In a lie of epic proportions, the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest has publicly claimed that smoking real (tobacco) cigarettes may be no more harmful than using fake (electronic) cigarettes, which contain no tobacco and involve no combustion….
The rest of the story is that anti-tobacco advocates and groups are so threatened by electronic cigarettes that they are actually promoting cigarette smoking as being no worse than using a non-tobacco-containing product. They have completely transformed the tobacco epidemic from a problem of tobacco use to a problem of nicotine use. The problem now is addiction itself, not disease and death.
In other words, the tobacco epidemic is no longer a public health issue, it is a moral one.
The tobacco control movement, then, is no longer a part of public health practice. It is now little more than a moral crusade, spewing hysterical, unsupported, and misleading claims and blatant lies that in the end are serving to promote and preserve the sales of the most hazardous consumer product on the market: real cigarettes.
Actually, I think that Michael Siegel has inadvertently stumbled on what has been the truth all along: Tobacco Control is engaged in a moral crusade.
I woke up to this fact almost exactly 50 years ago when I heard Dr W, in whose home I had just arrived as a paying guest, bellowing at his eldest son at the top of his voice in a distant room. He had just caught him smoking. And he was shouting that it was a “filthy, filthy, filthy” habit.
It was a formative moment in my life. For I realised that what motivated Dr W was not dispassionate reason or research, but instead intense moral disapproval. If Dr W had been motivated by reason, he would not have shouted at his son. So when I started smoking a few years later, it was in large part because I’d realised, thanks to Dr W, that in his case at least the objection to smoking was emotional rather than rational.
I encountered the exact same moral disapproval much more recently, when a couple of years ago a hygienist in a dental clinic told me that smoking was “naughty.” I laughed out loud.
This intense moral disapproval goes back a very long way. It makes its prejudicial appearance in the seventh word in King James I of England’s A Counterblaste to Tobacco:
That the manifolde abuses of this vile custome of Tobacco taking, may the better be espied, it is fit, that first you enter into consideration both of the first originall thereof, and likewise of the reasons of the first entry thereof into this Countrey.
To amend Siegel’s words slightly:
[The tobacco control movement]
is now always has been little more than a moral crusade, spewing hysterical, unsupported, and misleading claims and blatant lies…