How many more growing menaces do we need?

In the course of perusing the relatively new research implicating "third-hand smoke" as yet another dangerous carcinogen, alarm bells went off in my paranoid brain, and as I hope my worries are misguided, I thought it merited a blog post.

An article in the OC Register ("Should smoking be banned in apartments?") -- which linked a "scientific" policy recommendation in the New England Journal of Medicine -- forced me into a sudden, ugly realization.

PROHIBITION IS COMING!

Here's what the NEJM scientists advocate:

Exposure to tobacco smoke in the home can be avoided fully only through the implementation of a complete smoking ban.11 Mitigation measures such as the use of fans, air filters, and separate smoking rooms are ineffective.59 Ridding public housing of tobacco smoke would keep such settings in step with the trend toward no-smoking policies in workplaces, private housing, and even private vehicles.60

Tenants in multiunit housing have few alternative legal remedies for the problem of tobacco-smoke exposure. They can sue their landlords, claiming that tobacco smoke constitutes a nuisance or violates the warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment of housing,53,61 but litigation is an unreliable and arduous strategy.62 Tenants with medical sensitivities to tobacco smoke may also be able to obtain legal relief (through litigation or HUD's complaints process63) under the federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and state disability discrimination laws, but only if they can show that their reaction to the smoke substantially limits a major life activity and that the requested accommodation is not unduly burdensome to the landlord.62,64,65 Because other legal remedies are so limited and market remedies are unavailable to very-low-income tenants, the onus arguably is on public-housing regulators to ensure adequate protection from tobacco smoke for these residents.

I am not in a position to know whether the research into "third-hand smoke" is legitimate, but no one seems to have questioned it. Is there still peer review? Or is there just a gigantic anti-smoking bandwagon of biased, government-paid activist "scientists" like Stanton Glantz, backed up by busybody bureaucrats of one sort or another, continually ratcheting up their war against tobacco?

My worry is that unless they are forcefully opposed, what activists want, activists will get. Especially when they can point to dangers to children. Or animals! (Seriously. That last link only dealt with "second-hand smoke," but with the "third-hand smoke" meme fast sinking in, pretty soon the animal control bureaucrats not only be refusing to allow smokers to adopt dogs and cats, but they'll be wanting to verfify that the buildings they're going to are "smoke free" (meaning no one is allowed to smoke there).

It is no longer enough to ask smokers to step outside; safety conscious landlords, parents business-owners and homeowners should never allow anyone who has smoked to enter their premises, period!

At first, there was talk of second-hand smoke as being dangerous. Now research has established that there is such a thing called third-hand smoke and it's just as dangerous, making a lit cigarette dangerous to the smoker and all non-smokers that come into contact with him or her, long after the cigarette is put out.

The residue of nicotine, ash, and tar that linger on surfaces can react with another chemical in the air to form potent carcinogens -- chemicals linked to various cancers. While first-hand smoke is that inhaled directly by the smoker and second-hand is the smoke exhaled (and inhaled by others), third-hand smoke is the residues from second-hand smoke that cling onto clothing, hair, hands, nails and the skin of the smoker.

This means that if a parent or care-giver (babysitter, day care attendant, kindergarten teacher, any teacher) smokes outside a building, gets back inside and comes near a child, that child will be exposed to third-hand smoke. Have a colleague or friend who smokes but you don't? Give that person a hug and you'll carry tobacco residues home to your loved ones.

Check out this report by MSNBC.

I did check it out, and as usual, it's all about The Children!
Third-hand smoke a danger to babies, toddlers

Residue of nicotine can interact with chemical in air to form carcinogens

Yes, so says Brian Williams in a video report I did not watch, but which I'm sure is intended to make me want to do something to save The Children, for God's sake!

Smokers are increasingly not allowed to adopt children and in the United States they are often denied custody in divorce cases. And naturally, "Many animal rescue groups do not allow their pets to be adopted by smokers unless the smokers agree to smoke outside only." (I'm assuming that will have to be enforced with home visits. No wonder the activists seek to ban the sale of pets. Evil unsupervised smokers might buy them!) However, I did find at least one veterinarian who takes a more liberal approach, and simply advises that "if you have a pet, I recommend that you go outside to smoke."

Hmmm.... In view of the dire threat from third-hand smoke, perhaps I should not allow any smokers to come in contact with Coco! (And you know, I'm thinking that it was not helpful to make light of a very serious situation by putting a cigar in her mouth....)

Because of the uncritical way the human mind operates, this stuff is inherently relentless, and I think prohibition is coming. First it will be de facto, but eventually, there will be real laws with teeth.

Of course, in the dismal worldwide economy, this will present unprecedented black market opportunities. Already, cigarette smuggling from Russia and China into the heavily-regulated EU countries is a multi-billion dollar industry. And it's helping the economies of the poorer countries!

China is the biggest source of counterfeit cigarettes, but many are also smuggled in from the former communist bloc including Russia and Ukraine, the commission said.

Counterfeit cigarettes from China are often discovered in 40-foot containers that carry 10 million cigarettes, the EU's executive body said. They are also smuggled in lorries, trains and cars, but also by people and by post.

Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus are the main sources of genuine smuggled cigarettes because they are cheaper to buy in those countries than in the EU.

The smuggling of cigarettes costs EU states 10 billion euros in lost taxes per year. About 65 percent of the cigarettes are counterfeit.

Here in the U.S., cigarette smuggling generally involves moving the cigarettes from places with low tobacco taxes to places with high tobacco taxes. Quite predictably, the black market in cigarettes is such a huge business that there are mass arrests, and the usual pre-dawn raids. It goes without saying that the feds are involved:
An indictment was filed in federal court on Tuesday by the United States attorney's office in Scranton, Pa., officials said. On Thursday in predawn raids across the city, on Long Island and elsewhere, state, city and federal officials moved to round up the suspects, according to one official.

Investigators believe the volume of cigarettes was vast. The sales tax for each pack of cigarettes in New York is more than $4, bringing the total sales taxes skirted by the suspects to millions of dollars, officials said. As of 10 a.m., nine suspects were in custody, one official said. Three more had been arrested in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The suspects were facing an array of charges, and the indictment was expected to be unsealed later Thursday. All of this was occurring as the agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were holding a "contraband tobacco" conference in Midtown Manhattan for state and local prosecutors from New York.

"It's to advise and educate state and local prosecutors on tobacco violations primarily in the federal judicial system," said Joseph G. Green, a special agent of the bureau and a spokesman in the New York field office.

And the more they crack down, the tougher and more determined the criminals will get. Guys like Al Capone know an opportunity when they see one.

It gets a little tedious to be pointing it out over and over again in blog posts, but it never ceases to amaze me that this country has a perfectly good model of where it all leads.

The Prohibition Model, dammit.

Why don't the bastards learn? Is it that there's something wrong with the way the human mind works? Is it that our ruling class is unable to learn from past experience? Or might I be missing something?

Could it be that Prohibition suits their interests?

posted by Eric on 07.23.10 at 11:20 AM










Comments

The bastards have learned. This is all about the removal of choice from your life.
after all, if it is for THE CHILDREN, or for GAIA, or the polar bears, harp seals, the snail darter, or any of the myriad threatened things in our world-how can it be wrong?
If you are a square peg you get jammed into a round hole and the hammer is applied until your corners are split off and you fit. It is for your good and everyone else's good. Don't you want to be like everyone else? Don't you want to fit in?
As for me-they can have my tobacco, alcohol, firearms, fast cars, and air conditioning when they pry them from my cold dead hands. ( Sorry, Mr. Heston,just could'nt resist.

gb   ·  July 23, 2010 3:23 PM

The bastards have learned. This is all about the removal of choice from your life.
after all, if it is for THE CHILDREN, or for GAIA, or the polar bears, harp seals, the snail darter, or any of the myriad threatened things in our world-how can it be wrong?
If you are a square peg you get jammed into a round hole and the hammer is applied until your corners are split off and you fit. It is for your good and everyone else's good. Don't you want to be like everyone else? Don't you want to fit in?
As for me-they can have my tobacco, alcohol, firearms, fast cars, and air conditioning when they pry them from my cold dead hands. ( Sorry, Mr. Heston,just could'nt resist.)

gb   ·  July 23, 2010 3:24 PM

Oops. Sorry for the double post>

gb   ·  July 23, 2010 3:26 PM

Yeah, I can remember Penn and Teller debunking it, even though only a few libertarians paid attention at the time. But junk science though it is, the government believes in it, and is implementing it.

"Third-hand smoke" means junk science built on junk science!

Why is it that only libertarians seem to care?

(Bear in mind that I don't even smoke.)

Eric Scheie   ·  July 23, 2010 6:57 PM

The entire anti-smoking enterprise has been a national disgrace.

Brett   ·  July 25, 2010 6:40 PM

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