Chapter 1: The Hysteria

© 1999, Lauren A. Colby. Version 2.3

Chapter 1: The Hysteria

I am a 64 year old male and I have been smoking cigars and pipes since I was 18. Recently, however, like other smokers, I have found myself hounded, bullied and repressed by a government-sponsored campaign against smoking and smokers. In fact, I've been thrown out of some of the best restaurants in the country, because of my smoking habits!

What particularly galls me is the prejudice against cigar and pipe smokers! The original Surgeon General's Report, released in 1964, showed no ill effects from pipe smoking, or moderate cigar smoking. Indeed, studies relied upon by the SG actually showed that pipe smokers lived longer than non-smokers. The only exception was pipe smokers who quit smoking. They died somewhat sooner than the non-smokers or the active pipe smokers. The SG speculated that the pipe smokers who quit might have done so because they were ill.

In this book, I will show that the case against smoking based on bogus statistics and downright lies. I will show that the case for a link between smoking and disease has not been proven and that, indeed, the international statistics suggest that there's no link at all. Furthermore, I will show that the government estimates of "smoking-related deaths" are simply fraudulent and that the recent EPA report, purporting to show a risk to non-smokers from second hand smoke was predicated on manufactured "evidence" which some of the EPA's own scientists found appalling.

First, however, it may be helpful to recite a little history. From Winston's Cumulative Encyclopedia, published in 1911:

"Smoking is generally supposed to have been introduced into England by Sir Walter Raleigh, but Camden says the practice was introduced by Drake and his companions on their return from Virginia in 1585. It was strongly opposed by both priests and rulers. Pope Urban VII and Innocent IX issued bulls excommunicating such as used snuff in church, and in Turkey smoking was made a capital offense. In the canton of Bern the prohibition of the use of tobacco was put among the ten commandments, immediately after that forbidding adultery. The Counterblast or denunciation written by James I of England is a matter of history. All prohibitions, however, regal or priestly, were of no avail, and tobacco is now the most extensively used luxury on the face of the earth."

Extensively used, perhaps, but never non-controversial. On his 70th birthday in 1905, Mark Twain said:

"I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining old age. When we examine the program of any of these garrulous old people we always find that the habits which have preserved them would have decayed us...I will offer here a sound maxim...that we can't reach old age by another man's road...

"I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I have no other restriction as regards smoking. I do not know just when I began to smoke. I only know that it was in my father's lifetime and that I was discreet. He passed from this life early in 1847, when I was a shade past eleven; ever since then I have smoked publicly. As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my practice never to smoke when asleep and never to refrain when awake. It is a good practice. I mean, for me, but some of you know quite well that it wouldn't answer for everybody that's trying to get to be seventy...Today it is all of sixty years that I began to smoke the limit."

So, even in the "Golden Age" of smoking, there were those who thought it a sin, or worse, including Mark Twain's father. In recent years, however, there has never been such an assault on Smokers as the one being waged, at the present time, by the United States Government. A special agency has been set up, within the Surgeon General's office, to issue or perhaps manufacture statistics showing the dangers of smoking. It is called the Council on Smoking and Health but I have also seen it referred to by anti-smoking activists as the "Council on Smoking or Health".

In Congress, Representative Henry Waxman called the executives of the Tobacco companies to appear before his Sub-committee. He bullied them, shouted them down when they tried to speak, and demanded "yes" or "no" answers to loaded questions that could not be answered "yes" or "no". It reminded me of the tactics used by Senator Joe McCarthy, when he was persecuting alleged "communists". Waxman even had his own "Roy Cohn", whispering conspiratorially in his ear!

In Maryland, California, and Washington State, statewide bans have been enacted on smoking. New York City has enacted a ban. No matter that almost everywhere that such bans have been enacted, there have been drastic reductions in the businesses of bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, etc., that cater to smokers! Nothing will assuage the zeal of the tobacco prohibitionists except an eventual ban on all tobacco use.

But is all this justified? The Europeans don't seem to think so. In Italy, they still have ash-trays on elevators. In England, people still keep cigars and cigarettes in their homes, and politely offer them to their guests. A prominent British medical researcher, a non-smoker, who spent his life attempting to develop a unified theory of cancer, has written proliferously, questioning the alleged association of smoking with disease. I'll have more about that later.

Beginning in 1981, on annual trips to Martinique and Guadeloupe, islands in the Caribbean which are departments of France, my wife and I personally witnessed the relaxed European attitude towards smoking. At the hotels where we stayed, everybody smoked! Some smoked cigarettes, while other smoked pipes or cigars. Every day, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, I puffed away on my cigars and pipes, and nobody complained until the last day of one trip. On that day, a group of Americans sat down next to us at breakfast, and, sure enough, a young American girl began complaining, loudly, about my smoking.

One day, during our trip, we took a day cruise on a glass bottomed boat. There were a bunch of French people on board. We were up on the second deck, and I was smoking my usual cigar, when my wife decided to go downstairs and get a Coke. No sooner had she left than I spotted a young French girl walking towards me, rather aggressively. She was dressed in short shorts and a brief halter top (I'm old, but not blind). When she got about three feet away, she suddenly stopped. I thought "Oh-Oh!, she's going to demand that I throw away my cigar". But I was wrong! She simply held out a cigarette. I gather she wanted me to light it from my cigar, but I figured my wife might not appreciate such an intimate gesture, so I fished a pack of matches out of my pockets and handed them to her.