© 2000, Lauren A. Colby. Version 2.5
Chapter 14: Summation
In this book, I have shown that the case for a smoking/lung cancer connection is by no means proven. Certainly, there is no case whatever for a connection between ETS (second hand smoke) and any disease, nor is there are any case for a connection between cigar and pipe smoking and lung cancer. The case for a connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer rests on the slim reed of a science called epidemiology. But all epidemiological studies, predicated as they are on statistics, are subject to so many co-factors and confounding factors as to be subject to innumerable different interpretations.
Once an assumption is made that, say, eating jellybeans causes carbuncles, it is all too easy to gather and/or manipulate data to support the theory. It is all too easy for researchers to ignore or explain away data which points the other way. We have seen examples of this in the preceding chapters.
In recent years, Americans have embarked upon an increasingly puritanical view of the world. The War on Drugs has dramatically changed the way Americans view the use of marijuana and cocaine (and has also resulted in the U.S. having the largest prison population, per capita, of any major nation). Last year, Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was fired, essentially for daring to mention the word "masturbation" at a televised conference.
The last time the country went on a binge of Puritanism, the result was Prohibition. The enthusiasm for Prohibition was so overwhelming that when the Congress proposed the 18th Amendment to ban booze, the Amendment was ratified by every state except Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the total votes in the various State Senates were 84.6% for the amendment, while the total votes in the lower houses were 78.5% for the Amendment.
We are moving in the direction of a National Prohibition of smoking. If it passes, we will see bootlegging, smoking speakeasies, smoke police, raids on establishments and maybe even homes where tobacco is believed to be stored or used. We will see the ultimate corruption of public officials and law enforcement officers, bribed to allow illegal smoking establishments to continue in business.
This is a slippery slope! Once the role of government has been firmly established in regulating the personal smoking behavior of its citizens, the next easy step is to begin regulating other forms of personal behavior, deemed offensive to the majority. Soon, books, movies, videos, etc., deemed offensive, will be banned, as well. Already, government regulations are coming into effect which will require employers to limit the use of automobiles by their employees, and to require citizens in certain parts of the county to purchase special types of gasoline which cost more than regular gas and yield less mileage.
Government regulation tends to put people out of business and out of work. It is no coincidence that Prohibition of Alcohol was followed by a market crash in 1929, followed by the horrible depression of the 1930's. Prohibition destroyed the California wine and grape industry; it closed thousands of restaurants and drinking establishments. Of course, it made Al Capone a wealthy man and much admired by the American public, but that can by no means be counted a benefit!
The anti-smoking movement in this country and in the world at large is using unreasoning fear as a weapon to achieve its objectives. An entire generation of Americans has been brain washed to believe that if somebody lights up a cigarette in a room, everybody in that room will shortly come down with a host of fatal ailments.
In their book, "Generations" 46 , authors William Strauss and Neil Howe put forth a theory of American thought, based upon a repeating 80 year cycle. The authors contend that we are presently in a phase of the cycle which corresponds to the generational constellations which brought prohibition in 1919. The authors argue that the baby boomers, a generation of idealists, are now about to seize power. Unlike their elders, the Silents, who valued tolerance and compromises, the boomers are grim moralists, who have no hesitation to impose their values on others. On that theory, Newt Gingrich and Hillary Clinton have more in common than they have in differences; their values may differ, but they share the common view that values are good, and must be imposed, as Hillary did, when she banned smoking in the White House.
If Howe and Strauss are right, we are entering a new era of Puritanism which, they claim, will end only after the Puritans clash amongst themselves or with foreign enemies, resulting in a crisis - which they say will occur sometime after the year 2004. Further, if the authors are right, facts will mean little in this coming Puritanical age. The facts will simply be created to justify bans on smoking, drinking, and other pleasurable things, and to justify the loss of many other personal freedoms. In short, if the authors are right, I am in the position of King Canute, trying to hold back an inevitable force. Never-the-less, I cherish the hope that some people, at least, will still value the facts which I've tried to present.
It is too much to hope that this book will be read by non-smokers. They will have no interest in this tome. My hope is simply that smokers will read these pages, and arm themselves with facts to refute the propaganda.
A medical doctor recently asked me "why do you insist on smoking?". I replied, "Because I enjoy it". I'm afraid he just didn't "get it".