The Corner

Slurs and Smears

Is cigarette smoking a generally dangerous pastime? Of course it is. And there are many good arguments available for those inclined to dissuade people from taking up, or continuing with, this often self-destructive habit.

The problem, alas, is that the anti-tobacco jihad has long ceased to be about health. These days it’s little more than a vehicle for those who wish either to proclaim their own virtue or, quite simply, enjoy bossing people around – or both. This change in motivation has, unsurprisingly, been accompanied by a sharp deterioration in the intellectual quality of the arguments made by those who would stub out the cig forever.

We’ve seen this, for example, in the use made by these zealots of ‘passive smoking’, a junk science first developed by the ethically flawed (passivrauchen was, let it not be forgotten, a concept first dreamt up by scientists in the Third Reich – a regime led by history’s most notorious anti-smoker), then refined by the scientifically inept, and now used by the intellectually dishonest and morally corrupt claque now at the forefront of the war against tobacco.

The latest instance of the degradation of anti-tobacco activism comes from the American Cancer Society, an organization that, when it comes to this topic, has long since turned malignant. Radley Balko (a CATO employee, it should be noted) has the details here, but the essence of the story is that this charity is now resorting to ad hominem, and inaccurate, slurs in its attempt to discredit those who oppose the proposed FDA regulation of tobacco products. The allegations center on whether the CATO Institute, an opponent of the proposals, is influenced by mysterious corporate donations from the likes of Philip Morris. Pointing out that Philip Morris actually supports the proposed extension of authority to the FDA, Radley makes short work of the ACS claims, but this controversy is a reminder of another point.

Organizations such as the American Cancer Society and, more importantly, their paid employees, have a vested interest themselves in maintaining the hysteria over tobacco at an appropriately intense level. It attracts donations – and it pays salaries. That’s something that’s worth remembering the next time you hear about supposed conflicts of interest in this debate.

Most Popular

White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More