[FoRK] Welcome to the American Totality. You've been warned.

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Mon Feb 4 12:37:23 PST 2008

The closest analogue to prohibiting smoking are laws regulating drugs. 
Except for a mild issue of overuse of antibiotics which could directly 
affect others eventually, the entire rest of the theory of drug laws is 
about A) weakly protecting you from your stupid self by making you pay 
for an expensive and often superfluous gatekeeper, B) decreasing risk on 
the rest of the public because you had some bad effect to a drug. I'm 
not just talking about pot, extasy, etc., but antibiotics, pain killers, 
heart medicine, ...

The drug laws are protected by all kinds of things, not the least of 
which is the money guaranteed to practitioners, pharmacies, and drug 
companies by the current scheme. I'll note that over the counter drugs 
are not covered by any insurance now days, meaning that A) even most 
consumers don't want 'good' / expensive drugs to be over the counter and 
B) there is an automatic price disparity between prescription and over 
the counter, whether the manufacturer wants to go along or not. This was 
made very clear by some recent reclassifications of drugs that should 
never have been prescription to begin with. (Claritin, et al.)

Somehow, for historical and economic reasons I guess, those differing 
logic systems don't meet and are not reconciled. The drug thing can't go 
on forever. Pretty soon, a la "Holy Fire", we'll all be able to whip up 
anything from open source information with our personal nano factories.


Ian Andrew Bell wrote:
> On 4-Feb-08, at 9:17 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>> The *very same* logic that justifies prohibition of smoking supports 
>> this sort of thing. And my argument is supported by the fact that I 
>> predicted THIS VERY THING many times over the years in discussing 
>> smoking prohibition. If the theory is predictive, it must have some 
>> validity... :-P ;-)
> Oh, here we go..
> The logic that is in practise used to justify the prohibition of 
> smoking has much more to do with "Second Hand Smoke". If you choose to 
> eat 4 steaks a day and turn your arteries into porcelain, that is 
> highly unlikely to affect the person sitting next to you, whereas your 
> smoke and nicotine and tar concoction wafts through the air into the 
> lungs of people around you every time you light up.
> In California, New York, and most of Canada it has been public health 
> departments, worker safety administrations, and insurance companies 
> that have blazed the trail toward the prohibition of smoking based on 
> real safety concerns. There is very limited legislation on the books 
> (New York, Ireland and the UK being notable exceptions) to date and 
> even where there has been it has always followed the path carved out 
> earlier by public health and work safety.
> The logic around Smoking is reasonably unique and not at all 
> allegorical to Heart Disease, which is a lifestyle consideration and 
> therefore not subject to legislation.
> -Ian.
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Stephen D. Williams 703-371-9362C 703-995-0407Fax 94043 AIM: sdw

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