Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is tobacco the new marijuana?

On the website Change.org, members voted on what changes in the law they would like to see.

I was very happy to see that the idea to Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana received the most votes. The idea was submitted, in part, by a LEAP speaker, Larry Talley.

However, also in the running was the idea to Send the Tobacco Treaty to the Senate for Ratification. While the Tobacco Treaty doesn't actually ban tobacco, it does severely restrict and regulate it. I find it bizarre that one of the goals of the treaty is to "increase the price of tobacco products, particularly through taxation, to discourage tobacco use." The very next stated goal is to "Eliminate the illicit trade of tobacco products."

I would hope that the readers of this page would see the problem with that. They call for raising the taxes on tobacco (as if they weren't already high enough) while at the same time they expect the government to magically eliminate the illicit trade in it. Of course, it is the high taxes that bring out the illegal trade in tobacco! Tax it even more and only the criminals will benefit. Also, remember that high taxation was the tactic used to bring about the prohibition of marijuana in the United States.

I have noticed a disturbing trend where marijuana is more and more tolerated while at the same time tobacco is less and less tolerated. It is almost as if we, as people, have a need to have a scapegoat and we love demonizing plants! Neither marijuana or tobacco is generally good for you. But that isn't the point. Adults should be free to smoke either substance, without harassment. No one is saying that reasonable restrictions and taxes aren't necessary, but we ought to keep things in perspective. We should not replace a war on marijuana with a war on tobacco. The results aren't going to be any better!

Disclaimer, I am an occasional cigar smoker and an even more occasional pipe smoker. And my blog is called Tobaccoland.


  1. Let's just say the moral police on the globe are alive and well. This is ridiculous. Many people are so offended by tobacco aka cigarettes but let's not continue on the punish streak.

    The husband and I went to Amsterdam in January 2008 and a meeting was arranged with Sergeant Beekmeijer (red light district supervisor) and Michael Veling (owns 420 cafe in Amsterdam and is or was an elected politician).
    While the entire hour with them was beyond wonderful there's one thing Michael said that had me dumbfounded at the time. He said, "I see a day coming when tobacco will be outlawed". And Michael rolls his own cigarettes and practically chain smoked the entire time. He also added that it'll be quite a feat to accomplish as the people of the Netherlands love their tobacco.

  2. Great post, William. I'm not a regular tobacco smoker myself, but the mounting anti-tobacco crusade is really bugging me. Not only do we have these ridiculous regulatory regimes that restrict legitimate business in the favor of an illegal trade, but we're putting the squeeze on the end user too with smoking bans and the like. If a bar owner decides he wants his business to allow smoking, who has he harmed? Is he forcing non-smokers to patronize his business?

    This "Tobacco Treaty" will also have dangerous unintended consequences with regard to alternative nicotine delivery methods, like Snus and E-Cigarettes. These products eliminate much of the harmful combustion products and other unhealthy aspects of smoking, while still providing the user with nicotine.

    However, according to the requirements of this bill, the FDA would need to label a smoking alternative as "safe" for it to be legally sold. Any nicotine delivery product besides one marketed as a "quit smoking" aid (a distinction without a difference itself) is not at all likely to be ruled "safe" by the FDA, even if it is demonstrably much safer than cigarette smoking. The result is that we can expect these much healthier options to be banned simply because they are not "safe" according to the FDA.

    Demonizing tobacco will ultimately be exactly as futile, counterproductive, and actively harmful as every other exercise in legal demonization.

  3. In 1994 (I was 14) I was firmly convinced that we would see cigarettes illegal and marijuana legal by the year 2000. At that point I was staunchly against both (VP of "Just Say No", smoked pot for the first time a year later.... ofcourse). I am not surprised to see my prediction coming to fruition (several other ludicrous predictions I made back then have come true as well, though not in the way I thought they would).

    Now that we have nicotine demonized in society, I really think it is time to lay off! It is a personal choice and if some people want to smoke, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I think people are just jumping on the bandwagon of a politically popular blacklisting, where with marijuana people are jumping OFF the prohibition bandwagon. Can't give people much credit for being logical these days.... but could you ever have?

  4. Great point, and I absolutely agree. As one becomes more socially acceptable, the other becomes more maligned. It seems history is doomed to repeat itself. I work in tobacco harm reduction (and am interested in harm reduction in general and am pro-regulation). You may be interested in my group's website: TobaccoHarmReduction.org. We explore low-risk options to smoking tobacco, and have experienced firsthand how politics can have an enormous impact on policy. The amount of misinformation about tobacco in general is quite astounding.

    Love the blog,

  5. I absolutely agree, William. I have never smoked, and I used to be a fairly extreme anti-smoker. Then my brother explained how cigarettes help tradesmen do their work, and then I learned about the economics of prohibition. I also learned that nicotine is an anti-psychotic; many mild schizophrenics smoke because it eliminates the need for pharmaceuticals.

    In my opinion, we have already taken anti-tobacco regulation a bit too far. I would have no problem if a bar chose to allow smoking everywhere within its premises, as long as it clearly informed potential customers and employees of this. It would lose some business from people who don't like a lot of smoke (including me), but it has the right to make that choice.

  6. Good to hear about your turn around Steve, it's a rarity indeed. Twenty gold stars for you.

  7. Man, heavy-handed thugs seem to ru(i)n everything!

    It's so ironic, wasn't tobacco the very first big money crop/export, even before there was a USA?

    Some people have a serious God-complex, they have a psychological deficit that makes them want to constantly lord authority over everyone else. They assure themselves they know best and the rest of us are just idiots who do not think, but rely on our various "pleasure centers" for guidance.

    I tried cigarettes in my teen years and thought they were totally disgusting. I have heard that from others too. Because of that I find it easy to believe the testimony of others who say they've tried heroin, meth, alcohol, cannabis, etc… and didn't like them one bit and their first use was their last.

    The Drug Warrior lies that once a person tries a drug s/he becomes a hopeless addict need to be buried once and for all.

    Haven't these people read Tom Sawyer?! (The Lesson | An Essay)

    I for one, have always been dismayed at how often I've heard girls say they like "bad boys." I am not sure where they get it; my general sense is it's innate, not something they're taught. But for sure, one way to ensure more kids take an interest in smoking tobacco is to vilify it.

    We definitely live in the times of Revelation 13. For the non-religious among us, I encourage you to read it. It's all about evil beings who are hell-bent on forcing others; the evil trio (or four, depending on how you count) do their best to take away free will and freedom to choose; and force humanity to worship their version of things.


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