Warning for Americans! This blog post contains irony.
The Finnish government intends to eradicate tobacco smoking altogether in a couple of decades. Thus far the government has introduced a law that prohibits the shops from openly displaying tobacco products. The customer must ask for a specific product, and the salesperson takes it from a closed cupboard and sells it. (Americans, this is actually true. The irony will follow.) Unfortunately, this law has not prevented the people from smoking. In the following I propose new laws that help the government to achieve their noble goal.
My propositions are as follows:
* The customer must ask for a tobacco product using its proper name. If the customer says “White Mallu”, the store is not allowed to sell the product. The customer must say “Marlboro Gold”. The customer must also not say “Malporo”. (That’s how most of the Finns pronounce Marlboro.)
* Whenever a salesperson sells a tobacco product (s)he must say to the customer: “Tobacco is very harmful for health.”
* The government must hire theater students to patrol grocery stores. Whenever they see someone buy a tobacco product, they must disapprove in a loud and theatrical manner.
* Whenever a salesperson opens the cupboard to take a tobacco product to sell, the customer must turn their back on the cupboard. Closing one’s eyes is not enough, since it is possible to peek between the closed eyelids.
* The contents of the warning label of a tobacco product must be given with the product to the customer as a 1m x 1m poster. Every smoker must have at least three of these posters on the walls of his/her bedroom.
* Since the salespeople of the grocery stores open the tobacco cupboard a lot, they see a lot of tobacco packages. They must be required to participate in a course that educates them how not to fall victims of hidden advertising.
* The government must find an ink that is poisonous to inhale. Every cigarette must have a text printed with this ink stating: “Warning! This ink is poisonous when inhaled.”
Here some guy has found Christian virtues in smoking. I have no idea whether this is intended as a joke or a serious text. Being an atheist, both alternatives are fine with me.
Sometimes the claims of the anti-tobacco camp become ridiculous propaganda. Yes, smoking is dangerous, but sometimes the propaganda has nothing to do with the real dangers of tobacco. The anti-tobacco camp seems to accept any claim as long as it makes tobacco seem dangerous. Here are some of the more ridiculous claims.
“Tobacco smoke contains so-and-so many different dangerous chemical compounds.” The number is usually many hundreds. But it is not the number of different dangerous chemicals that kills. It is the quantity. Even one dangerous chemical kills, if taken in sufficient quantities, and any number is harmless, if the quantities are small enough. Hence, the number of different dangerous chemicals is completely irrelevant to the dangerousness of tobacco.
“Tobacco smoke contains so-and-so many different chemical compounds.” This is even more ridiculous than the previous one. Why should I care about the number of chemical compounds if you are not even telling me whether they are dangerous? All organic matter contains a huge number of different chemical compounds, but no-one thinks that for example food is dangerous because of that.
“Tobacco smoke contains <a list of scientific names of chemical compounds.>” I have actually seen this as a warning label in a box of cigarettes. An average reader, such as myself, has no way of knowing if the listed compounds are dangerous. The warning label seems to rely solely on the association between dangerousness and having a scientific name. But, guess what, all chemical compounds have scientific names, whether or not they are dangerous, so the informative value of this warning to an average reader is zero. It seems to rely solely on the shock value of scientific names.
All governments in the Western world seem to toughen the restrictions in smoking, and the Finnish one even intends to eradicate smoking altogether in a couple of decades. In general, majorities are usually quite intolerant towards the vices of minorities, so it is no wonder that the majority of people plays along.
What I have been wondering is that why there is no vocal minority in the media opposing the plans of the governments. I have seen individual opposing voices on shabby message boards, but nothing that could be taken seriously. There should be people having an interest opposing the governments in this case, at least smokers themselves and individual freedom enthusiasts. But even decriminalizing cannabis seems to get more attention from the latter group than opposing the trend of restricting tobacco smoking.
When the governments started toughening the laws regarding illegal home copying of music and movies, all around the Europe political “pirate parties” arose to oppose the trend. Why are we not seeing a similar movement wrt. smoking?
I have been reading anti-smoking blogs, and I am surprised how disrespectfully they treat smokers. They do not seem to see smokers as fellow human beings, but rather as some kind of puppets they can manipulate into non-smoking by smoking bans, increases of prices and anti-tobacco advertising. To me, treating another human as a human being means not trying to manipulate him/her, but letting him/her decide for him/herself.
You’d expect that kind of puppeteer attitude from the marketing department of a multinational tobacco company (or, more accurately, from the marketing department of any multinational company), not from people who claim to be concerned on the well-being of fellow humans.