July 18, 1997


A fool who, after plain warning, persists in dosing himself with dangerous drugs should be free to do so, for his death is a benefit to the race in general.

H.L. Mencken, 1956

A great change has taken place in California and in other states as to where people can use tobacco. All California restaurants prohibit smoking, as do many work places. This means that non-smokers no longer are violated by smokers. A non-smoker can now breathe air that is uncontaminated by tobacco smoke. In terms of personal freedom, this is a great step forward.

Now attempts are being made to restrict tobacco company advertising in an attempt to keep them from hawking their products to kids. I doubt that it will succeed because, as with organized crime in general, the people engaged in the enterprise are very clever -much more clever than those who are trying to stop them. For a relatively small amount of money they can get movie stars, directors and producers to have their heroes and heroines smoke in movies. If a parent smokes, a kid is likely to do the same.

The tobacco companies will win; if not in this country, then in the rest of the world.

Up to now, most of what we have heard or read talks about the disadvantages of tobacco. We all know that it causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other diseases. It is responsible for more deaths than any other natural or man-made agent known other than old age. We have not considered the great advantages of having a portion of the population smoking cigarettes.

Cigarettes are FOOL KILLERS. In other words, every time that someone dies of a tobacco-caused disease, there is one less fool in the world. If we could get rid of all of the fools at an early age, the world would be a much better place.

There is a great fiduciary advantage to killing fools before they reach retirement age. It leaves that much more money to pay for the retirement and medical care of non-fools. The same is true of other fool killers such as recreational drugs that ultimately lead to death. It is unusual to see a heroin addict over the age of 50. As fool killers go, heroin is much better than tobacco.

I propose that, instead of restricting the amount of nicotine in cigarettes, that we allow the tobacco companies to do as they please and hook as many as they can. Further, we should require them to add methylcholanthrene or dibenzanthracine in order to enhance the carcinogenicity of the tobacco smoke. If we could make sure that all smokers died before age 62, there would be that much more money left in the Social Security and Medicare kitty. People who die early don't get Alzheimer's disease or other conditions that confine people to hospitals and nursing homes.

States are now suing the tobacco companies to recover the costs of treating tobacco-related diseases. They should be paying the tobacco companies for killing off people on the dole. It would probably cost more to support the bums.

Now that the innocent non-smoker is protected from tobacco smoke, why be concerned about the smokers who choose to smoke? You might say that they are influenced to smoke by the tobacco companies, and you would be correct. But isn't the best definition of a fool that he/she is someone who is easily influenced by overt or covert commercials?

An argument can be made that most youngsters are fools and that many grow out of it. Of course, with regard to dangerous substances and life-threatening activities, many more youngsters are not fools. Further, when kids come to their senses, they can stop smoking. Any non-fool would be willing to go through the pain of kicking the habit in exchange for his life. As for the rest, it's not only no great loss, but a great gain for the rest of society.

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