We’re #2

I tell friends from elsewhere that, despite what they may have heard, Hoosiers aren’t a bunch of rubes. Then, I see things like the report that Indiana is passed only by West Virginia in percentage of adult smokers. At 26.1%, we have more smokers than Kentucky. In this day and age, what in the world would possess you to start or continue smoking? Of course, the fact is, while starting smoking is a free choice, once the habit is established, the decision to stop smoking is not a simple matter of choice. Your body is addicted, and your mind is no longer the free agent we contemplate in simplistic economic scenarios. An Indy Star editorial notes the General Assembly’s failure to adopt a smoking ban and the correlation between smoking cessation efforts in states and lower smoking rates in those states.

It occurs to me that some of the arguments made by social conservatives against normalizing homosexuality in our society actually make some sense when applied to smoking. Smoking is a choice, not how you are born. Smoking is harmful behavior. There is a Tobacco Industry agenda to convert young people to make a lifestyle choice. Smoking in mainstream culture may make my kids think it’s o.k., and cause them to choose a harmful lifestyle. So, while I don’t necessarily support criminalizing smoking, I might be open to the idea of getting the behavior into the closet.

I freely admit to not being perfectly dispassionate on this topic. I grew up with smoking and didn’t like it. I’ve seen family members suffer from health problems attributable to smoking. I’ve seen family and friends wanting to quit but being unable.

Smoking is not a self-contained behavior which causes efforts to paint smoking regulation as solely a property rights issue to miss the mark. Property owners aren’t entirely free to discharge toxins even on their own property, particularly if they hold themselves open to the public.

The Indy Star editorial has this to say about reducing the number of smokers:

Numbers likewise don’t lie when it comes to fighting back against this scourge. The CDC report confirms that states with the lowest incidence of smoking are those that spend the most on tobacco cessation and charge the highest cigarette taxes.

They also are more likely to have state and/or city laws forbidding smoking in all indoor public spaces.

Fewer smokers means a healthier population, lower health costs, and maybe a little extra money at the end of the month to pay bills. This is anecdotal, but in my collection practice, I can’t tell you how many people unable to pay their bills seem to smell of fresh cigarettes, suggesting that they are foregoing paying their obligations in favor of buying another pack of smokes.


  1. Manfred says

    Excellent post, Doug, and much more thoughtful than some other anti-smoking literature I’ve read.

    I started smoking at age 19 — I’m 49 now — and just managed to quit last year. It wasn’t health related, although I worried about that, too, but rather because I couldn’t afford the habit any more. Smoking was the worst of many bad habits I picked up in the course of my life and the hardest to break. My live-in girlfriend still smokes.

    In general I support a ban on smoking in public places, but not because I’ve joined the “Smoke Police.” Rather for the reasons you’ve mentioned. I still have my doubts about a mandatory ban on smoking in bars — one doesn’t have to go there, and arguments about saving the lives of employees fail to move me. If one gets work in a bar one knows what to expect; rather like complaining about gratuitous sex when you’re a porn actor.

    The one question I have is: Where does the tax money come from once smoking is obliterated?

  2. Bob says

    There’s no problem with a ban in public places that the public MUST go to. The ban activists should buy some bars and make them smoke free so they can PROVE that the ban won’t hurt business. They’d be much more believable if they put their money where their mouth is.

  3. says

    That contains an assumption that the primary concern is not hurting business as opposed to a primary concern that we reduce smoking as much as possible because it’s a noxious behavior that’s harmful to third parties.

    However, now that we’ve pushed through to a status quo where people have an expectation that there will be smoke-free choices, I think a workable solution would be to have smoking establishments disclose on their doors, signs, and advertising materials that they are smoking establishments.

    (30 years ago, when everything was smoking, I don’t think that would have worked on account of too much inertia.)

  4. Manfred James says

    I would say that the primary concern isn’t whether business takes a lump or not, but whether government is infringing on citizens rights — even if it is for their own good.
    If we were not allowed to do anything that was dangerous due to government mandate we’d be pretty dull people; Work, excercise, eat healthy, sleep. Boring lives lived to maximum length.

  5. harleyrider1978 says

    More ill informed smoker bashing. I do not think the authors would argue with me that smoking over the last 60 years smoking has more than halved (UK 1948 66% of the population, 2009 22.5%) but asthma has risen by 300% (again in the UK). So smoking is not the primary cause of asthma and atopy, I assume the doctor’s cars and industrial pollution. The inconvenient truth is that the only studies of children of smokers suggest it is PROTECTIVE in contracting atopy in the first place. The New Zealand study says by a staggering factor of 82%.

    “Participants with atopic parents were also less likely to have positive SPTs between ages 13 and 32 years if they smoked themselves (OR=0.18), and this reduction in risk remained significant after adjusting for confounders.

    The authors write: “We found that children who were exposed to parental smoking and those who took up cigarette smoking themselves had a lower incidence of atopy to a range of common inhaled allergens.
    “These associations were found only in those with a parental history of asthma or hay fever.”

    They conclude: Our findings suggest that preventing allergic sensitization is not one of them.”


    This is a Swedish study.

    “Children of mothers who smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day tended to have lower odds for suffering from allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, atopic eczema and food allergy, compared to children of mothers who had never smoked (ORs 0.6-0.7)

    CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm…pubmed/ 11422156

    In conclusion let’s have a balanced debate and not characterise smokers as race akin to the devil.

    SECOND HAND SMOKE IS A JOKE. Ask the anti-tobacco folks to tell you what truly is in second hand smoke…when it burns from the coal its oxygenated and everything is burned and turned into water vapor………………thats right water……….you ever burned leaves in the fall…know how the heavy smoke bellows off…….thats the organic material releasing the moisture in the leaves the greener the leaves/organic material the more smoke thats made……thats why second hand smoke is classified as a class 3 irritant by osha and epa as of 2006……..after that time EPA decided to change the listing of shs as a carcinogen for political reasons…….because it contained a trace amount of 6 chemicals so small even sophisticated scientific equipment can hardly detect it ……..they didnt however use the normal dose makes the poison computation when they made this political decision. However osha still maintains shs/ets as an irritant only and maintains the dose makes the poison position…….as osha is in charge of indoor air quality its decisions are based on science not political agendas as epa’s is. We can see this is true after a federal judge threw out the epa’s study on shs as junk science……… Wednesday, March 12, 2008 British Medical Journal & WHO conclude secondhand smoke “health hazard” claims are greatly exaggerated The BMJ published report at:


    concludes that “The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer are considerably weaker than generally believed.” What makes this study so significant is that it took place over a 39 year period, and studied the results of non-smokers who lived with smokers…..

    meaning these non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke up to 24 hours per day; 365 days per year for 39 years. And there was still no relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. In light of the damage to business, jobs, and the economy from smoking bans the BMJ report should be revisited by lawmakers as a reference tool and justification to repeal the now unnecessary and very damaging smoking ban laws. Also significant is the World Health Organization (WHO) study:

    Passive smoking doesn’t cause cancer-official By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent ” The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: ‘There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood.’ ” And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University proves that secondhand smoke is up to 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations.

    The Chemistry of Secondary Smoke About 94% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a slight excess of carbon dioxide. Another 3 % is carbon monoxide. The last 3 % contains the rest of the 4,000 or so chemicals supposedly to be found in smoke… but found, obviously, in very small quantities if at all.This is because most of the assumed chemicals have never actually been found in secondhand smoke. (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). Most of these chemicals can only be found in quantities measured in nanograms, picograms and femtograms. Many cannot even be detected in these amounts: their presence is simply theorized rather than measured. To bring those quantities into a real world perspective, take a saltshaker and shake out a few grains of salt. A single grain of that salt will weigh in the ballpark of 100 million picograms! (Allen Blackman. Chemistry Magazine 10/08/01). – (Excerpted from “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” with permission of the author.)

    The Myth of the Smoking Ban ‘Miracle’ Restrictions on smoking around the world are claimed to have had a dramatic effect on heart attack rates. It’s not true. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7451/

    As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that: “Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

  6. mrw says

    Thank You , Harleyrider, thank you.
    No smoking in Museums, esp Art Museums.
    No smoking in government buildings, ( employees can have their own well ventilated room ) No smoking in Church, Temple or Synagogue.
    No smoking in Doc’s office or the operating room.
    Common sense and reasonable.
    Otherwise, who decides? Certainly not via a “vote” from the misinformed
    and otherwise apathetic voter. How about a referendum on whether or not we continue these costly- in life and dollars – oil grubbing- Wars ?
    How about we save some lives in immediate danger, than harp on those who have years ahead to make choices? If you think it is uncomfortable to be near a smoker, try defending your self from gun fire and ied’s. Making mountains out of mole hills here re: who smokes and who doesn’t is becoming a distraction from Reality. Let’s wrap our minds around the Big picture.
    Look at the facts harleyrider has put forth and let’s ‘drop it’.

  7. says

    It’s not like we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Just because there are more important issues doesn’t mean that smoking must go unaddressed.

    That said, in a perfect world, simple courtesy without the need for legislation would take care of this. When I drink, there isn’t any law that tells me not to pee on someone’s leg (I guess that could be a battery, come to think of it) or on their dinner table. Similarly, if a smoker is near someone who isn’t into that kind of thing, that person should avoid discharging the waste from their habit on someone else.

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