Smoking bans and mirrors: Is it about health? Or control?

Call me Ishmael.

I have been banished to the wilderness of the smoking area.  I am a social pariah, exhaler of toxic gases, deliverer of death.

A little sign in my hotel room here in Puerto Rico explains, "For your convenience, this hotel has been designated a non-smoking property.  Thank you for your cooperation."

For my convenience, Puerto Rico has adopted draconian anti-smoking laws.  Lighting up in hotels; restaurants; bars; casinos; automobiles with any child aboard; or anywhere at all where others can perchance be exposed to lethal secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoke, is a crime.

As more and more hotels ban tobacco, the only accommodations left with smoking rooms are likely to be the Dew Drop Inn of Raleigh-Durham or Ed's Motel just outside Baton Rouge.

As for my old home town, I cannot smoke in Central Park.  Unless it's a joint.

In many places they have condemned e-cigarettes, which emit no smoke and no tars – just water vapor.  The control freaks reign: no smoking, and no doing anything that looks like it.

When I was in college, quite some time ago, I smoked in class.  You could smoke in airplanes, bars, restaurants, public parks, subways, hotel rooms, Grandma's parlor.  Today?  Almost nowhere.  How is it that in those days, almost no one complained about the smell of burning tobacco, and now nearly everyone does?

The war on tobacco, breathlessly waged by liberals and others who yearn to command everyone and everything, is based on the hysteria that smoking and being around the reprobates who smoke, as the surgeon general has declared, kill us.  That countless others things do is dismissed as a distraction, not germane to the clear scientific facts.

A look at the clear scientific facts actually conveys quite a different conclusion.

According to nearly all the studies done, as opposed to the mere assertions, about 10 percent of lifelong cigarette-smokers contract any stripe of cancer.  Those who consume three or more packs a day have a 3- to 4-percent higher rate of lung cancer than the nonsmoking population.

And among that nonsmoking population, 10 to 15 percent are likely to get cancer of anything.  Thus, it would appear that in the absence of post hoc ergo propter hoc, you are more likely to be felled by cancer if you don't smoke.

In the Middle Kingdom, where 68 percent of adult males smoke, the lung cancer rate was for many years far lower than in the West, where about 35 percent of adult males smoke.

In the last few decades, the lung cancer rate in China has risen sharply, but the culprit is not smoking; it's pollution, and the rate is considerably higher in the smog-ridden cities.

The prestigious Centers for Disease Control claim that between 2005 and 2009, 34,000 nonsmokers died from secondhand smoke.  That's fewer than 7,000 per year.  Yet there are about 40 million smokers in the United States, so if passive smoke is so deadly, millions of the abstemious who are not taken to the bosom of their creator by passive smoke must be living well clear of the killers.

Or maybe, as reported in 2013 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, of all people, there is "no statistically significant relationship between lung cancer and passive smoke."

OK, what about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, like emphysema and bronchitis?  As with all strains of cancer, about 10 percent of smokers come down with it (like me, by the way).  Among the nonsmoking general population?  About 10 percent.

Smoking is, without too much question, a potentially dangerous activity.  But so are innumerable other voluntary behaviors.  Should the busybodies demand we outlaw sailing, rock-climbing, flying in airliners, driving cars, overeating, drinking alcohol, riding horses, boxing, and other rough sports?

Oops.  I don't want to give 'em any ideas.

Robert Hoffman's books on the island of St. Croix, Alexander Hamilton's boyhood, and the Ponzi prince R. Allen Stanford are available on Amazon.

Call me Ishmael.

I have been banished to the wilderness of the smoking area.  I am a social pariah, exhaler of toxic gases, deliverer of death.

A little sign in my hotel room here in Puerto Rico explains, "For your convenience, this hotel has been designated a non-smoking property.  Thank you for your cooperation."

For my convenience, Puerto Rico has adopted draconian anti-smoking laws.  Lighting up in hotels; restaurants; bars; casinos; automobiles with any child aboard; or anywhere at all where others can perchance be exposed to lethal secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoke, is a crime.

As more and more hotels ban tobacco, the only accommodations left with smoking rooms are likely to be the Dew Drop Inn of Raleigh-Durham or Ed's Motel just outside Baton Rouge.

As for my old home town, I cannot smoke in Central Park.  Unless it's a joint.

In many places they have condemned e-cigarettes, which emit no smoke and no tars – just water vapor.  The control freaks reign: no smoking, and no doing anything that looks like it.

When I was in college, quite some time ago, I smoked in class.  You could smoke in airplanes, bars, restaurants, public parks, subways, hotel rooms, Grandma's parlor.  Today?  Almost nowhere.  How is it that in those days, almost no one complained about the smell of burning tobacco, and now nearly everyone does?

The war on tobacco, breathlessly waged by liberals and others who yearn to command everyone and everything, is based on the hysteria that smoking and being around the reprobates who smoke, as the surgeon general has declared, kill us.  That countless others things do is dismissed as a distraction, not germane to the clear scientific facts.

A look at the clear scientific facts actually conveys quite a different conclusion.

According to nearly all the studies done, as opposed to the mere assertions, about 10 percent of lifelong cigarette-smokers contract any stripe of cancer.  Those who consume three or more packs a day have a 3- to 4-percent higher rate of lung cancer than the nonsmoking population.

And among that nonsmoking population, 10 to 15 percent are likely to get cancer of anything.  Thus, it would appear that in the absence of post hoc ergo propter hoc, you are more likely to be felled by cancer if you don't smoke.

In the Middle Kingdom, where 68 percent of adult males smoke, the lung cancer rate was for many years far lower than in the West, where about 35 percent of adult males smoke.

In the last few decades, the lung cancer rate in China has risen sharply, but the culprit is not smoking; it's pollution, and the rate is considerably higher in the smog-ridden cities.

The prestigious Centers for Disease Control claim that between 2005 and 2009, 34,000 nonsmokers died from secondhand smoke.  That's fewer than 7,000 per year.  Yet there are about 40 million smokers in the United States, so if passive smoke is so deadly, millions of the abstemious who are not taken to the bosom of their creator by passive smoke must be living well clear of the killers.

Or maybe, as reported in 2013 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, of all people, there is "no statistically significant relationship between lung cancer and passive smoke."

OK, what about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, like emphysema and bronchitis?  As with all strains of cancer, about 10 percent of smokers come down with it (like me, by the way).  Among the nonsmoking general population?  About 10 percent.

Smoking is, without too much question, a potentially dangerous activity.  But so are innumerable other voluntary behaviors.  Should the busybodies demand we outlaw sailing, rock-climbing, flying in airliners, driving cars, overeating, drinking alcohol, riding horses, boxing, and other rough sports?

Oops.  I don't want to give 'em any ideas.

Robert Hoffman's books on the island of St. Croix, Alexander Hamilton's boyhood, and the Ponzi prince R. Allen Stanford are available on Amazon.