Tobacco

Why Smoking Is Worse Than Terrorism

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This ad was produced for the New Zealand chapter of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) by Doyle Dane Bernbach. As Copyranter notes, the idea is not even original: An anti-smoking ad published in a Dubai newspaper on the 2007 anniversary of 9/11 used the same tasteless concept. The copy in the ASH ad reads:

Terrorism-related deaths since 2001: 11,337 • Tobacco-related deaths since 2001: 30,000,000

This juxtaposition should not be dismissed as mere provocation. For "public health" true believers,  the fact that smokers who get lung cancer or emphysema are not murdered but instead die as a result of voluntarily assumed risks does not mean the government has less of a duty to prevent their deaths. As public health theorist Dan Beauchamp puts it, "The historic dream of public health that preventable death and disability ought to be minimized is a dream of social justice," and realizing it means rejecting "the ultimately arbitrary distinction between voluntary and involuntary hazards" as well as "the radical individualism inherent in the market model."

Properly speaking, the collectivist calculus of public health should take into account years of life lost, and the people who died in the the 9/11 attacks were, on average, younger than people who die from smoking-related diseases. But since the latter group is so much larger, it accounts for many more total years of life lost. By this logic, smoking is a much bigger outrage than terrorism, and governments should spend much more money and effort to prevent it than they do to prevent terrorism. Although I am sympathetic to the argument that our government devotes too many resources to stopping low-probability terrorist attacks, I tend to think any amount of taxpayer money spent on saving people from themselves is too much. But that's because I am still subject to what Beauchamp disapprovingly describes as "the powerful sway market-justice holds over our imagination, granting fundamental freedom to all individuals to be left alone."  

[via Wonkette]

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  1. Now I want a smoke.

  2. I thought of factory smokestacks, not the WTC. There was a kind of sense to that.

  3. Oh crap, I didn’t notice those were cigarettes until highnumber pointed it out.

    Dammit, it’s too almost-weekend for me to read properly…

  4. highnumber

    Ditto. But with the 2001 usage in the copy, that changes.

  5. I want to smoke a cigarette AND slam a plane into the nearest city-county health department.

  6. Public Health advocates give sincere utilitarians a bad name, at least as I, a self-avowed utilitarian, see it.

    Just because I believe in the greatest good for the greatest number doesn’t imply that I claim to know what everyone else thinks is good for themselves.

  7. Jamie Kelly,

    We will be in contact soon.

    ENHANC3 Y0uR T3STiCLE SizE WiTH…

  8. “It is quality rather than quantity that matters.”
    – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

  9. Smoking keeps me from committing suicide, so there is a net gain in years.

  10. I quit smoking a year and a half ago, and this is the first time in months that I’ve wanted to light up. Thanks, Jacob.

    Ass.

  11. Smoking keeps me from committing suicide, so there is a net gain in years.

    Vonnegut once said, “Smoking is the only socially acceptable form of suicide.” Today, not so much.

    Here he is in Rolling Stone:

    I ask [Vonnegut] whether he worries that cigarettes are killing him. “Oh, yes,” he answers, in what is clearly a set-piece gag. “I’ve been smoking Pall Mall unfiltered cigarettes since I was twelve or fourteen. So I’m going to sue the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, who manufactured them. And do you know why?” “Lung cancer?” I offer.

    “No. No. Because I’m eighty-three years old. The lying bastards! On the package Brown & Williamson promised to kill me. Instead, their cigarettes didn’t work. Now I’m forced to suffer leaders with names like Bush and Dick and, up until recently, ‘Colon.'”

  12. “The historic dream of public health that preventable death and disability ought to be minimized is a dream of social justice,” and realizing it means rejecting “the ultimately arbitrary distinction between voluntary and involuntary hazards” as well as “the radical individualism inherent in the market model.”

    But that’s because I am still subject to what Beauchamp disapprovingly describes as “the powerful sway market-justice holds over our imagination, granting fundamental freedom to all individuals to be left alone.”

    How do I properly respond to public health theorist Dan Beauchamp without cussing?

    Here,
    here, and here
    That’s how.

  13. Your life is public property . . .

  14. Isn’t cigarette smoke more white than that? Maybe that is why Taktix? didn’t notice those were cigarettes.

  15. Maybe they’re Chinese cigs.

  16. Isn’t cigarette smoke more white than that? Maybe that is why Taktix? didn’t notice those were cigarettes.

    I don’t see color…

  17. People would be fine thinking and being responsible for themselves if their mental and visual environments were not polluted by companies who only have one aim. To make money by selling goods that are unhealthy, kill you or basically bad. For no other reason than to make extraordinary profit! This is the american dream isn’t it?

  18. Brent Dickens –
    Thank you for being here. You’ve really made my afternoon.

  19. That ad is almost as good as Al Gore’s “smokestacks = hurricanes” book cover.
    http://www.climatecrisis.net/

  20. I haven’t smoked in three years, but every time I see a story like this I want to light up again.

    I wonder how many more years it will be until they start arresting people for not exercising…

  21. To make money by selling goods that are unhealthy, kill you or basically bad. For no other reason than to make extraordinary profit! This is the american dream isn’t it?

    Damn Hostess. Damn them to HELL!

  22. what Beauchamp disapprovingly describes as “the powerful sway market-justice holds over our imagination, granting fundamental freedom to all individuals to be left alone.”

    So I’m imagining there’s a fundamental freedom to be left alone? Instead, there’s a fundamental freedom to be pestered by every know-it-all busybody who thinks they’re a better judge of what’s appropriate for me than I am? So if I decide it’s appropriate for Dan Beauchamp to have 2 enemas a day to relieve him of the build-up of shit that has obviously impacted his thinking, who is he to argue with me? He has no fundamental freedom to be left alone.

  23. I’d love to take the fuckers behind this ad campaign to the top of a 100-story skyscraper and force them to apologize to the victims of 9/11 for this contemptible piece of shit.
    And if the next words out of their mouths were not exactly “We’re sorry,” I’d shove them off. Maybe even make them wear a microphone so I could record the whole thing.

  24. Brent Dickens (Cider),
    Go stick your dick in side your mother.

  25. What if the number of gay men beaten to death by skinhead gangs since 2001 was say 3,000, I doubt anyone, much less the nannystaters would be argueing that smoking was a bigger problem then skinhead gangs killing gay men.

    You cannot morally compare deaths from bad luck or the individual’s actions, like deaths from smoking, to violent deaths. All of these comparisons are absurd. It is not the government’s duty to save me from my choices. It is, however, the governments duty to at best as possible within the constraints of the Constitution keep its citizens safe from violent murder. So it doesn’t matter if a million people a year die from smoking, the numer is different than the number of victims of terrorism or any other form of murder.

  26. Brent Dickens (Cider)

    I like it in the can!

  27. I quit smoking cigarettes in 1977, concerned about the health threat to my irreplaceable person.

    Then about five years ago I started smoking a pipe, which can be fully enjoyed without inhaling.

    Now I can enjoy posing a deadly health threat to others with relatively minimal danger to myself. Plus, even regular pipe-smoking costs a minute fraction of what cigarettes do.

    It’s a win-win situation!

  28. Ironically, Al-Qaeda has the same tyrannical views on smoking. One of the reasons that the Sunnis in Anbar and Diyala province began to take up arms against them ala the Awakening Movement was that Al-Qaeda wasn’t letting them smoke. I guess the irony was lost on the folks on a public health crusade of their own.

  29. Then about five years ago I started smoking a pipe,

    Great, now even smokers hate you.

  30. Preventable death? Ludicrous concept. No such thing. Death is delayable, but not preventable.

  31. This whole thing has gotten bat crazy nuts.

    If you ever even walked past a liquor store that sold Marlboros in your life and then died of throat cancer in your 80’s the cancer came from smoking.

    If that image is to evoke the WTC tragedy, it was as effective as using a Burma Shave billboard.

  32. I thought of factory smokestacks, not the WTC.

    Yeah, I thought of the cover of Edith Efron’s The Apocalyptics.

  33. To make money by selling goods that are unhealthy, kill you or basically bad.

    I had no idea.

  34. My doctor told me I have to start smoking. He says I’m not getting enough tar.

  35. J sub D, my feeling exactly. How can someone say “..granting fundamental freedom to all individuals to be left alone” so disapprovingly? He seems to equate allowing someone smoke unimpeded with letting someone commit suicide or choke to death.

  36. “The historic dream of public health that preventable death and disability ought to be minimized is a dream of social justice,” and realizing it means rejecting “the ultimately arbitrary distinction between voluntary and involuntary hazards” as well as “the radical individualism inherent in the market model.”

    In the history of the last one hundred or so years, the totalitarian mindset has been the greatest hazard to the public health of all.

  37. You should stop arguing logic and morality with the anti-smoking crowd. It’ll never work. Instead, appeal to their other passions.

    For instance, for every smoker you force the government to save, that’s just one more carbon footprint that’s going to cause the Earth to spontaneously combust, right? 😉

  38. People would be fine thinking and being responsible for themselves if their mental and visual environments were not polluted by companies who only have one aim. To make money by selling goods that are unhealthy, kill you or basically bad. For no other reason than to make extraordinary profit! This is the american dream isn’t it?

    This is the 21st century version of the Devil made me do it.

    Just because an ‘evil’ corporation puts a package of Twinkies in a 7/11 doesn’t mean I have to pull off the highway, pull into the parking lot, go in, pay of a package and eat it.

    I could just keep driving. I know it’s a radical concept, but I have a rational mind and free will.

  39. Yeah, I thought of the cover of Edith Efron’s The Apocalyptics.

    I was thinking of Pink Floyd’s Animals.

  40. I have a rational mind and free will.

    Nah, you’re imagining those too.

  41. “The historic dream nightmare for free citizens … of rejecting “the ultimately arbitrary distinction between voluntary and involuntary hazards” as well as “the radical individualism inherent in the market model.”

    Fixed.

    Tacos mmm… | February 29, 2008, 4:01pm | #
    Preventable death? Ludicrous concept. No such thing. Death is delayable, but not preventable.

    Studies have shown (ref: see below) that for people who, at some time in their life travel through a birth canal, even once, the result 100% of the time is termination of life (i.e.death). Actual time spent in the activity does not appear to modify the final result. (Group size in the billions, margin of error +/-0% ref below.)

    Prior to the end, people who indulged in this activity reported that:
    a) they indulged in this activity at a very young age, and only once
    b) they felt a great “rush” during the experience
    c) they inhaled only after the activity was complete, and have been inhaling and exhaling uncontrollably ever since
    d) they rarely volunteered for the experience

    The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the data provided is that there is a clear connection between this activity and and almost instantaneous dependence on a substance that must be sought outside the human body, and after a number of years of dependence on this substance, death results. (note: the number of years appears to be somewhat dependent on certain other factors, but in developed societies, the average is in the area of 75 yrs for males, slightly higher for females)

    Added observation: Researchers have been unable to identify a single individual who has been able to break the cycle of inhaling and exhaling (either voluntarily or involuntarily) without experiencing severe withdrawl symptoms – most often the first symptom is death.

    Reference here:

  42. I quit smoking a few weeks ago and let me TELL YOU EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE! I REALLY LIKE NOT SMOKING YOU FUCKERS!!

  43. I’m on 3.5 weeks of not smoking here, fingers crossed.

    For me, after the first week it’s more of impulse control than anything else.

    Unfortunately, I feel that I may have to actually start dieting and exercise if I am to outlive death.

  44. How can someone say “..granting fundamental freedom to all individuals to be left alone” so disapprovingly?

    To be provocative.

    What, you thought the nets invented trolling?

  45. No, really, their livelihoods depend on it. I’ve read a good deal of Beauchamp, much of it stuff you’d agree with (largely unpopular stuff).

  46. The more I see these public-health nuts gain power, the more I wonder if it would be such a terrible thing to die 20 years early.

  47. The more I see these public-health nuts gain power, the more I wonder if it would be such a terrible thing to die 20 years early.

    Dead, at age 52.
    Alive and productive, at age 64.

    Here’s hoping that Beauchamp joins the Fixx club. Not really, I wish death on very few, but it would be justice of sorts.

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