Worst People In The World

For the life of me, I can’t see why we shouldn’t invoke the UN convention on genocide against Big Tobacco:

Tobacco companies are pushing back against a worldwide rise in antismoking laws, using a little-noticed legal strategy to delay or block regulation. The industry is warning countries that their tobacco laws violate an expanding web of trade and investment treaties, raising the prospect of costly, prolonged legal battles, health advocates and officials said.

Alarmed about rising smoking rates among young women, Namibia, in southern Africa, passed a tobacco control law in 2010 but quickly found itself bombarded with stern warnings from the tobacco industry that the new statute violated the country’s obligations under trade treaties.

“We have bundles and bundles of letters from them,” said Namibia’s health minister, Dr. Richard Kamwi.

Three years later, the government, fearful of a punishingly expensive legal battle, has yet to carry out a single major provision of the law, like limiting advertising or placing large health warnings on cigarette packaging.

I’m a little emotional on this issue, as my mother died ten days before my scheduled wedding day, murdered by RJ Reynolds.

But at least when Mom started smoking in the late 1930s/early 1940s, the explicit tobacco-cancer connection was still obscure, with the first case-control studies clearly linking cigarettes to cancer emerging in 1948 (per Siddhartha Mukherjee’s first rate The Emperor of all Maladies.  See especially the chapter titled “The Emperor’s Nylon Stockings”).  Her death may reasonably be considered involuntary manslaughter.

Now, though, there is no way to work for a tobacco company and not know that what you do is sell poison, and that the ultimate effect of your product, used as is intended, is slaughter.

2_Andrea_di_Bartolo._Massacre_of_the_Innocents_1380s._Walters_Museum_of_Art.

Most people, I’d like to think, would take a long look in the mirror and decide that there are other ways to spend our three score and ten than making a living off the wholly preventable suffering and death of uncounted others.

But clearly those working for Big Tobacco somehow missed that day in school when the class talked about the golden rule — not to mention  just about any version of the minimum expectations for human moral behavior.  Which is why first world tobacco titans  now seek to compel cash-strapped nation-states to accept the sale of death as just another bit of misery those with power can enforce on those with less.*

Let me be clear:  the law may say otherwise, but forcing tobacco on countries trying to restrict its use seems to me to be murder, pure and simple.

Sure, the victims are unknown, and their deaths in many cases decades in the future.  But the link between cigarettes and fatal disease is clear.  The motive for the companies’ actions are clear.  The gain in exchange for decisions that will inevitably result in many, many deaths is right out there in dollars and cents.  One may argue the formal distinctions between degrees, or between murder and manslaughter, but for me, deaths that the killer has reason to expect will happen as a consequence of his or her own actions count as the worst of crimes.

Regulation is needed.  So are tumbrels.

*Props, btw, to Michael Bloomberg, who the NYT reports paid for Uruguay’s defense in a suit  brought by Phillip Morris at a point where the country would have had to drop its tobacco law for lack of funds to defend it.  But hoping that right-minded billionaires will answer the call is no substitute for policy, and no remedy for the utter moral depravity on display in this story.

Image: Andrea di Bartolo, Massacre of the Innocents,  1380s

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127 replies
  1. 1
    Cervantes says:

    Sorry about the loss of your mother.

    Condolences — belated as they may be.

  2. 2
    David in NY says:

    But hoping that right-minded billionaires will answer the call is no substitute for policy, and no remedy for the utter moral depravity on display in this story.

    You said it.

  3. 3
    Yatsuno says:

    :: hug :: Tom.

    The tobacco companies pretty much know they’ve lost the West as a market, so their big push is Asia and Africa for big profit centres. I’m trying to imagine China passing an anti-smoking regulation. Fact is, if a Party member can make money off selling cigarettes, it ain’t gonna get regulated for shit there.

  4. 4
    Sherparick says:

    Is there no finer example that behavior of corporations sociopathic and that the perfect CEO must be a psychopath. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy

  5. 5
    Santa Fe says:

    One month in to quitting a 25 year on-again-off-again-but-mostly-on smoking habit. Have been able to do it in part thanks to nicotine replacement, in this case an e-cigarette or vaporizer. Never tried a patch, too creepy and constant, and lozenges were terrible. Wonderful to begin rediscovering a sense of taste and of smell.

  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Santa Fe: Strength and resolve, Santa Fe! I quit a year and a half ago after smoking for 20 years. If I can quit, anyone can (I’m not known for my willpower). It gets easier. It really, really does.

  7. 7
    Cervantes says:

    @Santa Fe: Nicely done!

  8. 8
    Mino says:

    In trade policy, the US is a moral midget on food support for the poor in developing countries. http://greenshadowcabinet.us/s.....-stake-tpp

  9. 9
    Yatsuno says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I’m not known for my willpower

    I figure anyone who can squeeze something the size of a watermelon out of a hole the size of a lemon can do pretty much anything. :)

  10. 10
    Trollhattan says:

    Dad picked up the habit in the Navy during WWII, courtesy of free cigarette rations. They were selflessly helping the war effort, see? He and mom both smoked, but mom quit, cold turkey, when I was a lad and so was able to hold my daughter, living to a relatively old 88 (there’s never enough time to have a parent, but 88 at least seems fair).

    Dad, however, remained true to his habit and smoked right up to his cancer diagnosis–discovered when pneumonia put him in the hospital, where it was determined one lung had a lobe closed off by the tumor. The tumor had already metastasized to the brain. He never smoked again but the horse had long since bolted the longevity barn and he died four months after his 65th birthday. He never met my bride, much less his only grandchild.

    The industry needs crushing. Weren’t they the ones who made up the thing about DDT and malaria simply as a pathway to attack and weaken the WHO? Basically, they’re the model for today’s Republican Party.

  11. 11
    fuckwit says:

    Speaking of tumbrels, this kind of “free-trade” WTO corporate takeover of our planet is exactly what those dirty fucking black-bloc hippies were infuriated about and smashing windows and setting trash cans on fire about in Seattle in 1999.

    It is corporate thuggery, pure and simple, the deification of profit over people. These treaties need to go. Peoples of the world need to be able to pass and enforce regulations on corporations, without the corporations being able to basically intimidate and extort themselves out of.

    For a retro 90s flashback, read “No Logo” or “When Corporations Rule the World”.

    It’ll be a better world when we all have the same understanding of corporate evil that those kids Seattle had in 1999.

    Is there some way to raise funds to defend countries like Namibia from the inevitable lawsuits from Big Tobacco? Maybe to use this as a wedge to destroy and rid the earth of the WTO?

  12. 12
    Trollhattan says:

    @Santa Fe:

    Way to go! It’s the most important fight you’ll ever tackle.

  13. 13
    Botsplainer says:

    I was a 30+ year smoker, stopped for good in 2009.

    Every person quitting is different. For me, I liked to smoke, but I only smoked after work, outside or in bars. Never in the house, and never when driving. I still like the smell of cigarettes.

    I used gum. The patch was too constant. Also, when I fell off the wagon for single cigarettes, I got right back on.

  14. 14
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker: It gets easier. It really, really does.

    Relieved to hear it. Congratulations.

  15. 15
    West of the Cascades says:

    At what point do we start suing (or filing ethics complaints) against the lawyers who enable this moral and ethical abomination? In theory (under Oregon’s rules of professional conduct), “a lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is illegal or fraudulent.” Forcing tobacco down the throats of countries that seek to regulate it seems to be extortion, and the client’s conduct (continuing to sell unregulated tobacco) is causally related to the death of the product’s users.

    Maybe Namibia needs to pass a law saying “the sale of unregulated tobacco is illegal,” which might more strongly implicate the ethical obligations of US lawyers. Their souls are so far gone that they won’t regulate themselves on ethics, but it might be an interesting avenue to start filing ethics complaints against these people.

  16. 16
    SmallAxe says:

    Sorry about your mom Tom. Feeling extra guilty as I did a stint as a paralegal in RJR’s Canada office in the 90’s, again I’m sorry.

    You have never seen a shredding machine as big as the one they had in the office outside of an Asplundh tree shredder. You could literally throw a full three ring binder down the thing. I need another shower thinking about it.

  17. 17
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Betty Cracker: It gets easier. It really, really does.

    Indeed. After 20-25 years you’ll hardly ever be thinking about having a cigarette.

    It’s a powerful, powerful drug, and quitting is the hardest thing I ever did. But I won’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy smoking.

  18. 18
    soonergrunt says:

    There is no fundamental difference between tobacco and other addictive, destructive drugs. If the Cali cartel would not be able to bring these lawsuits in any competent court, neither should the tobacco companies.

  19. 19
    Botsplainer says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Weren’t they the ones who made up the thing about DDT and malaria simply as a pathway to attack and weaken the WHO?

    Malaria is on the uptick and mosquito populations are readily brought into control by DDT, but there is no chance that anybody is going to be willing to open a DDT production line for a limited 2 or 3 year run.

  20. 20
    handsmile says:

    @Sherparick:

    On psychopaths in the executive suites: “One in 25 business leaders may be a psychopath, study finds”: http://www.theguardian.com/sci.....jobs-study

    And for a surprisingly compassionate study of the subject, journalist Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry”:

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Psyc.....1594488010

    I loathe Michael Bloomberg, but his commitment to gun safety legislation and initiatives on public health (the end, if not his means) does lower the temperature of the 1000 suns.

    Tom Levenson: How awful! My mother too died from her decades-long cigarette addiction. The final years of her life, suffering from COPD, were horrible. Her habit most surely a reason that none of her five children ever (or but briefly) smoked.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    The gun and ammo makers should be close behind, waving briefs wildly demonstrating the monetary value of a totally unregulated international arms trade. And, have you seen the price you have to pay for a 24/7 live-in dedicated housekeeper and support staff?

  22. 22
    elmo says:

    Lost my Mom to cigarettes too, at age 53. I was 24. She made it to my college graduation, but died four months before I graduated from law school. And I just can’t generate any hatred for Big Tobacco. She smoked because she liked it, she smoked because it soothed her always-raw nerves, she smoked because it helped with her anxiety and depression. She didn’t smoke because of advertising.

    I don’t smoke, never have, but two of my brothers do. One had never smoked before Mom died, and picked up the habit afterward. Also not because of advertising, but because we in my family tend to be high-strung, prone to anxiety and depression, and have addictive personalities, and mood-altering chemicals are attractive to us. I don’t smoke, but I do eat too much and drink too much, which are probably just as dangerous to me as tobacco would be.

    And when I die early of heart disease, it won’t be because of advertising, or because of Big Food, or because of Big Gin or Big Wine. It’ll be because I indulge in habits that have short-term benefits and long-term hazards.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    I was amazed — but not surprised — when we received my dad’s death certificate and every single one of the causes was related to smoking. COPD/emphysema — smoking. Kidney failure due to high blood pressure — smoking. Lung tumor — smoking. Kidney tumor — smoking.

  24. 24
    Someguy says:

    I agree with putting them on trial – from the farmers and executives, right down to the bastards selling tobacco at 7-11’s. While we’re at it, we should nail the scum selling fatty foods and corn-syrup laden processed foods. The death toll from heart disease is far higher than that of lung cancer. These bastards should be held accountable – and woe be it unto you if you serve that shit to your kids.

  25. 25
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Gin & Tonic: True that. I know hardcore alcoholics who kicked the booze but can’t shake the cigs. It worms its way into every facet of your life.

  26. 26
    Trollhattan says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Took me awhile to recall the book: Merchants of Doubt.

    http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/

    In case there was any question of how vile an enemy is big tobacco (and their cohorts).

    As to DDT, it was manufactured in other nations for decades after the US banned it in the ’70s, may still be so far as I know, so has been readily available. In the long term it’s a lousy tool, in part because a given mosquito population will begin developing DDT resistance within months while its persistence in the environment is phenomenal (e.g., see Montrose Chemical and Palos Verde Shelf Superfund sites).

  27. 27
    El Caganer says:

    I was a 3-pack-a-day guy for many years until I got my dog. She hated it when I smoked, and made no secret of it – if I lit a cigarette while we were sitting on the couch, she’d run to another room and promptly come back when I put it out. No contest. I don’t have the dog any more, but I don’t have the habit either. Thanks, Spot, wherever you are.

  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    May I chime in and say I don’t think it helps to have Hollywood movies full of more smokers than you ever encounter in everyday life?

    Smoking, and how one does it, is probably a quick and cheap type of character study.

    For the ex-smokers: is it hard to watch movies, with cinematography lovingly caressing a cigarette, its smoke ascending?

    How can you say it doesn’t attract teens and young adults to the habit? It’s sophistication and rebellion, by brand name.

  29. 29
    C.V. Danes says:

    And, of course, things will be oh so much better once the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal gets pushed through Congress…

  30. 30
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Santa Fe: Eight months into ex-smoker status here. The first six were the worst. And it doesn’t help that neither the housemate nor the S.O. have quit. Be strong. FYI the patches worked for me: perhaps a bit creepy in that the constant almost-puff feel was there, but without the claw-the-walls-if-I-don’t-have-one-right-now sensation ever cropping up.

    @Tom Levenson: smoking (pipe) killed my grandfather (esophageal cancer). He knew the cause when it happened (a LONG time before the studies were carried out). I’ll readily agree that clinical studies proved that tobacco smoking is hazardous, but not that direct observation wasn’t making that abundantly clear to anyone with the courage to observe the pattern long before the first official study. So I’m onboard with the manslaughter, but not so much with the involuntary, back then.

    @West of the Cascades: That’s a really good idea. We can make it uncomfortable for the corporations all we want – but every lawsuit lost is a tax writeoff, and every fine is a cost of doing business. If, on the other hand, we make the lawyers uncomfortable (as in lose-your-license uncomfortable) then we place far higher jeopardy on the folks who’d be in court defending these giants and their obscene practices, and more than likely reduce their willingness to defend their employers/clients too far for their greed to make up. There will be exceptions, and we should expect a handful of the least scrupulous to become fabulously wealthy defending bad corporate practices, but in the long run it looks like a worthwhile approach. I’d love to know what burnspbesq thinks of the idea.

  31. 31
    Trollhattan says:

    @handsmile:

    My folks had a standing offer to all we kids: if you get to 21 without smoking we’ll give you a hundred dollars. I probably wouldn’t have in any case, having choked in the household tobacco cloud while having bad allergies (gosh, could there be a connection?) but for my little kid brain, a hundred bucks seemed like a really good incentive.

  32. 32
    Trollhattan says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Still recall Johnny Carson, et all, smoking during the show. Hard to imagine now, isn’t it? For that matter, I can dredge up hundreds of cigarette jingles and slogans from before The Nanny State stole their Freedom to advertise on my teebee. Hell, I remember Fred and Barney advertising Winstons during The Flintstones–wonder if Don Draper would have approved of that campaign pitch?

  33. 33
    gelfling545 says:

    @Santa Fe: My kids both smoke. Neither their father nor I did. So much for that myth. The elder one was the kind of smoker who, when she tried to quit, people would beg to smoke again. They both tried patches, gum, medications with no good result & some rather bad ones. The e-cigarette has been their path. The elder still needs her nicotine from time to time but can’t even look at a “real” cigarette without getting sick. I’m so glad they came up with these things. I checked them out at the website of our local cancer research hospital. Their opinion was better to just quit but, if you can’t, these are a better choice than cigarettes.

  34. 34
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Trollhattan: On the recent Kennedy assassination anniversary, I saw some of the old breaking news coverage, and people were puffing away on camera. Hard to believe that was ever the case.

  35. 35
    Ahh says fywp says:

    Bill Clinton’s state dept pushed a lot of these abusive trade deals because ‘we got bills to pay, ynowwmean?’ Immoral.

  36. 36
    sm*t cl*de says:

    the law may say otherwise, but forcing tobacco on countries trying to restrict its use seems to me to be murder

    The treaties say otherwise because that’s why lobbyists negotiated those treaties.

  37. 37
    Haydnseek says:

    @Santa Fe: You might want to reconsider the patch. It worked for me on the first try eight years ago, and I was a pack-a-day smoker for decades. Everyone is different, of course, but the patch shouldn’t be too scary if you’ve ever used a band-aid. Best of luck………

  38. 38

    I’m a little emotional on this issue, as my mother died ten days before my scheduled wedding day, murdered by RJ Reynolds.

    Tom, I know how you feel and you have my condolences. I lost two uncles, two aunts and a grandmother to lung cancer from smoking–all on my mother’s side. The one aunt died just after her 50th birthday and was so addicted that she smoked up until the day she died. My mother, who has never smoked, has only one sister left.

    I will never forget how my grandmother suffered for two years before she died. She was elderly in her 70’s and she died in 1984. At the end she was at home and cared for by in-home aides 24/7 (my g-father having died several years before). These aides were all black women. My grandmother was a bigot (hated black people having grown up on a small farm in northern Miss, heartland of the KKK) and she was a very uptight and strict Presbyterian. When the morphine no longer kept her pain under control the aides would put themselves at great risk by smuggling in pot for her and my bigoted, judgmental grandmother was grateful for it. She loved the aides and so grew beyond her lifelong bigotry. Sad that it took such extreme circumstances…but still. And to my surprise the nurses loved her too–their compassion still blows my mind. The night she died the aide told us, crying all the while, that she saw my grandmother’s spirit leave her body and she was at peace.

    Even now, all these years later, my avoidance of cigarette smoke borders on a paranoid obsession. If I even walk by people who are smoking I hold my breath. The tobacco companies are simply very wealthy and powerful drug dealers.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Someguy:

    The death toll from heart disease is far higher than that of lung cancer.

    Smoking causes heart disease.

  40. 40
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Elizabelle: It depends on how who does what. I love how Norma Shearer (a non-smoker) handled cigarettes: light it, hold it for a second, then either lose it off-camera or immediately put it out. I squirm a little at some others: generally it’s uncomfortable to watch, mostly because I’m not fond of the secondhand consequences (smoke, smell, etc) and not the least from being triggered to want one. Best handling overall that I’ve seen was Kenneth Branagh in Dead Again – the cigarette bit with his character is absolutely brilliant.

  41. 41
    Violet says:

    I thought I read somewhere recently that smoking is now a class signifier. Lower class people smoke more than upper class people. Anyone know if that’s true?

    All thekno smoking public service stuff worked on me. I never saw the point of smoking, never started, hate smoke and am profoundly grateful that it’s so unwelcome that bars and restaurants are no smoking these days.

  42. 42
    Ahh says fywp says:

    @El Caganer: Your best friend, indeed!

  43. 43
    Anoniminous says:

    @Trollhattan:

    DDT resistance

    There you go with that Biology science crap. Again.

    Don’t you realize genetics sprang full bore from Satan’s Hell?

  44. 44
    Mandalay says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Still recall Johnny Carson, et all, smoking during the show.

    From Wikipedia:

    Carson was a heavy smoker for decades and, in the early days of his tenure on Tonight, often smoked on-camera. It was reported that as early as the mid-1970s, he would repeatedly say, “These things are killing me.” Indeed, his younger brother recalled that during their last conversation, Carson kept saying, “Those damn cigarettes.

  45. 45
    elmo says:

    @gelfling545:

    The elder one was the kind of smoker who, when she tried to quit, people would beg to smoke again.

    My Mom was the same. She and my Dad actually quit at the same time, but after a week they realized it wasn’t working. So she took it back up again. She died at 53; my Dad died a year ago (actually a year ago tomorrow), at age 81.

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    @Yatsuno:
    Nice.

    FLOL. Quite a bit actually.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    @Yatsuno:
    Nice.

    FLOL. Quite a bit actually.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I was using the ladies’ room in one of the older buildings at work and realized that there were ashtrays inside the stalls. You know, just in case you couldn’t wait until after using the toilet for your smoke.

    @gelfling545:

    Can I ask why people beg your daughter to start smoking again? The reason I ask is that it’s very, very common for people with undiagnosed ADHD to smoke because nicotine is a stimulant that gives similar effects to a dose of Ritalin. If it’s because she becomes anxious, scattered, can’t remember anything, etc., she may want to get tested for adult ADHD. It’s still very underdiagnosed in women and girls (I didn’t get diagnosed until I was 42) because the symptoms are slightly different than they are for men/boys.

    ADD Women: Why Girls and Moms Go Undiagnosed

  49. 49
    scav says:

    Shades of the opium wars, or at least echoes of same, the little I know of it. But, how dare mere nation-states attempt to regulate internal commerce in dangerous goods? States Rights are for Southern American States (silly rabbits) and only to be used in certain contexts! Multinationals have got product to move and profits to grow! Get out of the way minions!

  50. 50
    Gene108 says:

    @fuckwit:

    Free trade has done more to eradicate poverty around the globe than anything tried after the end of WW2, when poverty eradication became an issue.

  51. 51
    Cervantes says:

    @scav: Shades of the opium wars, or at least echoes of same

    Yes, an instructive comparison.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    Let me be clear: the law may say otherwise, but forcing tobacco on countries trying to restrict its use seems to me to be murder, pure and simple.

    In any case, laws are for The Little People; MOTU types aren’t required to obey them.

    @boatboy_srq:

    Bad health effects of smoking have been known for a very long time. James the VI and I wrote a well known treatise against smoking that included the following:

    Surely Smoke becomes a kitchin far better then a Dining chamber, and yet it makes a kitchin also oftentimes in the inward parts of men, soiling and infecting them, with an unctuous and oily kinde of Soote, as hath bene found in some great Tobacco takers, that after their death were opened.

    People have known that tobacco is unhealthy for about as long as they’ve been smoking a lot.

  53. 53
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Roger Moore: I blame Sir Walter Raleigh.

  54. 54
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    @fuckwit:

    Current events tie all this together in my mind. I was more of a spectator than a participant in the Battle of Seattle, hanging around on the fringes, ready to bear witness if the cops decided to go Chicago ’68, but not diving into the middle. Often wish I had, but even then, I couldn’t really walk fast enough to keep up!

    What struck me was, here is a city that was eager to play host to the WTO conference, and then a week or so later, enthusiastically received Nelson Mandela when he came to town. Now if the WTO had had things the way they wanted them 10 years earlier, the sanctions that brought down the apartheid regime would have been illegal, and he would have still been on Robben Island. Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  55. 55
    Tommy says:

    I am a smoker and I still totally agree with you! It is a terrible thing. At some level I know I am killing myself, but alas I don’t stop doing it. I hate myself for it, cause I didn’t start smoking until I was in my 20s. When I visit my niece by brother and his wife smoke, but NOT IN FRONT OF HER. Not in her house. We run around hiding it cause, well it would break our hearts if she started to smoke. IMHO that kind of says it all.

  56. 56
    scav says:

    @Gene108: Free =/= Entirely Unregulated. Oddly enough, there are still laws, however imperfectly applied, against Legendarily Free Americans wandering the streets and killing / poisoning people merely to make a buck.

  57. 57
    Cervantes says:

    @Tommy: There are ways around addiction. Here’s hoping you find one. Or at least something less harmful to be addicted to. Good luck.

  58. 58
    Ruckus says:

    OK FYWP on the double.

    I started smoking at 14. To be cool. Dad smoked at work, never at home. Stopped at 16 when I figured out that I’ll never be cool. Started again in the service for something to do at smoke break time. I noticed that no one ever had to stop smoking to do some trivial task but if you were just sitting around you got picked every time. Stopped after 6 months because I realized I liked life a lot more than smoking.
    But it still took months to get over the physical need for a smoke. I understand the feeling but can not imagine what getting over a decades long marriage to smoking feels like.
    More power to anyone who manages to quit.
    Every one I know who has tells me they feel much better, that food tastes better(or has taste at all!) And having had an uncle who died from emphysema and carted around a oxygen bottle for several years before he died I can say that is no way to live.

  59. 59

    If we are talking about the worst people in the world, Punditubbies of MSM have to be ranked up there, along with arms dealers and drug dealers and cigarette companies. If I read Brooks latest correctly, he seems to be yearning for a dictatorship.

  60. 60
    fidelio says:

    @Botsplainer: Are bugs even vulnerable to DDT any more? I thought most had developed some resistance about the time it was phased out.

  61. 61
    Trollhattan says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Oh yeah, it was really something. And lighting designers knew how to light the set to emphasize the smoke. e.g.,

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm13.....all_sf_18#

    IIRC Rod Serling often had a cigarette in hand when introducing or giving the epilogue to a Twilight Zone episode.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F.....t_1959.JPG

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I was using the ladies’ room in one of the older buildings at work and realized that there were ashtrays inside the stalls. You know, just in case you couldn’t wait until after using the toilet for your smoke.

    Or were smoking when you decided to use the toilet and didn’t want to stop for the duration of the visit. I remember that the older lecture halls in my alma mater had ashtrays built into the backs of the seats to accommodate people who wanted to smoke during class. I remember when even non-smokers had ashtrays in their houses because they never knew when they were going to have a houseguest who needed one. The biggest change in smoking isn’t so much the number of smokers- which hasn’t gone down as drastically as we might like- as the unwillingness of society to support people in their addiction.

  63. 63
    Tommy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Amen there. I pay $7.76 for a pack. It makes no sense. None.

    Why would I want some farmer in India to try to raise up out of poverty and as they do, hand them a pack of smokes? Why. Why. Why? Just to make a buck. But that is what we do and it is sick beyond words.

  64. 64
    Trollhattan says:

    @Anoniminous:

    IIRC, genetics was invented forty days after The Flood, around the time the dinosaurs discovered they couldn’t swim, except for the swimming dinosaurs, who decided to just give up.

  65. 65
    fuckwit says:

    @Gene108: How did you calculate that?

  66. 66
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Tommy: When you’re ready, you’ll quit. Sounds like you’re about ready.

  67. 67
    GregB says:

    How about all of the deadly tobacco money that goes into the coffers of the party that touts themselves as defenders of the culture of life.

    Sick monsters.

  68. 68
    fuckwit says:

    @Mandalay: In the 80s I remember occasionally seeing him hastily extinguishing a cig in the ashtray on his desk just after a commercial ended, if he was caught unaware. Never remember him smoking on camera, but always trying to hide the fact that he had been smoking during commercial break.

  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @scav:

    Free =/= Entirely Unregulated.

    Sure. And the willingness of tobacco companies to sue countries that try to restrict smoking doesn’t mean that free trade laws actually prevent them from doing so. It’s classic big business bullying tactics. They use this kind of lawsuit to delay action and even force people to back down because they can’t afford a long, drawn out legal battle. What the law actually says is unimportant if one side can keep the thing going until the other is worn out and gives up.

  70. 70
    gelfling545 says:

    @Mnemosyne: She does have ADD. The loss of the nicotine turns her into something out of the Book of Revelations. The problem is that her insurance covers only ritalin for ADD & it doesn’t work well for her. Also the number of psychiatrists who take her insurance locally is small (2) and, frankly, they are not great.

  71. 71
    Tommy says:

    @Betty Cracker: This sounds terrible, but my family doesn’t get cancer. We either die in our 90s or of a heart attack (I realize smoking doesn’t help here). The problem for me is (1) the amount of money I spend that I would spend otherwhere and (2) it just isn’t socially acceptable anymore.

  72. 72
    Roger Moore says:

    @Tommy:

    I pay $7.76 for a pack.

    Most of which is taxes intended specifically to discourage you from smoking. The actual production cost of a pack of smokes is pretty small, so they can be affordable even in relatively poor countries.

  73. 73
    Trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Nice to be in California, which leads the nation in low smoking rates–the latest figure I can find is for 2011: 11.9%. Nationally, it’s down to 18%, crossing the barrier they thought existed at 20%.

    http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR11-031.aspx
    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/.....lows/?_r=0

    The tobacco companies and the Howard Jarvis assholes always rally whenever California has a tobacco tax initiative, so we’re no longer remotely close to the highest tobacco tax in the nation. I’ll always thank Rob Reiner for helping get Prop 10 passed.

  74. 74
    blueskies says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I blame Sir Walter Raleigh.

    He was such a stupid git!

  75. 75
    DZ says:

    After 50 years of smoking, I quit in June of this year ( hgelped by a life threatening issue). 9 days in the hospital got me started, and I haven’t looked back. Still want one every minute of every day, but I don’t

  76. 76
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Tommy: Confidence in my genes kept me smoking for longer than I should have too — one of my grandmothers is in her late 80s right now, healthy as a horse and smoked until she was in her mid-70s. But of course, there are other effects, such as COPD, etc. I’m not going to harangue you about it; you’ll quit when you’re ready. But as you know, it’s not always about death from lung cancer.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gelfling545:

    I tried to recommend that she try the other ADHD drug (the one that starts with an “A”) and FYWP marked me as spam. It’s a generic now, so between that and the changes to insurance with Obamacare, she may be able to get a prescription now.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tommy:

    The only people in my husband’s family who got cancer were the two smokers. Just saying.

  79. 79
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: Yes, the “level” field of the law is a tilted field by them that holds the pen, see Opium Wars for details there too. And I know a woman who was stalked exactly by a shit who would carefully file slightly varied accusations against her in different jurisdictions (getting her repeatedly arrested, even at work) so that officially they couldn’t id his MO and cut the crap off at the root. There aren’t many perfect systems in the sub-lunar world. The meme that the Free Market is the only pure and effective aide to the developing world was more the target, especially as their “freedom” is currently dependent on binding through red-tape, leveraged treaties and sheer cash the ability of nations to legislate as they see best fit.

  80. 80
    Mike in NC says:

    I quit smoking about 15 years ago but my wife still smokes (outdoors only), which is why our new health insurance plan that is effective on January 1st will cost $50 per month more than it would if she were a non-smoker. I guess the extra money isn’t enough to motivate her to quit.

  81. 81
    Anoniminous says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Dinosaur extinction scientifically proven.

  82. 82
    Redshift says:

    @scav:

    Free =/= Entirely Unregulated

    Soc1alist!

  83. 83
    Trollhattan says:

    Smoking has synergistic interactions with some environmental contaminants, the most well known probably being asbestos. You just never know what you might be exposing yourself to (radon in the home, for a convenient wintertime example).

  84. 84
    Botsplainer says:

    Addictions are funny things – I run across them quite a bit in family law.

    The worst, and most “sticky” I’ve seen is alcohol, because the alcoholic can convince himself (or herself – I’ll use the masculine pronoun generically) that he doesn’t have a problem, that his substance of choice is legal and is generally still imbued with an intact set of moral values. He may break those morals, but will (more likely than not) feel shame both while drunk and while sober. This one can really crush a family.

    Tobacco addiction is much the same, except that the crush of the family comes with the health problems later in life.

    Also, don’t get me started on compulsive gambling. It usually goes along as a partner to tobacco and alcohol, and represents soul sucking death of hopes, dreams, hobbies, respect and love in ways that are profound. I’m not talking about a destination junket to Las Vegas for fun and sin, I’m talking aobut nightly visits to Foxwoods, Atlantic City, and the Midwest Casino Hells. The advertising is offensive in that it plays to the worst instincts of chance junkies.

  85. 85
    Niques says:

    @Tommy: Absolutely try the vaporizer . . . choose a flavor you like and give it a shot. I found it surprisingly easy to quit after my own on-again-off-again-but-mostly-on smoking habit of 45 years! Within three weeks I was down to 0% nicotine, and just puffing away on the flavor vapor. Totally satisfying for me.

  86. 86
    Trollhattan says:

    @Anoniminous:

    I’d completely forgotten about that one! My afternoon is thus made (hey, it’s lunchtime).

  87. 87
    Botsplainer says:

    Addictions are funny things – I run across them quite a bit in family law.

    The worst, and most “sticky” I’ve seen is alcohol, because the alcoholic can convince himself (or herself – I’ll use the masculine pronoun generically) that he doesn’t have a problem, that his substance of choice is legal and is generally still imbued with an intact set of moral values. He may break those morals, but will (more likely than not) feel shame both while drunk and while sober. This one can really crush a family.

    Tobacco addiction is much the same, except that the crush of the family comes with the health problems later in life.

    Also, don’t get me started on compulsive gamblIng. It usually goes along as a partner to tobacco and alcohol, and represents soul sucking death of hopes, dreams, hobbies, respect and love in ways that are profound. I’m not talking about a destination junket to that place in Nevada for fun and sin, I’m talking about nightly visits to Foxwoods, Atlantic City, and the Midwest CasIn0 Hells. The advertising is offensive in that it plays to the worst instincts of chance junkies.

  88. 88
    scav says:

    @Redshift: So I look good in red?! I can at least be counted upon to loan you my shoes, best feather boa and santa hat.

  89. 89
    negative 1 says:

    I’ll take the defense on this one — I like to smoke. I don’t do it often anymore (probably one night every month or so) but I enjoy it when I do. I’m of the age of majority, I know the consequences, I do it because I enjoy it and it will probably kill me.
    More complicated, I do it because of another poison, specifically alcohol. I also like alcohol, it is also harmful, and may also kill me.
    I am all for the no smoking in public laws, and agree no one should be able to ponder it until 18 (or 21 or whatever) but where do we draw the line on what is or isn’t under ‘pursuit of happyness’? I’m an adult, I know my actions have consequences, I weigh them, and I choose my vices. How stringent are the anti-smoking laws that we’re talking about here?

  90. 90
    Roy G. says:

    Good point about ‘Free’ Trade, Tom. The recently revealed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a great example of this. Not really about free trade as much as elevating corporate power above nations.

  91. 91
    Anoniminous says:

    @gelfling545:

    I hate to be the bearer of possible bad news …

    Has she been tested for schizophrenia? People with ADD/ADHD are six times more likely to have another psychiatric or learning disorder and “something out of the Book of Revelations” doesn’t sound like ADD.

  92. 92
    Mnemosyne says:

    @negative 1:

    As far as I can tell from the story, the anti-smoking laws that have been nixed are far less stringent than the ones we have in the US, since they’re not even allowed to put US-style health warnings on the cigarettes in Namibia.

    To your point about enjoying your own vices, if you’re single (not married/partnered) and don’t have kids, knock yourself out — consenting adults and all that. But if you’re expecting your partner or grown children to have to nurse you through COPD or cancer, then you’re being kind of an a-hole since you’re dragging them into a situation that you chose.

  93. 93
    Tom Levenson says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    If I read Brooks latest correctly, he seems to be yearning for a dictatorship.

    You do and he does.

  94. 94
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yatsuno:

    Fact is, if a Party member can make money off selling cigarettes, it ain’t gonna get regulated for shit there.

    Human greed strikes again.

  95. 95
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    NoiseMax headline:

    “Rev. Billy Graham’s Grandson: He’s Ready for the Lord.”

    Satan will be delighted to play host to the grifting son of a bitch.

  96. 96
    scav says:

    @negative 1: These are nation-states we are not members of, they can be stricter than we personally care for. It’s how self-rule works. We need to be careful. Some nations are incredibly strict on bubblegum, while others have some rather strong feeling about the death penalty and the sale of firearms. International scrutiny should be a two- (multi-) way street, and certainly not the imposition of ‘mercan values, let alone ‘multi-national stock-values upon everyone else.

  97. 97
    Anoniminous says:

    @Trollhattan:

    :-)

    1995 sucked. Gary Larson and Bill Waterson retired and I’ve not found replacements.

  98. 98
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Roger Moore: Indeed. But a king’s opinion doesn’t hold nearly as much water as a clinical study with N+1 participants and reams of notes. Empirical evidence has been at the core of Bit Tobacco’s undoing, mostly because it’s a lot harder for a lawyer to refute a study replete with support documentation than it is for same to impugn any single expert witness no matter how qualified.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Right now, I’m lucky to only have recovering alcoholics in my life, but it’s tough because it’s actually a specific personality type that has OCD-like features. It’s very, very easy for someone with the alcoholic personality to simply jump from one addiction to the next without ever dealing with the roots of the problem. As one example, my co-worker who is in recovery went from being a vegetarian to a vegan to an anorexic, because people with that personality type have a very strong feeling of, If a little is good, more is even better. Luckily, the experience taught her that she needs to be careful with her enthusiasms, because even a “healthy” one can quickly become dangerous to her.

  100. 100
    Betty Cracker says:

    @negative 1: If it were up to me, you’d be free to grow your own tobacco and create your own cigarettes. There would just be no tobacco companies or commercially produced cigarettes.

  101. 101
    Gene108 says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge:

    Yes international sanctions or unilateral sanctions are illegal under the WTO.

    This is why GM, Ford and Chrysler are selling record numbers of new cars in Cuba. This is why P&G is spending big bucks to tailor consumer goods for the Cuban market.

    This is why GE is providing service agreements for the nuclear power plants it started to build in Iran during the 1970’s.

  102. 102
    negative 1 says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m married and have kids, I suppose it’s an interesting discussion as to what is owed to them versus personal choice. Does tanning apply? What about skiing? Obesity? My father in law spent his whole life around 400 lbs., now he’s retired but his hips and knees gave out from the strain. My mother in law seems pretty ticked at him as a result. But he told me once that he worked so much overtime so she would be able to raise their kids, that he never had the energy to exercise and just sort of sat in a chair when he wasn’t working or with the kids on the weekends. Things, I find, are rarely so cut and dry. Plenty of things we do have the potential to cause disease or disability. Where does the line get drawn?

  103. 103
    Hungry Joe says:

    I was a smug semi-smoker for a number of years. I’d smoke four at a party then not smoke again for months, smoke two or three a day for a few months then none for two years. Not enough to hurt me, and I was in complete control. Then during one two-or-three-a-day period it got up to four or five, always after work. One evening I was driving home and it hit me that I was going to have a cigarette in a few minutes and my heart all but leaped out of my chest from the excitement. My body was going NUTS from the thrill of it, from the knowledge that a cigarette was coming. I ran into the house, grabbed the pack, and doused it in the kitchen sink. Haven’t touched one since. Close call. Man, is that stuff addictive. It just hits some people sooner than others.

  104. 104
    negative 1 says:

    @Betty Cracker: I’m not quite sure I understand the distinction. Let’s say I live in a climate that’s not conducive to growing tobacco. Or what if I stink at rolling my own (actually, I do). Why wouldn’t I be able to pay someone to do those for me? Until I am adversely affecting someone else (i.e. the no smoking in public laws) I don’t understand why there is need for such an intervention.

  105. 105
  106. 106
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Trollhattan: @Anoniminous: I thought this was the reason

    http://apothegms.wordpress.com.....-a-walnut/

  107. 107
    Roger Moore says:

    @Anoniminous:

    Dinosaur extinction scientifically proven.

    Of course dinosaurs aren’t extinct. We just call the still living ones birds.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Not to mention teabaggers.

  109. 109
    Betty Cracker says:

    @negative 1: Because Big Tobacco is an organized death machine that has lied to its customers, bought off the government and killed literally millions of people. It deserves annihilation.

    Yeah, too many doughnuts can kill you, but doughnuts in moderation are completely harmless, and food, even fatty food, is a necessary part of life. Not so smoking. Millions of people can have a few beers and not become raging alcoholics, but cigarettes as manufactured by Big Tobacco are specifically designed to ensnare you in a life of addiction, ill health and misery.

    You may be one of the exceedingly rare people who can have an occasional cigarette and not become addicted, but that’s very much the exception rather than the rule. Nicotine is one of most addictive substances on earth (from what I understand), and one of the few products that is 100% harmful when used as directed.

    I’m all for personal freedom — even for moderately self-destructive behavior — and am loathe to restrict individual behavior that doesn’t harm others, but in its pervasiveness, I don’t think this can be said of commercial tobacco use. There has to be a balance, socially redeeming features that outweigh the societal harm. I can see the balance for doughnuts. I can’t for tobacco. So if I were queen of the universe, I’m afraid you’d have to nurture a potted tobacco plant inside during the winter and learn to roll if you insisted on using .

  110. 110
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    cigarettes as manufactured by Big Tobacco are specifically designed to ensnare you in a life of addiction, ill health and misery.

    Not to mention endless profit for them.

    Wipe them out. All of them.

  111. 111
    Botsplainer says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    As one example, my co-worker who is in recovery went from being a vegetarian to a vegan to an anorexic, because people with that personality type have a very strong feeling of, If a little is good, more is even better. Luckily, the experience taught her that she needs to be careful with her enthusiasms, because even a “healthy” one can quickly become dangerous to her.

    About a decade ago, I dealt with somebody with those extreme body dysmorphia issues related to her feeling like she was carrying too much weight. The girl was lovely, had a couple of masters degrees and was a doctoral candidate. Her compulsive exercise and lack of nourishment led to severe joint pain and a new addiction to opiates so she could “run through” the pain. She ended up forging prescriptions for a while, and gained control of that while failing to deal with the anorexia. Later, she got prosecuted after she swapped out price tags so she could buy 26 pounds of grapes for the same price as bananas; there was some sort of weird cleanse she had in mind, but her funds were limited.

    She’s better now.

  112. 112
    Anoniminous says:

    @Just One More Canuck:

    Note that thesis was presented at a Conference. Can get any old bit of nonsense published at a Conference.

    ;-)

  113. 113
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    @Gene108:

    Yeah, those powerful Cuban and Iranian multinational corporations have really been able to strongarm the world into doing things their way. “Power gradient? What’s a power gradient?”

  114. 114
    Roger Moore says:

    @Hungry Joe:

    Man, is that stuff addictive.

    Thanks to lots of research on the part of Big Tobacco on how to make it as addictive as possible. There was a mini-scandal during the period when a lot of the Big Tobacco papers came out about how they were adding ammonia to tobacco to make the nicotine more available. Nobody talked about it in those terms, but what they were doing was the equivalent of changing cocaine from powder to crack.

  115. 115
    burnspbesq says:

    Just out of idle curiosity, which “national, ethnical, racial, or religious group” do you allege that Big Tobacco intends to destroy?

  116. 116
    Trollhattan says:

    @Betty Cracker: Tobacco exists solely as a legacy industry. If it didn’t exist and some bright bunnies tried to bring cigarettes (or, tobacco in whatever form) to market today, the FDA would swat them into the Atlantic.

  117. 117
    Mnemosyne says:

    @negative 1:

    Plenty of things we do have the potential to cause disease or disability. Where does the line get drawn?

    As I said above, to me the line gets drawn where it harms other people, and that harm does not necessarily have to be direct. My father started smoking in the 1950s when the evidence wasn’t nearly as clear-cut as it is now, so there’s probably a grandfather clause when it comes to habits that we know now are self-harming but didn’t know before, but don’t think that we don’t all resent on some level that he died (relatively) young and very expensively because of tobacco.

    You bring up self-tanning and skiing, but what about seat belts and motorcycle helmets? Should people be allowed to not wear their seatbelt because they’re adults and theoretically know what the consequences of a crash are?

  118. 118
    raven says:

    Shooting in Littleton school, isn’t Tamara from there?

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/13/.....?hpt=hp_t1

  119. 119
    Chyron HR says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Considering that the tobacco industry’s ideal state of affairs would be 100% market saturation of their product? Earthlings.

  120. 120
    Elizabelle says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Another of tobacco’s legacies is slavery.

    Labor intensive cash crop. 17th and 18th century crack profits.

    Of course, we have rice and indigo too, but those have healthier uses.

  121. 121
    Elizabelle says:

    And cotton! Cotton, cotton, cotton. How did I miss that.

  122. 122
    Roger Moore says:

    @raven:

    Shooting in Littleton school, isn’t Tamara from there?

    I think she’s from Longmont.

  123. 123
    gelfling545 says:

    @Mnemosyne: We will definitely look into that.

  124. 124
    gelfling545 says:

    @Anoniminous: The ADD is manifested in other ways. It is the nicotine addiction that causes the mark of the beast issues when she is deprived of it which is why the gradual reduction with the e-cigarette has been a godsend. When she had better insurance she was extensively evaluated for any & all psych issues that could relate to her problem. ADD is it. Medicating it in adults, though, is tricky.

  125. 125
    LanceThruster says:

    I’m surprised they don’t make the argument that is saves resources (healthcare and retirement) by having a large cross section of the population die early.

  126. 126
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gelfling545:

    There’s also a third one that is NOT generic called Strattera, but that’s usually the one of last resort because one of the other two usually work for most people.

    Also, protein and Omega-3s are really, really important. Like, 1500mg of Omega-3s every day.

  127. 127
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gelfling545:

    Also, too, IMO it’s not actually that tricky to medicate it in adults who do not have pre-existing addiction problems (which, fortunately, I did not). But what has often happened over the years is that untreated people have figured out ways to self-medicate (like tobacco or marijuana) and it’s tricky to simultaneously break that existing addiction and give them a medication that has a potential for abuse if you grind it up and snort it. That’s one of the populations that Strattera is recommended for since, unlike the others, it can’t make you high no matter what you do to it or how much you take.

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