This is a textbook example of a self-defeating argument – the logical closed loop that has kept the anti-prohibition movement in neutral so far, and it will do so as long as this loop exists.
"After all, even smokers admit the habit is bad for every living thing."
"I’m an ex-smoker who has great sympathy for those who are still addicted."
So, we have "established" that smokers have a "super-deadly" habit (it sounds as it is along the lines of plutonium contamination, as it is bad for "every living thing" :-), and they have the sympathy of the writer, who in turn has been "liberated" from the "addiction". Having established the "inferiority and misfortune" of smokers, the author proceeds with the:
BUT… BUT… BUT…
against the nanny state, and polemically adds:
"Let’s not educate, let’s legislate!"
This author can take his "compassion and sympathy" and shove it where the sun don’t shine, along with the but-but-but.
There is nothing to "educate" us about in the first place, when they still have to demonstrate scientifically that ACTIVE smoking causes one death when after 50 years they have never done so. The only education possible, therefore, is that the charade on smoking is an epidemiological shell game and that smokers have been willfully misled by pharmaceutical companies and "public health" institutions into the belief that the habit is "unsafe at any level." Just think about it. How many times have we heard that "Smoking is the leading cause of death in (______ put here the country of choice)", and still not one death has been scientifically demonstrated to be caused by smoking! The emperor has no clothes!
The postulations before the but-but-but are taken by prohibitionists as sufficient to nullify any and all arguments that criticize the government’s doing. A habit that is dangerous enough to be bad for "every living thing" and creates addiction to boot is, in this hysterical culture, to be ELIMINATED with any means possible, no matter what. It follows that any other consideration is just a self-defeating apology of something that is intolerable, thus the author’s arguments against the nanny state are substantially nullified by the author’s own postulations.
This exact attitude is what keeps many who fight the nanny state in an endless ideological and rhetorical loop that goes on forever and achieves absolutely nothing except wasting intellectual, physical, and emotional energies.
There is nothing wrong about smoking – socially, scientifically, and otherwise. Rather, there is everything wrong with corrupt institutions that want to denormalize it and engineer society based on epidemiological trash and pharmaceutical budgets. "Show me just one person who has been killed uniquely by smoking — and do that scientifically — or shut your face" is going to be the only attitude that puts an end to this witch hunt once and for all.
Enough nonsensical arguments: clean up the rotten institutions, set true scientific standards of evaluation and the nanny state will go away — no ifs, ands, or buts.