"The banality of good health"

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Too-infrequent Reason contributor A.S. Hamrah takes a look at several new books on cigarettes, and comes up with a conclusion sure to make the Surgeon General cough up a lung:

The principle lesson of "Smoke" may be that wherever tobacco has been smoked it has also been railed against, massively taxed and banned. At the same time as the kabuki-mono were wreaking havoc on Japanese mores, King James I was trying to stamp out the mania for tobacco in England, claiming that it made its users unfit servants of the state. (Smoking, he wrote in his 1604 tract "A Counterblaste to Tobacco," was "a custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.") To help them break their habit, James increased the tobacco tax 4,000 percent. That these earlier smoking restrictions never lasted may provide cold comfort to smokers already shivering outside while their drinks get warm inside, but the fact is that even when the punishment for smoking was execution, people from cultures across the globe continued to do it.

So light up for liberty, and let's all try to use the word "Counterblaste" more often in our daily lives. (Smoking-woman fetishists may also appreciate the pic of a ciggy-wielding Rita Hayworth attached to the article, which can be read in its entirety here.)

NEXT: Tom Frank's Intellectual Hole

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  1. “…even when the punishment for smoking was execution, people from cultures across the globe continued to do it.”

    Smell the free will.

  2. I quit smoking almost five years ago. My secret: marijuana. Let’s see THAT one endorsed by the surgeon general.

    I think it’s only a matter of when, not if, smokers will be banned from lighting up in their own homes. How long?

  3. “I drink and smoke. Some people don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Some people they don’t eat butter. No sugar. No lard. No salt. Because they want to live. Give up all that good stuff. Neckbones, pigtails…. You’re gonna feel like a damn fool layin out there in the hospital dying from nothing.” — Unknown

  4. Smacky,

    That ruled! Thanks for the smile!

  5. That’s it joe, keep up the pontificating…we’re all just mindless drones to our “massah” drug tobacco. Need I remind you that, even when the penalty for free speech, homosexuality and premarital sex was execution, people still did it. So, just keep on plugging that “we’re just slaves” mentality, it just demonstrates how the Left has lost touch with reality.

  6. Great, I just quit smoking; now I have to light up again?

  7. “…even when the punishment for smoking was execution, people from cultures across the globe continued to do it.”

    Not afterward.

  8. I quit smoking almost five years ago. My secret: marijuana.

    Geez… I took up smoking in college when I couldn’t afford MJ anymore – it might be time to switch back.

  9. Smoking… was “a custom lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse

    Well, other than the fact that it looks cool, this assessment is about spot on, face it.

    Not that I agree with sin taxes. Just sayin’.

  10. smacky,

    I think that quote is from Redd Foxx, and it’s commonly quoted as:

    “Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”

    Redd Foxx

  11. smacky,
    Thank you for providing me with my new email signature.

  12. “light up for liberty”

    Say what? While I do think people should be free to smoke, my support for their freedom to engage in this extremely disgusting habit is of the same caliber as my support for allowing people to hang themselves if they so choose, i.e, purely as a matter of political liberty, not something to give a high-five to. Individuals and employers who exercise their rights as private citizens to discriminate against nicotine addicts have precisely the right idea as far as I’m concerned: better that the tobaccoheads keep shivering out in the cold while getting their fixes than that they poison the air for the rest of us.

    King James’ assessment of the noxious weed was spot on; it was his prescription for dealing with it that made no sense.

  13. Ayn Randian: “even when the penalty for free speech… was execution, people still did it.”

    Hooked on Phonics?

  14. FDR made a show of smoking… what with that plastic extender.
    He knew smoking would keep his Social Security “Lock Box” unviolated at least until Al Gore, Jr.’s grandkids were 65.

    After all this anti-smoking propaganda in the US, the only salvation for Social Security will be for suicide bombing to become as fashionable as text messaging on cell phones.

  15. Great stuff Tim.

    Obligatory disclaimer for the new age:

    No I don’t smoke.

    Yes, you can smoke at my house. But not in my car.

    Burn ’em if ya got ’em Regards, TWC

  16. Mo, (and wellfellow),

    You’re welcome! I think it’s a hiliarious quote, too.

  17. Randian, your buttons are absurdly easy to push. Deeps breaths, young one.

    But wow, to type the way black folks talk – quite the deep thinker, aren’t you.

    Go ahead, call me a Nazi. You know you want to.

  18. But wow, to type the way black folks talk – quite the deep thinker, aren’t you.

    joe,

    Was this comment directed at me? I hope not, because you’d feel like a damn fool to know that it’s a direct quote from an audio recording. And no, i’m not going to paraphrase it in my “white speak” to make it more politically correct and a hell of a lot less funny. (Sorry, but some things can’t be watered down to complete suckiness the way some people with too much time on their hands would like it.) And no, I’m not sorry for being white and daring to quote a black man. (The audacity!) Deep breaths, young one.

  19. Absurdly easy to push? joe, I could (again!) start talking about why it’s better to have a free market in product X (especially development and housing) and you’d have an aneurysm. Regardless, did it ever occur to you people smoke because they like it and want to, instead of merely being puppets to their “addiction”?

  20. Smacky,

    Joe was addressing Ayn Randian’s use of “massah”. He wasn’t talking to you.

  21. Oh…..uh, sorry joe. I’m, uh, going to go get very embarassed now. I’ll talk to you guys later.

  22. And, yes, I’ll preemptively say it (before anyone else calls me on it): I feel like a damn fool right now.

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