23 Skidoo

H/T Audrey Silk for this piece by Scott Gottlieb, who is Trump’s appointee as new head of the FDA:

Smokers Are Pissed at Bloomberg
Scott Gottlieb
August 15, 2002 12:00 am | New York Sun

I am too young to have been 23 skidooed, the reference given to police officers
shooing men off the corner of 23rd street as they waited for unsuspecting women to
walk past the Flatiron building, the wind tunnel of which would billow skirts upward.
If such a spot in New York still existed, Mayor Bloomberg would set up a roadblock.

We should have seen it coming when Mr. Bloomberg, as chief executive of his
namesake financial company, banned certain dirty words from all the company’s
outgoing e-mails. This left his staff pissed, which, incidentally, was one of the
banned words.

Now the mayor who smoked marijuana “and enjoyed it” cannot see fit to let fellow
New Yorkers puff on a cigarette or a stogie. His taxes already make New York the
most expensive place in America to smoke.

Mr. Bloomberg is an avowed antismoker and he wants the rest of us to follow his
rules. But when government officials impose their own values on the people who
elect them, it tears at the fabric of the law.

Puritans had laws against women who talked too much. People were whipped for
having sex outside marriage, or even for idleness. Cursing could put you in the
stocks. And, yes, there really was a scarlet letter for adulterers.

Few protested when Mayor Koch closed the bathhouses or when Mayor Giuliani shut
down sex shops. Certain behaviors, such as drug use and prostitution, are illegal
because they degrade society. Smoking is not one of them.

Mr. Bloomberg, who has called smokers both “crazy” and “stupid,” betrayed his
motives when he said he despises smoking because it is unhealthy and dirty, and
that he cannot see how others do not share his view. The same logic leads to all
kinds of inappropriate intrusions into private lives, and a sense among legislators
that they can impose model lifestyles by punishing unhealthy behavior.

What started innocently enough 50 years ago as an effort to cut down on cavities by
adding fluoride to drinking supplies has developed into more serious intrusions into
our personal choices in the name of promoting good health. Bans on smoking are of
a piece with recent legislative efforts to tax junk food, sanction soda makers, and
ban Twinkies.

There are a lot of stupid things that you can do with your life, and people do them
all the time. But there is a difference between what wise people do and what the law
should be.

When Mr. Bloomberg’s British staffers found out that the word pissed was banned
from the company’s computer system, they grew, well, angry. “The word is perfectly
acceptable in our country,” one of them told a local paper. “How dare you rob us of
our very identity by trying to strip us of the vernacular that makes us unique, that
makes us free, that makes us proud to be British.”

After a revolt, the word was added back to their network lexicon, a sign for angry
smokers that if they get pissed enough, Mr. Bloomberg may still recant his decision.

Scott Gottlieb is a resident fellow at AEI.

I hope his opinions in 2017 remain what they were in 2002.

Most reviews of him seem only to mention his ties to pharma companies.

And did puritans really whip people for idleness? If so, the author of Idle Theory  –  in which idle time is the summum bonum – might have expected to have been imprisoned or even executed.

And was the Flatiron the place where Marilyn Monroe had her skirt blown up?


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16 Responses to 23 Skidoo

  1. nisakiman says:

    A lot of water has flowed under the PC bridge since 2002, and my guess is that Gottlieb will have trimmed his sails to fit the PC narrative in the intervening 15 years, if only as an act of self-preservation. Support for smoking is political suicide these days.

  2. Roobeedoo2 says:

    The Marilyn Monroe scene was shot in a studio but it has been compared to a similar event in the 1901 short film ‘What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City’:


    A couple of years ago I visited the construction of the Bloomberg HQ in London (near Cannon Street) as the firm I worked for was contractor on the project. When I walked round to the rear of the the site, there was a flat top area used as a smoking area for the builders. There was a huge green sign above it, visible from the street, saying ‘Smoking Allowed’. It made me laugh; I wish I’d gotten a photo of it.

    • Frank Davis says:

      The Marilyn Monroe scene was shot in a studio

      I don’t think it was. I read an account that it was shot somewhere in New York, and there was quite a large crowd watching. And in among the crowd was her then husband, Joe Dimaggio, who stomped off angrily after watching a bit.

      Sixty years ago today, Marilyn Monroe mesmerized a crowd of lucky onlookers while her white dress blew suggestively above her knees—and sometimes over her head. It was 1954, and the director Billy Wilder was filming a scene of the film The Seven Year Itch on Lexington Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Street in New York City. In the script, Marilyn Monroe and co-star Tom Ewell exit a movie theater and a breeze from the subway passing below lifts Marilyn’s skirt. Instead of rushing to cover her legs, as any decent woman of that era would have, Marilyn exclaims, “Isn’t it delicious?”

      But then…

      Most people also don’t know there were two separate shoots. One was a publicity event in New York where a large crowd of bystanders and the press were invited to create hype. The noise of the crowd rendered the film footage unusable and Billy Wilder reshot the scene on a closed soundstage in Los Angeles.

      So maybe you’re right. Or we’re both right.

  3. Lisboeta says:

    But the goalposts keep changing! Today, fewer people smoke … but cancer in never-smokers is apparently increasing. Butter was once considered a no-go, then reprieved. Five helpings of vegetables per day was the target — now it’s 10. Why should we change our habits in a futile effort to keep up with the Puritan nay-sayers — a few months down the road, they’ll have changed their mind again.

  4. Tony says:

    [23] Skidoo was also a film but we’re so far down the rabbit hole these days that it’s probably illegal to even mention it.
    https://youtu.be/sd6OxYZigFU skidoo

    • Frank Davis says:

      From the article:

      Whatever one thinks of cigarette makers, if the industry was earnest about transitioning away from the manufacture of smoked cigarettes, and getting into the development of new products that would still satisfy peoples’ taste for nicotine (with hopefully much lower risks) there could be public health virtue. The overall incidence of smoking related disease could be sharply diminished.

      Oh dear. Sounds like he believes a lot of the stuff that I for one have stopped believing. But on the other hand:

      The FDA is losing the widely respected head of its Tobacco Center. Activists have managed to infiltrate the middle ranks of the agency’s center. And there will never be any love lost for the tobacco industry inside the agency proper. After all, FDA’s public-health orientation (and its physician ranks) imbues it with a pervasive antipathy of cigarettes and visceral concern for the health effects of smoking.

      “Activists”, “infiltrate”, “pervasive antipathy”, “visceral concern”. That’s more like the kind of language I can understand.

      • Joe L. says:

        Yeah, unfortunately it seems he has “progressed” a bit over the past 15 years, but he still seems to see right through the lies of the anti-smoking movement. I’m gonna hold out hope he will purge the FDA of puritanical ideologues. Fingers crossed…

      • waltc says:

        My reaction too. The piece left me puzzled, wondering if he’ll protect vaping but not smoking. I guess we wait and see

  5. Roobeedoo2 says:

    The Queen is to give assent to Article 50 law tomorrow:


  6. Pingback: Roadkill Resurrection | Frank Davis

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