeatt - March 13, 2002 
Many of the states that received billions of dollars in the national tobacco settlement have invested some of that money in the stock market, benefiting the same tobacco companies the settlement was meant to punish, according to a research group.

"The whole settlement agreement is nothing but a collusion between the states and the tobacco companies," Levy said. "The states get their money only if the tobacco companies are healthy and making lots of money, so we should hardly be surprised if, as a result of the settlement, they are betting on the success of the tobacco companies. 

"They then turn around and take advantage and multiply their bet by investing in some tobacco stocks." 

Tobacco settlement and conflicting goals
TownHall.com - Bruce Bartlett - March 12, 2002
A new study from the Council of State Governments raises serious questions about the conflicting goals of the tobacco settlement. According to the report, falling cigarette consumption will cause state revenues from the settlement to come in 20 percent lower
than expected. Through 2010, states will get $14 billion less from Big Tobacco than originally projected. 

Predictably, the states are whining about the lost revenue, saying it will increase pressure to cut spending. This only goes to prove once again that the settlement was never really
about reducing smoking. It was always about one thing: extorting money from the tobacco industry. Were it otherwise, the states would be jumping for joy at the great success of
higher prices on reducing cigarette use. That is what they've always said was their goal. 

EPA Lung Cancer Study Based on Faulty Data
Fox News - Steven Milloy - March 8, 2002
As Congress foams at the mouth over financial fraud perpetrated on Enron shareholders and employees, it’s allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to perpetrate a much more costly fraud on all of us. 

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association March 6, the study reports fine particulate air pollution causes people living in the most heavily polluted cities to die at a 12 percent greater rate of lung cancer than people in the least polluted areas. 

What’s really gasping for breath, though, is the basic science and honesty that’s been steamrolled by the EPA and its researcher henchmen.

Treatment more costly now than 50 years ago
The Province - Kate Sarginson - March 4, 2002
Please spare me the lectures on the evils of smoking, drinking and obesity. The real cost of
health care has increased because medical care has made huge strides in treatment in the past 50 years.

Fifty years ago, if you had a premature baby it died. Now we spend at least $250,000 per preemie to save them.

Fifty years ago, we didn't transplant organs, do open-heart surgery or live to be 100. This all costs money.

Do you want to go back 50 years and let cancer patients, babies and old people die? Or do you want to pay for the cost of increased premiums?

Just don't spout that holier-than-thou nonsense about keeping fit.

They're coming after you
TownHall.com - Waller Williams - March 6, 2002
The Center for Consumer Freedom (www.consumerfreedom.com) keeps up-to-date information on these and other tyrants. You might say, "What's the fuss, Williams? These people will never get away with controlling what we eat and drink!" Think again. In the '60s, when the anti-smoking zealots were simply asking for smoking and non-smoking sections on airplanes, no one would have ever anticipated today's tobacco taxes, laws and regulations. 
Social hypochondria
As a society, we always seem to be obsessing about somproblem like teen drinking
MSNBC with Slate.com - Michael Kinsley - March 2002
According to a recent study by the respected National Center for Credulity and Alarm, Americans are twice as likely to swallow a phony statistic about a social issue, and almost 2.7 times more likely to find it alarming, as citizens of either the European Union or the former Soviet bloc.
Lighting Up
Israelis breathe easier because they still smoke.
Reason - Howard Mortman - March 5, 2002

Mortman prints our letter in response to this column

JERUSALEM -- Armed security everywhere.  Checkpoints at the entrances to shopping malls.  The dangers of hanging out in public places.

So what's good about Israel these days?

Tobacco smoke.  And lots of it.

 Israel wrote the book on homeland security that America is now reading cover to cover.  But Israel has apparently skipped the American treatise on how to turn smokers into social outcasts.

 Smoke is everywhere.  Even as smoking is against the law.

John Ed Pearce
Herald-Leader columnist
Lexington KY; March 3, 2002
It is high time that those who believe in individual liberty and the right of every man to be safe from those who insist on saving him from himself and human corporeal weakness, from real, imagined or manufactured sin, to say a word in defense of that most discriminated against, mistreated, ostracized, reviled and assaulted group of Americans in history: cigarette smokers.
Promoting the general welfare
TownHall.com - Bill O'Reilly - March 2, 2002
Every American should know that sometimes our own government conspires against us. The state hurts us because it is convenient to do so and may cut down on an annoying situation. 

For example, the federal government doesn't want you to smoke because the cost of cancer and heart disease is enormous, and much of it is borne by the feds in the form of Medicare payments. So the government has slapped huge taxes on tobacco products with the hope that nicotine addicts will cut down their habits or quit all together. 

Now some believe this is a noble thing. But it is actually punitive -- the state is punishing people who like tobacco. 

Cutting Through The Fat Of The Smoking Issue
The Tampa Tribune - Daniel Ruth - February 15, 2002
My, my, my, weren't some of you in a rather testy mood a few days ago?

Why, I had to go back and recheck the clips to make sure I hadn't inadvertently scribbled a column endorsing the Taliban, or Mike Tyson as NOW's man of the year, or rooting against the U.S. Olympic team.

The source of the ire stemmed from a Feb. 1 column taking issue with a proposed state constitutional amendment that would make it illegal to smoke in restaurants and enclosed workplaces.

Smoking ban initiative has rival
St. Petersburg Times - Lucy Morgan - February 6, 2002
TALLAHASSEE -- With an unlimited bankroll provided by tobacco companies, restaurants and small business owners, a new coalition has declared war against a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban smoking in all restaurants and workplaces.

The coalition's weapon: A separate proposed amendment that would effectively snuff out the smoking ban amendment.

[Related: Move to ban smoking in restaurants, workplace goes to high court]

Like pretty pictures? Close-ups of freedom sometimes are ugly
Deseret News - Lee Davidson, Washington correspondent - February 6, 2002
WASHINGTON — Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, hopes a picture is truly worth a thousand words when it comes to dissuading people from smoking cigarettes.

He and Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., are promoting legislation to replace the current wordy warnings from the surgeon general on cigarette packages with BIG pictures of diseased hearts, lungs and mouths.

But as with all first steps, imagine where Hansen's idea could lead if such warnings are also put on other legal products. Some readers did. For example, Wanda Hamilton sent an e-mail saying, "While they're at it, why don't Reps. Hansen and Meehan also extend a similar bill for warning pictures on auto, alcohol and fatty food advertising and packages. I'm thinking of explicit pictures of mangled bodies from car wrecks and diseased livers and abused spouses."

So, is it worth trying Hansen's picture warnings on cigarettes? If the government thinks its business is to protect us — and is truly serious that cigarettes will almost certainly kill us — why not just ban them? Otherwise, we'll just tend to laugh in the face of death and gory pictures. And people will still smoke cigarettes while eating their sausage-bacon-egg-cheese McMuffins as they listen to rap music on the way to buy lottery tickets and rent video games.

Where There's Smoke There's A PC Hand-Wringer
The Tampa Tribune - Daniel Ruth - February 1, 2002
We are society's most politically correct pariahs. We can be publicly upbraided. We are shunned. We are segregated. We are banished. We are loathed. We are certainly steerage class citizens. Which reminds me, anybody got a match?

We are - egad! - smokers.

There is a perfectly good reason why I light up. I like it.

Next week the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in reviewing a proposed constitutional amendment targeted for the November ballot that would make it a crime to smoke in restaurants and enclosed workplaces.

If smoking is so offensive to restaurant customers, fine, no problem. Then the restaurant ought to be the entity that makes the decision to ban cigarettes, not another government regulation, not another Chicken Little special interest group.

Didn't this used to be called free enterprise?

At the same time, if a restaurant or a saloon wishes to permit smoking, no one puts a gun to a nonsmoker's head to force him or her to frequent the place, or to work there.

Didn't this used to be called free will?

Proposal to boost cigarette tax could go up in smoke
Scripps Howard News Service - Michael Collins - February 1, 2002
WASHINGTON - A presidential commission that recommended a 17-cent tax increase on cigarettes may be close to abandoning the proposal in light of strong opposition from the public, the White House and Congress.
Joe Bob's America: Dog pile on the smoker
United Press International - Joe Bob Briggs - January 31, 2002
Excuse me for recalling my lessons from ninth grade civics class, but wasn't there a time when sales taxes of any kind were considered the most regressive form of taxation in our nation's history? Isn't every thing else -- property tax, income tax, even a flat tax -- considered MORE equitable? Then you have the old principle of not taxing one portion of the population at the expense of another. How absolutely quaint that one is.

This particular tax is so regressive that it's not only collected at the point of sale, but it's collected on ONE PRODUCT. (I feel like I should say one LEGAL product, since no one seems to remember that, oh yeah, that's right, cigarettes ARE allowed, aren't they?) You can't get any more regressive than that because it actually punishes one segment of society -- in this case, a minority segment, so they're essentially powerless -- and redistributes the money to the non-smokers.

Anti-smoking campaign backfires
Ananova - January 30, 2002
Disturbing photos printed on cigarette packets to put people off smoking have become collectors' items in Brazil.

They include images of a baby born with physical problems and a pregnant woman smoking.

People are reported to be buying up their favourite designs from the Health Department's campaign.

Agora Sao Paulo reports nine images are available.

A waiter from Sao Paulo, Marcelo Lopes Macedo, 35, told the paper: "Now the smokers want to buy packs with the images they like most."

He says the most popular is one of a man suffocating.

Selling smokers down the river
National Post - George Jonas - January 28, 2002
A second benefit I gained from giving up cigarettes is professional. I can now rise to the defence of people who haven't given up cigarettes. I can do it in print, without having to declare a conflict of interest or cope with the charge that I've an axe to grind.

Smokers need defending, God knows, though not as consumers of nicotine. Nicotine is legal. All the regulations Big Nurse has introduced in the past 25 years haven't made a dent in people's ability to fill their lungs with fumes. What these laws and by-laws did accomplish was to reduce people's status as free human beings. They diminished everyone's property rights, along with people's ability to engage in lawful activities without being restricted and humiliated.

People don't need to be defended in their capacity as smokers: They need to be defended in their capacity as citizens. Canadians need protection from the state, not as consumers of nicotine, but simply as consumers. Also, as proprietors or employees. They need protection from the authorities so they can choose the conditions under which they wish to work, eat, drink and relax, whether they're smokers or non-smokers -- something people used to take for granted until about 20 years ago.

The Marlboro woman
The Oregonian - January 28, 2002
Actress Sissy Spacek, who just earned a Golden Globe award for her acting in "In the Bedroom," has also earned some grief lately for acting as an inadvertent Marlboro woman in the movie.

Spacek plays a chain-smoker, whose preferred brand is Marlboro Lights. A recent full-page advertisement in The New York Times blasted independent filmmaker Todd Fields for gratuitously promoting cigarettes in the movie, by letting the camera caress the Marlboro package and the dialogue repeat the Marlboro name.

Although moviegoers aren't thrilled by product placement, restrictions on such advertising are unnecessary. Moviegoers can vote with their feet if they find the trend obnoxious.

We have confidence that parents can help teens sort out the clouds of smoke. Sorry, anti-smoking activists. When it comes to influencing teens for the better, a good movie with smoking beats a bad movie that is certifiably smokefree.

Tobacco control can wait
Herald News - January 28, 2002
The governor's staff has made a reasonable argument that there are certain things that are nice to have, but are not critical. She tagged services for the mentally ill and mentally retarded as critical, for example, but said anti-smoking ads don't fall into the same category.

The governor is right.

Health studies indicate that smoking, particularly over the long term, can damage people's lungs. It's clear to just about everyone that young people who want to lead a healthy lifestyle would be better off avoiding cigarettes altogether.

Then again, cigarettes are a perfectly legal product, and fortunately as Americans, we all have choices. If people want to take up the habit, that's their business. The last thing we need during a fiscal crisis is to spend millions to remind people they should not take up the habit

Lawmakers to scrutinize anti-smoking group's activities
Star Tribune - Deborah Caulfield Rybak and David Phelps - January 22, 2002
The Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT) defended its pursuit of smoking bans in its 2002 biennial report to the state legislature and Ramsey County District Court. But the report is unlikely to deflect tough questions today when the nonprofit's leaders testify before the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee.

Rep. Fran Bradley, R-Rochester, the committee chairwoman, said members are expected to ask about MPAAT's change in funding strategy. A court order established MPAAT in 1998 and gave the group $202 million -- $102 million to be used to help Minnesotans quit smoking. Instead, the organization decided to fund groups seeking smoking bans in restaurants and bars in cities statewide. The efforts have been divisive and have failed in most communities.

[Also see "Minnesota antismoking group defends political actions"; January 23, 2002]

[Also see "County attorney won't investigate anti-smoking groups' use of money", February 17, 2002]

Anti-smoking group delays grants
Star Tribune - David Phelps and Deborah Caulfield Rybak - January 17, 2002
The Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT) delayed approval Wednesday of $2.8 million in antismoking grants, saying it first needs to address recent criticism about its funding of smoking bans and lack of programs to help smokers quit.

Attorney General Mike Hatch, who asked MPAAT last week to stop its political activities and return its focus to cessation, said he was pleased by the decision. "We will make a motion so that the matter can be heard in court," he said.

Discarding truth
TownHall.com - Paul Craig Roberts - January 16, 2002
There have always been liars, but until recent years liars were rare among scientists and scholars. The only agenda scientists and scholars had was truth. They didn't always succeed in finding truth, but it was their goal. In recent years, we have seen the advent of a new breed of scientist and scholar to whom ideological or political agendas are more important than truth.
Hatch request could affect latest round of anti-smoking grants
Star Tribune - David Phelps - January 10, 2002
Attorney General Mike Hatch's request that the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT) refocus its anti-smoking efforts could delay the group's next round of grants, which are scheduled to be awarded next Wednesday.
Hatch: Group should give up smoking-ban campaigns
Star Tribune - Deborah Caulfield Rybakand & David Phelps - January 9, 2002
Attorney General Mike Hatch has asked the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT) to stop funding smoking-ban campaigns and devote more resources to help smokers quit.

The complaints have accused the nonprofit, anti-tobacco organization of straying from its intended purpose of helping smokers quit and instead funding divisive campaigns to force smoking bans on entire communities.

2 eateries to allow smoking, no kids
Standard-Times - Matt Apuzzo - January 3, 2002
Two years ago, when smoking bans were popping up like popcorn around the area, restaurant owners tried to soften the blow by offering to build separate smoking rooms.

Although that idea never made it off the ground, at least two popular area businesses are banking on a new strategy that they hope will cater to both smokers and nonsmokers.

TK O'Malleys in Dartmouth and TJ's Bar and Grill in Fairhaven have become adults-only establishments, which means they can allow smoking by keeping out minors.

Who may harm whom?
TownHall.com - Walter Williams - January 2, 2002
I enjoy smoking, and you might find it an abomination and worry about the health effects of secondhand smoke. If I'm stopped from smoking, I'm harmed by a reduction in my pleasure and you're benefited. If I'm permitted to smoke, I'm benefited and you're harmed.

There are literally thousands of examples of how people harm one another. No one but an idiot would make an attempt to objectively determine which harm is more important than the other and should be banned by government. Thus, we're confronted with the question: What is it that decides what kinds of harm should be permitted? How is it decided who may harm whom?

In a dictatorship, it's the dictator who decides. In a democracy, it's mob rule. How is it decided in a free society? In a free society, the question of who may harm whom in what ways is decided through private property rights.




How To Rank Risks [February 27, 2002]

If you believe the most dire warnings of environmental activists, you might add several other threats, though they would still be small compared to many of the problems listed above: air pollution (40 days), drinking water pollution (20 days), chemical residues in food (20 days), and chemicals released from consumer products (20 days). Media give wide publicity to cancer causing pollutants. Some of these are pesticide residues in food (12 days), tobacco smoke (8 days), other indoor pollutants (2 days), industrial air pollution (4
days), hazardous waste sites (2.5 days), drinking water contaminants (1.3 days), and all radioactivity releases from nuclear power including accidents (0.04 days).

Liquor vs. Beer — and CSPI [February 27, 2002]

The American Medical Association took out a full-page ad in the February 27 New York Times, chastising NBC for deciding to run hard liquor ads, putting impressionable teens at risk. The AMA has thereby compounded a mistake begun by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). 

The problem here is that CSPI is ignoring two crucial points: 

       (1) Beer and wine are already extensively advertised on network television. 

       (2) Liquor is no worse than beer and wine. 

Admittedly, CSPI's decision to oppose liquor advertising on network television is a popular one, and many people agree with the organization's viewpoint. In a survey commissioned by CSPI, 68% of adults said that they opposed NBC's action and an even higher percentage said that they supported the other networks' decision to continue voluntarily refraining from accepting liquor advertising. But that's not science. That's just popular opinion, and popular opinion doesn't always reflect scientific facts. 

       Funny, we thought that the "S" in CSPI stood for science. 

Warning: Overstating the Case Against Secondhand Smoke is Unnecessary—and Harmful to Public Health Policy [Summer 2001]

A good article about how an ad placed in the NY Times was "threatened by hyperbole
about the likely effects of ETS" and how those pushing it "overstate and exaggerate it."

Below it are responses by those who created it and try to defend it.  They expose themselves for the alarmists that they are as exhibited by the exchange between them and members of ACSH.

And the Latest Food Scare Is...Pizza! [May 17, 2002]

Pizza can be a source of goodly amounts of a variety of benficial ingredients, according to scientists and physicians associated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Despite this, the self-styled consumer group, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is attacking this American favorite because it can also contain substantial amounts of fat and calories. 

Schools To Ban Avocados Too? [May 28, 2002]

Attempts to ban "junk food" from schools are not the answer to childhood obesity. How will school officials define junk foods? A serving of potato chips and half an avocado each has about 15 grams of fat and 160 calories. Will schools ban avocados? 

Read Let's Be Reasonable in 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2001!

Some of the titles to visit:

No smoking, please:
Marketplace has solution to restaurant smoking

Ashes in Nashua:
Restaurateurs remain free, for now

Lighten up, America!

Fatwa on Obesity Carries No Weight

Seasonal symbols make some people see red

Fat is next target for overreaction

City Hall smoking room should stay put

Cigarette Nazis on the march

Stop throwing money at CDC

Bars, restaurants resist amid rising trend of smoke-free workplaces

Tobacco sales ban defeated, 15-1

Hollywood Up in Smoke

Global Ridicule Extinguishes Montgomery's Anti-Smoking Bill

Escalating the war on tobacco

Health budget can take cuts too

Spending the Tobacco Money: Smoking ban fights split towns

W.Va. jury tosses healthy smokers' suit

Dimond pool hall goes private to allow smoking

'Environmental' ills often psychosomatic: study

Listing of Estrogen as 'Known Carcinogen' Hotly Debated

McRae's World

Smoking With Liver Disease - A No-No

Attacks Put Legislative Health Agenda on Back Burner

The weed of all evil

Smokers take bylaw protest to City Hall

Smoke-Free or Free to Smoke?

Research fails to justify smoking ban in restaurants

Label ban a smokescreen for government agenda

The economics of smoking

Chain smoker finds loophole in bylaw

A Stand for Scientific Independence

Oregonians who find smoking detestable need to lighten up about lighting up and remember that smoking is legal and that smokers have rights, too

Why Uncle Sam May Secretly Want You to Smoke

Neo-Nazi nannies lay siege to our homes

Bring back smoking, say pilots

Smoking out lawsuits

Cell phones head down divided road

The Politics of 'Science'

Anti-smoking images lose impact: study

California Smokers Use Prohibition Tactics to Get Around Ban

Fullerton bar wins victory against anti-smoking law

Second-Hand Smokescreens

Future hazy for beleaguered Duluth smoking ban

Give Loony Columnists a Night in Jail

Why Not Just Make Everything a Crime?

Study Links Nicotine as a Combative Agent Against TB

Good Wins Out

Incinerate all these anti-smoking laws

What's a Tobacco Company to Do?

Silencing scientists didn't stop with Galileo

Home invasion - Anti-smoking ads

Smoking (Out) Fascists

A Fat Target
Yond lawyers have a lean and hungry look.

Secondhand Smokescreen

Why not a No Sermonising Day?

Passive smoke gets in their eyes

Diner's Habitues Find Refuge From City's Tobacco Laws

The Science & Environmental Policy Project

Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer (According to WHO/CDC Data)*

Suit: State Seizing Smokers' Assets


Smoke Screen

Two Hacks and a Wheeze

Cherry-picked Science on Secondhand Smoke

Smoking may be good for children

Bullying of smokers

Burning Out On the Crusade Against Smokers

Secondhand Smoke
Facts and Fantasy

Unhealthy Charities Hazardous to Your Health and Wealth

Japanese Airline Revokes Smoking Ban

To smoke or not to smoke?

Showcase Anti-Smoking Project Fails

Young smokers in line of fire

Cigarette Maker Sues on Settlement

Justices To Air Cigarette Ad Dispute

Don’t ban smokers...   ...burn them...and lots of others, too

Legislating a Childhood Without Risk

I AM A SMOKER... I hate you too