Monday, March 16, 2009

Healthy Freedom?

The Rest of the Story blog by Dr. Michael Siegel is now reporting that obesity is becoming a bigger health threat than cigarette smoking. And judging from all of the new 'fat taxes' and social discrimination, that should thrill our health zealots and nanny legislators. I have been writing for years about how smoking is the gateway civil right, after which the rest will crumble. After all, freedom comes with inherent risks and individuals should be allowed to define their own pursuit of happiness; as opposed to having it dictated to them by the government, big business, and the health control police.

For those of you who don't know, Dr. Siegel is an anti-smoking health advocate who has supported workplace smoking-bans; but he has rallied against the pseudo-science, lies, exaggerations, employment discrimination, and science by press release, strategies used by the tobacco control movement. (If you don't read his blog, you should do so daily as it is one of the only near even-handed and honest publications about tobacco and tobacco control.) Furthermore, employment discrimination against smokers is becoming a big trend in America and it is shameful.... and now overweight people are next... when will Americans remember what it means to be an American? If we are to be a free people, our government must allow us to be free; consequences and all....

Note: the painting used in this blog post was owned by ArtistaCuba (a company I own) and is now owned by Bam Margera, another freedom loving American. If our legislators read this, they will probably think themselves geniuses to enact a tax on art which depicts anything unhealthy!


Michael J. McFadden said...

I would like to second TU's recommendation of Dr. Siegel's blog, but add a note or two.

First, I have great respect for Dr. Siegel's integrity, intelligence, and insight, but I am also constantly disappointed that refuses to modify his stance on workplace smoking bans, a general policy he strongly supports. He recognizes the fallacy of the "no-safe level" arguments, but has not, as of this point, been willing to apply them to the workplace setting.

I believe he is holding back because of a belief that in many cases a relaxation of a ban to allow for such smoking under well-ventilated conditions would necessarily lead to at least some situations at some times in some places where workers might be exposed to smoke levels approaching those experienced commonly by most workers in the 1950s through 1980s. Once a ban is relaxed the complicated question comes up of how to set standards, while keeping a ban in place allows one to ignore any need for such standards.

I disagree with his stance because I believe the science shows fairly clearly that the longterm risk to the health of nonsmokers working in decently ventilated surroundings is zero or close to zero to begin with (remember, even the much-criticized EPA Report only predicted about one extra lung cancer for every 40,000 or so person-years of exposure) and would be FAR less in today's environment. Remember, the EPA Report looked at studies of lung cancer that were based largely on exposures of 40 years or so during the 1940s through 1980s, a period when twice as many people were smoking, far less attention was paid to arranging ventilation to remove smoke, and when air-filtration options in general were far more primitive than today. In today's environment the risk, even according to the slipshod EPA methodology, might be more on the order of 1 lung cancer for every 400,000 personal years of exposure (based on half the concentration of smokers combined with 80% less smoke exposure per smoker after factoring in the increased ventilation/filtration effect - both obviously rough, but reasonable, estimates.)

Despite my disagreement with Dr. Siegel on this very fundamental issue, I agree with TU's belief that he offers a far more even-handed and authoritative analysis of current news stories and studies concerning smoking, its effects, and the social movement behind increasing bans and taxes than you'll find almost anywhere else on the web. I would add one final note though: Read Dr. Siegel's blog entries, but be sure to read the comments that follow them as well. He has attracted a good number of very intelligent and scientifically articulate people to his tobaccoanalysis blog and their insights are often fully as informative and thought-provoking as the initial blog entries themselves.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Anonymous said...

THIS SITE IS AWESOME. I loved the plea for cigar smokers to carry around their cigars and hold them on display even unlit. Awesome. I'm a well-educated 32yo just discovering the pleasures of cigars, and I'm so glad you're here. It's like when I fell in love with my pit bull - totally upended my view of what being a social pariah in this country really is about..... THANKS.

hahajohnnyb said...

As a smoker and a Libertarian, I support the right of a business to discriminate against anyone for any reason, even if that bias works against my own self interest; however, in a free market an employer should also have the right to discriminate against Non-smokers if he so desires, just as he should have the right to organize his business in a way to best affect his productivity, so long as workers lives are not directly threatened. ETS is not a direct and immediate threat to anyone's life, and employees certainly have the right to choose not to work in a smoking environment, but no one says that they have the right to work where ever they want.

Freedom would certainly provide a place for everyone, too bad not too many people are thinking about liberty, and everyone with any power is thinking seriously about control.