alt.smokers FAQ (2/2)

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Joe Dawson

Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
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- -----ALT.SMOKERS FAQ v.2.0 (March 3, 1999)-----
- ----- PART 2 OF 2 -----


Until the 1980s the term "addiction" was rarely used to describe tobacco
smoking even in the Surgeon Generals' Reports themselves. In the 1988
Surgeon General's Report, C. Everett Koop espoused a redefinition of
addiction that would include tobacco. This redefinition, turning smokers
into "nicotine addicts", has made it easier to gain support for such
political measures as "saving the children" through raising cigarette

Tobacco is unusual as a "drug" in that many smokers smoke in ways that
reduce their actual exposure to nicotine. They'll smoke without inhaling,
smoke "light" cigarettes, or smoke only after meals or when drinking.
Up to a quarter of the smoking population defies the "increased regular
use" addiction marker and smokes lightly, occasionally or without inhaling.

~~From: (Joe Dawson)~~
What the smoker enjoys is the whole experience: the routine of
handling the pack and the cigarette, lighting up, gazing into the
flame, the oral satisfaction of drawing, the taste and the smell.
Eating and drinking are synergistic with smoking: they each enhance
the taste of the smoke, and smoking enhances the contemplation of the
food and drink. Likewise with sex. Nicotine plays a part, but a small
one. That's why nicotine patches and chewing gum aren't very effective
when it comes to quitting. Smoking is a way of life. Of COURSE it's
hard to give up.

~~From: (Ed Dambik)~~
I'd always thought the definition of addiction was supposed to
rely on three separate criteria:

(1) The substance is a reinforcer, i.e., a subject will work for it.
(2) More and more of the substance is needed for the same effect.
(3) Removal of the substance will cause physical (not mental) symptoms.

While tobacco satisfies the first criteria, the second is more
problematic in that not all smokers increase their usage. The third
does not apply to tobacco since fever, vomiting, etc. do not accompany
withdrawal. By calling smoking an addiction, the definition has been
changed to exclude the third criterion and weaken the second. Using
this modified criteria to call smoking addictive does indeed create a
new definition which *is* primarily social since Gameboy, dancing,
watching TV, religion, and various other activities now fulfill the
definition of being addictive.

The term addiction is commonly used as a pejorative label for
unapproved habits. This is not new. Substituting a social definition
for the scientific one, however, is.

~~From: (David Maclean)~~
Cocaine only became `addictive' after we changed the definition of
addiction from extreme physical effects upon cessation of the
substance, to include intense psychological cravings upon cessation.
Although there is some physical discomfort, most of the discussion on
cocaine `addiction' has centered on the `addicts' intense drive to
recapture his experience from the drug. Physical withdrawal from
cocaine is nowhere near as intense as that of the opiates.

But once you include psychological effects, then just about anything
you care to name becomes an addiction - the heavy gambler becomes the
gambling addict, obese people become food addicts, heavy drinkers
become alcohol addicts, and people who smoke become nicotine addicts.

And once you label someone as an `addict', it justifies intervention,
for their own good of course. It's an addiction, it must be stamped
out. Politically, the reasoning on nicotine addiction is as follows:
:: addiction --> person doesn't understand what s/he is doing -->
person is a victim --> intercede on the victims behalf::
This line of reasoning includes nothing in it as to whether or not
the person wants to be `helped'.

Therefore, it is my contention that attempts at describing smoking as
`nicotine addiction' are nothing more than political attempts at
exerting control over those people who are doing something the critic
doesn't want them to do, cannot understand why they do, and didn't
give permission to do.

~~From: (Tyson F Nuss)~~
I am more an aficionado than an addict, though I don't deny that I
am somewhat of the latter. American Spirit natural tobaccos have a
slogan, "Smoke less and enjoy it more," which I wholeheartedly agree
with. I exercise self-control, trying to smoke only when I can truly
*savor* the experience, preferably seated, with a good cup of coffee.

Smoking is a whole experience that's impossible to describe to an
incognocenti. The complex and diverse flavours, the actions, the sensual
feel of drawing in and expelling those silky, steely tendrils, watching
the crackle of the ember, the craggy ash, the drift and curl of the smoke...

Smoking, for me, is a purely reflective and relaxing act of luxurious
indulgence, and often a sort of meditation. I can take a break, sit down
and relax, and do something which demands my attention and gives
me pause to think and reflect and just revel in *being*. I can take a
fifteen-minute break from this hectic world without feeling idle, or
spacing-out, or getting bored, and when I'm done, I'm refreshed and
feel like I've done something constructive for my well-being.


"If you smoke you are either a moron or a murderer or more than likely
both. And soon you will either be dead or be caged. And maybe in some
states you will be executed. Hopefully it will be televised although
furiously sucking on that last cigarette may fuzz up the video somewhat.
Hurry up and do it. Stop talking about it. There is nothing more to say
that hasn't been said. It's like kicking a dead smoker."
(From: )

What we see above is typical extremist Antismoker rhetoric. Antismokers
are a small percentage of non-smokers. They try to make up in volume
what they lack in number (not to mention reason) to give the illusion
they have enough support to warrant a social contract banning public

Most smokers and non-smokers are happy to make reasonable compromises
to coexist with each other. The problem is that the voice of the
extremists is loud and often the only one being heard. As a result of
endless repetition and use of emotional and fallacious arguments, people
are coming to believe their statements, a few of which are outright lies
and many of which are such distortions that they amount to little more
than lies. These extremists plan to impose unreasonable demands on
society despite the fact that most people do not support them.

For many of them the motivation is not necessarily an evil one: they
believe smoking impairs the health of active smokers, and that distorting
the truth is justified if it results in fewer people smoking. Their goal
is to ban smoking every place other than one's home, car and outdoors
(although with limitations and exceptions even in these areas!) When
science does not support their goals, they will trot out emotional
arguments based upon "saving the children" or "protecting the disabled",
even if such arguments have little basis in fact. For true Antismokers,
compromise is not part of the agenda, it is merely a temporary step on
the road to complete Prohibition.

To meet that goal Antismokers have attacked on many fronts of which
the fear campaign around secondhand smoke is only one. Increased taxes,
taxpayer funded Antismoking media spots, ever wider limitations on public
smoking, extreme restrictions on advertising and free speech,
redefinition of language, federal funding blackmail, pressure campaigns
aimed at political candidates, and even control of the content of TV,
movies, and books are all facets of an overall campaign of social and
psychological engineering that would have made George Orwell blush.

~~From: (Matthew B Landry)~~
The whole argument IS about control much more than it's about smoking.
All such arguments, about any number of topics, are really about control,
and the stated issues are usually secondary at best. The point is that
these people are trying to take away a privilege we have had for
centuries for no good reason....

Yes, this is about control. If the Antis ever win the battle over
smoking, they'll surely start another battle over something else. Hell,
maybe it will be something that many of us smokers don't like anyway.
The point is that the subject matter of the battle is relatively
unimportant in comparison to the importance of a victory for liberty....

It wouldn't matter to me one iota if I smoked my last cigarette tonight
and never lit up again. I'd still be against the Anti's agenda because
it is at heart an agenda of domination. THEY want to control US. I for
one say we should stop them.

~~From: bets...@leland.Stanford.EDU (Elizabeth Lee Woudenberg)~~
A non-smoker is an individual who does not smoke him-or herself, but
who sees no reason to cause others to stop. True non-smokers may have
feelings against smoking, but the critical element here is that they
don't try to alter anyone else's behavior.

An Antismoker is someone who is against smoking as an institution,
and who does not regard smokers as individuals... merely as the
wrongful masses. Antismokers are crusaders, who can't seem to allow
others to commit "mistakes" that are so obvious to them.


The banning of smoking in fast food venues has moved the favorite
teen hangout from a setting with at least some level of adult supervision
out to the back lots of strip malls where predators and hard drugs reign.
Kids who might never have tried a joint or a snort of happy dust are now
hanging out in an atmosphere where such drugs will mix freely with tobacco.

Further, the message that nicotine is the "most addictive" drug, while
discounted by most adults as silly, is taken seriously by some kids.
Half the kids who try smoking never go on to be regular smokers.
That half has thus learned the lesson that addiction really isn't a
dangerous thing at all: why not try heroin and crack?

As cigarette prices rise, and the crackdown intensifies on underage
purchase and use of tobacco, we'll see smoking teens get pushed further
and harder into the real drug culture with its attendant dangers and
violence. School suspensions and expulsions of smokers will make things
even worse.

A recent movie portrays a pregnant teen who "huffs" everything from paint
thinner to glue. As the dangers of smoking are played up and kids see
their friends smoking with few ill effects, the dangers of huffing will be
downplayed although huffing gasoline, spray paint, and glue on a regular
basis will do far more damage far more quickly than smoking tobacco. As
cigarette prices rise and their availability as a mild and cheap "high"
for teens declines, we may well see increases in this particularly
dangerous activity.

Finally, this constant emphasis on nicotine as a drug will lead kids to
think of it as such and start using it for a real drug effect. Usually
nicotine is relatively benign: normal smoking, even for a novice, almost
never causes more than mild dizziness or nausea. Using nicotine as a "drug"
by stuffing a can of chew in one's mouth or chewing 12 nico-chicklets
for a "high" may actually produce deaths among our kids.

If the FDA succeeds in eliminating nicotine from cigarettes there's sure
to be a black market in pure nicotine that can be sprayed on tobacco
products to give them that good ol' kick. Again, this kind of thing will
pose a particular danger to children who experiment with it in either a
pure form or simply try smoking a stolen cigarette that happens to be
pumped up to ten times the normal nicotine level.

Of course the Antis will claim that these deaths will be few compared
to the ultimate savings from reducing the effects of teenage smoking
40 years down the road. Unfortunately, that "savings" may never appear:
as the Antis have played up nicotine as a drug and implemented more
and more strictures on smoking, the rate of teen smoking has done almost
nothing but increase. Remember the tens of millions spent on the Smoke-
Free 2000 program that was going to eliminate smoking among students?
Those are the very students that now smoke more than any before them.

- -----------BIG TOBACCO----------

Q: Why have the tobacco companies agreed to court settlements
costing them hundreds of billions of dollars if they're not guilty?

A: The big tobacco companies are not the ones actually paying the money:
ordinary smokers are paying every dime in the form of increased prices and
"invisible" taxes on their cigarettes. The McCain Bill actually FORBADE
the tobacco companies to pay the costs themselves because of fear they'd
go bankrupt and leave the treasuries without their ill-gotten loot.

By agreeing to these terms, the tobacco companies seek to save themselves
billions in court costs and judgements. In doing so they have submitted
to acting as agents in the extortion of hundreds of billions of dollars in
"taxes" aimed largely at lower income people. While the *real* villains
in this crime are tax-hungry politicians, Big Tobacco has been far too
cooperative in supporting these actions to cover their own legal

~~From: (Ed Dambik)~~
Did you ever wonder why the smoking issue gets so wrapped up with
attacks against Tobacco companies? Why, when the issues always boil
down to someone smoking in the office, the mall, a restaurant, etc.?
I think because it's not considered polite to attack regular PEOPLE
But attack a large, impersonal corporation (among others) and
everyone's resentments immediately come bobbing to the surface, even
smokers'. By verbally attacking the corporation, they can justify
draconian measures against INDIVIDUALS because such laws are reported
and come to be seen as if they didn't hurt people but instead only
cause financial problems for those large, rich, impersonal corporations.

- -------------RESOURCES------------

The two best resources to lead you to a vast world of debate and facts
about smoking are SMOKING FROM ALL SIDES
( and FORCES (

- ------------ACTIVISM------------

Smokers are a vulnerable minority group, both because we are
relatively unorganized and because many of us have accepted the self-
hating image that has bombarded us in the media for the last 20 years.
To successfully fight Antismoking efforts this needs to change.

Get involved. Join a Smokers' Rights group. FORCES is a fairly radical and
very dedicated group with a strong grassroots base. The National Smokers
Alliance is more conservative and has been criticized for getting money from
Big Tobacco, but is still a strong political group for smokers. Smokers in the
UK might consider looking up FOREST.

Vote against politicians who support the Antismoking agenda. Resist and
fight regulations that are clearly unreasonable or taxes which are simply
extortion (The 1998 tax hike in California is a good example.) Write
letters to the editor and op-ed articles. Be visible in discussion groups
on the net and in the community. Get an "I Smoke & I Vote" bumper sticker
and buttons. Copy this FAQ and pass it on (It prints out to five pages in
Word Format.) Learn the facts and spread the truth.

- ---------- THANKS ----------

This FAQ builds on the previous efforts of people such as Robert Wagner,
Joe Dawson, Ed Dambik, Larry Colby, Matt Landry, and Toonces464. The
original FAQ is available at (site to be decided) and many of the classic
writings posted to alt.smokers will also be there in the Archives.

Much thanks is also deserved by the present active members of alt.smokers
for their input, support and inspiration:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

- --------------FINALLY---------------

Never forget the famous words of Oscar Wilde:

"A cigarette is the perfect type of the perfect pleasure. It is
exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?"

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