Derisory and distasteful to threaten smokers with blindness

STOP that or you'll go blind!

Surely no health warning in history has been more disregarded, more laughable … or more utterly inaccurate - as generations of eagle-eyed adolescents testify.

But blissfully ignorant of how derisory and distasteful it is to threaten people with blindness, the zealots of the anti-smoking brigade have chosen this as one of the ridiculous slogans to fly at the masthead of their rabid campaign.

I don't smoke but I am deeply dismayed that government policy has been hijacked by health fanatics and absolutely appalled by the treatment of my fellow citizens who choose to smoke.

The government endlessly harangues them with anti-smoking propaganda; shamelessly extorts huge and highly regressive taxes from them; threatens them with death and dreadful diseases; morally blackmails them by accusing them of harming others; bullies them with countless pointless and petty regulations; conspicuously separates them from other citizens and herds them into ghettoes; taunts them with slogans like "$16 a pack is not all that smokers cough up" and with revolting cruelty and incredible insensitivity undermines any sympathy for smokers who happen to be in the dreadful position of having cancer by saying it's their own fault.

Now they are chortling with sanctimonious glee because (in Australia) they've forced smokers to buy tobacco in plain packs adorned with gruesome and grotesque images of ill health allegedly caused by smoking.

This may play well in the health community but it's gratuitously offensive to non-smokers like myself who do not wish to get caught in the crossfire and get grossed out by such vile images.

No other section of society is so vilified, bullied and discriminated against and it can only be a matter of time before smokers are forced to wear a yellow star like German Jews.

If this seems far-fetched, Australia's archbishop of anti-smoking, Professor Simon Chapman came close to this recently with his chilling call for smokers to be licenced. 

The whole bullying, hectoring, discriminatory campaign is unacceptable in our modern, free democratic society.

But what is even worse is that the whole anti-smoking campaign is thoroughly fraudulent, disgracefully dishonest and scientifically unsustainable anyway.

Though the fawning media never ever question or criticise them, the anti-smoking saints often trip themselves up.

A classic example of this was president of the Australian Medical Association's Brendan Nelson's thunderous threat that two out of three smokers will die. 

Neither Dr Nelson nor anyone in the media seemed to notice that this gave smokers pretty fair one in three odds of immortality.

Then there is the wild and totally unscientific claim that "there is no safe level of exposure to passive smoke".

There are tolerable levels of exposure to all sorts of toxins, even radioactivity but not apparently to passive smoke in any concentration which is thus by far the most dangerous substance on the planet.

The wonder is that society seems to have somehow survived and even thrived despite being exposed to this deadly danger for the last 300 years.

But it's not just the patently ludicrous claims we should deride and dismiss.

Anti-smokers should be actively prosecuted for scaremongering.

They can issue any death threats they like.

Take their slogan, "every cigarette brings cancer closer".

Issued with the authority of the Australian Government, people would innocently assume that cancer is an inevitable, imminent and unavoidable consequence of smoking.

They would therefore be surprised to learn that in reality smokers have a high 90s% chance of not getting cancer.

They go on to claim, "at any time (ie. imminently) smoker's cough (a myth in itself) can become lung cancer".

Well why shouldn't we believe the claims of the anti-smokers?

There are many reasons but to take just one, the highly respected British Doctor Study ran for 50 years and repeatedly reported that over 20 years of active smoking did no harm.

These findings are not disputed and bizarrely, even Prof Chapman once admitted this in an obscure corner of his otherwise virulently anti-smoking website.

It follows that if 20 years of active smoking does no harm, the effect of passive smoke must be somewhere between infinitesimal and zero but one would never gather this from the anti-smoking hysteria and we are surely entitled to ask why we are never given a balanced picture.

If we allow the Government health advisers continue persecuting the poor old puffers we are endangering our own liberties because their campaign is also downright dangerous to the fabric of our free society for it is fundamentally repressive, regressive and discriminatory.

The real warning on cigarette packs should read: "Caution! Anti-smoking is a humbug hazard!".

David H. Lewis is an Australian skeptic who writes as a private citizen and has no affiliation with any tobacco interests.

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