Public Health

Smoke 'Em While You Can

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This week Germany's Federal Constitutional Court overturned two state smoking bans, in Berlin and Baden-Württemberg, ruling that they unfairly discriminated against small bars by allowing larger establishments to create separately ventilated smoking rooms. Although patrons of smaller bars will be allowed to smoke for a while, this decision ultimately will aid the anti-smoking cause, since both states are likely to remedy the constitutional defect in their laws by eliminating the exception, as opposed to lifting the smoking bans. Special smoking rooms do not conflict with the avowed motivation of these bans, protecting employees from secondhand smoke, but they do conflict with the goal of protecting smokers from themselves by encouraging them to quit.

In recent years, American anti-smoking activists and public health officials have started to openly embrace the latter goal, instead of pretending their only concern is innocent bystanders. Regarding a recent proposal to tighten restrictions on smoking in San Francisco, for example, the director of the city's Department of Public Health said, "Tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.—period. It's government's responsibility to protect people from obvious risks." Another handy rationale: The very sight of smokers is a public health hazard, since they encourage other people (especially the children!) to follow their bad example. The outdoor smoking ban that took effect last week in Loma Linda, California, like a similar ban in Calabasas, is intended to "reduce the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle" and "affirm and promote the family-friendly atmosphere of the City's public places."

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  1. The next revolution is inching closer and closer my friends. It’s gettin’ pert-near time to shoot the bastards (and I don’t even smoke cancer sticks; but I fear my precious cigars are next on the list).

  2. Tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.-period.

    Why don’t the ever call it expedited death? Are there people who are immortal but for tobacco exposure?

  3. they encourage other people (especially the children!) to follow their bad example

    I take great pleasure in smoking my cigars out in the open, where The Children? can see me and learn from me. Yes, I’m a role model.

  4. Tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the U.S.-period.

    I always thought that being born was the No. 1 cause of preventable death.

    Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!

  5. Are there people who are immortal but for tobacco exposure? – David

    Well, yeah, but there can only be one.

    Kevin

  6. “It’s government’s responsibility to protect people from obvious risks.” This enshrines the nanny-stater philosophy: People are too stupid to take care of themselves, even (or especially?) when the risk is obvious.

    Law is intended to “reduce the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle.” Because, you know, the government maintained “this product with kill you” label isn’t enough.

  7. “Why just Loma Linda? Why not every city?” Chestnut said. “We don’t want to go to work and smell like cigarettes.”

    Well, at least someone’s honest.

  8. “We don’t want to go to work and smell like cigarettes.”

    Fine. Would you rather smell like death? If so, keep sticking your nose in my business.

  9. It’s government’s responsibility to protect people from obvious risks.

    See, I would think the obvious risks – ones that are apparent to the person running the risk – are the very risks the government has no responsibility to protect us from. We can handle the obvious ones ourselves, thanks.

  10. J, I hate to tell you, but those cigars are cancer sticks too.

    Honestly, at this point who will associate tobacco smoking with a healthy lifestyle?

  11. California: Legalizing marijuana while outlawing tobacco.

  12. (…)“affirm and promote the family-friendly atmosphere of the City’s public places.”

    I got yer family-friendly atmosphere right here!

    *grabs crotch*

  13. “reduce the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle”

    Do those kids take a good look at the tobacco addicts huddled outside their workplace doors? Do they really think, wow, *I* want that healthy lifestyle? For the ones that do, can’t we encourage this evolutionary sorting mechanism? I mean, enforced eugenics is abhorrent, but the do-it-yourself kind… not so bad.

  14. California: Legalizing marijuana while outlawing tobacco.

    Hallucinagens for some, severe beatings for others!

    Wait… sorry about that unoriginal comment. A. Huxley beat me to it.

  15. The children don’t see smoking as a healthy lifestyle.

    They do, however, see it as being lots of fun. Which it is.

  16. There’s a libertarian victory in this somewhare, I know it.

  17. “”Tobacco remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death ..”

    Total smoking deaths 20th century: 71,000,000

    Total deaths derived from war, dictatorships, and other government actions 20th century: 145,000,000

    No. Government is the leading cause of preventable death.

  18. They do, however, see it as being lots of fun. Which it is.

    The nanny state slaps you on the face with a ruler if you have fun. Now back to the pile, children. That coal won’t shovel itself.

  19. Zeb:

    Oh I know, it was a facetious statement. But it is such a small risk compared to cigarettes. Really though, the argument is: Shouldn’t I be the one to judge such risks, and not government?

  20. Social engineering is social genocide. This is what’s happening folks.

    Adolf Hitler quotes:

    In relation to the political decontamination of our public life, the government will embark upon a systematic campaign to restore the nation’s moral and material health. The whole educational system, theater, film, literature, the press and broadcasting – all these will be used as a means to this end.
    Adolf Hitler quotes:

    All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it… Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.

    Then again……
    Nikita Khrushchev, quotes about Communism:

    We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.

  21. You shouldn’t assume that the decision will ultimately help the anti-smoking cause. It was difficult enough for the antis in Germany to get a ‘soft’ (allowing for ‘smoking rooms’) ban passed; it will be doubly difficult for them to get a full-blown zero tolerance ban passed.

  22. A person is responsible for their own health when they choose to light up a cigar or cigarette, but it is NOT their right to endanger the health of others with their Secondhand Smoke. In San Francisco next week smoking in common areas of apartment buildings will no longer be legal, so that certain unhealthy doomed bastards can’t take us down with them, who happen to live in the building. Woo-Hoo!!!! Thanks, Gavin Newsom and Board of Supes, for protecting our right to healthy clean air in apartment buildings!

  23. it is NOT their right to endanger the health of others with their Secondhand Smoke

    Other then the fact that Secondhand Smoke has never been proven to endanger anyone’s health, at least in the short-run. And in the long-run, the verdict hasn’t come back yet. I lived 20 years with a smoker, and I am in no worse health than any other person my age.

  24. After 46 years at a pack a day… I guess I should be dead… but I’ll be darned, I’m sitting here typing… and I have not killed anyone with my second hand smoke.. I pay an incredible amount of tax on every carton that I purchase.. so much, in fact, that I should have the priviledge to prop my feet up on the desk in W’s office and light up if I want to… and he probably does!

  25. Other then the fact that Secondhand Smoke has never been proven to endanger anyone’s health, at least in the short-run.

    The statement above reveals a bad case of denial.

    The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General
    June 27, 2006:

    http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/

    Children and Secondhand Smoke Exposure-Excerpts from The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2007:

    http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/smokeexposure/

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