Thursday, July 06, 2006

Smoke gets in your lies

I'd always suspected that the issue of smoking in public places had escaped whatever gravitational pull rationality still exerts. But reading a newspaper piece recently about some town in California which has made smoking on the beach illegal has eliminated all doubt. (Sorry, no link because at the time I hadn't thought to blog about it and so didn't bookmark the article.)

I haven't smoked in 20 years. No, wait: a couple of years ago, during a visit to Miami's Little Havana district, perhaps the only place in the United States where you can do so without fear of incurring the Evil Eye, I smoked a cigar in one of those little store-front factories where they're rolled. Two other blokes were there doing the same, and it was as if we were members of a secret lodge indulging a Forbidden Pleasure. Hugely enjoyable.

As I say, that was a one-off experience. I have no desire to be a habitual smoker. But the holy fanaticism of the anti-smoking crusaders makes me sick. They have taken the issue so far beyond whatever legitimate health concerns there may be that they obviously operate from other, unstated motivations. Latching onto and sponsoring junk science at every turn, the smoke eradicator Warriors of God are themselves addicts: they're hooked on control.

True, the issues involved — not only in smoking itself but the Dictatorship of Virtue behind its prohibition — are complicated. Which is why I didn't intend to do a post; frankly, I just don't have the time or energy to go into it all. What changed my mind was running across an extraordinarily well argued essay on the subject by, of all people, the musician Joe Jackson. (Tip of the hat: Luxurious Misery.)

Regardless of how you personally feel about smoke, give Joe a few minutes of your time. He dishes the whole subject in all its ramifications, including those of health tyranny, elitist scorn for individual choice, and lying statistics.

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