25th March 08:09
Anti-smokers REVEALED (tobacco punch)
The anti-smoking movement is just as judgmental and moralistic as other
groups who would infringe on individual autonomy - only far less candid. .
the same kinds of people who accuse tobacco companies of misleading the
American public rely on quite a bit of dishonesty to advance their own
And moral turpitude, unlike third-hand smoke, really is noxious.
Evan Gahr, Washington Times Op-Ed, 09/10/2001
Ultimately, smokers and nonsmokers should return to condition in which
tolerance and caring matter more than simple smoking status. In the excerpt
below I introduce my examination of the group that seeks to divide us into
antagonistic camps and provide the first part of some examples of the types
of people that group attracts or has created.
To start out, let's differentiate between a simple nonsmoker and an
Nonsmokers do not smoke and may find tobacco smoke at least mildly offensive
at times. For most nonsmokers the smell of burning tobacco is generally
shunted into the background of their consciousness unless it is noticed in
an unusual location, in an unusual quantity, or at a particular time when
such a smell interferes with the nonsmoker's enjoyment of other smells or
tastes. For most Antismokers even a slight amount of smoke in the air,
even if detectable only by eye and not by nose, becomes instantly attention
getting and triggers a response of annoyance, avoidance, and perhaps even
anger or fear.
Nonsmokers will often avoid sitting directly next to an active smoker while
eating, and will sometimes concern themselves with whether a healthy friend
or relative smokes or not. Antismokers will almost always avoid sitting
anywhere near a smoker at any time whether that smoker is upwind, downwind,
or out in an open field, though that rule is sometimes broken when a more
activist Antismoker will deliberately locate themselves so as to have an
excuse to confront the offending smoker. As for friends and relatives,
Antismokers will find a person's smoking status to be paramount in terms of
the relationship, either choosing only to associate with nonsmokers
exclusively, or at a minimum to constantly show discomfort, disapproval,
and quite often an exaggerated and highly vocalized concern for the health
of any smokers who have somehow moved within their circle of intimacy.
Nonsmokers will generally not think twice about whether an otherwise clean
hotel room or taxicab might have been previously occupied by a smoker.
Antismokers will often concern themselves with having public accommodations
that make special recognition of their nonsmoking status and are "clean"
from any possible taint of past smoking no matter how undetectable such
taint might be. They will push managements and politicians to guarantee
such accommodations as an important and fundamental right.
Ordinary nonsmokers generally ignore smoking as a "social issue" unless it
seriously impacts them or their loved ones personally in a negative way.
Antismokers will generally rank the importance of smoking very high as a
social concern and will often allow a politician's smoking status or stands
on such things as tobacco taxes and smoking bans to have an important
influence on their voting decisions. Whereas the nonsmoker usually sees
smoking as a somewhat negative activity that lies in the general realm of
personal freedom and choice, the Antismoker will see it as a highly negative
activity with a social impact so serious that it lies beyond the parameters
of personal freedoms.
While no good statistics exist as to how many people fall into these
categories it's pretty clear to most folks in their forties or above that
the proportion of Antismokers has grown drastically since the 1970s.
Throughout my own high school and college years I had some degree of
personal contact at the acquaintance level with perhaps several thousand
people. As a "sensitive smoker", one who had as a child been very much an
antismoker myself, I was very aware of people's reactions to smoking. Of
the thousands of non-smokers I knew in my educational career I can not think
of more than a half dozen or so who would today be called Antismokers. Of
the three who come most clearly to mind, one was an obsessively neat and
orderly individual, one was highly nervous and played constantly with "worry
beads", and one actually had occasionally severe asthmatic reactions when
exposed to unusual levels of smoke in the air.
If it were possible to get actual statistics, I believe they would show that
perhaps as little as one percent or less of the general population would
have fit the profile of an Antismoker in past decades. Before the 1970s the
concern was so rare that it was difficult to convince colleges to even go so
far as to consider offering a notation of "smoking or non-smoking" on
dormitory roommate preference cards: students were far more concerned about
other aspects of life with a roommate than about whether they smoked or not.
Today the figure is probably as much as ten times that size. It would not
be unreasonable to estimate that even five to ten percent of the adult
population today could be called or would consider themselves to be
Antismokers. The reason for this growth will become apparent as we look at
the different types of people who make up this "bloc" of Antismokers.
While my breakdown could well be argued with, I believe the major groupings
of those who make up what is commonly called the Antismoking Crusade is best
broken down into nine distinct categories. These categories are largely
based upon the motivations of the individuals within them and of course many
of them overlap others to some extent. For clarity I'll label these
groupings as follows:
The Obsessive Compulsives
The Truly Affected
The Ex-Smokers and The Victims
They are listed roughly in order of what I perceive to be their likely
sizes, with the "Innocents" making up the largest proportion population wise
and the "Greedy" making up the smallest. Of course the impact of each group
upon the effectiveness of the Crusade itself is independent of such
consideration: The Greedy, although small in number, perhaps just in the
range of twenty to forty thousand individuals, have had a major impact;
while The Innocents, with perhaps as many as five or ten million members,
have had far less influence except when an appeal to and a magnification of
their size is used as the basis of an effort by one of the other groups.
1) The Innocents
The voices of "Innocent" Antismokers are sometimes quite strident but are
also sometimes little louder than the average nonsmoker when it comes to
distaste for tobacco smoke. These are people who would ordinarily have been
simply nonsmokers throughout their lives: people who might object to
extremely smoky conditions or smoke in particular cir***stances, but who
would otherwise have gone through life accepting smoking and smokers as part
and parcel of the world around them without much further concern or thought.
However, due to the efforts of those in the groups examined later, and
fueled by massive media campaigns proclaiming dire dangers from even casual
exposures to wisps of tobacco smoke, this group has come to believe that
their health is seriously endangered by those who smoke around them.
Despite this, they will generally not preach to smokers about their habit
and will generally not seek confrontations with smokers although they will
sometimes alter routine activities in ways either large or small in order to
minimize their exposure to tobacco smoke.
Sometimes those decisions will have little impact on their lives or those of
smokers. The Innocent Antismoker will simply choose to sit away from
smokers and will dutifully ask for nonsmoking accommodations in hotels and
restaurants. If such accommodations are not available many of those in
this category will more or less diffidently accept what's available without
much complaint and with only a small degree of health concern if any at all.
Sometimes they will favor a particular restaurant or entertainment venue
because it does not allow smoking, but generally the quality of the food or
fun will take primacy. While they've accepted the tone of the media
proclamations about the dangers of secondary tobacco smoke they generally
temper that acceptance with the realistic belief that moderate or occasional
exposure is unlikely to have any real effect on their lives or health.
While they may prefer a love relationship with one who does not smoke, they
will usually look beyond simple smoking status in deciding such things and
will accept a moderate smoker as a partner with only a minimum of
reservation while putting only a small amount of pressure upon the partner
to give up their "nasty habit." The hundred and one other aspects of life
integration with a significant other will take proper precedence
When it comes time to vote, most of The Innocent will generally feel that a
candidate's stand on smoking is somewhat important, but not nearly as
important as their stand on other social issues, and will rarely refuse to
vote for someone simply because the person is a smoker. On the other hand
they'll usually vote for such things as increased taxes on smokers or
increased levels of restrictions on smoking: it's a rare population that
will refuse to take the opportunity of voting in its own favor if given even
the slightest moral justification for doing so, and most Innocents are no
exception. In this regard they are often joined by the more neutral masses
of ordinary nonsmokers.
One of the initial planned victories on the part of the early Antismoking
activists in groups such as ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) and GASP
(Group Against Smokers' Pollution) was to promote the idea that public
facilities should not merely provide a nonsmoking space for those requesting
such, but should publicly confront people upon entering a premise with the
demand that they identify themselves as smoker or nonsmoker. By constantly
encouraging ordinary nonsmokers to force an identification of themselves as
such the Antismokers created a constant barrage of situations where
nonsmokers would feel separated from smokers as a distinctly important
group. This separation would reinforce the message being broadcast by the
Crusaders that smokers were different and needed to be seen and treated
differently than "normal" people.
As the largest group of Antismokers, The Innocents are responsible for much
of the Crusade's raw political power as a loose voting bloc of perhaps as
much as five or even ten percent of the voting population. Even though very
few would qualify as single-issue voters, they are respected by politicians
and businesses. The size of this group is magnified by those more active
in the Crusade as the term "Antismoker" is redefined and blurred with
"nonsmoker." Antismoking political activists always seek to portray the 70%
or so of the adult population that doesn't smoke as being politically aware
of and strongly opposed to smoking at every level. While such a claim is
patently ridiculous, the mere existence of the comparatively large though
inactive group of Innocent Antismokers serves as a foundation upon which the
smaller groups can magnify the perception of their size and support and
build power in their Crusade.
2) The Obsessive Compulsives
It has been estimated that up to 5% of the adult American population suffers
from at least some form of non-substance-related obsessive behavior that is
beyond their ability to control. In its mildest form it can consist of
needs as innocent as always going back to double check a locked door at
least once, or giving one's hands a second wash before eating despite having
washed them quite sufficiently the first time. In its more severe forms an
individual can feel forced to spend most of their waking hours double
checking, triple checking, or even checking dozens of times to see that
certain actions have been correctly performed or that certain conditions
have been adequately met.
One common manifestation of obsessive-compulsive behavior takes the form of
cleaning rituals. The individual fears contamination of some type, usually
caused by invisible germs, and the only way to be free of that feeling of
dirtiness is by repeated and extreme cleansing despite having religiously
avoided contact with offending objects and substances in the first place.
When others discover such erratic behavior the individual is subjected to
the humiliation of being told they have a "mental disorder" that "requires
The Antismoking media campaign has played right into this type of neurosis
by suggesting that casual and normal levels of contact with wisps of tobacco
smoke in public places will result not only in contamination but in a slow
and horrible death for those exposed. While 20 years ago an individual who
was afraid to go into a restaurant for fear of "breathing someone else's
smoke" would have been considered a prime candidate for counseling and
therapy, today that individual finds not only a wellspring of support among
many of the more respected members of both the general and the medical
communities, but the complete reassurance that their concern, no matter how
exaggerated, is not only normal but outright commendable.
The individual consumed with obsessive fears of contamination by germs was
always plagued by the fact that they couldn't really SEE the germs. they
just had to take it on faith that they existed and that their persons were
being contaminated. The same person fearing tobacco smoke can not only see
the offending substance, but they can SMELL it, all the way down to
concentrations not much exceeding one part in a trillion. When this
exposure combines with physical symptoms (often psychologically based in
this subgroup) the perceived need to protect oneself from such exposure can
be extreme and provoke intense activity.
One of the more extreme Antismokers in the public eye is a Mr. James
Repace. He works as a full-time "Second-Hand Smoke Consultant" and
generally refers to his credential as being a "Health Physicist" although he
holds no doctoral degree to the best of my knowledge. He and others are now
trying to whip this segment of the population into an even greater frenzy of
fear by talking about "invisible contamination" from levels of tobacco smoke
too minute to see or smell. Some of these extremists have even postulated
that a dangerous threat exists from the "toxic particles" that might burrow
into the clothing of someone who was near a smoker and then leap out at
someone else at a later time!
Ordinarily the energy of an obsessive-compulsive personality is directed
into such rituals as washing, praying, door locking and such. In the case
of those whose neurosis is centered on tobacco smoke the energy can be
channeled directly into political action. Writing dozens of letters a week
to papers and politicians, going to City Council and Town Hall meetings
anywhere within a hundred miles or more of one's home, volunteering for
Antismoking political candidates and such are all behaviors that can relieve
the stress brought on by a compulsion to fight this invader and contaminator
of one's vital space.
If indeed 5% of the population suffers from some degree of general
obsessive-compulsive disorder, and if just one tenth of them suffer it
severely, and just one tenth of THOSE sufferers focus on tobacco smoke as
the prime contaminant they must devote their lives to avoiding, cleansing,
and fighting, we are dealing with one 2,000th of over 300 million
Americans. That equates to a pool of over 150,000 psychologically disturbed
individuals who are devoting their lives to this cause.
No WONDER the voice of the Antismoker seems so loud to politicians and
business owners. One obsessive compulsive, being encouraged in their
neurosis rather than being treated for it, can have the political voice of a
thousand more normal citizens. As in the example cited above of whipping up
fears of "invisible particles", the courting of this mentally troubled
segment of the population has become a prime objective of some activist
Crusaders in recent years.
While the majority of Antismokers are probably not obsessive-compulsive in
the clinical sense, it would seem certain that their numbers are
disproportionately represented among those who are most active. The
visibility of the "threat" combined with its constant repetition and
exaggeration in the media form a basis that's hard to resist for this type
of personality, particularly when the compulsive behavior itself is actually
applauded rather than being derided by those who become aware of it.
3) The Truly Affected
There does exist a small segment of the overall population which claims
strong negative physical reactions to even moderate amounts of tobacco
smoke. This group has two subcategories: those with true physical
reactions, and those whose physical reactions are largely or entirely
On a practical level it is difficult to distinguish these two since true
psychosomatic reactions can produce physical effects that are almost
impossible to distinguish from purely physiological reactions. Doctors have
falsely told many people that they are allergic to tobacco smoke on the
basis of skin patch or skin scratch tests that show them to be allergic to
unburned tobacco. Except for a few elements (nicotine would be one example)
there are very few elements present in a tobacco leaf that don't undergo
enormous change in the process of being burned.
However, it is of extreme importance to note that the person experiencing a
reaction will often have no way of knowing themselves what the true cause is
and will usually strongly resent any implication that the reaction is based
within the psych rather than the body. When someone feels they can't
breathe, they don't CARE whether it's psychological or physical. they simply
want to be able to breathe!
It seems safe to say that those who are Truly Affected have grown from
perhaps a mere fraction of a percent in years past to probably several
actual percent of the adult population today. This growth may all be
psychosomatically based, but as noted above, the physical effects as
manifested are no less real, scary, or dangerous. It would require a large
amount of media attention to the true nature of the "risks" of secondary
smoke and a large scale relaxing of general concerns about it before this
number is likely to go down and these people relieved of the constant burden
that has grown to haunt their lives.
Perhaps more tragic is the effect of those Truly Affected or
Obsessive-Compulsive Antismokers upon their children.
Imagine the earliest memories of such a child as it is snatched frantically
from the arms of a smoking relative while being warned of the "deadly
poisons" in the air. Such children are likely to be armed with inhalers
from an early age and conditioned to use them immediately upon the sight of
anyone smoking. Lives that might otherwise have been happy and normal will
have become constant battles with and escapes from people who might
otherwise have been friends.
4) The Bereaved
When a loved one dies, we all ask "Why?" Such a question is a normal and
almost unavoidable part of the bereavement process and loved ones seem
always to find some comfort in having an answer other than the vagaries of
fate. Being able to say "Uncle Bob died from the dust he inhaled in the
factory." or "Aunt Thelma got cancer from smoking." somehow reassures
those who are left that they themselves are not soon slated for the Grim
Reaper since they don't share that particular characteristic with the
deceased. There are also some who draw comfort from feeling that a death
was due to a "punishment" for some undesirable aspect of the dead one's
life or who simply find that their worldview is more complete when a cause
can be ascribed to every misfortune.
Since smoking is almost universally accepted as a prime cause of lung
cancer, it seems natural to assume that such a death, when occurring in a
smoker, was due to the smoking. Doctors in some states have even been
instructed to always list the cause of death for a smoker as "smoking" if
the death meets certain requirements (such as being from lung cancer!) Of
course scientifically no such assumption can be made with certitude: it's
always quite possible (though perhaps unlikely) that the individual would
have contracted lung cancer even if they had never smoked.
The Bereaved are a particularly powerful group in representing the
Antismoking Lobby at public hearings because to argue with them in any way
is instantly seen as cruel and callous behavior, similar to attacking
someone in a wheelchair or kicking a small helpless animal. Rational
arguments go unlistened to when posed in the face of the evident grief of
one who has lost someone close to them.
4) The Controllers
While sometimes not as obvious in their efforts as other subgroups of
Antismokers, the Controllers are just as persistent. We've all known
people who, often due to background insecurities of their own, feel a need
to exert more than the normal level of control over the people near them and
the world around them. This often becomes most self evident in relationships
with lovers or spouses and forms the basis for many unhappy marriages.
If a Controller is a nonsmoker and is either bothered by smoke or has been
convinced by the media that smoke is a threat to them, they are likely to
make the lives of smokers around them miserable. Controllers who fit in
neither category may simply pick up on the golden opportunity for extra
control that has been presented to them and use it to their advantage!
If it's a love relationship, the Controller may confiscate cigarettes or
sniff their partner's breath for telltale signs of smoking. If the partner
is "guilty" the Controller will demand submission in the form of promises to
quit smoking, promises to "undergo treatment", or willingness to submit to
some form of punishment for their misdeed. If the cycle repeats itself
endlessly, it's all the more to the Controller's satisfaction since it gives
them repeated power to portray the superior role in relation to the weak and
The final satisfaction for those Controllers who take their efforts beyond
interactions in their personal sphere lies in the creation of laws and
regulations embodying the Controller's desires. Once their "will" has been
made "the law" they can then go out into public with impunity and demand
that others bend to their dictums or suffer repercussions such as fines or
even possible jail time. Instead of being viewed as bullies, they will now
be viewed as defenders of the children, or as champions of the right to
In some sections of California Controllers have been actively sought after
as "smoking cops" to travel undercover from bar to bar and report those
establishments where a bartender or customer tries to sneak a smoke! In New
York state funds were set to go out to bands of Antismokers who would go up
to smokers in public places and harass them with "information" and
"persuasion" to quit their evil habit. At the last minute Governor Pataki
rightly decided that such tactics were not to be countenanced in America.
(NY Post 05/19/01)
5) The Idealists
A strong conviction that something must be done
is the parent of many bad measures.
-- Daniel Webster
This group is most heavily represented among those in the medical profession
and those who work or volunteer with non-profit groups that have extensive
contact with the victims of diseases believed to be caused by smoking.
Having to face such suffering on a daily basis makes it inevitable that such
people will have a tendency to demonize what they see as its cause.
To start off my discussion of this group, let me first make clear that there
is indeed a subgroup of truly faultless Idealists. These are the people
who, believing that smoking causes disease and suffering, seek in quiet and
constructive ways to help people who want to quit smoking or persuade people
not to take it up in the first place. Many of this subgroup would generally
not be considered Antismokers at all if one were to take my initial
definitions as a guide.
However, many of The Idealists go beyond such simple goals and tactics. The
desire to eliminate the perceived suffering due to smoking is obviously
good, and if the means of such elimination involves activities that might be
less than good, that can be seen as an acceptable price to pay. Many of
the Idealists involved in the Antismoking Crusade are aware that the case
against secondary smoke is certainly by no means as airtight or as
scientifically compelling as that against smoking itself, but are also
aware of the political power of smoking bans and emotional appeals
concerning the " pink, tender lungs of children " in reducing or
eliminating smoking itself.
Idealists will generally be quick to put the label of "Big Tobacco front"
upon any group or individual who opposes the notion of the deadliness of
secondary smoke and they will often accept almost any study or poll that
supports the Crusade without the normal level of criticism or questioning.
Secure in the belief that they are ultimately right in their cause, they are
willing to be sloppy about the means used to achieve the noble end. They
don't even have to feel too guilty about it: sometimes the path to greater
research grants lies simply in choosing the proper questions to pursue and
ignoring those that might give "undesirable" answers.
Many of The Idealists are medical doctors and theoretically adherents to
the Hippocratic Oath. In the case of their activities on behalf of the
Antismoking Crusade some of them should step back and evaluate whether they
can truly be certain that they "first do no harm."
6) The Moralists
When the Puritan righteous among us get their hands on the levers of the
state, the property and liberty of all of us are likely soon to be at
risk. -- Robert H. Nelson
Nowadays The Moralists are a small segment of the Crusade. Back in the days
of Lucy Page Gaston and the Anti-Cigarette League (ca. 1910) when the sale
of cigarettes was actually completely outlawed in over a dozen states this
group was in fashion, but today such moral appeals pack little punch.
Still, the cries about the corruption and addiction of innocent children
have shown a lot of power, particularly since President Clinton's focus
groups showed that concentration on this issue would boost his electoral
opportunities despite his own cigar smoking. Plus the imagery of cigarette
smoking as an activity appropriate only to the depraved and disreputable
still plucks some emotional chords among those who have had deeply religious
or morally conservative upbringing.
Smoker In 1999 Repace Do***ents
A related but less sharply defined group within the Crusade is comprised of
people who are sometimes called the Aunties or the Nannies. Lucy Page
Gaston was the archetypal Auntie: a prissy, unhappy, somewhat older person
who looks out at the world, sees others having a good time, and jumps in to
interfere since obviously they MUST be doing something wrong if they're
The last great upsurge of The Moralists came not in America, but in Germany
during the late 1930s and early 40s. Hitler was unique and somewhat
notorious among world leaders of the time for his Antismoking views and
instituted many of the same sorts of bans and limitations on smoking that we
have seen in America today. Laws forbidding cigarette sales to pregnant
women and ****s, smoking bans on public transit, in public buildings, and
the Reichstag, and even rallies of German Youth Groups pledging themselves
to a nonsmoking lifestyle were all part of the plan to preserve the purity
of Aryan blood and harass the undesirables.
A disturbing similarity can today be seen in some City Council testimonies
where a modern day Antismoker uses a smoking devil figure (See Figure 2)
to illustrate smokers in his "research papers". Compare that cartoon to the
also illustrated smoking Semitic type figures used as part of the 1930s
German Antismoking propaganda campaign.
Smokers in 1940s German Antismoking Poster
Perhaps the most common Moralists today come from the pool of The
Ex-Smokers, seemingly "born-again" and anxious to expunge the guilt of their
smoky days. In addition many Moralists blend with the ranks of the
Controllers, seeking to impose their belief system upon others and condemn
(punish) those who will not conform. Moralists can be drawn from almost any
of the Antismoker subcategories with the possible exception of the last. The
7) The Greedy
The truly Greedy are few in number but have become great in power in recent
years. The Bereaved and The Victims have been besieged by legal
entrepreneurs convincing them that they should exact a revenge measured in
dollars and cents against the makers of the products they blame. Lawyers
have spent huge amounts of time and effort in courts fighting to ensure that
their payments are not limited to a paltry few thousand dollars an hour in
cases against Big Tobacco..
The Greedy are not limited to the ranks of the legal profession though.
Researchers and Non-Profit groups have scrambled in a wild spurt of growth
beyond anything else in the world's economy to get slices of the
Antismoking money pie. These funds have grown from a few single millions a
year to hundreds or even thousands of millions a year in the span of a
single decade. The sight of the various Antismoking activist groups and
individuals jostling to get in on it is almost comical at times. After all
the lawsuits against tobacco companies, we are now seeing a new wave of
suits: Antismokers suing each other in claims that they have not gotten
their fair share of the kill!
A hallmark of The Greedy, common far beyond Antismoking circles, is that
greed is a vice never satisfied. The more it is pandered to the greater it
becomes. Earlier this year an AP story revealed that over 800 million
dollars a year was now being provided JUST in states' monies for Antismoking
work and media. Despite this phenomenal amount, the Antismoking Crusades'
PR people produced a front-page bold print headline article in USA Today a
few weeks later boldly proclaiming that "Antismoking Funding (is) Scarce!"
The thirst of The Greedy is as unquenchable as their moral standards are
nonexistent. If by some chance they actually succeeded in eliminating
smoking from the face of the earth there would be virtually no time lapse
before they sank their fangs into Big Meat, Big Auto, or whatever
supposedly idealistic cause was out there that would promise them Big Money
and/or Big Power.
All nine groups work in concert when it comes to applying various
psychological tools and tricks in their campaign to rid the world of
smoking. Large nationwide or even worldwide conferences spend tens of
millions of dollars in bringing representatives of the various Crusading
groups and organizations together to plan out future goals and activities.
An August 2000 conference held in Chicago brought together over 4,500
Crusaders to hear the American Cancer Society's report on its monitoring of
tobacco activity in 196 countries. They then planned out a global war
against smoking that would be coordinated by the World Health Organization
and reach years into the future.
SPECIAL NOTE TO ANTI'S - PLEASE PLACE THE NUMBER OF YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE
IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF YOUR POSTINGS