posted by Carl V Phillips
I was going to just outsource today’s post, but I could not let this one pass: a letter to the editor at a Pennsylvania mainstream media site, praising an editorial that called for increasing taxes on smokeless tobacco in the state. I am not so much focused on the lie that there is no tax on smokeless tobacco here (there is a state sales tax, as well as all the corporate taxes on those who sell it — there is merely no extra “abuse tobacco users” tax heaped on top of those). Nor am I particularly interested in the tired old lies offered to justify it.
I am focused merely on the fact that the American F–king Lung Association actively campaigns against THR. Here is a hint, morons: smoking is bad for the lungs, keeping smokeless tobacco cheap reduces smoking, no one has ever seriously suggested that smokeless tobacco is bad for the lungs, and therefore, your stated mission demands that you oppose raising taxes on smokeless tobacco.
That ALA opposes THR is not news, of course. For years they have been part of the cabal of anti-tobacco extremists (i.e., those who want to punish people for any tobacco use, regardless of whether there is any public health, individual health, or other justification for doing so). But it is worth pointing out that by taking this position they are lying — not just when they lie about the risks from smokeless tobacco, but to all of their donors and everyone else who believes that their mission is to try to reduce lung disease.
I will note that I have a genuine conflict of interest here: I benefit from the lack of additional taxes on smokeless tobacco in Pennsylvania. Wait, screw that language of accepted victimization and replace with: I am among the many who would suffer unfair and completely unjustified regressive taxation if there were additional taxes on these products. But the far more serious conflict of interest is can be found in the mission statement of the ALA:
To save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.
The American Lung Association will improve the air we breathe so it will not cause or worsen lung disease.
The American Lung Association will reduce the burden of lung disease on patients and their families.
And those goals are furthered by being anti-THR how, exactly? Oh, wait, I left one out…
The American Lung Association will eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related lung disease.
Oh, they will eliminate not just lung disease — not just disease — but will eliminate tobacco use itself. I kind of doubt they will pull that off, no matter how much they lie.
For those hoping for a bit more substance today, allow me to direct you to Snowdon’s post, which elegantly dissects one random bit of anti-smoking lying and includes some links at the bottom to a fascinating lie-based anti-smoking political fight that is going on in the UK right now. (I was tempted to write about it, but it would be redundant with everyone else, so just read them.)
The antiTHRlies blog will not normally delve into anti-smoking lies, which are kind of off-mission. However, virtually all anti-THR lies and liars are working from the anti-smoking playbook, so there is definitely relevance. One might argue that anti-smoking lies tend to encourage THR, and since we are trying to encourage THR we should not opposes the lies. But the philosophy of harm reduction is one based on truth, individual choice, and maximizing welfare, which is clearly incompatible with lying about any aspect of the issue.
Back to something more analytic tomorrow.