Surgeon General's Warning: The Days of Smoking Outside the Home Are Numbered


Today Surgeon General Richard Carmona released a new report on the health hazards of secondhand smoke. It is the first S.G. report devoted to secondhand smoke in two decades, and it says pretty much what the last one did: This stuff is deadly and should be banned wherever politically feasible.

The basic scientific issues, which the report discusses and dismisses, also remain the same: Granted that tobacco smoke is dangerous in high enough doses, how high is high enough? Given the limitations of epidemiology and the difficulty of measuring low-level risks, that question probably will never be answered definitively. It is, in any case, ultimately irrelevant to the policy question: Granted that people want to avoid tobacco smoke, whether because of the immediate smell and discomfort or because they're worried about long-term health consequences, what should the government do about it? In tomorrow's USA Today, I'm scheduled to make the case (very briefly) for choice and diversity rather than a single, government-imposed solution–a case I also made here, here, and here, among other places. This time for sure…