FORCES welcomes a new contributor; Dr. Marcin Dolecki of Warsaw, Poland.
Dr. Dolecki holds Poland’s equivalent of a PhD in the History of Science and Chemistry, as well as Master’s Degrees in both Chemistry and Philosophy.
Here, Dr. Dolecki reports on the claims being made by the anti-smoking movement in Poland, and also explains how the modern anti-smoking movement adopts the precept of "the beneficial lie". This concept is nothing new, as Dr. Dolecki explains, as it was proposed in Plato’s "The Republic" centuries ago.
Those involved in the international anti-smoking movement believe that smoking contributes to many diseases (I do not deny this), therefore smoking is bad for society and should be discouraged. Due to smoking’s negative health consequences, society has come to view all patterns of tobacco use as unhealthy, whether one is a a regular smoker or just an occasional or social smoker.
Today, the conventional wisdom amongst the anti-smoking establishment is that smoking in any amount is damaging to a person’s health. This has never been properly scientifically demonstrated, and it will never be demonstrated in the future. This conclusion is really a matter of faith and, like all matters of faith, it can not be proven via scientific means. For instance, there is no possible way to prove that smoking a few cigarettes over the course of one’s entire life will result in lung cancer or any other cancer. Nonetheless, international anti-smoking’s faith in the idea of "no safe level of exposure" is so strong that even religious faith fades in comparison to it. The ultimate goal of the anti-smoking movement is prohibition.
Ancient Greek philosopher Plato would likely view anti-smoking’s conventional wisdom as what he called in his dialogue "The Republic" a "beneficial lie". Plato believed that lying is morally justified so long as it is done for the sake of achieving laudable moral goals. Moreover, lying is justified, according to Plato, if the lie serves to preserve the social order and achieve the goals of the state. This ancient conception of a "beneficial lie" is still alive and admired today by those who dream of imposing their will and beliefs onto others.
The anti-smoking establishment engages in consistent application of "beneficial lies" in order to further the cause of their prohibitionist faith. The anti-smoking establishment believes that lies and scientific manipulation are justified. Poland, of course, has not been immune from the spread of international anti-smoking’s ideology. Anti-smoking tries to convince the populace here in Poland that the risks are the same no matter how heavily or lightly a person smokes. People are told that every cigarette takes 5 to 7 minutes off of their life, and that all smokers have a 20-40 times increased risk for lung cancer. Of course, it goes unmentioned that such a level of risk only applies to those who have smoked heavily for decades. Smokers are told that they have black lungs filled with tar or even asphalt, that they are suicidal, and that they are substantially harming others. And so on.
Now, the anti-smoking lobby is also trying to exclude the smoking minority in Poland from public discussions related to smoking. They claim that smokers are so ill and addicted that they are unable to properly assess their own condition, or express their own needs. Therefore, there should no discussion with smokers, but only treatment. Anti-smoking activists are convinced that such a lie is morally acceptable because it will serve to achieve their ultimate goal–to make tobacco smoking and trade illegal.
The result of anti-smoking’s propaganda has been to convince people that there’s truth to ridiculous claims like "secondhand hand smoke is more harmful than direct smoking" and "filtered cigarettes are as dangerous as unfiltered, and light cigarettes can be more harmful than full flavored cigarettes".
For me, a lie will always remain morally unacceptable.
I am aware that tobacco smoking can be harmful and can lead to dependence. However, I can’t agree with the assumption that smoking in any amount is always harmful. As a chemist, I wonder how a substance can exist (or, in this case, the mixture of substances within tobacco smoke) that is toxic in any concentration. As the media and ant-smoking activists constantly repeat, tobacco smoke probably contains more than 4000 substances, but the level of most substances is in a hardly detectable concentration. I’ve never heard of a substance that is always harmful regardless of its concentration. Of course, the safe level of concentration for some chemical compounds is very low, but a safe level still always exists. Why, then, should tobacco smoke be a unique exception?