A Waking Nightmare

Analysis and opinion

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'One day - when's it gonna happen, ten years, fifteen? - some legislator will get up and, just as though it had never been said before, "You know we gotta solve this smoking problem and I got a solution -- a criminal prohibition against the manufacture, sale, or possession of tobacco cigarettes."  And then you know what happens.  Then everybody who did want a cigarette here today, if there is anyone here who smokes, you are going to have to hide in the bathroom.  And cigarettes are no longer going to be three dollars a pack, they are going to be three dollars a piece.  And who's going to sell them to you?  Who will always sell them to you?  The people who will sell you anything - organized crime.  You got the concept, we will go through the whole darn thing again because I am telling you this country is hooked on the notion of prohibition.'

'Let me conclude, and again this is my prediction - I will tell you I don't think it is subject to opinion.  Just look at it.  Just take a look at what has happened now and what will happen.  I will tell you how inexorable it is.  If we get together here in the year 2005, I will bet you that it is as likely as not that the possession of marijuana may not be criminal in this state.  But the manufacture, sale, and possession of tobacco will be, and why?  Because we love this idea of prohibitions, we can't live without them.  They are our very favorite thing because we know how to solve difficult, social, economic, and medical problems -- a new criminal law with harsher penalties in every category for everybody.'

- Charles Whitebread, Professor of Law, USC Law School, in a speech to the California Judges Association
1995 annual conference

October 7, 2005 - I had a terrible nightmare, last night. I was being executed in a gas chamber for possession of an illegal substance: tobacco. I woke up in sweat. That's what's good about nightmares: you wake up, eventually.

The same cannot be said for the nightmare that is actually unfolding about tobacco - a nightmare experienced in our waking hours: the crumbling of constitutionality, fairness, truth and justice as we know them. Those words will continue to be used, I am sure, but they will define something totally different or, worse yet, nothing at all.

Largely ignored by the mass-media around the world because it is "just a local matter", a milestone in the path of burying the spirit of our traditional liberal-democratic consensus has been set by the Supreme Court of Canada. To keep this piece as short as possible, I invite the reader to look at the background information through these links (one to the Globe and Mail, the other to  a Canadian legal website) before continuing with this article.

In a nutshell, the Canadian Supreme Court sided unanimously with the Province of British Columbia's claim for reimbursement of expenses for so-called "tobacco-related diseases" - the "Health Recovery Legislation" of that province. The constitutionality of that law was challenged by the tobacco industry in 1998. Considering general trends on tobacco issues, this sort of battle seems almost a routine matter. But let's look at the essence of this decision.

"The B.C. law makes it easier to prove a link between smoking and illness and limits some of the traditional defences in civil suits", reports The Globe and Mail. The door has been opened for the shell game of multifactorial epidemiology to be used in lawsuits to control and squeeze money out of corporations.

In contemporary public health lingo, to "make it easier" means that the suing party does not have to demonstrate any real causality, while effectively circumventing any and all scientific opposition, since the procurement of evidence to the contrary by the party being sued is either prevented or disregarded. That is a serious matter. Because not one illness or death can be scientifically demonstrated to be caused by smoking, underhanded expedients must be adopted by governments to reach their goals. In this case, the Province of B.C. has been handed a shortcut to "recovering" the costs it would like to attribute to smoking.

The B.C. legislation that the Supreme Court upheld essentially assumes that everybody knows that smoking "kills". In essence,  therefore, if a bunch of people smoked and got "smoking-related" diseases (diseases which might have in fact had another cause or causes),  tobacco can be blamed and that's all it's going to take to settle the case and start cashing in. A similarly kangaroo court approach to implementing government agendas was taken in Florida in 1997, when the laws were changed to steal billions of dollars from the tobacco industry, thus from smokers - and then the laws were restored after that single, famous lawsuit.

Canada's Supreme Court decision applies, of course, throughout the federation. Other provinces will follow B.C., creating a domino effect. Junk science par excellence - epidemiology of the multifactorial kind - is now officially elevated to state science in the courts of law.

That is not to say that tobacco is "guaranteed harmless" - in fact, nothing is harmless; it is just a matter of quantity. That is why the harm reduction approach of a safer cigarette - a solution supported even by the U.S. National Academy of Science, one of the highest scientific authorities in the world - is being utterly ignored, notwithstanding that the basic technology to produce such a cigarette has been available since the 1970s: it would solve the smoking "problem".  Instead, we have high court decisions legitimizing once again the use of the Malleus Maleficarum - "the Hammer of the Witches" - the procedural manual once used for Inquisition trials. What wouldn't we do for "public health" and for the de facto nationalization of industries! In fact, with billions of dollars stolen from its pockets, the relatively tiny Canadian tobacco industry may have no choice but to declare bankruptcy. The state - sole creditor in this case - would then nationalize the industry and effectively take over the production and sales of cigarettes.

And here is where my nightmare begins. It goes like this:

The Canadian state has been the most rabid in the world in the assault against tobacco - far worse than the United States. Canada has been so ruthless that it is shamelessly taken as a model by the European Union. A logical non sequitur therefore arises: how can a state that has embraced the antismoking fraud so enthusiastically produce and sell "death"? It simply can't. So, what must come after the "de-normalization of smoking"? The criminalization of tobacco.

But how do you turn about 40% of a nation's productive adults into criminals overnight? You don't. In typical "public health" fashion, you phase prohibition in - something like this: "Canadian addicts (smokers), our glorious State has achieved a milestone victory against your vice today, and the Health Revolution proceeds now with its Final Solution. By January 1st, 2010, tobacco - this plague of humanity - will finally become illegal. You have that long to quit your disgusting habit and save your lives - for, after that, you will face stiff penalties for possession. For help, turn to the pharmacist or to the smoking cessation centre near you."

Now I see hot debates at all levels, nationally and internationally. Talking heads around the globe adamantly babbling on about the details while losing sight of the basic issues: the epidemiological fraud on tobacco and the corrupt instrumentalization of legal and constitutional mechanisms to achieve the final goal of "public health". And isn't that exactly what the gangsters at the top of what former WHO czar Gro Harlem Brundtland called the Health Revolution have achieved all along -- that the basic issues never are addressed? That their own assertions are taken for granted? In the meantime, liberty and truth are steam-rolled, and the law is implemented.

Fear takes care of reducing the number of Canadian smokers from six million to maybe a tenth of that in the time allotted: fear of losing jobs and families; fear of a criminal record that would mark them forever. Dictatorial force achieves what bans and antismoking campaigns alone have failed to do to a large extent: force smokers to behave as "public health" wants them to. After all, what's liberty next to health? Let me rephrase that: we must be free to be healthy!  Some of those who love to kiss the bat are even grateful - and they are the only ones featured in the media, of course.

With the criminalization in place, the remaining smokers (welfare cases, alcoholics, etc. - all powerless, "disposable" people) are charged with the "crime" of possession, and offered one last chance for redemption: be rounded up in smoking cessation/social "rehabilitation" centres or face jail. Tobacco is relegated to the war on drugs (while smoking marijuana has become legal: the hippie generation's final revenge?).

The nightmare goes on. I can see massive,  fenced "rehabilitation" camps springing up as the gulags of the Health Revolution - useful structures to be used later for the war on other "plagues" such as obesity and alcohol.  They are called "clinics", of course, as they are supposed to be good for your physical, social and spiritual health (some clinics in British Columbia already claim "spiritual health" as their province - believe it or not).

By this time, very few feel the outrage of being conned by state-endorsed junk science and coerced in their most intimate behaviour. A smaller number yet does the only thing that could change this: physically rebel and organize a political fight. Rather, they smoke in total hiding the few smuggled cigarettes they can find or the tobacco they have secretly grown, losing whatever little is left of their dignity. After all, who would embrace a firearm to defend his freedom to smoke (drink, eat...)? It's not worth it - and tunnel vision reigns! I rebel, along with a tiny minority of people that are easily "dealt with" by the local police force anyway - but we don't even make page five of the local rag, as it is "healthier" for all that we are utterly ignored.

The dreadful dream continues. "Public health" has become a world-wide criminal system with unlimited means, which is centrally and almost perfectly coordinated by the World Health Organization and its pharmaceutical and national government allies.

A tremendous effort is in progress to induce cultural changes both in courtrooms and amongst the public. This is to deliberately reverse moral poles, and get people to accept the use of institutional fraud and embezzlement for a declared social good (such as "public health") as both moral and necessary means against the all-mighty multinationals. In this way, the WHO muscles its way into a brave new world with the cooperation of  the mass-media.

In the dream - is it really so far-fetched? -- the future now unfolds.

As the "Revolution" takes place in Canada, this country is taken as a "courageous" example by the white coat fascists throughout the world. America is simultaneously pressured by three main sources:

  • Canada -- the Canadian neighbour is begging and demanding the blockage of any contraband - and the US tobacco industry diligently complies. To this end, some kind of anti-terrorist legislation is used (insinuations of links between terrorism and cigarette smuggling have been already made, anyway). After all, isn't security the second greatest value of society after public health, today? Later, Canada  demands that the US embrace the criminalization of tobacco along the lines and methods it has already laid out. As no bureaucrat refuses a ready-made plan, American bureaucracy fully supports the creation of an AAA (American Anti-tobacco Act).
  • The World Health Organization. It immediately proposes the Canadian model to the rest of the world as a natural extension of its Tobacco Framework Convention, which already has the signature of nearly all nations in the world. Crap statistical projections are churned out by the mass-media, and hundreds of zillions more people per year are crystal-balled to die "prematurely" if tobacco is not made illegal everywhere. Even Bhutan is pulled out of the closet as an advanced and progressive country! Local constitutions are now perceived as obstacles to overcome or to circumvent by the holy crusaders against tobacco.
  • Powerful antitobacco gangs within the US itself. They adopt the Canadian-WHO cliché, while a new breed of constitutional lawyers is posturing for new attacks and is hard at work on a constitutional amendment to enable the AAA and Prohibition once again.

Eventually the US capitulates, and the rest of the world follows quickly. Prohibition at a planetary level is achieved nearly one century after the first American prohibition of 1920, complete with the same sort of moral dressing that accompanied alcohol and marijuana prohibition. But this time there is no Al Capone and no supply from Canada - quite the opposite, in fact. Tobacco smuggling becomes more suppressed than heroin trafficking, because it kills so many more virtual people.

The choice of a relatively insignificant country such as Canada as test bed has been far from casual. Nobody was stupid enough to start this in the USA, the country with the most powerful Constitution in the world. Furthermore, the Canadian economy is one of the least dependent on tobacco's economic contribution because of its vast natural resources and sparse population. 

We aren't yet  in the depths of this nightmare - we are in the here and now.

And the tobacco industry, I ask myself, wouldn't it decide to finally turn around and fight if this dream were to become reality? The industry could acquire powerful media to expose the truth on primary and passive smoking, and offer economic safe havens to scientists who would finally speak up because they would no longer have to fear for their livelihoods. The industry could warn about the rise of the most effective dictatorship ever - that of "public health". It could even finance groups such as FORCES, who want to fell the rotten tree instead of buzzing around the branches.

What a foolish hope.

The industry has suffered the worst defeat conceivable - that from within. Even some of its executives now believe the epidemiological trash themselves, and say that they want to do "responsible marketing". What a joke. And the industry's economic survival? Again, the Globe and Mail: "The court released the decision at 4 p.m. EDT. Normally rulings are released at 9:45 a.m. EDT, but Thursday's decision was delayed at the request of cigarette maker Rothams (sine imprimatur culpa!). It wanted the ruling to be made public after stock markets closed". Need I say more?

As the tobacco industry has - stupidly enough - never accumulated wealth and always shared dividends, that has made its stock very desirable, but has also made the industry fragile. (Microsoft, by contrast, started paying dividends only a short time ago!) So now the stock could crash and no "reserve power" would be available. If that happens, watch the rats abandon ship. After sinking their galleon with every wrong decision conceivable - not that they haven't been warned - the industry executives will simply leave. Some will comfortably retire, others  will "clean up" their resumés or even offer their "expertise" to other industries such as food or alcohol.  As these industries are already targeted by "public health", the ex-tobacco boys will help those enterprises reach bankruptcy or nationalization faster and better. Never allow rodents on wooden vessels.

The crime of the antitobacco racket is not that of killing an industry dim enough to deserve to disappear. The crime is the institutionalization of junk science as a means of policy; the erosion of constitutional and human rights; the creation of an infrastructure that is as efficient as it is criminal, and capable of destroying an endless number of industries. The point is: virtually anything can be ultimately regarded as a "public health issue"  that belongs under government control.

Today anti-tobacco is on a roll. Where do you go when you are on top? You can go downhill - or try to jump to the next higher peak. I believe that the decision to go for it - all the way - has been already made, at least in Canada. I hope I am mistaken. They say the tobacco industry has lied and so is being punished. Antitobacco claims to protect the people against that industry. But who is going to protect Canadians when their own government and laws consciously act on the basis of lies? In the US, at least, the Supreme Court often abrogates laws to protect the spirit of the Constitution and the citizen against the rapaciousness of legislatures. The Canadian Supreme Court, instead, becomes an accomplice of the government to protect and empower an unforgivable civic fraud. The astonishing conclusion of the Court is that he who steals a piece of bread is a criminal, while when a government blatantly steals, that becomes a laudable policy.

This is not a good day to be a Canadian; rather, it is becoming the waking nightmare.

Gian Turci
C.E.O., FORCES International


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