As Rudolph Wheezed or, How Many Children Have Died Due to Santa's Second-Hand Smoke?

John Banzhaf, George Washington University law school prof, head of Action on Smoking and Health, and the ultimate publicity-seeking killjoy, gets it.

For children, even the bad children who deserve no presents, to live, Santa Claus's smoking must die. In an open email - a literary genre that is to serious public discussion what Love Is... is to comic strips - Banzhaf thanks Santa for finally switching to Nicorette.

Santa Claus will deliver toys this year without his pipe - and its smoke encircling his head like a wreath - because of growing concerns about his health, the health of Mrs. Claus and children everywhere, and the growing number of court orders and even laws prohibiting smoking in homes with children. 

This way, he said in an email to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), he will not be endangering the health of billions of children, many of whom have medical conditions which make them especially sensitive to secondhand tobacco smoke....

Santa's decision was announced by Prof. John Banzhaf of ASH who had written a letter to old Saint Nick. Instead of asking for presents, Banzhaf asked Santa to recognize that times have changed, and that what was once seen as a harmless habit is now a deadly danger to children. Santa agreed....

"Christmas is about children, and it is wonderful that Santa Claus is setting such a wonderful example in protecting them from tobacco smoke pollution. The most important and lasting gift any smoker can give a child is to give up smoking, or at least to stop smoking around his or her children," said Banzhaf. 

More here.

Reason's Jacob Sullum has taken issue with Banzhaf over the years, a fan of fast-food lawsuits and so much more that makes our lives just a little less fun. Read more here.

If you must watch watch one Christmas-related video this year, watch A Joe Biden (War on) Christmas, currently burning up the Youtubes like Santa's tobacco used to.

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  • ||

    I always say you can count on Reason.com to defend tobacco companies at every opportunity! All the better to crowd out things that matter. It's a self-parody.

  • Zeb||

    Which tobacco company are they defending here? I think they are defending The Night Before Christmas.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I can always count on statists like Ray Butlers to confuse defending the right of adults to do what they want with their bodies with shilling for big corporations. They never disappoint.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Drink!!

  • Scratch-Throat||

    Jeez what a douche bag.

  • Paul||

    I always say you can count on Reason.com to defend tobacco companies at every opportunity!

    You fucking retard. We're not defending tobacco companies, we're defending Santa Clause.

    Santa Clause grows his own you fuckwit.

  • ||

    How does Banzhaf know that Santa was smoking tobacco in that pipe? I would think it was an entirely different blend of pipeweed.

  • waffles||

    Yes, Cheech and Chong told me something to that effect. But I heard he's not delivering presents anymore cause of too much recession.

  • Scratch-Throat||

    Why do you sit there so strange?
    Is it because you are beautiful?
    You must think you are deranged
    Why do police guys beat on peace guys?

    You must think Santa Clause weird
    He has long hair and a beard
    Giving his presents for free
    Why do police guys mess with peace guys?

    Let's get Santa Clause 'cause;
    Santa Clause has a red suit
    He's a communist
    And a beard, and long hair
    Must be a pacifist
    What's in the pipe that he's smoking?

    Mister Clause sneaks in your home at night.
    He must be a dope fiend, to put you up tight
    Why do police guys beat on peace guys?

    - Arlo Guthrie

  • ||

    Santa knows full well that second hand tobacco smoke kills children instantly, but second hand marijuana smoke is progressive.

  • ||


    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

    He had a broad face and a little round belly,

    That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf

    Pure evil.

  • Michelle Obama||

    'Chubby and plump'?! What kind of example does that set for our children??!!

  • Jeffersonian||

    Surely Michelle will gun down this obese, fume-emitting Christianist fanatic when he tried to force his way into the White House, not unlike the heroic Diana Moon Gompers took out the outlaw Harrison Bergeron.

  • ||

    The Santa of the future will need to be as non-threatening to every possible person and therefore will be modeled after David Cross and/or Paul Scheer.

  • ||

    I can actually imagine that as the tag-line to some horribly cheesy (but still evil-creepy) 80's horror movie, with costumes from Killer Klownz from Outer Space.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I hate to say it, but I really think heart disease is going to take that fat fuck long before lung cancer can do its number on him.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    It's all that artery-clogging plum pudding.

  • EJM||

    That assumes that he wouldn't first be put before a firing squad.

  • ||

    If anyone is parodying themselves it's Banzhaf and his ilk. Does anyone outside the echo chamber take this idiot seriously?

  • Ragnar||

    Mr Banzhaf knows Santa is a fictional character, right?

  • John Banzhaf||

    What?? Mommy said Santa is real no matter what the other children at school say!

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    It's called magical thinking for a reason.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Because it makes Christmas miracles?
    Say it's because it makes Christmas miracles.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    This is almost as good as that horrendously insane e-mail or whatever that Dennis the menace Kucinich wrote about health care a while back.

  • ||

    Bill O'Reill rants and raves about some store having 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas' but he'll keep his stupid mouth shut about this. By the way, when did it become a left-wing conspiracy to say 'Happy Holidays'? I'm in my late thirties and have lived in the bible-belt my whole life. Even here it didn't become a controversy until a few years ago and I've seen and heard 'Happy Holidays' since I was a child. Just another smokescreen to avoid real serious issues I suppose.

  • kinnath||

    Happy Holidays was always "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" for lazy people.

  • sevo||

    "Happy Holidays was always "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" for lazy people."
    Or those who charge by the word.

  • ||

    Heh, heh, heh! I worked in the sign making business for 14 years. We definitely charged by the letter.

  • Scratch-Throat||

    " By the way, when did it become a left-wing conspiracy to say 'Happy Holidays'?"

    I blame Bing Crosby:

    Happy Holiday
    Happy holiday, happy holiday
    While the merry bells keep ringing
    May your ev'ry wish come true

    Happy holiday, happy holiday
    May the calendar keep bringing
    Happy holidays to you

    Come To Holiday Inn
    If you're burdened down with trouble
    If your nerves are wearing thin
    Park your load down the road
    And come to Holiday Inn

    If the traffic noise affects you
    Like a squeaky violin
    Kick your cares down the stairs
    And come to Holiday Inn

    If you can't find someone who
    Would set your heart a-whirl
    Take your car and motor to
    The home of boy meets girl

    If you're laid-up with a breakdown
    Throw away your vitamin
    Don't get worse, grab your nurse
    And come to Holiday Inn

  • Wesley||

    This morning, Fox and Friends had a Christmas promo that ended with "Happy Holidays from Fox News Channel". The hosts went immediately to some Jesuit Priest who said we had already lost the War on Christmas. Of course they have: Fox News has joined the Axis of Grinchness.

  • Paul||

    I can't speak for happy holidays specifically, but I became concerned when all the public schools started calling the annual Christmas party the "Winter Festival" and Thanksgiving the "Harvest Party". Not in a "Union of Concerned Journalists or Scientists" kind of concerned, but mildly annoyed.

    Oh, and I take offense at your use of the word "smokescreen". People get cancer from secondhand smokescreens, you know.

  • Rhywun||

    "Harvest Party"?! You're kidding.

  • Ska||

    I also heard Santa won't hire union elves.

  • creech||

    Yeah, and a suspicious number of his toys have Wal-mart tags on them, with "made in China" stickers!. Santa's exploiting mom and pop and taking ur jerbs.

  • ||

    FUCKING POLEBACKS! tyrk-R-jerbs!

  • ||

    Any time somebody starts talking about the dangers of second-hand smoke, ask them to name 3 people who have died from it.

  • ||

    Not me, that's for sure. My mother was smoking while giving birth to me.

  • Paul||

    Yours too? Mine was smoking and drinking.

  • pancakes||

    I died from it!

  • Special Sauce||

    Sorry pancakes, that was crack. And it was first hand crack smoke at that.

  • ||

    If by "crack" you mean salted, sweet-cream, butter.

  • Mr FIFY||

    The Brits airbrushed Churchill's cigar from photos on display, so this is just more of that kind of stupid fucking liberal thought process.

  • ||

    If they ever try that on Groucho Marx I swear I'll smack somebody.

  • ||

    They did the same thing to the picture of the artist on the back of "good Night Moon" since that photo induced millions of pre-schoolers to start sneaking cigs between snack time and nap time. If the Man with the Yellow Hat did not have a gun, they would have taken away his pipe and bottle of wine. Thanks god for the Second Amendmnet.

  • Brett L||

    At some point 1984 became an instructions manual rather than a work of dystopian fiction.

  • Ministry of Information||

    Santa never has smoked.

    If you see a picture of Santa smoking it is a fake and you should report it to the ministy.

  • ||

    Well, given that St. Nicholas lived in Asia Minor in the fourth century, and that tobacco wasn't introduced to the Old World until after 1492, this isn't so far-fetched.

  • ||

    Bullshit. St. Nicholas became an immortal and since he's still living has surely sampled every drug known to this planet. You don't stay married to the same broad for eternity and not get high from time to time.

  • ||

    Well, there were other things to smoke in the Old World even back then.....

  • Wind Rider||

    In a discussion of rights, I have to wonder what in the fuck is the major malfunction of people who think that their sole purpose for being on this planet for a short period of time is to tell others that they've never met, will never meet, and didn't ask their goddamned opinions what the hell to do and how to live their own lives. At least politicians have the fig leaf of claiming to have been asked, via election, to do so, despite a system and structure that they consistently seem to ignore, intentionally designed to keep such idiocy to a minimum.

    Banzhaf, and his ilk, are nothing more than puritanical, attention and rent seeking whores, who deserve scorn instead of serious consideration. They are a pox upon us all.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    + 1,000,000

  • ||

    + a partridge in a pear tree.

  • ||

    I'm surprised that they're not going after Santa's cache of dirty coal.

  • ||

    A few years back, they made Santa attach stickers announcing that "This Stocking-Coal Is Not Recommended For Combustion. Burning it is naughty, and will result in even more Stocking-Coal next year. Plus, it makes Gaia cry."

    The stickers are meeting with limited success though, so congress is already considering a bill to tax Santa's coal imports.

  • ||

    I love the Pall Mall ad. I smoked those babies for 14 years. A pack and a half a day. Great Latin lessons too! In Hoc Signo Vinces (Constantine never knew how commecial his conversion would become), Per Aspera Ad Astra.

    I preferred the good old days, when the government gave us service men and women ration cards so we could buy 4 cartons of cigarettes for $1.89/per carton! As well as 4 bottles of liquor per month. Most sold on the German black market.

  • Wind Rider||

    I'm guessing a lot of my position comes from being a contrarian versus any defined political leaning, and although ration cards were not a factor, buying cigarettes by the carton for $3 bucks is a fond memory. When the 'politically correct' tide turned, it was damned annoying. Being stationed overseas, every time one of the 'commercial breaks' came up on Armed Forces Radio and Televison, which were all basically public service type announcements, for the ones pushing to quit smoking, I'd automatically light up. At $3/carton, negligible economic impact.

    The most infuriating move came when the geniuses running the Commissary service figured out that even if the prices on the shelf did reflect the actual cost of the product minus any locally imposed taxes or fees, they were under no obligation to treat tobacco like everything else - and jacked up the prices to slightly under market prices off base, with the windfall going to subsidized 'Morale, Welfare, and Recreation' coffers - places like the Base Clubs, establishments which were becoming money pits, serving cheap alcohol in the middle of the last place a service person wanted to become involved in an 'alcohol related incident' - on-base.

    This attitude continued, with resulting behaviors including taking along several cartons of Lucky Strikes on my last desert deployment, for cred points and for trade purposes. On that trip, I was one of the few that did not have to resort to buying the one brand the temp BX's stocked, Benson and Hedges, which are absolutely foul creations. The unfiltered Lucky's had enough cachet to make them valuable commodities for just about any brand I happened to encounter.

    Likewise, after being promoted to PFC (private fucking civilian), the contrarian streak dominates. Instead of paying more to satisfy the do-gooder's wishes, I've adjusted again, and not in the manner they're hoping. Instead of paying 50 bucks, or often more for even 'generic' or 'off-brand' pre-packaged, I've taken advantage of a minor oversight of the nannies - and have switched to Prince Albert, which, by being cleverly marketted nowdays as a 'pipe' tobacco, falls at the lower end of the rapish taxation rates - even with the 2000% increase on the Class that includes hand rolling blends.

    And that would be the ONLY thing that I could ever think of commending assholes such as Henry Waxman and Eliot Spitzer for - because, to my surprise, Prince Albert actually turns out to be one of the most flavorful and tasty tobacco blends I've ever smoked. At this point, the machine-made products taste like absolute crap to me. Even if all the taxes were voided tomorrow, I'd probably stick with it, for the taste, if nothing else. The economics isn't too horrendous, either. For about $24 bucks, plus the cost of papers, I can get about 300 (or more) smokes out of one of the 14oz cans. Plus, having to actually take the effort to stop, get out a paper, and roll it up, it's cut down on the overall rate that I smoke, with much more satisfaction, so one can will last a month or more.

    That's an unintended consequence of their stupid buffoonery that I'm actually happy with.

  • pancakes||

    +hand rolled cigarette mistaken for a doobie by the pittsburgh police

  • ||

    I remember talking to a young German guy on a train. I offered him a cigarette. He said he hated American cigarettes because they tasted like perfume. He rolled Drum. Which I used to do when I had to pay for my own pre-Army. German cigarettes were foul.

  • Wind Rider||

    Yeah, Drum is some stanky shit.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of their buffoonery as it relates to my cigar smoking is that I don't use local cigar shops. By going mail-order, I save a ton of money.

    I try to buy local when I can, but for the amount I save on cigars, I just can't/won't. Hard on the local shopowner, I know.

  • ||

    Wehn I lived in Miami I went right to the source. la Gloria Cubana, and got them pretty cheap. They sold out to a conglomerate, and I moved to VA, so I agree, the best way is on line. Though my Miami connections do come through now and then with certain foreign made brands that may or may not be rolled on the thighs of Cuban virgins.

  • ||

    Do you know what this reminds me of? The attempt to change the word "manhole" to "personhole".

    I can't help but think that there are bigger issues for the anti-smoking brigade to go after.

  • ||

    ""Do you know what this reminds me of? The attempt to change the word "manhole" to "personhole".""

    I'm waiting for them to change the word woman, it's 3/5s of it is man.

  • ||

    "it's" and "it is" was brought to you by the department of redundency department.

  • ||

    Do you know what this reminds me of? The attempt to change the word "manhole" to "personhole".

    I can't help but think that there are bigger issues for the anti-smoking brigade to go after.

  • Nathan Dunn||

    I have contacted Santa; here is my report:


    Santa Claus Switches to an Electronic Pipe

    When Henry Livingston encountered Santa Claus by chance one Christmas Eve, he recorded the event in immortal verse. As he reported, "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath." The "jolly old elf" has, over the years, been spotted enjoying not only a pipe, but also various brands of cigarettes.
    However, this year, thanks to a letter from Professor John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health, Mr. Claus has decided to dampen his pipe forever.
    Taking a cue from millions of smokers world-wide, Mr. Claus has gone digital. Instead of lighting tobacco on fire, he will now be vaporizing a liquid made of propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavor.
    Electronic cigarettes, cigars, and pipes are all similar in design: a battery is connected to a heating element - called an atomizer - which vaporizes the liquid component. Some models are automatically activated - either by sound or pressure - when the user inhales, others require the user to manually push a button.
    Using his new electronic pipe will have numerous benefits for Mr. Claus. "While I'll still be inhaling soot from all of those chimneys, I will no longer be compounding the problem with the 4000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke." Mr. Claus said by email. "Mrs. Claus is ecstatic - this is going to cut her laundry detergent and fabric freshener budget tenfold." He added, "When I'm flying through cold night winds at 3,604 miles per second, it's hard to keep a pipe lit. With the electronic pipe, I have no such worry." He did, however, comment that for those yearly trips he prefers a model with a push-button to cut down on activations due to wind noise.

  • ||

    I always say you can count on commenters to run interfearance for Reason.com at every opportunity! This stuff practically writes itself! lol

  • Tekov Yahoser||

    The answer, according to none other than NCI, is "ZERO". I first e-mailed them asking to provide me with the names of 3 people who have died from SHS. They said due to privacy concerns the could not. THEN (this is just the BEST) I e-mailed asking to name 1, just 1, FAMOUS person who died from SHS. Their reply? They could not supply a name of one famous person who has died from SHS. Here is there weasly reply...


    Thank you for your follow-up e-mail to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) regarding deaths attributable to secondhand smoke exposure. In your e-mail, you asked for the name of one famous individual who died from secondhand smoke. Please note the NCI does not collect mortality data, and cannot provide the names of any patients, including public figures and celebrities. However, we can offer information that you may find useful.

    The cause of death reported on death certificates is indicative of the disease from which a patient died, not the cause of the disease. As such, secondhand smoke is not listed as a cause of death. Rather, secondhand smoke causes diseases that may lead to death.

    So lemme get this straight, if someone died from cancer and was once in a room with someone who smoked a cig, THAT PERSON died from SHS? Wow, how freakin scientific...

  • Tekov Yahoser||

    Crap... typos again!

  • Tekov Yahoser||

    Not one. Zero. Nada. Not 1. Not 10. Not 658,789. but ZERO...Nobody has been proven to have died specifically from SHS. What a bunch of maroons.

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