Plain Packaging: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Furphies

OK, the disclaimer first: I’m a smoker; I’ve averaged a packet of cigarettes per day since I was 18. I don’t deny the health risks and implications, and I fervently hope my children never smoke. But as an anti-smoking initiative, plain packaging is a measure doomed to fail.

The cheers have gone up across the country this week, among health campaigners and anti-smokers alike, in the wake of the High Court finding against the tobacco companies’ claim that legislation to force cigarettes to be sold in plain wrappings — as opposed to branded packets — stripped them of their intellectual property without monetary compensation.

And I use the term “anti-smokers,” rather than “non-smokers,” because there’s a big, big difference: a non-smoker is a fairly self-explanatory creature, but an anti-smoker is often someone who takes all leave of their senses whenever the subject of tobacco crosses their line of sight, their auditory range, or their thought processes.

A prime example of just this phenomenon became evident this morning — in newspaper articles and talkback radio segments across Australia — as anti-smoker after anti-smoker sought to follow up “victory” in the High Court with ambit demands that the “logical next step” be taken — and for smoking to be banned in Australia altogether.

And those demands neatly highlight just how far, in the wrong direction, the whole public discussion — including the health debate — has travelled.

I think it’s reasonable to say that a large number — nay, a solid majority — of smokers genuinely regret ever having taken up the habit. I certainly do, and those who know me will have heard me say many times that the stupidest thing I ever did, aged 18 in 1990 — supposedly having cleared the great peer-pressured risk period of my secondary schooling years — was to buy a packet of cigarettes.

Yet by the same token, the adage “once a smoker, always a smoker” is very true: nicotine is the most addictive substance known to man, and it doesn’t take very many years for anyone who is or has been a regular smoker to embark on the first of what is often dozens of attempts to quit — only to relapse, for one reason or the other, after varying periods of time.

And most smokers enjoy smoking — if not all of the time, at least some of the time, even if such admissions appear to sit in awkward juxtaposition against any desire to quit or regret at ever having started — and again, I fit this category too.

So early in this piece — even if I write from the unsexy side of the argument as a smoker — I would like to think there is still a reasonable degree of balance on display here.

But on the headline question, it is precisely my views as a smoker that are most relevant: would cigarettes sold in a drab olive-green packet, plastered with pictures of diseased organs and health warnings, with a brand printed in the same small font as all other cigarette brands, motivate me to stop smoking?

No. Not at all. Not for a moment. And I will tell you why this over-hyped measure is likely to be utterly useless in reducing overall smoking rates in Australia as well.

The simplistic answer is that there is nothing at all new in the changes to cigarette packaging being forced on the tobacco industry; for starters, there have been Government Health Warnings on cigarette packets for decades. We grow immune to seeing them, and don’t bother reading them. Not all of us are stupid — we know the potential dangers and we continue to smoke. After a while, there’s no further impetus to continue to read all about it.

It’s the same with the pictures of diseased organs; they, too, have graced the packets cigarettes are sold in for many years. It is true that when these were initially introduced, an instant –albeit small — reduction in the overall smoking rate occurred. But any shock value such images carried very quickly wore off, and most smokers have become just as desensitised to them as they have to the printed warnings that accompany them.

And as for reducing all portions of a cigarette packet not devoted to health warnings and/or interesting pictures to a plain green colour, I can’t think of a more ridiculous or less propitious measure being introduced that would cause anyone to stop smoking.

The vast, overwhelming majority of smokers are brand loyal to a degree most marketers can only dream of; even after 20 years of the near-universal absence of any form of tobacco advertising in Australia, cigarette brands routinely fill six or seven of the 10 top-selling brands of product sold at retail level in Australia.

Those brands will still be identifiable to smokers and thus remain available for ease of purchase, courtesy of a template provision in the plain packaging legislation for the brand and variety of cigarettes to continue to be displayed on the packet itself.

Objectively, and in light of the points I have made so far, what is the counter-argument? There isn’t one. The whole exercise, to my mind, is mostly about the anti-smoking lobby being seen to be doing something as opposed to actually doing something that might achieve its aims.

And before anyone asks why, if plain packaging is so ineffective as a measure to cut smoking rates that the tobacco conglomerates went to the High Court to stop its introduction, I would make the simple observation that the case at law won by the federal government in the High Court this week was based on an argument over intellectual property, not on the merits or evils of smoking.

And anyone who thinks curious/rebellious teenagers won’t buy cigarettes just because they come in a green packet after 1 December is an imbecile. Pure and simple.

Part of the problem — and an element in the sheer farce of this latest do-gooder, nanny-state initiative — is that cigarettes and tobacco products generally remain legal in Australia, and consequently may be sold, purchased and used in this country on a lawful basis.

Already, as mentioned earlier, the anti-smoker lobby is already yelling for these products to be outlawed in the wake of a constitutional challenge to the validity of plain packaging laws being dismissed. But prohibition — as the US found so painfully, where alcohol was involved — simply creates underground black markets, and causes far more trouble in terms of law enforcement, public corruption and the restriction of supply than the original intention of the measure warrants.

Readers will note that I make no denial of the health risks associated with smoking; to do so is unnecessary.

But smokers have not been completely unforthcoming, either; and in doing so, often the concession of the smoker is rewarded simply with deception.

For example, in the early to mid 1990s — when so-called “sin taxes” were being applied to cigarettes — such taxes were “sold” to smokers as being the advance payment on the healthcare they may require later in life as a result of their addiction to cigarettes.

In the time I have been a smoker, I have seen the price of a packet of cigarettes rise from $2.20 to $17; most of this increase — even accounting for inflation — consists of the rising tax take on the basis the sin taxes were introduced.

Now, public health officials warn that smokers may be refused treatment in public facilities altogether, despite the tax dollars they have forked out on the basis they were paying for precisely that.

And that doesn’t take into account the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars many smokers pay in Medicare levies in a lifetime, either.

Could it be that smokers are simply a convenient source of consolidated revenue?

Smokers have been prepared — mostly with good humour — to leave their habit outside when it comes to offices, shopping centres, sporting venues, airports and aeroplanes, restaurants and (with some gripes) pubs and clubs. To name a few.

Now, they get chastised for smoking in the open air adjacent to such places.

And in a particularly odious trend I have noticed emerging of recent times, people who pass in the street — often in situations where prevailing conditions mean smoke has dissipated before it can even reach them — pretend to cough and retch and carry on at the mere sight of a cigarette. It is far more a reflection upon the noxious individuals who engage in this type of insidious and offensive behaviour than it will ever be upon someone smoking a cigarette.

The point is that a lot of what the anti-smoking lobby does now has reached the point at which it is actually counter-productive in cutting the rate of smoking in Australia.

And the easiest way to get a smoker to dig in and actively commit to continue smoking is to sermonise, assert that you know better, and to present as some morally superior being simply because you don’t smoke.

For all of these reasons — and there are others — selling plainly packaged tobacco products won’t make a jot of difference to the number of smokers in this country.

But I’d like to ask some really unfashionable questions as well:

Why is the FAT PERSON — often at far greater risk of health problems than a smoker, and potentially a greater burden on the health budget and for many years more — untaxed, unvilified, and unencumbered with the sort of shock-and-shame campaigns smokers are routinely hit with?

Why is the ALCOHOLIC — arguably an exponentially greater health risk than the smoker, as well as a source of domestic violence, shattered families, death to others on the roads and so forth — generally offered support and rehabilitation and endless medical treatment without the odium accorded the smoker, when the alcoholic is arguably the far greater public health risk?

Why is the GAMBLER — perhaps a mental health case rather than a cancer case, sure; but often a thief, a fraudster, a wrecker of families, and a poverty agent — not vilified, but supported by society?

And why is the ILLICIT DRUG USER the focus of so many rehabilitation programs, harm minimisation strategies, support services, the recipient of so much costly medical treatment and often the recipient of a smack on the wrist for breaking the law, without the vilification meted out to the smoker?

Readers, I ask these questions and raise all of the points in this article not to justify smoking — and certainly not to deny the links the habit has to ill-health — but merely to point out the disproportionate nature of the anti-smoking effort, the singling out of smokers whilst leaving other groups virtually undisturbed, and to show that at some point, people need to simply be allowed to make their own decisions and that there is a limit to the amount of nanny-state enforcement that will have any effect.

It is for all of these reasons that I can assure you that cigarettes sold in plain packaging — if, indeed, those regulations come into force in December as scheduled — will make no difference to the rate of smoking in Australia whatsoever.

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13 thoughts on “Plain Packaging: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Furphies

  1. Yale, your article is the product of a smoker regardless of the numerous times you mention of the health risks.

    I just have to respond so please do not take any of this personally, as I have not taken yours to heart.

    You know , after many years of me trying to get you to stop, that I am both a non-smoker and an anti-smoker and I believe the difference is that as a non-smoker ,I simply choose not to inhale toxic substances that will not only eventually kill me but will age me and make me smell awful…as an anti smoker I am intelligent enough to know all of the health risks and value my life too much to make such a stupid decision in the first place.
    I also do not want to put my family though watching my death – a probable and more than likely avoidably early death, because I loved my deadly habit (any habit) more than them.
    My strong position comes from being a family member having the first hand experience of seeing the deaths and illnesses of loved ones who have smoked, and yes, even my Dad who gave them up in 1959 was diagnosed with smoking related lung cancer last year.
    I have lost 2 Grandfathers and 2 Father-in-Laws to these WMDs.
    I would rather not lose you as well – and for this I make no apologies at all.

    Regarding the list of other addicts above, none of their habits spread to innocent parties as does the second hand smoke from a cigarette (marijuana included).
    I do not want to be forced to breathe these substances in order for a smoker to have his/her fix no matter where I am.
    It is not fair to catagorise a Fat Person in your list as there are many conditions that can lead to a person being obese – weight is a very complex issue.
    The fix is often not as simple as food intake vs exercise.

    Having lived with a smoker, I can tell you that it does break up families because a smoker will deny his family food and other essentials in order to obtain his/her drug when money may be short – just as any addict.

    I feel that the awful packaging may upset smokers more than you profess, otherwise why would there even be an issue.
    Of course no one wants to pull out a packet of cigarettes at a party or any other event and have the gangrene foot displayed or the tar being squeezed out of the lung of another victim…..it must make them feel foolish that they continue to light up.
    After all is said and done, it is an hypocracy that a Government (all Governments) who derive the enormous incomes from smokers, then spend millions and millions of $ to make TV ads proclaiming the risks and Hig Court costs to try and display that they care.
    Do they want people to stop smoking?
    No…..
    No more than they really want petrol consumption to decrease for a “greener world”..or Gamblers to stay away from the pokies.

    Alcoholics are often that way as it is a inherent gene that predisposes them to this addiction.

    I am not saying that any addiction is acceptable – but until the Government stops making any sort of money from the purchase of these substances, we will not see any real effort to make them go away.

    As opposed to the odd/occassional or social drink…that does not do harm and has been proven to be medically beneficial (Red Wine for your heart), no amount of smoking is any good for you. Every single cigarette is doing you harm.

    Would a smoker attend rehab? Would it be more good money after bad?

    As a smoker Yale, who admits to enjoying smoking, would you commit to the program?
    Or do we just give up on the addicted smokers and just concentrate on the young ones?

    School, pre-school , day care should start anti smoking lessons…..teach the children the simple truth…….and use the taxes gained from today’s smokers to implement and maintain these programs.

    The answer is very easy – DON’T START.

    • Big Sis, you have gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick entirely; I’m sorry, but the anti-smoking tangent you have gone down with this reply — irrespective of the validity of anything you say — completely misses the point.

      In the interests of concision, the key points of this article are:

      1. Plain packaging will be useless as a deterrent to smoking.
      2. Existing measures to curb smoking have now reached or passed the limit of their usefulness.
      3. The vilification of the smoker will achieve nothing but defiance (that one is simple human nature).
      4. From a public health perspective, other widespread issues exist that are equally or more serious which are routinely ignored or paid lip service to, as the smoker is the “easy” target.
      5. Whilst repeatedly acknowledging the health risks of tobacco smoke, the article was written as a discussion of the wider issue of tobacco abatement.

      Perhaps if you read it a little more carefully — rather than jumping at the opportunity to run off on an anti-smoking rant — you would see that this issue is rather more complex than taxing hell out of people, or somebody or something arrogating to themselves the right to yell STOP and expecting everyone to leap into action.

      And given what is presented in this article is written by a smoker, perhaps it might be of more use (if you wanted to) to think more in terms of what it might actually be telling you rather than simply belting the can.

      As for your comments on the other issues I raised, it sounds like you’re happy to deny or diminish their importance in order to take as clear a shot at the tobacco issue as possible.

      But remember, I have not sought ONCE in this article to downplay the health risks of smoking — quite the contrary.

      However — and irrespective of the causes, or exempting factors, or mitigating reasons, or whatever — when the epidemic of obesity-related diabetes, blindness, kidney failure, circulatory dysfunction, chronic cardiac disease and other goodies really hits in the western world within the next decade, the impact on public health and health systems is going to make smoking related disease look minor by comparison.

      And that’s not a justification, it’s a fact.

      Did you know — genetically predisposed or otherwise — that every kilo of fat in the human body requires a KILOMETRE of additional blood vessels to service it and keep it alive and “healthy?” I’ll bet you didn’t. It’s why surplus fat puts so much strain on the heart, and it’s one of the reasons why overweight people are vastly and disproportionately represented in heart attack statistics. That’s just one example of what I am alluding to here.

      Alcohol is a far greater problem in terms of its long-term social consequences and its impact on public health.

      World Health Organisation figures I saw some years ago show that the average regular smoker of 40 cigarettes per day (that’s right — of all regular smokers, the “average” smoker goes through 40 cigarettes a day — nearly double what I do) will shorten their life by five years as a result of their habit. The typical heavy drinker, however, consuming 50 or more standard drinks each week, will shorten their life by 25 years.

      Far from attempting to deflect attention from smoking, I am simply trying to make the point that there are other things that are just as bad, if not worse, that demand some of the attention that has disproportionately fallen on the smoker.

      And whilst problem gambling mightn’t be as bad to anyone without a problem as the other three are to anyone with a brain, it’s bad enough.

      Big Sis, you are wrong: and you are wrong because whilst nobody disputes that cigarettes kill people, you ignore completely the central tenet of my piece that this is a complex issue by presenting absolutely ridiculous scenarios that bear no semblance to reality. Such as:

      “I feel that the awful packaging may upset smokers more than you profess, otherwise why would there even be an issue.
      Of course no one wants to pull out a packet of cigarettes at a party or any other event and have the gangrene foot displayed or the tar being squeezed out of the lung of another victim…..it must make them feel foolish that they continue to light up.”

      Can you not understand that most smokers NEVER EVEN LOOK AT THESE PICTURES let alone stand around at gatherings exchanging embarrassed glances at each other? This is part of the point — we DON’T EVEN READ WHAT’S ON THE PACKET.

      This is what I am talking about — the measures have passed their usefulness.

      And I do see other respondents have jabbed at your remarks as well — including at least one non-smoker.

      Perhaps you could look at this from the perspective that I have just told you, in 1500 words, exactly what is wrong with the public health campaign as it stands, and why continuing down the same path will achieve nothing.

      But the one thing I agree with you completely on is the final line in your comment. Even so, this discussion centres on people to whom that splendid sentiment no longer applies, and it ought to centre on some of the other issues I have raised here as well.

      • Thank you Yale for your thoughts.
        Again, from the perspective of a smoker.
        You opened the can of worms about ‘smoking’ – and introduced other habits or conditions.

        If, as you state loudly in upper case, smokers don’t even look at the packaging, why are we even discussing this??

        Why does it bother you and why are you giving it oxygen??

        At least one measure has worked – if smokers need to indulge in the filthy habit in public, yes, I am sorry Yale, but it is filthy – it can be no closer than 4 metres from any building.

        As with anything new, it is a case of nothing ventured nothing gained and as many others in the community share my views, as time goes by, smoking (and by their choice ‘smokers’) will be further ostrasised in the community – and yes, that situation is the smoker’s choice.

        If you want to smoke it is your choice and rather than add insults to this rather robust discussion, perhaps you should respect that people are going to have different views.
        .
        I do hope that as it would appear that anyone who is a smoker now is more than likely a lost cause, further efforts to prevent even one more person taking up the habit must be applauded – and if it takes a tax to achieve it, then so be it.

        As smokers do, as alcoholics and the like, place an enormous and ever growing burden of the health system, the taxes placed on their ‘legal’ vices should be funnelled into preventative programs and propping up already overly extened services.

        Do parents want to set a good example to their children by either not smoking or taking the courageous move to stop?
        I would – and that is the backbone of being a parent – teach by example.(hopefully good ones).

        As for your point 3:
        The vilification of the smoker will achieve nothing but defiance (that one is simple human nature).
        There is another term for this statement and it is:
        “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

        • I didn’t “open the can of worms” as you put it — it has been one of the key issues in politics this week and, as I have a little time for once to put into this blog, I have addressed it.

          I’m not going to respond to any further of your comments on this issue. I note your latest reply concerns three of five dot-points I laid out in my original response, and that the other two have been ignored.

          If you want to have a reasoned discussion on this issue, then fine; if you simply want to engage in an anti-smoking (and anti-smoker) rant, then I don’t have anything further to add. It is precisely that type of approach that underpins why smoking abatement measures, increasingly, no longer work.

          Zealots don’t achieve much in any walk of life.

          As for the other aspects of this debate which you have at first sought to downplay (they detract from the anti-smoking lecture) or ignore outright, I will say it once more: NOBODY DENIES CIGARETTES ARE DANGEROUS.

          THERE ARE OTHER PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES THAT ARE LARGELY IGNORED THAT ARE AS BAD — OR WORSE – THAT RECEIVE COMPARATIVELY LITTLE ATTENTION.

          And we are discussing this because it has been a big issue in politics this week. Not because I particularly want it on the table. Judged from what is being written here, it’s easy to see why.

          You write: “If you want to smoke it is your choice and rather than add insults to this rather robust discussion, perhaps you should respect that people are going to have different views.”

          Take your own advice, Big Sis. You’re not interested in any other perspective on this issue (which AGAIN is not an apology for the tobacco industry, but an attempt to discuss public health issues around this and other important problems) than belting the “get the smoker” tin.

          In your comments I have seen that you suggest people are lost causes, that their rights to make choices should be taken away, and you even suggest — in response to a factual statement that vilifiying people will engender only defiance — that people are cutting their noses off despite their faces. Wow, people on the receiving end should be super grateful, and sit back and take it? Give me a break.

          Don’t accuse me of not listening to alternative viewpoints. I publish them here every week — including on this issue, where yours is not the only dissenting voice.

          But if you wish to pursue a position by which yours is the only position that is right — and then argue black and blue that every other word said is wrong, because yours is right — you have to expect a response.

          Having said that, however, I reiterate — I’m not going to respond to any more of your comments on this issue. I think everyone can see what your position is.

  2. I don’t smoke and never have. But when I look at the drugs consumed (legal and illegal) by society I conclude that after caffiene, tobacco is the least harmful.

    When was the last time you heard of a smoker beating up his kids, or wife because he’d had a few too many ciggies.

    When was the last time there was a robbery caused by a smoker desperate to pay for his next high.

    As a someone with libertarian leanings I’d to see all drugs legalized and treated like tobacco:
    – taxed
    – produced by lawful companies who’s profits can be taxed

    • Hi scottmuz, welcome — and thanks for your comments.

      I don’t know that I agree with legalising ALL drugs, but aside from that you reflect some of the thoughts behind my case.

      I hope you “stick around” and take part in discussions on this forum.

  3. Sorry Bid sis, but complete BS on your view of the other addicts.
    “Regarding the list of other addicts above, none of their habits spread to innocent parties as does the second hand smoke from a cigarette (marijuana included).”

    Do you want to tell that to the coppers and ambos trying to work out which bits belong to who after a drunk runs through some pedestrians? People who drink too much are a small percentage of the population and yet are responsible for some 40% of the road carnage.

    And while there are over 100,000 terminations in this nation each year I’ve never heard of a woman becoming pregnant after having one too many smokes.

    Children go without food while mum and dad spend the money on the pokies or booze. Ever heard of a child left in a hot car while mum has a quick smoke? No? How about while mum is in playing pokies?

    The bottom line is that you have the right to be a non smoker, you do not have the right to be an anti smoker. While you are busy taking Yales choice away, someone else might be deciding that you should be eating tofu and lentils every meal. If you want the power over the lives of others, then be prepared to have others have the power over how you live your life.

  4. Sorry all, I wasn’t clear in my meaning – in terms of causing total strangers possible dire health conditions, smoking is the only one where you can inflict that on another by simply breathing the smoke out in their direction. The breath of an alcoholic ( although gross) does not cause another person any harm…does that make it clearer?
    Of course there are other social implications of the other addictions as you have noted the car accidents and Saturday night Emergency Rooms filled with drunks. Please note that I didn’t condone any of the addictions – I just simply was not using them to let smoking off the hook.
    It is ridiculous to use one addiction to condone another….
    Scottmuz, a man does not have to be drunk to beat up his Wife or Children and most abusers have a pathological need to assert their power by doing this – and we do not know the cause of many petty thefts ( especially by Youth) it could be that they want the money to support their peer induced habit of smoking – and yes before you comment, drugs and alcohol as well.

    Finally, John B, if I had the power to take away Yale’s choice to save his life – I would have done so years ago.
    He will continue to smoke as will most others, hence my comment that we let them be and concentrate on educating the young and hope and pray that it becomes the norm that you do not smoke – or didn’t you bother to read that far into my comment?
    I am sure Yale would agree with this to try and prevent his children taking up the habit.
    Here it is for you reference:
    “Or do we just give up on the addicted smokers and just concentrate on the young ones?

    School, pre-school , day care should start anti smoking lessons…..teach the children the simple truth…….and use the taxes gained from today’s smokers to implement and maintain these programs.”

  5. Thanks BigSis. I’ve never smoked and rarely drink. If I never drank alcohol for the rest of my life it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest. Neither have do I consume any illegal drugs. So I think I don’t have any axe to grind on this issue.

    My drug of choice is caffiene which I consume via diet cola drinks.

    I start with the fact that people always will, and always have taken drugs. So lets stop thinking we can ever live in a drug free idyl. The issue that Yale’s article is questioning is why smoking should be the focus of such draconian restrictions.

    Many drugs can have serious health side affects, But people take them because they provide sensations and feelings that they like. We are never going to stop this. It is a deep part of the human condition to seek pleasure and relaxation in this way.

    Given that most people will take some sort of drugs. I think tobacco is one of the least harmful drugs. It makes no sense that society considers drinking as an acceptable form of drug taking while smoking is treated so harshly. Alcohol consumption is much more costly to society than smoking.

    My conclusion is that in western societies we’ve decided drinking is an acceptable vice while smoking is an evil. This is an arbitrary division of acceptable vices and un-acceptable vices. If we go back to the early 20th century in western society it was the other way around. Alcohol was considered to be a nasty vice while smoking was something any upright citizen (even church ministers) could partake in.

    I dislike inconsistency. I’d rather we treated all drugs (and other vices like gambling) strictly according to the harm they cause and the costs they put upon others. And tax them accordingly.

  6. Quite frankly, the day they outlaw cigarettes altogether, I will jump up and down and yell yippee at the top of my (non-smoke affected) lungs.

  7. Right on Misszoo……start with one and then tackle the rest.
    It wouldn’t bother me one little bit if they labelled alcohol with the same packaging as the cigarettes…and I do partake of the odd red wine and champas….
    Closing Pubs and Clubs by midnight would also be a good thing.
    I think the Police , Ambos and Hospital staff would all applaud this move.
    We could go on for ages about this and sorry again scottmuz, if you break down the chemicals in a cigarette and the number of people seeking medical care for smoking related issues, it is not the lesser of the evils, far from it in fact.
    Anyway, it appears that from an initial issue of plain packaging for cigarettes, the issue has broadened to other issues – as I think is the point.

  8. Now how did it go?

    When they came for the smokers I didn’t care because I didn’t smoke.
    When they came for the drinkers I didn’t care because I didn’t drink.
    .
    .
    .
    When they came for me I looked around and there was nobody left to help.

    Sorry Big Sis but may we all be preserved from people who want to rule our lives “for our own good”. I know you don’t intend it that way but your comment that “if I had the power to take away Yale’s choice to save his life – I would have done so years ago” is straight from Dictatorship 101. The Kymer Rouge did what they did because they believed it was for the “good of the people”, so did Stalin and so did Hitler.

    Would you care to try the reverse for while and live your life in a way that I see fit? I thought not. Here’s a novel concept, how about living your life as you want and allowing others to live thiers as they want to? To do anything else, well see the papragraph above for examples of people who think that way.

    And you won’t get sick from people blowing smoke in your direction. If you believe that then you’ve been sold the hype and not the facts.

    The fact is that the most carcinogenic compound known is 3-nitrobenzanthrone. This lovely little bugger scored more than 6 million mutations per nanomole. It’s closest rival and long thought to be the most carcinogenic compound is 1,8-dinitropyrene which scored 4.9 million.

    And where are these two compounds found? In tobacco obviously, that’s why the smoke is so bad for you. WRONG. Both substances are found, and only found in diesel exhaust. You should be far more scared of the semi belching black smoke as it goes past than any smoker you are near. Which is why I find the smoking ban in footpath coffee shops to be so silly. You’re three feet from the road and the most carcinogenic substances known to man and people worry about a smoker 10 feet away.

    But that’s why “Kick the smoker” is encouraged, it stops people from thinking about what might be making them sick and asking intelligent questions. People are so much easier to conrol if you just give them someone to hate. You see the thing that you aren’t told is that there is no difference between the lungs of a smoker and a non smoker in the city. Those nice pink ones that you see on TV are all from country people who lived away from the “Big Smoke”.

    But I guess it’s easier to light the torches and burn the witches than to stop and think for a change.

  9. And on a lighter note Bob Newhart did a piece on the introduction of tobacco to England.

    Funny as hell.

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