“No smoking” in Latin (Wallsend Metro station, England). Photo taken from this site
My text was originally posted on the FORCES International website (2010). I`ve slightly modified it:
Today, the conventional wisdom amongst the anti-smoking establishment is that smoking (or even exposure to tobacco smoke) in any amount is damaging to health. This has never been properly scientifically demonstrated, and it will never be demonstrated in the future. This conclusion is a matter of faith and, like all matters of faith, it cannot be proven via scientific means. For instance, there is no possible way to prove that smoking a few cigarettes over the course of one’s entire life will result in lung cancer or any other malignant neoplasm. Nonetheless, international anti-smoking’s faith in the idea of “no safe level of exposure” is so strong that even religious faith fades in comparison to it. The ultimate goal of the anti-smoking movement is prohibition.
I might suppose, Plato would probably view anti-smoking’s conventional wisdom as what he called in his dialogue The Republic a “beneficial lie”. Plato believed that lying is morally justified if it serves to preserve the social order. This ancient, dangerous conception of a “beneficial lie” is still alive and admired today by those who dream of imposing their will and beliefs onto others.
The anti-smoking establishment engages in consistent application of “beneficial lies” in order to further the cause of their prohibitionist faith. The anti-smoking establishment believes that lies and scientific manipulation are justified. Poland, of course, has not been immune from the spread of international anti-smoking’s ideology. Anti-smoking tries to convince the populace here in Poland that the risks are the same no matter how heavily or lightly a person smokes. People are told that every cigarette takes 5 to 7 minutes off of their life, and that all smokers have a 20-40 times increased risk for lung cancer. Of course, it goes unmentioned that such a level of risk only applies to those who have smoked heavily for decades. Smokers are told that they have black lungs filled with tar or even asphalt, that they are suicidal, and that they are substantially harming others. And so on.
Now, the anti-smoking lobby is also trying to exclude the smoking minority in Poland from public discussions related to smoking. They claim that smokers are so ill and addicted that they are unable to properly assess their own condition, or express their own needs. Therefore, there should be no discussion with smokers, but only treatment. Anti-smoking activists are convinced that such a lie is morally acceptable because it will serve to achieve their ultimate goal–to make tobacco smoking and trade illegal.
The result of anti-smoking’s propaganda has been to convince people that there’s truth to ridiculous claims like “secondhand hand smoke is more harmful than direct smoking” and “filtered cigarettes are as dangerous as unfiltered, and light cigarettes can be more harmful than full flavored cigarettes”.
For me, a lie will always remain morally unacceptable.
As the media and anti-smoking activists constantly repeat, tobacco smoke probably contains many more than 5000 substances, but most of them are in hardly detectable concentrations. Besides, not all of them are toxic – but this information is almost always deliberately omitted.
I’ve never heard of a substance (or mixture of substances) that is always harmful -regardless of its concentration. Of course, the safe level of concentration for some chemical compounds is very low, nevertheless it always exists. Why, then, should tobacco smoke be a unique exception?
My text in Polish about anti-smoking propaganda: link