Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Dynamics and the Demonization of Smoking (part 1)

Smoking is evil.

Smoking will kill you.

Smoking also kills those around you with second-hand smoke.

These 3 declarations are the silver bullets in the smoking gun (pun intended) held in the arsonal of the anti-smoking groups arrayed against anyone excercizing their rights to choose, of their own free will, to smoke or to not smoke.

The campaigns of the past 20-30 years were necessary for a number of reasons. The corporate tobacco companies did, indeed, bend or downright break the rules of common decency in pursuit of the almighty dollar. That needed to be (and has been) exposed as snake-oil salesman skullduggery.

Tobacco consumers did need to know exactly what risks they were taking in their vice. Public awareness did need to be increased on the potential dangers of second hand smoke, and rules did need to be put in place for the betterment of the common population. All these goals have been met, or are on their way to being completed.

For that, I say, the anti-smoking leagues have done their jobs well. Children, even before formalized schooling, are coached on the dangers of smoking. They are bombarded with this message continually, each and every day of their lives. Adults, young and old alike, are aware of the risks inherent in this product and its usage.

So, what's all the continued screaming and yelling about???

After all, this is still a free least it was the last time I checked. I still can choose where to go to work, what to do at that job in terms of personal effort, and wether I want to buy a house with my hard-earned money or blow it all on new hats. I can choose to ingest alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, an aspirin, or a Monster Burger (Can I have a double order of the special cardiac-arrest chili-cheese french fries with that, please?). I can decide wether to allow my weight balloon to 210, or sweat it down to 150. Good choices and bad alike are arrayed as in a buffet, with me at liberty to pick and choose from amongst the options.

So now, why, when a new innovation hits the marketplace, am I being told that I cannot do this, because the Government (of which I was part of the process to elect) tells me they don't know precicely what it will do to me? Why has this been barred from the menu when so many other choices, equally bad, remain?

The reasons are vast in their multitudes, as to why my beloved PV's are on the front line, heading for a marketplace removal by my Government. Some are headliners, shoved into the public's eye for effect, and far more are behind the curtain, cowering from discovery. The first, strongest, and most effective reason is public perception, brought on and stroked to a fever-pitch by the anti-smoking groups. From my declarations above: Smoking is Evil. This sentiment has been woven tightly into the weave of public perception, and smokers have gone from admired all the way down the social ladder to reviled and persecuted.

Smokers, people. I'll say it again: SMOKERS. The consumers. The users of the products. These are the people that society has chosen to vilify.....NOT the corporate tobacco giants. These monoliths continue to prosper and whisper in the ears of our elected leaders. Altria will have advisory members on the board of the FDA as they hammer into place new regulations regarding tobacco and nicotine products. The Kennedy/Waxman bills, recently passed by both chambers of congress (and due to cross Obama's desk soon) saw to that. Small wonder that many are calling this legislation the "Altria Earnings Protection Act."

Why? Tell me, why have the consumers been handed this heavy bill to pay, and not the giants in the industry?

Why can't innovation and brilliance be allowed to find another, cleaner, safer, better alternative????

I don't have the answers here friends, but I'm very good as coming up with the right questions and my own theories.

There are a lot of sub-issues and behind-the-scenes power plays arrayed in the Tobacco Wars. Lots of money, too....but I'm not going to follow the money trail yet. That one's been done to death, and starts to take on a "conspiracy theory" twist that I've no wish to follow.


Sub Issue #1 - the anti-smoking groups.
Very few people realize this, because it came about in a time before the infomation explosion that is the internet, but back in the 70's there was formed a group of people who disliked smokers. Mainly, yes, I'll admit, because smokers were demanding their rights to smoke, anywhere they wanted, irregardless of who they bothered with their habit, and the govenrment was on THEIR side.

This group was called ASHES - the American Society to Harass and Embarass Smokers. Their goal - pretty self-evident in their name - the prohibition of tobacco and the demonization of all who use it.

And, to give fair notice, there is NO evidence on the Web to corroborate this.... I've done extensive research on this small fringe group, and turned up nothing...nada...zilch, but I wasn't surprised. This happens all the time: fringe groups like these usually start very small and very QT - then when they gain momentum, they shift their public image to one less aggressive, and bury the origins.

The only reason I know about this group is because I happened to be exposed to a news article when I was growing up regarding it. This small group and their hard-core hatreds of smokers is the forerunner of today's anti-smoking groups.

And, 30 years later, they've nearly realized their goals. Smokers are 2nd class, sub-humans with few rights and many faults, ready to be tossed aside to moulder in the stinking gutters, pitifully begging passersby "hey, buddy, got a light?"

Now, because of the way our Government wishes to present itself to its American voters, there won't be an outright prohibition of tobacco, but that's going to be:

Sub Issue #2: Washington's public face

Stay tuned......

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