We don’t know the name of the moron who wrote the WSJ editorial of April 22 because it is not printed. Regardless, the brain of the person who wrote this garbage needs an overhaul.
That is quite strange for the WSJ is famous (or infamous according to anti-tobacco) for its balanced position on many topics – smoking included – in these times of smokeless thus brainlessness hysteria. Nevertheless, this piece is so idiotically put together that it manages to recall, in one single pass, the juice of all the epidemiological frauds, misinformation, propaganda, superstition and sick ideology of healthism. To that effect, it is a work of art.
To examine better the numerous falsehoods of this piece, we reproduce it below and we insert our comments in the proper place. At the end of the piece, we also publish a letter to the WCJ editor by Dr. Gio Gori, who directed the Smoking and Health Program of the National Cancer Institute between 1968 and 1980.
Congress wants to give regulators more authority over the tobacco industry – so what else is new? The surprise is that currently there are no plans to give it to the Environmental Protection Agency. Surely cigarette smoke qualifies as a dangerous pollutant.
First ideological falsehood. Cigarette smoke surely DOES NOT qualify as a dangerous pollutant. The quantities of “toxics” that it contains are utterly insufficient to cause any damage even in the highest concentrations and exposure that are realistically possible. Furthermore, the “damages” of passive smoking are fabricated with trash science that does not even warrant the slightest resemblance with real science. The whole thing is a fraud, but the moron writer needs this first postulation to build up his/her false case.
Not that Congress needs any ideas, but handing off tobacco to the EPA makes about as much sense as its nearly completed pass to the Food and Drug Administration. A bill expected to be voted on soon would impose new restrictions on marketing, raise cigarette taxes, and police the ingredients in tobacco products, including nicotine levels. Any reckless FDA policy is bound to be popular, and sure enough, the bill has 220 co-sponsors in the House and 54 in the Senate, including all three Presidential contenders.
This is all phenomenally cynical, even for Congress. Since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report, the health consequences of this hazardous if legal product have been ubiquitous, which no doubt accounts for the 58% plunge in smoking among U.S. adults. The FDA tobacco gambit is explainable only because the politicians have dumped public health for public revenue.
The truth is that, since 1964, Americans and the world have been lied to on the effects of smoking on health. To date, not even one death or disease can be scientifically demonstrated to be caused by smoking – and that is a positive, absolute and without-a-shade-of-doubt reality. The moron writer cannot prove one death, nor can the Surgeon General, nor any doctor on earth, the WHO, any fanatic activist or any layperson in the streets. The so-called “tobacco epidemic” is the only epidemic in history where not one monofactorial and tobacco-related causality can be demonstrated. Some epidemic indeed – but the writer’s misrepresentation of superstition as scientific fact is the second false and essential brick to advance the reader to his/her actual conclusion.
The 1998 litigation settlement between 46 states and the industry was supposed to recoup the Medicaid costs of treating sick smokers, but the $150 billion payout was promptly redirected to other political priorities. The feds joined in the shakedown, building a $280 billion racketeering case that resulted in a mere $10 billion in 2006. Government has also bought a stake in lucrative tobacco profits by using cigarette taxes as the first-resort fundraiser for new domestic programs, most recently last fall’s abortive Schip expansion.
If there were no epidemiological frauds on smoking, the big grab would not have occurred. We all know that politicians are hypocrital and corrupt – all of them, for that seems to be the indispensable requirement to reach political power. So, why the hypocritical outrage?
The FDA bill would further prop up this tobacco-politician partnership, by prohibiting the agency from banning tobacco products, and – to buy the support of Big Tobacco – by creating protections against smaller competitors. Existing products would be grandfathered in, but new ones would be subject to premarket approval and advertising curbs, effectively freezing the market. The industry would also be relieved from further lawsuits, since it could claim compliance with FDA product-safety scrutiny. Philip Morris, maker of the No. 1 Marlboro brand and the world’s largest tobacco company, is understandably thrilled by the proposal.
The FDA is not as lucky. The agency is barely capable of managing its existing workload, which includes responsibility for about 25 cents out of every dollar spent in the U.S. FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach told Congress in October that the $5 billion in "user fees" over the next decade wasn’t enough to kickstart a tobacco division and that the FDA "may have to divert funds from its other programs."
The FDA’s own advisory panels say it lacks the expertise and resources to keep pace with scientific advances. So of course it makes sense that the agency will continue to do more things badly instead of a few priorities well. And as if the FDA wasn’t already hypersensitive to political pressure, now it will take over a political motherlode.
Again, if there were no fraud and misrepresentation of evidence by the health “authorities” on smoking and health, all that would not be necessary – and it is not necessary, in fact.
Mr. von Eschenbach also pointed out that the legislation actively undermines his core mission, which is to promote public health. FDA regulations are devised to prove that medical therapies are safe and effective. When used as directed, cigarettes produce disease.
BULL-SHIT. The moron now plays the ideological card. When used as directed, cigarettes produce pleasure, joy of living, feed millions of families because tobacco production employs millions of people. Cigarettes produce wealth that a crooked state that lies to you on smoking’s consequences taps into abundantly. Conversely, morons like this writer and the ideology they represent produce nothing but ideological trash, and hatred, while antismoking programs cost billions to society that could be spent in far more productive (and especially more honest) endeavours. Please note the cynical crookedness of the writer in distorting reality. When used as directed, in fact, cars may produce death, hamburgers produce disease, beer produces disease and death. We have chosen those examples because they too are now the targets of ranting fanatics. In reality, when used as directed, none of those products – cigarettes included – cause harm, because the directions never include abuse. But this lurid trick sets the stage for the following conclusion (emphasis added).
The logical response – if the FDA is going to be implicated in what ought to be a matter of individual responsibility – should be to remove cigarettes from the market.
There we go, this is the real aim of the ideological scum! Prohibition! The only truly logical response to this 21st century Carry Nation is to treat him/her like Carry Nation was when, punched in the face by a bordello maitresse, she tumbled down a flight of stairs along with her stupid hatchet – and that marked the beginning of the end of Prohibition, and the beginning of happily smoking and drinking times. It is high time to repeat the event with a cig in our lips.
But since Capitol Hill has cut itself in on the business, Congress will instead apply every other regulation for pharmaceuticals and medical devices short of prohibition to new tobacco products. For instance, only "modified risk" cigarettes will be allowed onto the market. Manufacturers will have to prove not that they are "safe," but that they are less likely to lead to lung cancer, emphysema, etc., requiring long-range randomized clinical trials. In the absence of any therapeutic benefits from smoking, this is unethical, not to mention unscientific.
FALSE INFORMATION, distorted to suit the rotten ideology of prohibition. Cigarettes have lots of therapeutic benefits – the most famous of them being protection from Alzhaimer’s and Parkinson’s, improvement of psyco-motorial activity as well as protection from several forms of cancer. But don’t let the truth get in the way of this foam-at-the-mouth bigot.
All the more so because it contradicts the premise of the federal government’s case against Big Tobacco. Initiated by Janet Reno and continued by the Bush Administration, the federal suit argued that the industry committed fraud by falsely implying that light or low-tar cigarettes were healthier than standard smokes. Now Congress wants the FDA to mandate less nicotine and tar – the very practices it once claimed to find so odious.
Low-tar cigarettes ARE healthier than standard smokes for the simple, basic reason that they contain less toxics – a reason that even a child can understand, but not an antismoking fanatic. It is the reduction of nicotine contents – demanded by the antismoking trash – that induces the smoker to inhale more deeply and thus nullify the benefits of lighter smoking. So the tobacco industry DID NOT produce false advertisement; the “public health” monolith did. But, again, fanatical ideology is all that matter. Would the Congress mandate MORE nicotine and less tar, it would finally do what “public health” failed to do: make a safer cigarette.
In a final irony, the politicians backing this bill, especially sponsors Ted Kennedy and Henry Waxman, are the same ones demanding that the FDA crack down on "Big Pharma." They say it isn’t doing enough to protect the public from risky but possibly beneficial new drugs. So: Lend the FDA imprimatur to an inherently dangerous product to fatten it up for taxation, while at the same time slow down or block the approval of life-saving therapies that treat disease instead of cause it. Congressional priorities are rarely so grotesque.
The only grotesque actor here is the clown who wrote this piece. And the clown could not help but close his/her garbage can with a final ideological bang: “inherently dangerous product”. There is no “inherently dangerous product”; but there sure inherently dangerous ideologues such as those who float with the antismoking scum.
It is surprising that the WSJ allowed this piece to be published. But, hey, pro-Big Pharma stooges are everywhere. As cigarettes have a well-known and established antidepressant effect, once regulated by FDA they would be a serious competitor to trash like Prozac and the like.
That is why, most likely, Big Pharma decided to activate one of its mechanical parrots in the Wall Street Journal.
The letter to the editor of Dr. Gio Gori in response to the article
SMOKE IN JOURNAL’S EYES
The Journal’s Review and Outlook pieces usually have the facts straight and reach sensible conclusions, but Cynicism and Big Tobacco (Op-Ed 4/22/08) is a puzzling show of confusion. Is the point that a virtuous Congress should make cigarettes illegal? If so, consider the 50 million US smokers, a number essentially stable since about 1990. We may not see them around as of yore, but sales and tax figures confirm their presence. The World Bank estimates that cigarette smokers are increasing on the planet, fast approaching 1.5 billion. Consider too that banning the habit of 1 in 3 adults on earth raises the political nightmares of an impossible enforcement and of a monster black market.
Nothing is new about greedy government and industry, but the Kennedy/Waxman bills are the best compromise in the current mess. They reflect a landmark 2001 report of the Institute of Medicine, which emphatically stated that cigarettes can and should be made less hazardous, that to do so most of the smoke components ought to be reduced except for nicotine, and that such strategy could reduce smoking to the risk of common consumer products.
According to the Institute, nicotine appears safe at the levels experienced by smokers, smoking does not lead to mental derangements like hard drugs, and it actually improves mood and mental and social behavior. Incidentally, all this was clear during the ‘70s, when the National Cancer Institute saw that smokers would not easily quit, and saw fit to run an official program for the development of less hazardous cigarettes. Just as it began bearing fruit the program was abruptly cancelled, and even its memory was erased at the hands of the utopian crusade aiming for a smoke-free America by the year 2000. How many lives have been lost in the delay?
The Kennedy/Waxman bills are not perfect, but they move away from impossible goals and closer to the realities that shall ensure public health gains. The projected regulation should not be expensive, since the Institute of Medicine finds that costly long term clinical trials would not be feasible or needed. Just cut the smoke and keep the nicotine. And who knows, perhaps America may decide on its own volition to be smoke-free by sometimes the next century.
Gio Batta Gori, Bethesda Maryland.