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Joined: 07 Apr 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2007 12:52 am    Post subject: Three-Quarters through your book... Reply with quote

As I wrote earlier, I wanted to take some time from writing to reading. Doing so, carefully, I am about three-quarters done. I re-read some of the sections that dealt with the surgeon generals report from the sixties, and I am curious, and I guess it goes back to pasts posts: we have discussed the ways in which it would be nearly impossible to ban cigarettes today, and certainly, with prohibition of alcohol, in the thirties, one might say we even have history to remind us the failure that such an idea would be. However, has there been any serious measures to do so? I would think, and maybe I have not read to that point, that upon the release of this damning information (Surgeon Generals Reports), there would be action to outlaw it, which would be different than alcohol, in the terms of its health risks. Have we ever been close, or even broached, the topic that, like any other drug (such as cocaine etc.) there is just simply no need to keep it legal? It opes a pandora's box of questions and concerns if its done, but thats not my point...has it ever been proposed? And if not, what do you deem the casue of this? Has the tobacco companies really have such a grab on Congress that it dares not even think of it? I guess Im still thinking about my prior exhanges with you, and I know the history of prohibition of alcohol and what many would say is a failed war on drugs, but as many others on here have agreed with you that banning is not a sensible conclusion to the problem today, could it have been had the Surgeon General in the sixties had suggested it? Im looking forward to the end of the book, and more exchanges. Thank You.
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Allan Brandt

Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this post, and an important question. Although there has periodically been some discussion about banning cigarettes, in my judgment it has never been part of a serious debate among legislators and policy makers. As you suggest, following Prohibition there has been a lot of skepticism about bans. They are viewed as leading to black markets and other failures of compliance. By the middle of the twentieth century cigarettes had become such an important part of the national economy and the culture that there was never any serious discussion--even after the Surgeon General's Report--of a ban. Rather, the emphasis has been on education and behavior change.

As I argue in The Cigarette Century, the federal efforts at regulation and control of tobacco have been minimal, to say the least. This is the result of an industry with deep pockets and tremendously effective special interest lobbying. And, from a cultural point of view, many Americans believe that risks like the cigarette should remain within the realm of individual responsibility. My own position would be to demand greater accountability of an industry that produces a deadly product.

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Joined: 14 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2007 4:12 am    Post subject: Your Choice Reply with quote

I am amazed at how vigorously Lightsmoker is defending her right to keep smoking. I feel like she is kind of missing the point. It is not a question of whether or not you can keep smoking- it is a question of whether or not you will ever be able to stop. You don't have to convince me that you are gonna keep smoking. I would bet money that no regulation, tax hike, or law would stop you. A lot of people can't quit even if they want to.

I started smoking when I was a teenager, and although I kept it to weekends and parties at first, I was smoking about a half a pack a day after a little while. Last year I was up to a pack a day almost. I had only been smoking for about five years, and I decided to quit on New Years this year. It wasn't because of the cancer threat or all of that shit that is way out in the future, it was because I went to visit a friend who lives in a fifth floor walk-up apartment, and I was out of breath by the time I go to the top. I am not overweight, and I was an athlete all through highschool. The only thing I could blame it on was smoking. clearly this is only a personal experience, and i am not saying that smoking affects everyone that quickly. However, for your sake, I hope you find a reason to quit before the reason is lung cancer or a stroke or death. If you are so intent on killing yourself, I am sure there are quicker and less painless ways of doing it.
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Joined: 07 Apr 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject: Responses Reply with quote

I have just finished reading The Cigarette Century. It was indeed a journey of many things I had not known and grateful that I was able to take notice and reading the book.

A response to ex-smoker: (first and formost, I am a he, and not a she) but more importantly, I am not defendending my right to keep smoking. I dont think, anything that I have written, atleast intentionally, was a defense to it. I would also say that you would more than likely lose your bet if you did actually place - for I never tried to convince Mr. Brandt or anyone else here that I will keep smoking come hell or high water. Indeed, if packs did go up to 20 dollars, or they were not easily purchased (or like drugs, were not found unless I would have to go looking in back alleys) I would quit. By telling me that your money is on my never quitting shows an ignorance and lack of compassion that should be noticable by anyone. For indeed if there is hope for you (and others like you) there is hope for me as well.

I have mentioned Jacob Sullum on here before, and will do so again, breifly: while much of his research might well be outdated (or just wrong), in his book 'For Your Own Good' he writes at length of the critical point that many such Exsmoker misses: For better or worse, the American society has gone to great lengths to able to protect a persons right to do something, even if logic stands against it. My prior posts has indicated this, or atleast was trying to do. Even given the damning information we have about smoking and its consequences, the right to start, continue, or quit inlies in each of us, and arguing as I might from a smokers point of vire, should not be ashamed that such a right exists or is chosen by people. I do not think it is a defense of smoking, but rather a defense of a 'hate-filled agenda' or an 'utter lack of concern for smokers, as writers Florence King and Milton Friedman used to praise the work of Sullum. As Mr. Brandt has stated, in response to my questions, it is not the smoker so much that should be attacked (as Exsmoker has) but rather the tobacco industry themselves. The very post from Exsmoker, even given his (or her) background as a smoker, seems content to do exactly as the esteemed late Milton Friedman said: to attack and accuse the smoker more than anything else.

In completeing Mr. Brandts book and reflecting back at the posts, I do give credit to a job well done. I might have, Mr. Brandt, been a little too soon with some of my questions, as your writing on page 444-45 has gone along way in answering those questions. (and something ex-smoker should re-read). The post from his exposes such a hate that Sullum argued and even Mr. Brandt, in those pages, touched upon while personal responsibilty is essential and need not forgotten, it is not as simple and easy as that. Everyone from Congress to the Courts have negated the real debate in lieu of the heavy influence from the tobaco Industry.

Speaking as a smoker, I dont think, as Exsmoker insists, that the point is whether or not a smoker (me) will be able to stop or that I defend my "right" to smoke vigorously or not: it is, as Mr Brandt has argued here, and in his book, whether we will see that, while personal responsibility has a place at the table, he is not dining alone. And the unnecessary statements from Exsmoker (and criticized by Jabob Sullum) will only breed a hate and intolerance that seems to already exists.

Mine (and others) decision to smoke is not predicated on the faulty book by Sullum, nor will it be changed by the faulty (and hateful) writings of such people as Exsmoker. But rather, the decision will be made on individual choice on a legal product that will forever seem to remain so. The rights of smokers (as Milton Freidman and others have commented) need not stripped away just because of the arragoance of the few, and ex-smoker to beat. You may very well wish to throw stones through my glass houses, Sir, but let me remind you, your decision to smoke, and Im sure in other areas, makes your house no safer built than mine, and it will be a dialouge, rather than accusations and wagers (I would bet money...) that will lead to any change. Just because you have quit, does not entitle you to condemn as you have, not suggest you now can tell, with some short writings, who will and who will not.

Again, Mr. Brandt, it was a book well worth reading and I look forward to anything you might produce in the future.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am about halfway through the book and as a former history teacher and former smoker I've found it very engaging. The battle between individual rights and the role of public health to promote healthy behaviors is a tough dilema.

Ultimately, what has tipped the scales for me is discovering the great financial costs of medical care for sick and terminal smokers in a country with a pretty obvious healthcare crisis. It may be your right to smoke but collectively the diseases that smokers are treated for are paid for by the other members of their health insurance pool through increased premiums. Also, since smoking today is so concentrated among low income individuals who are on Medicaid or other public subsidy programs, taxpayers ultimately foot the bill for treating their costly smoking related chronic illnesses. Because all of us have to foot the bill in one way or another for the astronomical medical costs for sick and dying smokers I now support just about any method to reduce tobacco use.

I guess I am willing to support smoker's rights...unless I have to help pay for the high cost of their habit.....which is just about always!
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