Butt Out Already!

Smoking Presidents

I don’t often agree with the editors of the National Post, but I couldn’t do more so than with their tirade yesterday attacking the Ontario government’s plan to sue a dozen tobacco companies for $50-billion to compensate them for health services dating back to 1955.

No one makes more money from tobacco sales than governments do — not tobacco farmers or small tobacco retailers or even tobacco companies. Last year in Canada, federal and provincial governments took in over $7-billion from tobacco taxes. The combined net income of tobacco growers and tobacco companies, on the other hand, was just over $1-billion.

Yet the federal government, through the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is also one of the largest investors in the tobacco industry, holding nearly $400-million in cigarette company stocks.

So it strikes us as the height of hypocrisy when governments let the tobacco industry keep chugging along, and then sue tobacco companies to recover the cost of health care provided to smokers. We are not in favour of a tobacco ban; individuals should be free to decide for themselves whether they want to take up smoking. But if governments find tobacco use so perilous and repugnant, the obvious course of action that presents itself is to make it illegal.

Indeed. Maybe it’s time for those of us who choose to smoke to begin standing up a little more for our rights and stop being endlessly bullied and browbeaten by the anti-smoking fanatics who see it as an almost religious crusade of some kind to rob us of one of the few small pleasures in life while at the same time insulating cynical grifters and health-conscious busybodies in the government at both the federal and provincial level from any criticism of their efforts to constantly shame and humiliate us, as simultaneously they quite happily extort a hefty profit on a dependable basis from our relatively harmless addiction.

Not to be overly rude or anything, but fuck off already… butt out of our lives and leave us alone. We’ve patiently tolerated your silly bans, public space prohibitions, workplace regulations, perimeter restrictions, annoying advertisements, scary chastisements on the products we buy, etc., not to mention being regressively taxed up the wazoo, but enough is enough.

p.s. Oh, and just a short note to radical non-smokers… I hate to break this to you, but despite all of your best efforts, you’re not going to live forever; so stop pretending you can defeat mortality and insisting that we all need to subscribe to that same absurd premise, okay?



Filed under Civil Rights

59 responses to “Butt Out Already!

  1. I used to think like you, Red. But the undeniable fact is that the tobacco industry needs to die. No company should be allowed to sell poison to the public for consumption even if there are imbeciles like you and me who are willing to not only ingest it, but pay to do so.

  2. Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.

    I don’t mind saying that because, y’know, I am. It bothers me, though, to live among so many people who don’t think that they are too and seem to relieve their consciences by singling out a few specific groups to be outcasts. It bothers me even more when some of those people have political power.

    Ah, well. There are rewards to retreating to the life of a hermit.

  3. Bob — I come down quite heavily on the libertarian side of the equation with respect to this issue. I fully understand the health implications and am more than willing to make necessary accommodations to those who find smoking disagreeable and unhealthy, but I think we’ve reached the point now where it’s become ridiculous and those of us who elect to smoke (quite happily, I might add — I’m not one of those people who wishes they could quit but can’t do so for whatever reason) should be allowed to enjoy our habit in private at a reasonable cost without the meddlesome interference of health fanatics and other such supposedly “well-intentioned” do-gooders. The hypocrisy when it comes to the treatment of this issue is absolutely massive and if smokers were to insist on similar treatment for other industries and products, the consequences would be quite alarming, I’m sure.

    How about giant warning labels on bags of sugar, for example informing people that it’s “WHITE DEATH” and may lead to obesity, cancer and whatever. Gee, that would be fun. Or an excise tax on crappy cereals and soda pop because they’re fattening and provide unacceptable levels of nutrition.. How about making half the label on every bottle of wine a frightening warning about the dangers of alcoholism with pictures of woeful kids abandoned by their drunken parents… And so on.

    Yes, tobacco is addictive (or nicotine and other active ingredients, to be more precise) and it’s “poison” but then so are a lot of things in life. We can’t insulate ourselves from everything that may be harmful — and nor should we. At least in my view of things…

    It really speaks to a deeper sense of what life’s all about, I guess. I’m not mortified by death and have no serious interest in perpetuating my existence beyond whatever span of time I can derive some small enjoyment from being in the moment. If smoking a cigarette with my morning coffee makes me happy, then I’ll do that and take some pleasure from the experience. If it happens to shorten my lifespan in the process, oh well. It’s not a big deal to me.

  4. Whooee! Well Red, I reckon when yer livin’ in a society that cherishes its publicly funded healthcare system, you gotta put up with the danged ol’ do-gooders who wanna promote public health. How much do you figger gummints pay out in hospital costs, doctor fees, palliative care, etc. to deal with the ill effects (pun intended) of tobacco?

    I live in the heart of Canada’s tobacco growin’ region. I been hearin’ these sorta arguments fer decades. “Everybuddy’s gotta die from something so why pick on tobacco?” That’s gotta be about the lamest argument ever.

    I figger when yer lyin’ in a publicly funded hospital bed gettin’ publicly funded care you’ll try to say that you paid for that care with all the taxes you paid on yer smokes. Tally it up, Red. I reckon you’ll come up short by a coupla hunnert thousand bucks.

    Yer right that the gummint rakes plenty o’ dough on cigarette taxes. If they didn’t, we’d go broke lookin’ after all the busted lung smokers fillin’ up the cancer wards.


  5. JB — While I appreciate that argument, it’s been determined that smokers provide a net benefit to the public health system by voluntarily hastening their death, so it’s not really as “lame” a contention as you may think or conventional wisdom might have one believe… 😉

    I think the difference between costs on this score is somewhere in the region of $1,500 per individual — to the advantage of the government.

  6. The Trusty Tory

    Touche! In fact – if you don’t mind – I’m going to borrow your live forever line. It’s classic and I almost spit coffee all over the keyboard. I remember working in Toronto and smoking on the sidewalk and having some dude feign a heavy cough 4 feet away from me like he was dying from my exhale. You know the kind. It’s a good thing I was polite that day because he wouldn’t have liked what I was thinking to say.

    On another note, sorry for the delay, things are well RT. Hope you have been well. Went and got myself a “government job”, so I spend the better part of 2 months in training. So I’m really not supposed to have a political opinion anymore – not that they can force my thoughts out of my head or anything. I hope you are doing well yourself. I have often thought of you and decided to see if you were still open for business. And you were!

    Omar – if you read this, things are well. How have you been?

  7. The Trusty Tory

    “No company should be allowed to sell poison to the public for consumption even if there are imbeciles like you and me who are willing to not only ingest it, but pay to do so”

    Wow. Are you really that stupid? Do you bother to read? Unless you live like a vegan and eat birdseed I think there’s more than just tobacco products that have “poison” in it. Keep buying your molecule destroying Febreze since it’s safe and all.

  8. TT — No kidding, but maybe I can top that…

    I was waiting for a bus at the exchange here coming over from Vancouver and hadn’t had a smoke for ages. When it was evident the driver was pausing the bus for a break of some kind I decided to seize the opportunity to have a cigarette, seeing as the guy wouldn’t be leaving for another 5-10 minutes or so. As soon as I did however, he fired up the bus, which then made me frantically extinguish my smoke, gather up all my luggage and run to the door of the bus. But he’d only moved it about 10 ft. away. When I asked him WTF he was doing, he’s said he didn’t want his bus “polluted” with my smoke. Needless to say, I was less than happy by this petulant little demonstration.

    As I said, I’m more than tolerant and accommodating when it comes to this sort of thing, but at a certain point I think a line has to be drawn. Smokers have certain rights too and this notion that we’re abominable reprobates has to stop.

  9. R/T!!

    You go, guy!

    I KNEW there was a reason I was hanging around here, I KNEW, deep down, you were a kindred spirit.

    Well done, and, good on you for not backing down to the usual, well-intentioned, social engineer types explaining to you, in their condescending and false explanations of why THEY get to tell YOU what to do.

    That’s why I’m conservative, more than any other factor. I don’t deny the obligation to help the less advantaged, I don’t deny the importance of investing in education and good health care – what caused me to go running and screaming from the Liberal party in the late 80’s was that aspect of Liberalism which was summed up with:

    I know better than you do what’s best for you, so just live you life on MY terms.

    If I want to smoke, if I want to drive without a freaking seatbelt, if I want to drive or ski or snowboard without a helmet – what the fuck business is it of yours, Mr. Gummint?

  10. ..and as R/T says, don’t give me the bullshit about “we pay for health care, so that gives us the right.”

    Well, how about all the fat bastards who refuse to exercise? Are we going to start suing or banning McDonalds? Are we going to shut down the ski hills and ban skateboarding next? Perhaps we should close down all the playgrounds, and just put our children on treadmills, armies of little rat-people, forcing them to be “healthy” because, after all, WE pay for their health care.

    And then eugenics steps in. We shouldn’t allow those with physical weakness to procreate… we need an uber-race..

    Wait, someone tried this once didn’t they?

  11. Navvy

    I think “fuck seatbelts” would be a fantastic Conservative campaign slogan.

  12. TT — Congrats on landing a “government job” by the way — I hope that’s working out well for you. And I won’t belabour the obvious irony involved…

    I’ve frequently wondered how you were doing (as have others here when you dropped of the planet for a while).

    I’m not sure what the policy is with respect to civil servants and the expression of opinion. Doubtless it’s frowned upon, but I don’t believe there’s anything preventing you from freely exercising your rights to that outside of the workplace environment and within the usual strictures of not recklessly bad-mouthing or unfairly maligning your managers, etc..

    So, now you’ve got a great job with all kinds of benefits at the public expense, etc., hit that “Donate” button and toss some coin my way, bud. 😉

  13. Red, if tobacco companies didn’t exist and somebody wanted to start one up today they’d get laughed off the planet. Our government rightfully wouldn’t let somebody begin selling poison for consumption to consumers.

    As far as your complaints about them being unfairly targeted, that’s just not true. There’s a push to ban trans fats for example, because it too is nothing more than a poison. Most of the other products you list are not. Sugar is not a poison. Excessive sugar consumption is a problem, but sugar itself isn’t and the push back against sugar reflects that.

    Tobacco that’s sold to us by the tobacco companies is nothing more than a poison. It’s a poison whether or not it’s taken in moderation or in excess. And again, no company should be allowed to sell poison for consumption to the consumer even if there’s a market for it. That’s why tobacco companies need to die; preferably before you and I do.

  14. Rob — I’ve always strongly believed there are many issues where the interests of liberals and conservatives intersect and are quite compatible and of mutual benefit, especially when it comes to matters involving the concerns of personal liberty and individual rights.

    It’s part of the reason I’m happy to describe myself as a “Red Tory” because that label seems to encompass a bi-partisan (or “post-partisan” as it’s now sometimes referred to) approach to things. I’m not so mired in the notion of thinking of people that I happen to disagree with on various matters of ideology are my “enemies” that I can’t appreciate some of their viewpoints and take side with them on certain issues if our views happen to coincide.

  15. Bob — Sorry, but with all due respect, your argument holds no water.

    …if tobacco companies didn’t exist and somebody wanted to start one up today they’d get laughed off the planet.

    And how many other products would be similarly regarded as ridiculous? Yes, of course the idea of taking a plant, drying it out, stuffing it into a tube, lighting it on fire and inhaling the smoke sounds completely insane. As opposed to drinking the fluid from a plant that produces beans that are roasted, crushed, diced, sliced, freeze-dried, etc. before going through all sorts of other processes such as draining, steaming, boiling, etc. to provide you with the cup of coffee that you may drink in the morning. Not to mention the cream that’s extracted from the udder of a cow… Oh, and did I mention the more exotic varieties of that beverage involving the beans being shit out of a monkey’s ass?

    Our government rightfully wouldn’t let somebody begin selling poison for consumption to consumers.

    So when will the government “rightfully” begin prohibiting the sale of alcohol? When will they outlaw the sale of candy, a substance that could arguably be described as “poison” in the minds of some…

    As far as your complaints about them being unfairly targeted, that’s just not true.

    I don’t think I actually said that, but I do think the tobacco industry (and their customers — i.e., smokers) are cash cows for the government.

    There’s a push to ban trans fats for example, because it too is nothing more than a poison.

    Perhaps it is, but this is a different matter. Smoking is a choice. Eating trans-fats, isn’t. If it’s been determined that this is a harmful substance and people need to be made aware of its presence in their foods, then fine… the government may have a role in aiding us to make healthy decisions. See, that’s where government can actually help, rather than hinder. I know it’s kind of a fine line a times and I don’t really have the time to expand on it, but I think you may be able to get the essence of what I’m saying from that.

    Most of the other products you list are not. Sugar is not a poison. Excessive sugar consumption is a problem, but sugar itself isn’t and the push back against sugar reflects that.

    I don’t think it is either, but there are those who would argue against you on this point. And don’t even get me going on the sugar industry because, man… that is one giant cluster-you-know-what of corruption.

    Tobacco that’s sold to us by the tobacco companies is nothing more than a poison. It’s a poison whether or not it’s taken in moderation or in excess.

    Well then, maybe we need some natural, organic tobacco… Could we get that? Would our present regulatory regime allow such a thing? Why can’t smokers enjoy the pleasure of this particular form of consumption without other people condemning it as “poison” and demanding that it be outlawed simply because they don’t happen to like it or feel it’s evil in some way?

    Sorry, but this is the same strain of thinking that runs through fundamentalist religious belief and it’s pervading our attitudes towards smoking and other activities that are essentially a private matter.

    And again, no company should be allowed to sell poison for consumption to the consumer even if there’s a market for it. That’s why tobacco companies need to die; preferably before you and I do.

    I’m very conflicted on this point. If there’s a market for the product then I believe it should be allowed to flourish — or die… it’s of no concern to me. I’m not prepared to impose my morals or beliefs on others. That’s not what I see the role of government being. Yes, they can tell us that it’s bad for our health, but beyond that, screw off and let us make our own decisions about the matter.

  16. R/T – I appreciate your comments and I tend to be of similar mind-set – hence, probably the angst on my own blog of late from Wild Rosers.

    And while I’ve been, I suppose, voting Conservative of late, I have voted Liberal in the past, and as you state, those views do quite often intersect.. particularly, for example today.

    If we could encourage a broader acknowledgement about that, it might be helpful, to force leaders of all parties to rise above partisan “cheerleading” and articulate actual policy to judge them by.

  17. LMA

    JB: Red Tory has a valid point. If smoking takes ten years off your life, perhaps there is a net savings in health care costs as it is likely during those last ten years nonsmokers will be afflicted with any number of chronic illnesses that are costly to the health care system. Perhaps smokers are doing society a favour.
    As far as air pollution is concerned, try walking down any busy city street. The exhaust fumes from buses, cars, trucks are enough to knock you flat.
    We all should have the right to pick our poison. None of us are getting out of here alive.

  18. ..and certainly, as we’ve seen from George Orwell, and others, there is at some point a line where a world which is “perfect” becomes a living prison, where we are simply servants of the state.

    To be alive is to take risk. By being born, we are, immediately, condemned to die. I have no problem with education to help people avoid making bad choices.. whether it’s tobacco, exercise, proper eating.. but ultimately, it’s still my choice. And if we want a certain degree of socialism (and, actually, I do with regard to health care, education, and other essentials), that doesn’t then give a license to the state to start putting conditions upon my ability to access it. That then immediatly starts to bend the line from a benevolent social state to a fascist state – and we’ve all seen where that leads.

  19. Trusty Tory – I have a similar story – a girl in the office I used to work in – downtown Toronto, was having a ciggy outside before going in to the office from lunch. A man came out, waving his wimpy hands across his face and pretending to be choking from the vile smoke…..a car picked him up and a big waft of black crap came out of the car into her face….she was choking for real.

    We have a serious “salt” problem in Canada that can lead to heart/stroke disease. I don’t like Tim Horton’s at all, but on the road hubby and I decided to stop for breakfast….I order the new tea bisuit thing – I had to stop eating it. The salt level was so high it tasted like brine. I am salt sensitive.
    Yup, let’s push for that artery clogging, over salty Timmies folks.

  20. Red, alcohol and candy are not poisons, regardless of what some people might say. Consumption of either in moderation is quite harmless and there’s a body of evidence to suggest the former may be beneficial. By the way, certain alcohols are banned for sale as a consumptive product because they are poisons.

    Well then, maybe we need some natural, organic tobacco…

    Precisely. Tobacco should be sold as a natural, agricultural product only and not by tobacco companies.

  21. if tobacco companies didn’t exist and somebody wanted to start one up today they’d get laughed off the planet.

    No, there’d be underground grow-ops, smuggling from Turkey and a pack of shitty smokes would cost your $20 a pack, if you could find a Hell’s Angel to sell them to you.

    Banning, running out of business, outlawing or otherwise making illegal anything has never worked, and often makes the problem worse.

    Why if cigarettes were banned and companies “out of business”, some clever entrepreneur would create a small, single cigarette that packed the nicotine of a whole carton, and market it to kids.

    Call it the “crack” effect.

    Cigarettes will be gone and Cigarette companies will be out of business when enough people choose to not smoke and not before.

    Until then, feel free to encourage people to quit, to train kids not to do it and to not smoke yourself. Stop trying to tell other people how to live their lives.


    And ex-smoker who love to spark one up after 5 beers or so…

  22. Whooee! Point taken on the idea that smokers do us taxpayers a big favour by droppin’ dead at a relatively early age. I reckon yer on to somethin’ that could be a huge benefit to our economy.

    How ’bout we quit wastin’ public money tryin’ to cure cancer? It’d be a win-win. Less money spent on research; less money spent on treatin’ dead patients.

    We could save the poor ol’ taxpayer even more if we set up some Sarah Palin death panels. Or, we could eliminate medicine, hospitals and doctors altogether and really save some dough. Think of the money we could save if we cut down our life expectancy to third world levels.

    On the H1N1 issue alone, we could save a few million by buyin’ more body bags and fewer flu shots.

    If we eliminate traffic laws, we could save money on killin’ drivers quicker. The need for replacement vehicles and repairs would be a boost to the ailing auto sector. O’ course, we wouldn’t be needin’ so many ambulances on accounta it’d be cheaper to just let the injured and sick die where they are. We’d make up for it in hearse sales, though. Grave digging equipment and mortuary jobs would be a growth industry.


  23. Rob — It’s a complex puzzle that doesn’t necessarily mesh with the fake paradigm of “left” and “right” much of the time. We’re constantly balancing positive and negative freedoms and their relationship to the state with notions of democracy, competing interests, rights and so on…

  24. JB — While you may be making the point in a facetious sense, and at the risk of attracting the ire of our friend from the Nexus of Assholery who is involved with this issue, I’m deeply skeptical about cancer research and think people should perhaps just die from their ailments as expediently as possible — or not. I mean if they survive… great, but otherwise, please hurry up the process. There’s nothing more annoying than some useless old fart drawing a pension off the public coffers hanging on to the bitter end. By doing so it will save everyone a lot of money… not to mention all of the grief and anguish involved; a tragic waste of time that detracts considerably from our own personal well-being and happiness, etc.

    As for eliminating traffic laws, that’s another matter. The regulation involved in that instance is to avoid total chaos and to allow for individuals to drive with a sense of safety.

  25. Who needs or wants safety when an early death is such a desirable thing?

    If we really did have them Death Panels like Caribou Barbie sez, I reckon you’d make a dang good chairman.

    There’s nothing more annoying than some useless old fart drawing a pension off the public coffers hanging on to the bitter end.

    Maybe so. We could euthanize any old farts over retirement age.

  26. Ti-Guy

    There’s nothing more annoying than some useless old fart drawing a pension off the public coffers hanging on to the bitter end.

    It all depends on the old fart. Some people, particularly in this society, don’t exactly become wiser with age, which is really the only benefit of living longer. I’ve noticed that it’s usually the upper-middle class elderly who are singularly lacking in wisdom, no doubt due to a lifetime of easy living.

    I make that assertion based on my mother’s experience in her luxury condo. She can’t stand any of her neighbours….supercilious and spoiled cranks who complain about the most trivial things. A spot on the on the polished brass in the elevator, a fresh flower arrangement that’s looking a little wilty, a suspcious brown person in the the foyer…

    Those people can go to hell. We can’t afford them anymore, anyway.

  27. philosoraptor

    RT, you said:

    I’m deeply skeptical about cancer research and think people should perhaps just die from their ailments as expediently as possible — or not. I mean if they survive… great, but otherwise, please hurry up the process.

    I’m not commenting on this to say that I disagree with you, or to dialogue about one side or the other. I only wanted to point out that if you’ve been following the recent goings-on down south vis-a-vis Rep. Grayson’s comments about the GOP healthcare plan, then your remarks here have officially completed the circle, linking you to the GOP anti-reformers.

    I’ve removed the veil, Red. Time to face yourself 🙂

    ps: I don’t have video handy of Rep. Grayson’s discussion about the GOP health care plan, but to sum it up, it was: “Don’t get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly”. Check Rachel Maddow. I’m sure she has it somewhere. Needless to say, it’s causing quite the stir, since Grayson (quite unlike most Dems) is refusing to backpeddle even a bit on it.

  28. philosoraptor

    “backpeddle” should be “backpedal”. Those stupid mistakes really detract from any larger point one might have had.

  29. Dave — I wasn’t being entirely serious there, but more just channeling a bit of Jonathan Swift and putting forward a modest proposal by suggesting that people die faster and with less bother in order to assist in the maintenance of our collective bottom line and individual happiness. The idea would, I believe, be in accordance with Conservative principles, would it not?

  30. Good blog today, almost devoid of anyone talking about “Gliberals” and “Reformatories” (at risk of encouraging it now.. but a give and take about the issue. About the facts and foundations of the issue.

    ..and R/T don’t worry about the suggestion that you’re suddenly addopting severe right Republican sentiments.. it’s the use of labels that detracts from serious discussion, and, shit, I’m guilty of the same thing – it’s such an easy (lazy) way to try and generalize and make a point.


    Good discussion.

  31. hitfan

    I come here because redtory has interesting things to say from occasionally, even though I probably disagree with him most of the time.

    As a former smoker (quit in 2002, but I indulge in the occasional cigarette from time to time to this day) I do sympathize with smokers and the tobacco companies. The tobacco industry today can simply be described as a racket where the government collects 80% of the revenue and the tobacco companies who are willing to play ball in a climate of anti-smoking hysteria to get the rest of the 20%.

    Now the Ontario government basically wants to sue them for that remaining 20%. If I owned a tobacco company, I would simply dismantle my whole operation by laying waste to it until it is worthless and then give a middle finger to the government.

    I do miss the days of being able to go to the bar and drink and smoke to my heart’s content. They claimed that banning smoking in bars would not hurt these establishments but they’re constantly closing down nowadays.

    Icons of pop culture were smokers: Humphrey Bogart. Sinatra. The Beatles. Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” is a fantastic visual.

    In the US, the smoking issue is clearly a left VS right issue (tobacco-growing areas tend to vote Republican) so I find it ironic that Democrats who rail against “Big Tobacco” are also part of the same party who is most sympathetic for legalizing pot.

    In Canada, bashing smoking is more of a bi-partisan thing.

  32. Rob — There’s usually a wide diversity of opinion here and people are free to say what they think. I try to provide a welcome environment for open discussion, amusement, or whatever. I’m not out to grind any particular axe or promote a specific agenda other than what captures my interest and attention and may be of similar amusement to other folks whether they be like-minded or not.

  33. and toward the end, we smokers, you and i, will become a burden; on resources, on family and, possibly, on the state.


  34. Hitfan — I’m sure we would disagree on many things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t agree on others as well. I never see the political discourse as automatically being a mutually exclusive proposition or zero-sum game.

    I don’t miss the days of smoky bars, but I would like to have a cigarette after dinner, or sometimes with my coffee. But I can live with that. It’s getting to the point now where doing that would seem almost as weird as smoking in a grocery store, movie theatre or retail establishment (all of which seem offensive, even to me).

    So as I said, it’s more a matter of drawing a line. We (smokers) have made innumerable concessions and have ponied up tons of money over the years in excise taxes, so maybe it’s time to get off our backs and find another target from which to extract revenue…

  35. “They claimed that banning smoking in bars would not hurt these establishments but they’re constantly closing down nowadays.”

    are they?


  36. KEv — Not in my experience. Smokers tend to go down fast and hard.

    (Might make a good bumper sticker.)

    It’s these people malingering with other expensive diseases (collectively known as “old age”) that tend to drag down the health system.

    I’d like to challenge this whole notion of pushing the life expectancy into the 80s or beyond. I don’t anticipate having my face plastered on a Smuckers jar of jam and that’s okay…

  37. Omar

    No they are not. How could they be when less than 20% of the population now smokes? This is one of those untruths people sympathetic to the smoking cause like to spread.

  38. “no, they are not”

    no, i didn’t think so. hasn’t been the case here.


  39. I actually prefer going to bars and such now (on the rare times I do) that there’s no smoking allowed. And I’m an inveterate puffer, so go figure. Although it would be nice occasionally to shoot a came of pool, have a beer AND a smoke… 😉

  40. “Smokers tend to go down fast and hard.”

    maybe. some do linger. heart disease, lung disease, cancer and a laundry list of other complications. i’ve lost two close relatives to the c. both were smokers. they lingered. oh, how they fucking lingered.

    i’ll be honest and say that i’m torn on this issue. i know the only way i’ll ever stop is if i can no longer get at it, but the libertarian in me says a tobacco ban is like any other substance ban to which i object.

    i really can’t think of any other issue that’s as complicated for me as this one.


  41. “it would be nice occasionally to shoot a came of pool, have a beer AND a smoke…”

    that’s why god invented bachelors.


  42. Omar

    I gave up smoking when I could no longer purchase a package of tailor-mades with a five dollar bill. Economics rather than concern for my health guided my desire to quit. A nasty habit that impairs my well-being while at the same time empties my pocketbook? It is the mother of no-brainers.

  43. LMA

    RT: Like someone said, it all depends on the old fart. I have a friend who just celebrated her 87th birthday. She runs her 100 acre farm with the help of tenant farmers and manages her large house with the help of a weekly housekeeper. She is mentally sharp, politically involved, and a constant source of support to her family. As long as you stay healthy and are able to live a useful life, age doesn’t really matter. Once you have a terminal illness however I agree that it’s best to go quickly and painlessly. That’s what living wills are all about. Regarding smoking, I also agree that banning smoking in public places is a good thing, but like you I see no harm in indulging my habit in moderation in the privacy of my own home, and don’t think I should have to pay a financial penalty for doing so.

  44. LMA — Sounds reasonable to me!

  45. jkg

    As a an occasional smoker of cigars and pipes, I remembered that in my first year university, the graduate bar still had a smoking section. It was great; I fully understood the risk of entering a section full of second hand smoke, but it as enjoyable just drinking some whiskey and having a smoke. I cannot necessarily blame the ban on bars as I remember the difference in air quality, and in restaurants, when sections were not adequately separated, the thick smoke would still permeate the entire establishment. Given that second hand smoke is at best, detrimental to cardiopulmonary health, public bars and restaurants should in large part be smoke free. Keep in mind that the effects of second hand smoke is probably the most detrimental in concentrated and confined places. If some public places want to be exempt, there should be a way to do so, but should come at a cost. Or, there should be more private bars, so that it is completely the choice of the individual.

    Outside however, is fair game. I find even the law that you must smoke x meters away a bit much. Even enclosed patios (which is rather silly because according to some local bylaws, enclosed includes just a canopy) are off limits.

    Like smoking, other policies have to strike the balance between the individual and society. The unique aspect of smoking is that other than death that comes from it, there is no emergent density dependent mechanism that would prevent the negative social costs being confined to those who practice it, if the conditions were entirely libertarian. That is why some regulation is okay, but it has to be sensible, not this nonsense.

  46. Okhropir rumiani

    Let me recommend the book, “Cigarette century” by Allan Brandt. Great book!

  47. Tomm



    I quit a few years ago, but the libertarian in me has not given up the fight. Those people who write letters to the paper for ASH can join those people who write letters for MADD and emigrate to Lebanon for all I care (oops, bad example). …emigrate to the U.S. for all I care.

    I, like you, am convinced smokers actually save public money through taxes and shorter life expectancy. For all the posturing, if the opposite were true, they would have presented the facts.

    I read something where the main character’s motto was “live fast, die young and bury a good looking corpse”.

    I’ll top up your jar one of these days.

  48. benalbanach

    As a kid growing up in a tenament building in Scotland I breathed in the stale tobacco -smoke of a couple in the house below (we didn’t call them apartments in those days) who chose to smoke .
    In theatres and on buses ,on trains and on planes those who chose not to smoke in effect did.
    Perhaps then you can find it in your heart to forgive me a little snigger that your love affair with the stinking weed contributes so generously to government coffers.

  49. Tomm


    Smokers don’t begrudge the high taxes as much as the disrespect with which they are treated.

    Another important aspect is that the lowest socio-economic groups are also the highest smoking groups. Our society likes to kick those that are already down.

  50. Ti-Guy


    I think the short form is “Ben” there, Tomm. “Ben Albanach”…geddit?

  51. Ben — I can sympathize with the revulsion against smoking as a “disgusting” habit, and that’s why I don’t have a problem with regulations to restrict use of it in public spaces. The thought of someone smoking in a grocery store, a theatre or on an airplane, for example, would be unacceptable. But those who want to eradicate the habit altogether by force of regulation and a relentless campaign of shaming those who enjoy their preferred form of weed are, in my opinion, quite often zealous puritans on a crusade of some kind for a purpose that I don’t necessarily agree with, that’s infringing on my personal liberty — something that I reject outright; not only as a matter of principle, but because it crosses the line of imposing their “lifestyle choice” (i.e., not to smoke), onto mine. It’s not much different from the campaigns of those pushing sumptuary laws for one suspect reason or another.

  52. Ti-Guy

    For me, it depends on the mix of issues. If we’ve got anti-smoking zealots along with anti-scent crusaders and anti-fur warriors, the anti-authoritarian in me is tempted to blow smoke right in their faces.

    Sometimes, it’s the volume of the crusade that creates its own opposition. With some causaholics I can think of (pro-choice bloggers, for one), I’m actually starting to believe they thrive on it.

  53. Tomm





  54. Ti-Guy — Ugh, don’t even get me started on the “anti-scent” folks… They’re beyond ridiculous.

    They need to blast off to another planet, preferably one that’s sterile and devoid of life or anything that might offend their delicate, precious sensibilities.

    “Causaholics”… Heh. 🙂

  55. benalbanach

    Tomm………..That’s OK.
    You let me get away with tenament when it should have been tenement.

  56. Tomm

    How did we all survive the wave of peanut butter that covered the 1960s?

    I can’t imagine the carnage and death of children that we were just never told about.

    I was wondering about all those dead kids being taken out of class…

    I guess that period of ignorance is just our burden as baby boomers.

  57. Funny that, isn’t it? I don’t remember the analphabetic shock-wave of peanut-butter related deaths. Must have been a cover-up of some kind. Better get Alex Jones on the case…

  58. Ti-Guy


    Heh. That’s French for “illiterate.”

    …I know you meant “anaphylactic.”

  59. A topic close to my heart thanks, do you have a RSS feed ?

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