"If a man wishes to violate the Constitution of the United States, he should be free to commit suicide in his own way"So implacable were those opposed to alcohol that this sentiment was echoed by Nebraska newspaper, the Omaha Bee, who dismissively asked:
"Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety first for souses?"That such abhorrent disregard for human welfare - based solely on prejudice and bigotry - should come from lobbyists who, with a straight face, had campaigned on the issue of health, is jaw-dropping when viewed from our safety-obsessed modern era.
Or, it would be if their present day equivalents weren't doing exactly the same thing, as detailed by John Tierney in an excellent article on e-cigs at the New York Times.
But there’s a powerful group working against this innovation — and it’s not Big Tobacco. It’s a coalition of government officials and antismoking groups who have been warning about the dangers of e-cigarettes and trying to ban their sale.Now, I'd disagree that there is any political ideology behind prohibitionists - they will jump on any populist cause to push their obsessive agenda. For example, in Chris Snowdon's latest book, he recounts how willing single issue prohibitionists were to stir up racism in pursuit of their cause.
The controversy is part of a long-running philosophical debate about public health policy, but with an odd role reversal. In the past, conservatives have leaned toward “abstinence only” policies for dealing with problems like teenage pregnancy and heroin addiction, while liberals have been open to “harm reduction” strategies like encouraging birth control and dispensing methadone.
When it comes to nicotine, though, the abstinence forces tend to be more liberal, including Democratic officials at the state and national level who have been trying to stop the sale of e-cigarettes and ban their use in smoke-free places. They’ve argued that smokers who want an alternative source of nicotine should use only thoroughly tested products like Nicorette gum and prescription patches — and use them only briefly, as a way to get off nicotine altogether.
Although blacks tended to prefer cocaine to opiates, both drugs were disproportionately used by whites. Wright and his fellow travellers nevertheless focused on alleged acts of rape and violence committed by “cocaine-crazed negroes”. According to Wright, cocaine was the “creator of criminals” which drove “the humbler negroes all over the country to abnormal crimes.” Evidence of these crimes was anecdotal at best and it was patently untrue to claim, as the New York Times did, that cocaine made blacks impervious to bullets, or that “most of the attacks upon white women in the South are the direct result of the cocaine-crazed Negro brain.” These tales were so similar to the contemporary scare about liquor-soaked blacks on the rampage in the Deep South that it is fair to assume that one set of prohibitionists was borrowing from the other.In the modern era, we must presume (not with any certainty, mind) that even righteous lunatics would baulk at riding a racist tidal wave if it became the vogue, but Australia's prime anti-smoking advocate Simon Chapman - not overly religious as far as one can ascertain - was perfectly happy to whip up the anger of Muslims and Jews to instil hatred against tobacco. In fact, so ecstatic was he at the publicity generated that he couldn't wait to boast to the world about it.
But, that aside, Tierney's article is bang on the money. The attitude of those paid to oppose lifestyle choices is still so hideous that health has long since ceased to be anything more than a mask for spiteful campaigning. Only the prohibitionist goal remains.
In the case of e-cigs, Michael Siegel accurately describes the perverse mentality of these nasty individuals.
First, they appear to share an ideology by which it is impossible to acknowledge that anything good could come out of the use of something called a "cigarette" or by an action that looks just like "smoking." Even when abundant evidence suggests that such a product is helping thousands of ex-smokers to stay off of cigarettes and that the product is much safer than smoking, the ideology of these groups appears to blind them to the overall public health benefits of these products.Considering that the incessant refrain from anti-smoking organisations is that smoking kills one in every two tobacco users, it must surely follow that for every two people who are denied access to e-cigs, tobacco control's own logic dictates that their policies will be directly responsible for the death of one of them unless they change their tune. Something which is far from evident at time of writing.
Second, nearly every one of the anti-smoking groups which opposes e-cigarettes and which called for their removal from the market has received money from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture competing smoking cessation drugs.
Stanton Glantz, for example - one of the world's most rabid anti-smokers, and arguably insane to boot - this week peddled some absurd crap about the e-cig industry being controlled by tobacco companies, and finished off by guiding smokers away from infinitely safer snus.
Just as US alcohol haters were quite relaxed about the deaths of 10,000 people as a result of their actions during Prohibition, so does another anti-smoking nutcase, John Banzhaf, potentially snuff out dozens of lives with every one of his many blinkered press releases designed to minimise e-cig use in favour of his dinosaur policy of using pharma products ... or dying.
Just as alcohol prohibitionists were happy to compete in the death stakes against the industry they accused of exactly the same, some still amongst us now - like the EU's Commissioner for Health John Dalli - are seriously endangering lives for no other reason than pure, unadulterated, ignorant spite against any non-medicinal solution to something they profess to care deeply about.
Aided and abetted, of course, by their legion of equally moronic, and disgusting, useful idiots.
We quite rightly look back in horror at the inhuman antics of historical prohibitionists, but the mentality hasn't changed in the past century. No lessons have been learned by those who are so single-minded that they see only an end-game, and not the death and illness their unimaginative and self-obsessed policies are causing.
They still kill without losing a second's sleep, and are just as unrepentant as they ever were.
The centuries old quest for prohibition isn't about health, nor has it ever been. It's still just a bunch of mentally unbalanced psychos adhering to unthinking, and largely unattainable, dogma without care for the deeply anti-social - and regularly lethal - consequences of their actions.
We know from history that prohibitionists long since passed went to their graves with much blood on their hands; their successors in the prohibition industry seem perfectly happy to carry on in the same vein.