Lip Service


New at Reason: Jacob Sullum chews on the logic of keeping accurate information about smokeless tobacco secret from the public.

NEXT: Abooooout Face!

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  1. Many people like to think they’re using government to help them act out their latent bullying tendencies. And it doesn’t help one bit when folks engaging in a vice are submissive about it, but that’s the nature of vices.
    Another of life’s many Catches-22.
    For example I just showed Jacob’s article to a work mate who dips, and he seemed to immediately melt with guilt about his habit. Otherwise he has strong self esteem.

  2. This is more of the rightness of the nanny state. They know what is best for us and are annoyed by our impertinent questioning. It is religious not scientific – can’t let the facts get in the way of a good moral crusade.

    Abit OT but see the transcript of a talk by Michael Crighton (author) on the religion of environmentalism – very similar.

  3. I didn’t know Crichton is such a REASONable guy:
    “The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.”

    I’ve often felt that even H&R posters are too eager to take some newly discovered truth and run with it, apply it.
    H&R will be performing a great service to mankind if it will be just a “refuge for truth.”

  4. Clearly, the government should be releasing the information that shows snuff is 45% safer if it contains methamphetamine and heroin, in addition to tobacco.

  5. Smokers need to realize that switching to smokeless tobacco isn’t healthy, because you still absort the nicotine.

    Now do the responsible thing, and get on the Patch!


  6. If the Surgeon General lied to Congress, I wonder if his act technically falls under:

    18 USC sec. 1001


    in any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States

    * knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact,

    * or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations,

    * or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry,

    shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

  7. I’m on my way to hoist the Surgeon General, or somebody, on his/her own petard–thanks Don.
    Have pitchfork in left hand, torch in right. Eye peeled for petards.

  8. This is just like those public-health guardians who SAY they want to reduce the rates of teenage pregnancy, yet oppose contraception, abortion AND sex education; for all their anti-pregnancy talk it’s clear their real goal is to ensure that teenagers who have sex are punished for it.

    Sounds like the same thing with tobacco; instead of reducing the risks they mainly want tobacco users to suffer. Anybody want to bet that if a tobacco company produces a cigarette that is 100% risk free, these public-health watchdogs will still oppose it?

  9. Great column by Mr. Sullum.

  10. I wish our government would realize that credibility matters. When I saw Surgeon General Richard Carmona on CNN this morning saying that the public was safe and that there was no danger from consuming US beef, I remembered this article and basically disregarded what he said.

    Maybe we have little to fear from mad cow (probably) but since I can’t trust the government to tell the truth about smokeless tobacco (among other things) I guess I might err on the side of caution.

  11. Don’t you get it?


    Have I convinced you yet?

  12. Try it the other way: “Government says smoking no riskier than snuff.”

    If any newspaper published it that way, any bets on how long it would take for the CDC to change their mind?

    Or they might try to have it both ways: snuff is more dangerous than cigarettes, and, simultaneously, cigarettes are more dangerous than snuff! If they space the press releases at least an hour apart, my guess is nobody will notice the contradiction.

  13. In Seattle, its law that if you have a pickup truck, you must carry a litter bag, at least that is what the cop cited me for when he pulled me over for no “other” apparent reason. So, if you spit, make it mandatory to carry a DOT approved spitoon and require that said spitoon can only be emptied at a Gov’t approved waste facility.

    On the other hand, can’t we just make the gov’t go away!?!

  14. But what about all the spitting? Ewwww . . .

  15. If the government believed its lies about secondhand smoke, it would be encouraging smokeless tobacco. Unless, of course, they thought the public was gullible enough to believe similar stories about secondhand spit.

  16. At least second-hand spit isn’t going to go floating off into the air, bringing cancer.

  17. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 04:31:47
    Ethics is not necessarily the handmaiden of theology.

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