FORCES columnists offer news and perspectives on such issues as smoking and public policy, smoking and science, and the increasingly evident slippery slope that is leading to tobacco prohibition. They also venture into adjacent territory to chart the course of an authoritarian and censorious political and bureaucratic elite that uses state-of-the-art propaganda techniques, corporate handouts and tax dollars to woo the public towards a vision of the future that offers utopian illusions about health and safety in exchange for the privacy and freedom of both mind and body.

The concerns of our columnists range from a detailed examination of local legislative issues to broader philosophical considerations touching, for example, on the gradual (and decidedly undemocratic) globalization of public health policy.



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Latest Articles


  • Putting the government’s ignorance on display
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 2009/01/05
    In a recent piece in the London Review of Books, Ross McKibbin, commenting on the intellectual capacities of the current British government, observed that ‘the present cabinet has become the most lightweight in living memory. Some of its members are so lightweight they shouldn’t be in the cabinet at all…’ And nowhere is this absence of intellectual heft more apparent in the government’s new anti-tobacco strategy, announced this week.

  • Nutrition labeling on menu boards and menus: a recipe for failure
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 16 January 2008
    Concern about the United States’ population’s weight gain has led to a variety of policy proposals about how best to deal with what is often referred to as the “fattening of America.”

  • Who's afraid of … being fat?
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 29 January 2008
    The last few weeks have been a tough time for the fatties among us - which is supposedly most of us. According to the recent report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, being fat and eating certain foods increases our risk of cancer.

  • The hidden dangers of the smoking ban
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 16 January 2008
    In 1936, the American social scientist Robert Merton wrote an article in which he attempted to formalise what social scientists have long understood, but activists, policymakers and politicians have either ignored or denied. Merton argued that both individual and government actions have effects that are unforeseen, unintended and all too frequently unwelcome.

  • Contestable Conclusions
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 29 January 2008
    The World Cancer Research Fund’s new report proclaims three truths about cancer, fat, and food. First, it asserts that being fat increases our risk for cancer; second, it claims that eating certain foods gives us cancer; and, third, it suggests that cancer is “mostly preventable.”

  • The Invisible Killer and the Problem of Phantom Risk: Some Observations on the UK’s Flawed Risk Management Process
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 24/08/2007
    A Talk delivered to the Wilton Park Conference Managing Risk: Sensible Precaution or Fear of Trying 27 March, 2007

  • Just the facts, please: Judge Kessler’s new history of the tobacco wars - Part 2
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 22/08/2007
    “Just the facts, please.” That’s what Jack Webb said week after week to both witnesses and villains alike on the classic television program Dragnet.

  • Regulation Redux: Still a bad prescription for smoker’s health
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 25/07/2007
    With the Democrats once again in control of Congress, the issue of the Food and Drug Administration regulation of the tobacco industry is very much back on the legislative agenda. Unfortunately, the legislation being offered this time round by Senators Kennedy (D), Cornyn (R)and Representatives Davis (R) and Waxman ( D) is essentially the same as that proposed three years ago when the idea of FDA regulation was linked to legislation on tobacco quotas.

  • Films
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 20/07/2007
    One of the “nice” things about the advocacy of the anti-tobacco lobby is how consistently silly, not to say nonsensical, its claims are. Unencumbered with the responsibilities of reputable research and rigorous analysis of whether their purported solutions really work, the anti-tobacco zealots are able to continue on year after year re-cycling to a lazy media their same sound-bite claims as the novel product of serious thinking on the hard problem of preventing smoking.

  • Separating trans fat from fiction
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 24/12/2006
    It’s clear that the trans fat prohibitionists haven’t at all established their case that trans fat is dangerous. So why the ban? Is it then merely a politically opportunistic response to public pressure? Not at all. Most people apparently don’t give a damn. So if neither public health concerns nor political pressures provide a reason for the ban movement, why is there a ban movement? The next couple of items may yield some clues.


Showing results 0 to 10 of 46


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