Columnist Ellen Goodman has argued the case that, if all tobacco advertising cannot be banned, at least Joe Camel should be. This case is made largely on the grounds that (a) 6-year-olds find the character as "recognizable" as Mickey Mouse, and (b) that Camel now has nearly a third of the "illegal children's cigaret market."

Statistics are a valuable tool. Like any other tool, they can be dangerous in the hands of the untrained. Uncritical readers - most of them, unfortunately - were left with the impression that a third of 6-year-olds are smoking Camels. This cavalier misuse of statistics and inuendo comprise so blatant, so pernicious a pitch to hook the unwary that I am compelled to respond.

First, "recognizable" doesn't mean that the kids are being persuaded to smoke. Lots of things - snakes, for example - are "recognized" by children who also recognize that they are something to avoid. In addition to questionable advertising, violent television programs, dumb and sometimes self-destructive peer groups, drug pushers and a host of other negative influences, children are also surrounded by parents, older relatives, teachers and religious leaders whose responsibility and duty it is to place these things in their proper context.

Second, while Camel's share of the "illegal children's cigaret market" is growing, the market itself is not. Furthermore, that market isn't composed of 6-year-olds. It consists, by definition, of consumers under 18 in those states where such sales are illegal. Most of those young smokers are in the 15- to 18-year-old bracket, a time when they are developing into individuals and making, for better or for worse, their own choices. However regretable some of those choices may be, no amount of rule-passing will alter the fact that they will be made. Despite all obstacles, many in that age group are also choosing to have sex and to have abortions - a choice, incidentally, Goodman defends.

Freedom is the most basic precept of our society. If advertising were coercive - if those exposed to it were forced to follow its dicta - we would be justified in crying "foul" and legislating our way to freedom. Advertising is not coercive, however. It forces no one. But Goodman would have the force of law muzzle the opposition. She proposes, in other words, the coercive behavior she claims to despise.

It is surprising that, as a journalist, Goodman stands only threesquare behind the concept of free speech. It seems that speech should be free unless she disagrees with the message. Or is it unless a majority disagrees with it? Fine. The party that wins the next election can ban the other one. Or is it free unless a vast majority disagrees with it? But if so few people are buying the argument, then what's the problem? After all, the Communist party and the Flat Earth society still exist. What if everybody disagrees with a single iconoclast? Ask Galileo about that.

I can hear you think, if you have read this far, that freedom of speech and choice is fine among adults, but that the message in question is "targeted" at a group too young to make responsible choices and that adults must do that for them; that since parents and teachers have failed to eradicate smoking among minors altogether, the only way to stop it is to attack the source.

I have several problems with that line of thought. Foremost, show me a message that can't affect the young. Where do we stop? If we were to eliminate everything that might adversly influence children, we would all be watching Saturday morning cartoons seven nights a week. Then, too, the fact that not all children turn out like Mormons does not mean that their mentors have failed. Individuality is irrepressible: not even all Mormons turn out like Mormons. If it were possible to regiment society so that none but the "pure" remained - no drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, illicit sex or decadent music - are you sure you would want to?

Discharging mentorial responsibility does not justify gutting the Bill of Rights.

The Persecution of Smokers


The newsgroup was created by and for the mutual support of disabled people, most of whom have normal sex drives and emotional needs. In that newsgroup, Wolfgang Wuster ( wrote the following:

So-called disabled people are not disabled, they are differently enabled. It is only the current set of social prejudices that makes people without such challenges regard them as disabled. If society made more of an effort to accommodate everyone alive, and provide to everyone the facilities they need, then the so-called disabled could be just as functional as everyone else. All it would take is a few bucks, and the goodwill. Isn't that the kind of world we should all be striving for?

The replies to this post are illuminating, illustrating as they do the nature of our fellow human beings. The newsgroup was invaded by members of alt.tasteless who, not content with the smallish audience in, also crossposted their gems to,,,, and in order that as many disabled people as possible could appreciate their pearls of wisdom. Said replies follow.

>From (Brandon High):

In other words, these people are able to take a shit, but not able to: a) get to the bathroom, b) remove their clothing, c) sit on the toilet, and d) wipe. So, because they have an ability (ie: shitting) but lack others (ie: personal hygine) they are 'differently abled'.

...In the case of gimps, 'tards, and spazzes, too much would have to undergo change in order for them to fit in, let alone become productive. Again, this is no fault of the society, but rather the droolers' raw ability.

...It's thoughts like yours that bog down our culture with the care and support of unproductive leeches. I'd rather see a world in which one must be capable of doing something in order to survive.

>From (Vinnie):

Tell me, what's "differently abled" about a motherfucker poking a keyboard with a stick attached to the top of his head, who has to have his ass wiped by someone else? He's disabled.

The animal kingdom is apparently more civilized, as they weed out the weak members of the species and fuckin' kill 'em, as opposed to humans, who nurture the weak of the species and give them some status they don't deserve. Differently abled, my puckered sphincter! They're crippled. End of story.

>From (Jesper Lauridsen) in reply to the above:

Your not really being fair here. There's a lot of things that the differently enabled can do that we ordinary humans can't. Like drooling for hours, sticking the tongue out for extended periods of time and much much more. Certainly the differently enabled have much to offer our society. Who can match their comedy value or make as nice targets for all sorts of harmless (for us) fun?

Shocked? Outraged? Ready to lock 'em up for hate crimes? How about this one:
>From (Roger Maynard):

Die. Do it now. You are completely worthless. You have nothing to contribute to society. You are nothing but a drain on our resources. If I was as fucked up as you are I would buy a gun and blow my brains out. And I'd do it *right now*.

That last post was different from the others. No, there is no difference in the bigotry, the degree of hatred, the lack of compassion, or in the inhumanity. But far from bordering on hate crime, feelings like that are daily becoming more acceptable, those that utter them more empowered.

Why? What's the difference?

The difference is that the last post was not found in, but in alt.smokers. The sentiments were directed at smokers. And it's far from an abberation, as the next samples show:


I am a environmetal [sic] activist, and would shove your fags up your ass in an heartbeat to save the ozone, I mean if it takes the ablitiration [sic] of and [sic] needless addictive drug to do so, then by myself(god) do it.

>From (Henry H Hansteen):

I'd say that taking a dump in public would be more justified and less offensive than sucking on a cancer stick in public. Shitting cannot be avoided, but drug abuse can be. The smell of shit, (with the exception of mine) although offensive, does not kill people. Take your drugs in private, it is the only logical option - besides quitting. Cigarettes are a very vile and repulsive drug delivery device.

>From (David Kendall):

Non-smokers *are* complaining, and being heard... hence the anti-smoking legislation of the past few years. And we're not done yet. Not until smokers are forced to congregate under disused railway bridges on the edge of town to indulge their horrid habit.

>From (Sylvain Martin):

Smokers should be shot and killed on sight!


But it's not really a nasty habit. It's a feelthy, self-destructive, childish, inconsiderate, carcinogenic, stupid, polluting, idiotic, breathtaking, oxygen-depriving, Kervorkianistic, self-indulgent, polluting, breath-fouling, addictive, brain-cell-killing, emphysema-inducing, peer-group-impressing, ozone-depleting, politically incorrect habit, laden with Freudian phallic symbolism.

And let's not omit dcitron's .sig:

|| ** SMOKERS! Don't kill yourself by inches! * * * * * * *||
|| ** Get FAST-FAST-FAST relief! Call Dr. Kervorkian today!||
|| ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *||
|| ** * * * * * * * (advertisement) * * * * * * * * * * * *||

How can people get away with hating like that? How can government actually encourage them? That it does encourage them, there is no question. Rolling Hills, CA has banned smoking in smokers' own yards and in their own cars. Santa Cruz, CA has banned it at the beach. Following the lead of at least one other city, Palo Alto, CA has banned it within 20 feet of building entrances, which not only squelches smoking in outdoor patio and garden restaurants, it virtually eliminates it downtown altogether. There is a magnanimous exception: smokers downtown may smoke on the sidewalk "as long as they keep moving."

The why of it is a longer story. Read on.


Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows, and anti-smokers come in a strange mix indeed: politicians, paternalists, profiteers, puritans, collectivists, conformists, fascists, bigots, former smokers and even some smokers. If you are in bed with the anti-smokers, you might want to have a closer look at those whose agendas you are furthering. A little introspection wouldn't hurt, either.

A statesman is a person with sincerity, conviction, the ability to determine intelligent solutions to political problems and a talent for selling those solutions to the public. True statesmen are extremely rare. Not so rare are would-be statesmen. These are people with intelligence, conviction and sincerity aplenty, but who lack the critical talent for selling tough solutions. They don't last long. A politician, on the other hand, rides the horse, so to speak, it the direction it happens to be going. Right or wrong, smart or stupid and regardless of their personal beliefs, they deliver what the voters want.

Some people call this ideological prostitution, but that may be an unfair parallel. Politicians are morally neutral. If a sincere elected official isn't doing what the voters want, they will simply elect a replacement. The replacement may be another sincere person whose convictions more closely approximate the latest of the voters' ever-changing desires, or it may be a politician. The voters get what they want either way, but as politicians are flexible, they tend to stay in office longer. Because of this, the democratic system selects for politicians. Most of the time, this leaves us muddling along more or less halfway between excellence and calamity. Occasionally, and unfortunately, it also allows a particularly vicious circle known as the witch hunt.

Whether it involves witches, minority groups, drinkers, communists, oil companies, drug users or smokers, the pattern is the same. A few hysterics perceive a problem and demand action from their representatives, who are, by and large, politicians. The latter respond by holding one-sided hearings. The publicity from these hearings attracts new adherents to the original cause, who demand more action. More one-sided hearings are held. Studies are funded. A few laws are passed. Groups grow, issuing ever louder calls for action. More hearings. More studies. More laws. Bigger groups. And so on until there exists a hysteria of national proportions and the legal landscape, individual rights and the constitution itself are irrevocably scarred by lunatic laws.

Paternalism has been around for a long time, so it is not surprising to find them among the anti-smokers. But since it is a gender-neutral, equal opportunity form of tyranny, it is surprising that many, if not most, of them today are women. Feminists have long, and with just cause, railed at a paternalistic system that decided what was best for them whether they liked it or not. It seems now that their problem was not paternalism per se; they just want to be the ones playing daddy. Or God. In their book "Stupid Ways, Smart Ways, to Think about God", Rabbi Jack Bemporad and Michael Shevack argue that God gave humanity ''truly godlike'' qualities, notably free will. God ''can't just swoop down and make our lives perfect. That would be an insult against our humanity, our nature. It would violate the very free spirit he gave us. . . . He must allow man rope, even if he hangs himself.'' Paternalists are those that redefine God as a meddlesome patriarch and then, unhappy with His performance, assume the role themselves.

There's money to be made in anti-smoking - lots of it. Federal grants for anti-smoking studies, no matter how redundant or structurally flawed, are almost automatic. And California's Proposition 99, passed in 1988, is a mother lode. Under its provisions, there is so much to dole out that practically anyone with any harebrained scheme can profit, so long as their ideas can be viewed in some way as furthering the anti-smoking cause. Thus, camping trips are funded and the hikers are even clothed - with tee-shirts bearing anti-smoking messages. One group built a race car with anti-smoking slogans on it and now tour the racing circuit at smokers' expense. Swimming pools are built for schools on the condition that smoking be banned throughout the property, including teachers in their own cars while on the parking lot. Stanton Glantz, one of the high priests of the movement, sums it up: "This", he says, "pays my mortgage."

The original Puritans fled what they regarded as a corrupt and sinful England to await in safety the inevitable retribution they expected to be visited upon it by an angry God. They planned to maintain a morally pure society with which to reseed the old world following its destruction. Any moral deviation was swiftly punished with stocks, scarlet letters, public whippings and hangings. Old habits die hard, and values are passed from generation to generation. Thus Puritanism is one of the more important roots of modern American values, for while the literal aim of the Puritans has faded with time, its fundamental attitudes persist. Many Americans feel that our culture and values are superior to all others, and that it is just a question of time before everyone else in the world adopts them, whether by choice or by force. More importantly, they believe in a uniform behavioral code for all Americans, and that moral deviation should not be tolerated. We have puritanism to thank for laws regulating sex, alcohol, drugs, song lyrics, dancing and now smoking.

Collectivists believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, they believe that "society" is an entity in and of itself, quite apart from the individuals who comprise it, and that the rights of this "society" invariably outweigh any the individual might claim. Government is the legal and political manifestation of society. To collectivists, your body is government property, and you must be forbidden from doing anything which may damage it. Your time, likewise, is government property, and time not spent in the furtherance of "societal" good is frowned upon. Your income and any savings you may have accrued are regarded by collectivists as the rightful property of "society". The infamous "social costs of smoking" studies are pure collectivist tracts. They include the money smokers spend on cigarettes, their medical bills, their insurance premiums and income lost due to illness, whether attributable to smoking or not. Thought that was your own money? Nope.

Conformists are those whose credo is "My country, right or wrong", their faith in the beneficence of government absolute. They are the flag wavers. Theirs are the bumperstickers exhorting "America: Love it or Leave it!" The irony of waving a symbol of freedom in support of laws that would abridge freedom does not occur to them, since, by their nature, they do not question. If the government says a thing, it must be so. These are not evil people. Their blind faith, however, is hazardous to everyone's freedom. A society that achieves total conformity is by definition a society that is oppressed.

Fascists are bullies with a vision. Though frequently associated with nationalists and communists, fascists differ in that they require neither moral consistency nor philosophical justification. Historically, and under most systems of government, even socialism and communism, certain rights derive from the ownership of property. Whereas under socialism the government owns the means of production (and the rights thereto), and under communism the means of production is understood to include people, fascism is unconcerned with rights or constitutional niceties. Fascists simply force whomever they need to do whatever they want. Laws are to fascists what bullets are to guns.

Some people simply aren't happy without someone to hate. Bigots come in two flavors. One consists of puritans who regard those not like themselves as moral deviants. The other type is made up of people of low self-esteem who need someone to look down on in order to feel superior by comparison. Since it is now illegal to act out prejudice against blacks, Jews, gays, Hispanics, the handicapped, foreign nationals and other historical victims, smokers are now the target of choice.

Former smokers
Former smokers may become anti-smokers for one or both of two reasons. One is that, in order to quit, some smokers use a form of self-hypnosis. They program themselves to hate everything associated with smoking, particularly its smell. They quit by learning to loathe smoke and, by extension, smokers. They have traded a habit for a phobia. The other reason commands less sympathy. There are those whose beliefs are subject to whim, and whatever they do, don't do or subscribe to is deemed appropriate and mandatory for everyone else. They are fascists without integrity. A lot of Baby Boomers fall into this category. The generation that once preached free love and demanded "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" is about to turn 50. Their hormones have subsided, their hearing is impaired and their livers are on the fritz. Not surprisingly, they now espouse monogamy, temperance and moderation in all things except the acquisition of real estate. What is contemptible, however, is that they want to impose their values on everyone else - by law. When they quit, everybody quits. They don't want to smell smoke; ergo, it should be illegal for you to smoke. Separate restaurants? Separate airplanes? Forget it. They want 'em all. Their parents were right all along: Baby Boomers are nothing but a bunch of self-indulgent brats.

There are, believe it or not, smokers who are anti-smokers. They use phrases like "my filthy habit" and "I really ought to quit." Whether at heart they are puritan, collectivist or conformist, they are other-directed and dependent upon the judgement of others. The puritans and collectivists merely feel guilt for sinning or being poor citizens. But the most heart-wrenching are the conformists: those who fight our wars, those who support the troops, those who wave the flag; those who turn out for every election and never seek to be excused from jury duty. Those, who, having been told by the government that smokers are evil people to be hated, are loyal to the end and dutifully despise themselves.

The dramatis personnae described above, while they share little else, have found common ground on the issue of smoking. That they should use corrupt science, ad hominem arguments, lies, smear campaigns and character assassination is not surprising once you know who they are. But what is truly sickening is that they have bullied, intimidated, regulated, insulted, degraded and turned 50 million innocent people into social lepers, all while claiming the moral high ground.

Pardon me while I vomit.


Anti-smokers have failed to grasp the broader message of the Third Reich. Instead of racial eugenics, they are now practising the moral variety.

Those who scoff are likely to point out that no one has been killed (yet); that Jews, unlike smokers, could not change what they were, and that such a comparison trivializes the Holocaust. But the parallel is not in the nature of the victims or in the style of their oppression. The parallel is in the nature of the oppressors, in their motives and in their methods.

The Nazis didn't start with the book burnings and executions. It took a long process of preparation and propaganda to reach that point - a gradual erosion of dignity, credibility and rights.

First come the government claims that the target group is injurious to society. The Jews were accused of owning all the wealth. Smokers are accused of killing people. In both cases, the claims are bolstered by unscrupulous men of learning employed by an unscrupulous government - economists on the one hand, scientists on the other.

Then come the hate campaigns. These are expensive, but are made practical by recovering the cost from the victims. If you think this is not taking place in America, think again. In 1988, California passed a 25 cents per pack tax on cigarettes, 50% of which was specifically to be used for anti-smoking "education". This amounts to some $300 million per year, and takes the form of an unbelievably vicious series of smears, called "ads", on television. In some, smokers are given the appearance of ogres. In another, stark script reads "The California Department of Health Services brings you this moment of silence in memory of the 14 Californians who died today because of exposure to secondhand smoke."

Next comes dehumanization. If you wish to rape the rights of a group of people, it's easier if you don't think of them as normal human beings. In Nazi Germany, people of standing reinforced the popular belief that Jews were inferior. Here doctors refer to smokers as "addicts" who use "nicotine delivery systems", and patronizingly explain that "the behavior of the smoker revolves exclusively around obtaining the next cigarette." They are said by psychologists not to value their lives, and to live "in a state of denial". An article in the San Jose Mercury News (February 16, 1994) proclaimed that in addition to being addicts, smokers are "insecure, nervous, anxious, needy for love and attention", and "possessed of a high NQ (Neurosis Quotient)."

Dehumanization is followed by ostracization. A growing number of employers refuse to hire smokers. Singles ads in the personals favor non-smokers by two to one, and some rental property ads are blunter still: "No Smokers". In Germany, signs were posted on buildings: "Dogs and Jews Forbidden." In this country, more dogs enjoy full time protection from the weather than smokers.

At this point the beatings start. The opening paragraph of this article is not strictly true. Though smokers have not yet been killed by the government, they have nevertheless been killed by righteous anti-smokers. And while gays and foreign nationals enjoy extra protection in certain states under "hate crime" laws, smokers are still fair game.

There is even a parallel for Hitler's Youth. They don't wear brown shirts, but a few fashion changes are to be expected over the course of 50 years. Scrubbed and groomed, they appear at City Council hearings across the nation wearing identical tee-shirts with chirpy anti-smoking slogans, where they earn brownie points for their high school Civics projects by regurgitating the anti-smoking propaganda drilled into them at school.

All of this, of course, is made possible by the millions of citizens who look the other way in the belief that Big Brother knows best; people who, in this case, seem to think that the year is still 1974 and that all this fuss is about smoking in elevators.

There is one difference. Smokers aren't made to wear yellow triangles to make them stand out. Their cigarettes make that unnecessary.

But the ride is not over. In fact, the engine of persecution is only now gathering a full head of steam. What lies ahead? The stated, and frequently repeated, goal of the anti-smokers is "a smoke-free society by the year 2000." Virtually every public building and a growing number of outdoor locations are already smoke-free, yet the clamor for tougher anti-smoker laws loudens daily. Clearly, the anti-smokers will not rest until tobacco is illegal. Their aim is to turn 50 million hated smokers into criminals. The only question is, how illegal will it be? They have told us that, also. Tobacco, they announce in no uncertain terms, is a deadly drug, and smokers are addicts. To predict how smokers will be treated a few years hence we have only to look at existing drug laws.

The penalty for casual drug use is 10 years in prison. Actually, you don't even need to use or possess it. An Oakland, California man was sentenced to 10 years for giving a ride to a friend who turned out to be a drug dealer. 23-year-old Christian Martensen got five years in prison for introducing a federal narcotics agent to a drug dealer. For two years, the agent had been following him to rock concerts and hounding him for the introduction.

In addition, under the asset forfeiture laws, people arrested on suspicion of drug use can and do have all of their money and property confiscated. No conviction, nor even a trial, is necessary. To recover seized property, the now penniless accusees must sue and prove their innocence. California asset forfeiture laws were recently changed to require a conviction; federal laws, however, remain on the books.

Then there are the "Three Strikes" laws. Only recently enacted in California, similar laws have existed in other states for years. Under their provisions, a person convicted of a felony for the third time is automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole. It might be, in the not too distant future, that all you have to do to spend the rest of your life in jail is to smoke three Virginia Slims. We will, indeed, have come a long way. And we could go even further: former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates was quoted as saying "Casual drug users [as opposed to dealers] should be lined up against a wall and shot." It may turn out that he was only slightly ahead of his time.

Is there, you ask, a parallel between the Nazi persecution of the Jews and the American persecution of smokers?

Oh yes. Oh my, yes.

[Previous Page] [Top] [Next Page]