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

Luis Villa <luis at tieguy.org> on Mon Feb 4 15:45:07 PST 2008

On Feb 4, 2008 6:31 PM, Ian Andrew Bell <hello at ianbell.com> wrote:
> On 4-Feb-08, at 3:12 PM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>
> > On Feb 4, 2008, at 2:06 PM, Ian Andrew Bell wrote:
> >
> >> The logic that is in practise used to justify the prohibition of
> >> smoking has much more to do with "Second Hand Smoke".
> >
> > Bzzt, thanks for playing.
> >
> > One of the more "sophisticated" arguments that's been used e.g. in
> > Texas and other more conservative parts of the country to sell
> > smoking prohibition to people who are inherently anti-regulation is
> > this:  that smoking-related disease costs *everybody* whether or not
> > you smoke, are exposed to second-hand smoke, or none of the above.
> > It's a public concern because it's an economic concern;  i.e., it's
> > a pocketbook issue.  From the primary costs (burden on public
> > subsidies of health care) to the derivative costs (using up
> > healthcare "bandwidth," effects of absenteeism, etc.) --- so the
> > prohibitionists say --- it's a serious enough economic burden that
> > it warrants an otherwise-unacceptable regulatory response.
>
> Right, so you have refuted someone else's argument here, or rather
> worked to substantiate it quite nicely.
>
> My argument though was that second hand smoke, ingested involuntarily
> in the presence of smokers, is inherently hazardous and dangerous to
> one's health.  It's an argument largely copied from the rhetoric
> underpinning workplace smoking bans in restaurants and bars, etc.
> Therefore, and based solely on that premise, it's been a public health
> and safety concern.
>
>         To wit:  http://www.bcfed.com/node/352
>
> The economic issues are the reasoning underpinning super-high taxes on
> cigarettes, and are largely unrelated to the public health issue.  As
> you could rightfully argue, the actual effects on the health care
> systems of any society are difficult to track right down to the
> individual smoker / disease and therefore it's unfair to regulate
> WHETHER you can smoke or not.
>
> I think most of those of us who are rational, thinking human beings
> and understand that voluntarily lighting a bunch of chemicals wrapped
> in paper and sucking the offal into your lungs is a bad idea, and a
> few of those among us are strong-minded enough to suggest that if you
> do it near me, I have a more direct model in mind for the infusion of
> those chemicals into your system.
>
> Second hand smoke causes cancer.  Some argue that with the more
> effective filters on cigarettes it's even more dangerous than actually
> smoking, with comparable prolonged exposure.  You don't have the right
> to give other people cancer.
>
> If smokers are feeling persecuted, perhaps it's because they should
> be.  What alternative would you suggest.. that the rest of us all be
> forced to wear rebreathers?

I'll go ahead and note before Jeff gets to it that the actual data on
this is, at best, ambivalent; not that I've read any of the studies,
but my father is an oncologist and has read them, and that's his
thoughts on the matter.

I just think it smells foul and ruins my meals, and is one of those
collective action problems where a heavily addicted minority can
inflict their foul behaviors on an irritated but not strongly
motivated majority. So I'm glad that (unlike so many other similar
collective action/commons-pollution problems) government has actually
gotten off its ass and resolved the problem.

Luis

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