How To Beat A Dead Dog: Anti-Smoking Activism in Modern America

by C. R. S. Lyles
As the old adage goes, the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. As smokers know, these elements of life are even more assured, since smoking can lead to early death and the current taxation on cigarettes has outshone any other taxable product since the Intolerable Acts of colonial times.

But now a third variable has crept into the mixture, a variable which not only exacerbates the previous two, but will inevitably lead to a poorer quality of life for all Americans who still continue to smoke: joblessness.

In a recent article published by the New York Times, hospitals and medical businesses are cutting down on the volume of employed smokers within their facilities and turning away applicants who either confess that they smoke or it is found out later that they smoke.

The application process for those seeking jobs within the medical profession warn explicitly of "tobacco-free hiring", and the applicants themselves must take urine tests and those who are hired and later caught smoking face termination.

In a world run rampant under the sway of the almighty attitude of "political correctness", smokers remain the only (and I do mean THE ONLY) group of Americans who are not only continually discriminated against, but are encouraged to be discriminated against by the rest of the American population.

In the case of the hospital bans against smokers, think about what would happen if just one hospital or medical business turned away an African-American.

Short answer, the NAACP would rally so quickly against that hospital and would slap a lawsuit against them so fast that by the end of the work day THAT DAY the subject who had been discriminated against would effectively own the business he was denied employment at.

The examples are endless, because in today’s America we are so afraid of offending anyone that we inevitably end up offending not only our own dignity and pride but the memory of the founding fathers by forfeiting personal accountability in favor of the status quo.

Now, how smokers got left out of the jolly little band of sue-happy American gangs is unclear, but it is certainly assured and increasingly well-documented that smokers are on the outs in regard to the protection of anti-discrimination laws.

I guess the ACLU was out to lunch when their name came up for potential membership.

Long story short, the pattern which will affect smokers should bans like this continue goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Person smokes. This is legal.

Step 2: Person applies for a job. This is legal.

Step 3: Person is denied job because they smoke. This is illegal.

Step 4: Person pays higher rates for taxes in order to smoke. With no income, this becomes harder to do. Money gained from tobacco taxes does not go to proper groups. This is illegal.

Step 5: Person has to take a job they are vastly overqualified for because they can’t get the other job since they smoke. Forget illegal/legal; this is just plain wrong.

Step 6: Person succumbs to increased amount of stress due to bills piling up and the inability to get a better paying job.

Step 7: Person’s immune system becomes weaker due to increased levels of stress. Person develops an illness.

Step 8: Person dies of illness. Anti-tobacco groups blame it on smoking and everybody cheers the fact that another smoker is dead and they can get more money through the twisted logic of fear mongering.

Yes, smoking is bad for you, but it isn’t the element that will kill you in the end; the stress from not being able to enjoy the same quality of life as everyone around because you stand out in a way that pisses off the self-righteous assholes which craft initiatives like this ban is what is going to kill you.

Jacob Sullum, author of the Reason Magazine article "The Right to Discriminate Smokers" sums it up the best.

"If anti-smoking activists truly believed that smokers are helpless nicotine slaves, why would they support policies that ‘punish the addiction’ through punitive, regressive taxes and restrictions that make it increasingly difficult for these addicts to get their fix (for example, by banning separate smoking rooms in workplaces and smoking near the entrances of office buildings)?"

The fact is, smokers are not a group in the eyes of the American people anymore: they are akin to junkies and crack-fiends, and must, in the well-disguised words of Concord Senator Mark DeSaulnier and Jane Warner, President and CEO for the American Lung Association in California, be eliminated.

According to Warner, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and people exposed increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent." She, of course, cites statistics fabricated by the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2006 report on secondhand smoke."

DeSaulnier, also an advocate against secondhand smoke, rallies his empty-headed supporters around a similar cry:

"California workers should not be exposed to secondhand smoke and the health risks associated with it. They go to work and earn an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, not to breathe in carcinogens. It is time to bring California’s once-groundbreaking Smoke-Free Workplace law into the 21st century."

Funny, isn’t Hollywood located within California? Don’t the majority of actors working in Hollywood smoke? Hmmm….

Honestly, I’m at a loss with all of this.

I’m tired, folks. I’m tired of banging my head against a wall and trying to make stubborn, pig-headed people understand the irreparable damage they are doing to the rights of American citizens.

I’m tired of fighting and tired of being made to feel like a drug addict.

And, most importantly, I’m just flat-out sick and tired of having to talk about this. We shouldn’t have to talk about this; this should not be an issue.

Our troops are still holed up in Afghanistan. Our allies in the Middle East are dwindling, our economy’s still in a rut, China’s out-producing us and taking the once-great idea of American enterprise and creativity and making it their own while our lawmakers sit in Congress complaining about health care.

Health care? Are you serious? That’s the primary reason our country is going to hell right now? Because of smokers?

Let me tell you what the real problem is. These issues, the Smoke-Free Workplace law, the applicants seeking jobs in the health care profession being turned away because they smoke, the endless commercials we see on television which brainwash our kids and teach them to "Live Above the Influence", none of these are what is really going on.

What’s really going on is that bipartisan politics have become so brutal, so divided and broken, that the only way for the separate parties to get their way is to remain in office, and the only way to do that is to dupe the American people into rallying behind them by attaching themselves to an issue before the other side can.

The issue? Doesn’t matter, because a good speech writer can make chocolate sound like an atomic bomb. Having an adequate grasp of the English language myself, I understand the vast power of words, how easily they can be used to move and sway the mob and unite them under a single mantra (remember "Yes We Can"?)

I could continue to cite the fallacies in statistics. I could continue to cite the missteps in syntax and logic employed by the most vehement of anti-smoking activists, but I’m just too tired.

As my grandmother often says, "There’s just no point in beating a dead dog."

The issue of smoking is a dead dog. So, to all the anti-smoking activists and lawmakers who are so entrenched in their own beliefs, who continually dig up the body of old Rover so they can punish him over and over again for all the senseless reasons they can conjure up, can’t you please just let sleeping dogs lie?

Carter R. Lyles is a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL and at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is a journalism/psychology major, and in addition to his work at Pipes Magazine, he has contributed articles to The Alligator, Thursday Night Magazine, and The Fine Print.


29 Responses

  • Great article! I’m only a pipe smoker but I work somewhere that smoking is allowed and we get way more praise than disdain from it. It’s a personal choice that people make and, as long as they aren’t effecting others by it, it should be allowed. I’d like to see the reasoning these employers use to justify their thinking.
    Also, interesting layout and design in the article. Just something I noticed.

  • Unfortunately, the melange of distortion, half-truths, mis-truths and outright distortions is extremely hard to fight. If you successfully refute the first set of “facts” they simply make up a new set. We’ve seen allegations about the effects of third-hand smoke, I’m sure someone is already inventing a set of horribly debilitating symptoms for fourth-hand and even fifth-hand smoke.

  • This canine is well and truly expired and no further pummeling will serve to revive it. What the devil are these people after other than control of the lives of all people?

  • There is no talk or discussion going on of THE most anti-health topic.. the
    All their rules and legislation mean nothing but that eventually every citizen will eventually break some law.
    All studies are biased towards who has more money to buy the “Correctly supportive” outcome.
    Listen to them and be a sheeple, or walk your own path and be an independent, responsible, decision-making individual person.
    The choice is yours. The action(s) you have to own what you do. Do not later come back and want someone to “Bail you out”.

  • Crazy world we are living in…. Denied a job for doing something 100% legal.
    “Hold up, you said here you enjoy driving with the top down in your convertible? I am sorry we don’t hire people like you here, don’t you know that could kill you!”

  • “the current taxation on cigarettes has outshone any other taxable product since the Intolerable Acts of colonial times.”
    In numbers this is more true than you seem to realize, or at least imply. In outrage, unfortunately the hypocrisy of it all is that it isn’t.
    Just one example of those taxes, that on tea, in modern money it is estimated that the actual value of that tax was was per crate of tea than the current tobacco tax is per pound. In fact the pipe tobacco tax at roughly 1/10th the tax of cigarette tobacco is closer to those taxes, close enough there is some doubt considering the considerations of mis-judgement of the actual value of the dollar at that point in history it isn’t certain which would be higher in today’s money.
    That’s just it, taxation that helped lead America to revolution 200 years ago was in the ballpark of 10% of the “sin tax” we have today, and the people are rallying for an increase.
    My school (University of North Texas in Denton, Tx) is preparing to increase tuition by 6-9% either next semester or next year. According to the bill in Texas that added a flat 1 USD tax on top of existing taxes to a pack of cigarettes (and roughly 5 USD by the pound) was intended, in part, to fund higher education. So why is it tuition has increased almost every year since that tax hike passed?
    Now I have no idea how much they promised to give to education in numbers. . .but it obviously wasn’t even a pitiful fraction considering schools are not just having increases in costs of operation, but repeated cuts in funding. UNT is a respected university, there’s not the possibility it failed to earn its cut either, so that only leaves that one of the two parties is lying.
    Several years ago it was found less than 1% of lottery profits went to public schools as promised in one state, and our government (even the Old Guard Constitutionalists in Texas) has a bad track record of misappropriated funds. . . my money is on the government blowing it. Kinda like that 1 USD fee on everyone’s cellphone bill to fund 911 centers that in not one single state did the money get put to that. In fact the least irresponsible thing done with that money was putting it in the bank to raise profits in interest which would become mis-appropriated funds in their own right.
    You want to talk about a dead dog. . . I agree with it in all points except this, I think the bigger issue are the horses rotting in the field, poisoning the groundwater.

  • Great article! I fought in my countries service and put my life on the line in order that the citizens of my country have the same freedoms as we have always had. Now I am told that my freedom to smoke, get a job and decide for myself as an adult, is being taken away! This goes against what this country was founded on and I am mad. I tend to vote against and campaine hard against those that make me mad and tread upon my freedoms. See you in 2012 antis!

  • question, where do they come up with those numbers of people getting dead from smoke?? if 300,000 people died every year there would be cheep apartments everywhere.

  • Hundreds of years of pipe smoking without these health-related diseases, but no one can refute a lie that everyone has come to believe. Not even the Constitution is able to stand up to it.

  • More preaching to the choir. It’s “the great unwashed” that should get this information!
    This article should grace the editorial page in every American newspaper!

  • Heck, I just want to be able to buy my baccy and smoke my pipe in peace, like my grandpa did.
    However, when it comes to this article itself I am not at all impressed.
    What’s really new here?
    It’s a rant. It doesn’t enlighten, inform or even entertain.
    The author demonstrates a lack of legal knowledge and hisorical and social context.
    And how can you compare a smoker to a member of specific race?
    That verges on the absurd.
    Here’s the passage in question:
    “In the case of the hospital bans against smokers, think about what would happen if just one hospital or medical business turned away an African-American.
    Short answer, the NAACP would rally so quickly against that hospital and would slap a lawsuit against them so fast that by the end of the work day THAT DAY the subject who had been discriminated against would effectively own the business he was denied employment at.”
    What’s his point?
    Surely he’s not suggesting that discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or age is any way the equivalent of a company acting within its legal rights by hiring only non-smokers.
    This ill-advised comparison might be interpreted by some as borderline ignorant or gratuitous.
    Yes, I’m tired of all the anti-smoking noise.
    But self-indulgent, uninformed whining isn’t a particularly effective response.

  • cornguy, tell why it is OK to not hire based on legal activity outside the work place.
    What if they wouldn’t hire people who eat beef?
    Is that an acceptable policy in your view?
    How about no redheads? (You know they tend to have short tempers)
    No one under 5’8″?
    No one over 200lbs?
    Personally I think a private entity should be free to hire whom they wish, but why carve out specific groups for regulation and not others?

  • cornguy,
    You can just forget about smoking in peace like your grandpappy. Those days are over. We are EMBATTLED. Unless we all beat our plowshare into swords, we won’t be able to enjoy that freedom again. Got it?
    And as for comparing smoking to the races:
    When I was a boy, Texas and the South were still segregated. Not just the schools but also many businesses. With cafes and restaurants, the white folks used the front door and the black folks used the back door. There was usually a table or two set up in an unused corner of the kitchen for the black folks to dine. As far as I know, they ordered off the same menus, used the same plates, and paid the same prices as the white folks out front. Now… we can “cluck, cluck” and shake our heads at the way we were back then, but is it different today?? SMOKERS DON’T EVEN HAVE A TABLE IN THE KITCHEN!
    Smokers are the new outcasts.
    We’d better fix this and pronto.

  • Yep what the corn fella said is about what I thought. The author made way to much about things he knows nothing about. (legal things)
    As to the subject of the article.
    Workers rights. Complete bull. Don’t like the way your job is. Quit, GTFO, STFU and go. There is someone else that wants and needs a job and will not whine that its a lil bit smokey, underpaid, lacks benefits, or eight weeks of vacation.
    If you could do it better. Then do it yourself create a product or service that’s in demand, work hard, and turn a profit. Need help? Hire yourself some whinny lil cus that tells you how to run what you have built. Then tell em for yourself to GTFO.

  • @cornguy & jjtroutbum
    The tone & style of the article was my decision.
    Carter said he could either write it as a rant of sorts, or state facts and figures, more calm and toned down.
    We both felt that at this point in time to try one of the anti’s own approaches. They have several techniques, like lying, and using fake “facts”, which we are not doing. However, one of their other approaches is to scream at the top of their lungs (no pun intended) about the evil injustices being done to non-smokers just by the existence of smokers on the planet. They have turned smokers into a evil waste of space to be judged and looked down upon.
    We decided it was time to scream at the top of our lungs too.
    I directed the tone & style of the article, and Carter executed his marching orders perfectly.
    If you do not like the article, then I am the one to blame. Carter is extremely professional and schooled in journalism and psychology, which is why I hired him.

  • I, as a European, find it strangely amusing that the US chooses to ban something that causes less death than firearms?
    Don’t you just love irony!!!

  • Well, one is explicitly mention in the Constitution and the other isn’t.
    That was one of the concerns against the Bill of Rights, that it would be inappropriately used an a complete list, instead of examples of specific rights with a history of being violated.
    Then again, to hear the anti’s tell it, tobacco is far more dangerous to the users and “innocent bystanders” than firearms anyway.
    CDC says something on the order of 32k annual gunshot related deaths, while the antis claim 3-5 times that from second hand smoke. ( claims 53k)

  • Greetings,
    ‘I’ am fascinated by the current attempt to blame almost all disease, if you smoke, on smoking! Which in times past was considered a rather innocuous habit for mild stimulation and to relieve stress – UNTIL those who did not like the habit began a 100 years war to stamp it out – this war is still going and like the former war in the early part of the 20th Century to blame alcohol on almost all diseases which then led to Prohibition and many more problems than it solved. Now the world faces another attempt at tobacco prohibition – ‘they’ will not stop until they have outlawed tobacco {makes you wonder if they are working for the marijuana crowd!?!}.
    They say, and will give you statistics, showing that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema, etc., etc. They will tell you that breathing second hand smoke is just as bad and that even touching or handling object that were in the same room with a smoker will contribute to your demise – And of course the next step will be to convince you that talking to a smoker may jeopardize your health! {do I detect pre-conceived bias? – or is it an out and out prejudice ?!} It is also known that stress can cause cancer and a study comparing people who worried about cancer with people who did not found the worriers actually had higher cancer rates. So you see, you take a habit, say smoking, and keep subjecting the smoker to the endless paradigm that he or she will get cancer and eureka you have done it – you have inflicted a spell upon the smokers mind convincing him with every cigarette he is giving himself cancer – NOW THE QUESTION I ASK WHEN HE FINALLY GETS CANCER WHAT WAS THE MAIN CAUSE TOBACCO OR MENTAL POISONING?!
    Now to save America with tobacco smoke you can do the following: Heavily smoke cigarettes {but definitely no pipes or cigars and especially pipes as the original Surgeon Generals report on smoking showed lifetime pipe smokers lived longer than non-smokers and cigar smokers lived as long as non-smokers} {a little statistic the smoke is death cartel tries to avoid like the issue of stress and mental poisoning which they continually perpetuate upon smokers and every one else they can influence}.
    Now for the sake of argument let us say they are right and that the average cigarette smoker losses 8 years of life – They say the Social Security system will soon go broke – not enough money – so you see by smoking cigarettes you will not collect as much Social Security and will therefor benefit the economy – BUT do not smoke a pipe – you may live longer than a none smoker and contribute to the fall of America. Be patriotic, chain smoke cigarettes of which the taxes on alone will begin to tax your health and then expire approximately 8 years earlier and therefor contribute to saving Social Security and the USA!!!
    By the way, ‘they’ have now concluded that light to moderate drinkers {yes, alcohol} live longer than none-drinkers!!! Where have all the prohibitionists gone? To the tobacco plant!!! And whats next? Obesity and excess meat is also supposed to be a major cause of early death, is Ronald MacDonald really the devil in disguise???
    Still trying to smoke out human stupidity!!!

  • Anybody supporting anti-smoke movements are criticizing others – We on the other hand are just enjoying a relaxing smoke!

  • Dear Readers,
    Normally, I have made it a strict policy to not comment on my own articles. I leave them open enough to debate, and the words themselves are often enough to stir the debate without having to add anything to the pot in order for it to boil.
    However, in this circumstance, I was so relieved by one user’s response and his grasp of the concepts I was subtly trying to portray that I felt the need to step in and speak up.
    @jimbo, you understand my point completely. The issue of common segregation was the exact parallel I was attempting to draw between smokers and non-smokers, likening them to the pre-Civil Rights Movement trend of having restaurant seating for “Whites” and “Coloreds”. I am old enough to remember when you went to a restaurant and the hostess would ask if you would like to be seated in the smoking or non-smoking section, and the metaphor of the unknown African-American I chose to use was done so to convey that, even in the staunchly racist setting of that segregated world, Black Americans still had a place to sit in the restaurant. Smokers no longer have that luxury.
    @cornguy, you are correct as well. This article is a rant. It is ceaseless whining about the same old tired issue to the same choir, but the fact is that pro-smoking rhetoric rarely (and I mean rarely) finds its way into an un-biased publication such as a newspaper or other periodical because the American public doesn’t wish to be enlightened concerning this great social injustice. The people who need to hear the “facts” and “figures” are the same crowd who are cheering when their congressman announces further addendums to pre-existing bills that will further hinder the rights of Americans whose only distinguishing factor that sets them apart from the rest of the population is the fact that they smoke.
    Also, the article is satirical. I do not usually come out and say it because the snarky, sideways quips and sarcastic sniping is usually enough to convey the message of snorting derision. It was written in the same tone employed by the anti-smoking activists, which is, as you put it, “self-indulgent”, “ill-informed”, and “absurd”. You are completely correct on that front.
    As previously stated, my response on this message board is a rarity, but the comments posted were just too interesting to not warrant a response from the author, so in that vein I thank you all for your continued interest, debate, and even scorn, because the wonderful thing about social forums such as this is precisely why I enjoy writing in a country where everyone of us is allowed to say whatever we feel like without any fear of repercussion or recourse (other than, of course, the somewhat heated arguments which arise whenever one chooses to say something that others may deem “incendiary”).
    C. R. S. Lyles

  • I’m probably going to catch hell for this, but I’m not at the point yet where I’m overly upset with being segregated. Call me a Pipe-smoking Uncle Tom, to continue the extended metaphor in this thread, but I don’t want to smoke my pipe aroud non-smokers. I used to smoke cigarettes. Now, the smell disgusts me and I want to be as far away from cigarette smoke as possible. To me, my pipe smells nice, but it still emits smoke that someone else may not want to breathe. I choose to smoke my pipe; they don’t. So, I like compromise: I smoke my pipe away from the people who don’t want to be near it, just as I don’t want the cigarette smokers near me. Just as long as I have a place where I can enjoy my pipe, alone or with others who choose to smoke a pipe, I’m happy. We have rights, and so do non-smokers, so we need to focus on the compromise, if we’re going to make everyone happy.
    Now, should hospitals or other workplaces have the right to discriminate against smokers or other lifestyle choices? Absolutely not (within reason). This, I admit, is ridiculous. I do see the point of the article that some parts of society are going way too far. I still think the way to battle the idiots is with intelligence and moderation. I can’t recall anywhere in history where using extremism to fight extremism has been overly effective. If I’m wrong, could someone please correct me? Malcolm X eventually converted to Dr. King’s methodology.

  • I happened to walk through our family room while my wife was watching “Glee” tonight. One of the girls (I guess she;s the class “dummy”) said ,”I get all of my information from Woody Woodpecker catoons.” I think our politicians must watch them too.

  • i dont agree with comparing smokers to racial discrimanation, i think that it is wrong to do so. we smoke a perfectly legal substance. that is a substance that helped America grow and prosper. it would be like firing someone for having a beer and then making them take a breath test. who cares what we do in our personal lives away from society.

  • Mr. Lyles, in his response, hit the nail on the head: “… pro-smoking rhetoric rarely (and I mean rarely) finds its way into an un-biased publication such as a newspaper or other periodical because the American public doesn’t wish to be enlightened concerning this great social injustice.”
    I found that out myself years ago in debating another problem in the newspaper. I gave it up because people just don’t like to be proven wrong. Their deeply held beliefs based on a “Big Lie” seem to be impossible to overcome by logic and facts and figures. They don’t want to consider it. “Sheeple” to the slaughter.

  • As an Architect, I deal with construction and construction companies. i once heard that it was a big complaint with foremen that pipe smokers spend more time lighting their pipes than they did working.

  • As an Architect, I deal with construction and construction companies. i once heard that it was a big complaint with foremen that pipe smokers spend more time lighting their pipes than they did working.

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