Ban e-cigarettes? The anti-smoking lobby’s clueless crusade
The same impulse is afoot in less trendy parts of the country. Illinois has banned e-cigarette sales to teens and Massachusetts is considering legislation that would ban giving away free samples or using the devices anywhere that tobacco is already verboten. Despite the lack of second-hand smoke, school districts around the country have lumped in e-cigarettes with banned tobacco products on campuses, and the Federal Aviation Administration has blocked their use on commercial flights.
In one sense, you’ve got to admire anti-smoking activists and their willingness to constantly look for new fires to put out. Like the March of Dimes, which scrambled for a new cause once polio was effectively eradicated (and found one in the all-encompassing categories of preventing birth defects and premature births), the anti-smoking movement is a victim of its own success. In the wake of increasingly high-handed bans, taxes, and regulations, smoking is everywhere in retreat. In the mid-1960s, over 40 percent of Americans smoked, compared to less than 20 percent these days. Yet it’s no coincidence that the biggest decreases in smoking rates came in the early decades after the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1964 report on smoking told Americans what they already knew: cigarettes were called “coffin nails” and “cancer sticks” for good goddamned reasons. …
But as the percentage of Americans who smoke has stayed relatively stuck in the high teens and low twenties, the anti-smoking movement has turned to increasingly paternalistic, dictatorial, and infantilizing measures to achieve its goals.