Saturday 12 November 2011

Prohibitionists Still Kill

When it was revealed during Prohibition in the US that the poisoning of alcohol, to deter bootlegging, was resulting in thousands of deaths, anti-alcohol campaigner Wayne Wheeler was unmoved.

"If a man wishes to violate the Constitution of the United States, he should be free to commit suicide in his own way"
So implacable were those opposed to alcohol that this sentiment was echoed by Nebraska newspaper, the Omaha Bee, who dismissively asked:

"Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety first for souses?"
That such abhorrent disregard for human welfare - based solely on prejudice and bigotry - should come from lobbyists who, with a straight face, had campaigned on the issue of health, is jaw-dropping when viewed from our safety-obsessed modern era.

Or, it would be if their present day equivalents weren't doing exactly the same thing, as detailed by John Tierney in an excellent article on e-cigs at the New York Times.

But there’s a powerful group working against this innovation — and it’s not Big Tobacco. It’s a coalition of government officials and antismoking groups who have been warning about the dangers of e-cigarettes and trying to ban their sale.

The controversy is part of a long-running philosophical debate about public health policy, but with an odd role reversal. In the past, conservatives have leaned toward “abstinence only” policies for dealing with problems like teenage pregnancy and heroin addiction, while liberals have been open to “harm reduction” strategies like encouraging birth control and dispensing methadone.

When it comes to nicotine, though, the abstinence forces tend to be more liberal, including Democratic officials at the state and national level who have been trying to stop the sale of e-cigarettes and ban their use in smoke-free places. They’ve argued that smokers who want an alternative source of nicotine should use only thoroughly tested products like Nicorette gum and prescription patches — and use them only briefly, as a way to get off nicotine altogether.
Now, I'd disagree that there is any political ideology behind prohibitionists - they will jump on any populist cause to push their obsessive agenda. For example, in Chris Snowdon's latest book, he recounts how willing single issue prohibitionists were to stir up racism in pursuit of their cause.

Although blacks tended to prefer cocaine to opiates, both drugs were disproportionately used by whites. Wright and his fellow travellers nevertheless focused on alleged acts of rape and violence committed by “cocaine-crazed negroes”. According to Wright, cocaine was the “creator of criminals” which drove “the humbler negroes all over the country to abnormal crimes.” Evidence of these crimes was anecdotal at best and it was patently untrue to claim, as the New York Times did, that cocaine made blacks impervious to bullets, or that “most of the attacks upon white women in the South are the direct result of the cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” These tales were so similar to the contemporary scare about liquor-soaked blacks on the rampage in the Deep South that it is fair to assume that one set of prohibitionists was borrowing from the other.
In the modern era, we must presume (not with any certainty, mind) that even righteous lunatics would baulk at riding a racist tidal wave if it became the vogue, but Australia's prime anti-smoking advocate Simon Chapman - not overly religious as far as one can ascertain - was perfectly happy to whip up the anger of Muslims and Jews to instil hatred against tobacco. In fact, so ecstatic was he at the publicity generated that he couldn't wait to boast to the world about it.

But, that aside, Tierney's article is bang on the money. The attitude of those paid to oppose lifestyle choices is still so hideous that health has long since ceased to be anything more than a mask for spiteful campaigning. Only the prohibitionist goal remains.

In the case of e-cigs, Michael Siegel accurately describes the perverse mentality of these nasty individuals.

First, they appear to share an ideology by which it is impossible to acknowledge that anything good could come out of the use of something called a "cigarette" or by an action that looks just like "smoking." Even when abundant evidence suggests that such a product is helping thousands of ex-smokers to stay off of cigarettes and that the product is much safer than smoking, the ideology of these groups appears to blind them to the overall public health benefits of these products.

Second, nearly every one of the anti-smoking groups which opposes e-cigarettes and which called for their removal from the market has received money from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture competing smoking cessation drugs.
Considering that the incessant refrain from anti-smoking organisations is that smoking kills one in every two tobacco users, it must surely follow that for every two people who are denied access to e-cigs, tobacco control's own logic dictates that their policies will be directly responsible for the death of one of them unless they change their tune. Something which is far from evident at time of writing.

Stanton Glantz, for example - one of the world's most rabid anti-smokers, and arguably insane to boot - this week peddled some absurd crap about the e-cig industry being controlled by tobacco companies, and finished off by guiding smokers away from infinitely safer snus.

Just as US alcohol haters were quite relaxed about the deaths of 10,000 people as a result of their actions during Prohibition, so does another anti-smoking nutcase, John Banzhaf, potentially snuff out dozens of lives with every one of his many blinkered press releases designed to minimise e-cig use in favour of his dinosaur policy of using pharma products ... or dying.

Just as alcohol prohibitionists were happy to compete in the death stakes against the industry they accused of exactly the same, some still amongst us now - like the EU's Commissioner for Health John Dalli - are seriously endangering lives for no other reason than pure, unadulterated, ignorant spite against any non-medicinal solution to something they profess to care deeply about.

Aided and abetted, of course, by their legion of equally moronic, and disgusting, useful idiots.

We quite rightly look back in horror at the inhuman antics of historical prohibitionists, but the mentality hasn't changed in the past century. No lessons have been learned by those who are so single-minded that they see only an end-game, and not the death and illness their unimaginative and self-obsessed policies are causing.

They still kill without losing a second's sleep, and are just as unrepentant as they ever were.

The centuries old quest for prohibition isn't about health, nor has it ever been. It's still just a bunch of mentally unbalanced psychos adhering to unthinking, and largely unattainable, dogma without care for the deeply anti-social - and regularly lethal - consequences of their actions.

We know from history that prohibitionists long since passed went to their graves with much blood on their hands; their successors in the prohibition industry seem perfectly happy to carry on in the same vein.


nisakiman said...

"...the incessant refrain from anti-smoking organisations is that smoking kills one in every two tobacco users..."

Ah yes, of course. Which puts me in mind of this amusing, (and according to the tobacco control industry's information standards) completely true little rejoinder.

Ivan D said...

I am a bit confused by the Duncan Bannatyne thing. Here is a guy with an OBE for charity work who seems to support a lot of genuine good causes and is a trustee of Comic Relief. I would expect him to be decent and compassionate. I am aware that he supports the Royal Castle mob and that he is not keen on smoking but why “despise” a harm reduction alternative to cigarettes. Is that tweet for real?

timbone said...

I was given a leaflet referring to life insurance, promoted by Halifax, underwritten by Scottish Widows. It stated that your premium would be higher if you smoke OR USE NRT!

Neal Asher said...

nisakiman, yeah, I did a post about that ages ago. We should ban 'something else' because most people seem to die of it.

Ivan D said...

Oops. That would be Roy Castle.

Lyn said...

Nisakiman - perhaps someone should make the surgeon general aware of the fact that we ALL die, eventually!

Ivan D - oh yes that Duncan Bannatyne is a total smoking anti of the worst and most vicious order, even though he supports the Roy Castle lot, despite the fact that dear old Roy actually smoked, albeit cigars!

Neal Asher - Nice one!

As for "...the incessant refrain from anti-smoking organisations is that smoking kills one in every two tobacco users..."

I would rather smoke and enjoy myself (in the best I can in these nannying and dictorial days) and die of whatever when the time comes, knowing that I have lived my life MY WAY and am not some dried up old, pinch faced prune (like Gillian McKreith[?]) by obeying everything government and their quango's along with their corrupt scientists dictate. Just being free and honest to myself will do just fine - thanks! Anyway, if I gave up everything they said was bad for me, I would starve to death long before smoking could kill me!

English Pensioner said...

I had a "run in" with a local LibDem Councillor. They were proposing to put in more obstructions in the road, and I pointed out that a number of the existing ones were unlit and that "someone would kill themselves one day".
His response was "Not if they aren't exceeding the speed limit" My comment, at the Public Meeting, was that I was glad that the LibDems now accepted the death penalty, but I thought that it was a bit OTT for speeding. Didn't go down too well with those on the platform!
But it does illustrate the current thinking of all too many of those in power.

Lyn said...

English Pensioner - this attitude does not surprise me in the least.

I have two major problems with his response and the speeding issue:

1. I thought, obviously mistakenly, that were still living in the UK, however all vehicles nowadays seem to have speedometers where the outer and easiest read figures are in Kms per hour and the inner, smaller and harder to read figures are the mph. On my 02 plate car, for example, the mph figures go up 20, 40, 60, etc and the lines in between are all the same length, thereby making it impossible to see, at a glance, if I am doing 30, 50 or 70 mph.

This is totally crazy when our speed limits are (still, currently) in mph - or is there something we are not being told?

2. If drivers are watching their speedos to ensure they do not get caught exceeding the speed limit, how can they be aware of what is happening aroung them? Example; if I happen to be travelling at, say, 35mph in a 30 zone, but I see a child come out of the gate and disappear between parked cars, I am already slowing down and therefore doing well below 30 and am ready to stop should that child appear in the road. If I am watching my speedo in order to maintain the dictated speed then I have not seen any of this and am therefore legally and lawfully travelling at the prescribed 30 mph when the child appears in the road from between the parked cars and I have hit him doing 30mph!

Which, does common sense, deem to be the better scenario?

The response you received regarding the death penalty, it seems, is heavy handed as it is more often than not the more innocent of the victims that pays the ultimate price - the scenario above, the child!

Of course, should any politician read this it will completely baffle them!

harleyrider1778 said...

A new twist on car bans………… might just like it

New smoking law may not go far enough

Senate Bill 2659 proposes to penalize drivers who smoke with minors in a vehicle. The intent of the bill – to protect our children’s health –is good. But does this legislation really go far enough?

While trying to outlaw smoking with kids in the car, perhaps lawmakers should take a closer look at how other driving-related laws could be improved to provide more protection for our children.

The law should protect kids from smoke in all types of vehicles, not just passenger vehicles. The proposed law should by all means apply to and be enforceable for drivers of semis, travel homes, and boats.

Beyond outlawing smoking with minors in vehicles, there are existing driving laws that would be enhanced to better protect children. For example, drivers ticketed for speeding or DUI with kids in the vehicle could be given stiffer penalties than they would get with no kids present. Anyone caught texting or illegally using a phone with children in the car could be given a larger fine, maybe double, since these kids are being subjected to greater risk by the driver’s phone use.

Seatbelt laws might be amended to offer better protection for child passengers.

Legislators who write bills such as SB 2659 have good intentions, but these lawmakers may be falling short of providing more comprehensive protection for our kids. One can only hope that officials promoting non-smoking legislation do not let anti-smoking sentiments cloud their view of the bigger picture.

A broader scope of thinking might also call for a closer look at seat restraint laws and penalties. Lawmakers who take a more complete view of such issues are more likely to have an ear with intelligent, responsible citizens, even if those citizens happen to be smokers.

Paul Van Camp