Thursday, October 26, 2006

Up next... cigarette prohibition?

The Drug Policy Alliance recently commissioned a Zogby poll, asking if Americans would support prohibiting tobacco over the next five to ten years.

The results are absolutely terrifying. 45% of Americans agree that we should make tobacco illegal.

The news gets worse. Among Americans aged 18 - 29, support for tobacco prohibition is at 57%!

That's our generation, folks.

Watch DPA's Ethan Nadelmann explain why tobacco prohibition is a very bad idea:

You might say, "Why worry? The tobacco companies are too powerful to ever allow this to happen!" You might be right. But that's not the point.

The point is that we, the generation raised on D.A.R.E. style misinformation and scare tactics, have an obligation to show our peers that prohibiting potentially dangerous substances does nothing to protect us from those substances. History has shown us that it never has, and common sense tells us that it never will. In fact, it only makes the problem much worse.

But if young people are the constituency that supports tobacco prohibition more than anyone else (7% more than evangelical Christians!), then we need to work harder, folks. I'm proud that my generation has been so successful at giving up cigarettes, but holy smokes... there's no need to throw the Marlboro Man in jail!

If you'd like to get involved in the fight to turn back the destructive tide of prohibitionism, while meeting drug policy gurus like Ethan Nadelmann, register for SSDP's conference today!


kaptinemo said...

Law Professor Charles Whitebread very presciently predicted nascent tobacco prohibition in his 1995 speech, The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States, presented before the California Judges Association.

His analogy in his Conclusion is particularly apt:

"Now, all you need, and here is my formula, for a new prohibition every time is what? We need an intractable, difficult, social, economic, or medical problem. But that is not enough. There has to be another thing. It has to divide by class --- by social or economic class, between US and THEM.

And so, here it comes. '

You know the Federal Government has been spending a lot of money since 1968 trying to persuade us not to smoke. And, indeed, the absolute numbers on smoking have declined very little. But, you know who has quit smoking, don't you? In gigantic numbers? The college-educated, that's who. The college-educated, that's who doesn't smoke. Who are they? Tomorrow's what? Movers and kickers, that's who. Tomorrow's movers and kickers don't smoke. Who does smoke? Oh, you know who smokes out of all proportion to their numbers in the society -- it is the people standing in your criminal courtrooms, that's who. Who are they? Tomorrow's moved and kicked, that's who.

And, there it is friends, once it divides between the movers and kickers and the moved and kicked it is all over and it will be all over very shortly."

And those very forces are aligning themselves, right now.

Doesn't anybody learn from history?

800 pound gorilla said...

Yeah, but still it hasn't dropped much below 25% of the total population. And a much bigger problem is that smokers in high income strata are still in power overseas and in Western European countries and Japan.

And what is shocking - to me, at least - is that their longevity is longer in spite of the much higher negative impact of smoked nicotine. That speaks volumes for our contrived version of socialized medicine that provides upper tier health care providers with guaranteed huge incomes - while denying or restricting access to drugs and basic health care. How much worse would it be if we had 55% of our population addicted to nicotine?

Criminalizing nicotine would greatly accelerate the drug war's impact. It would drive a stake in the heart of current prohibition. Unfortunately, unless we pass a constitutional amendment barring future prohibitions it will emerge again and again. We learned the wrong lessons from alcohol prohibitions.

Well, authoritarians learned the right lessons about shutting out discussion and bringing in global authoritarianism. The drug war works a lot better if it is given the same international respect [undeserved] as other laws.

I still don't see what big monied interests have to gain by expanding prohibition. The biggest problem with allowing cigarettes sold legally is that it risks blowing the scam about "dangerous drugs". Cigarettes are clearly more addictive and inherently harmful than any other drug banned. Of course, alcohol is right behind. But with our corporate media, those issues are never brought up for discussion and religious conservatives - the leaders anyway with boatloads of corporate money - know enough not to push the issue.

We got rid of the Marihuana Tax Act only because someone with money challenged it as a total fraud. We can easily do the same thing with the Controlled Substances Act. Or at least I think we can - if authoritarians haven't stacked the courts against logic already.

Anonymous said...

Ironic isn't it that we are now siding with the tobacco companies.

But true American freedom includes the freedom to (possibly) kill yourself slowly with tobacco. (Only about %33 of long term smokers get cancer, though most die a few years prematurely).

Everyone here knows that prohibition and the criminality associated with it is FAR worse than even tobacco (which is the most deadly drug). Criminalizing a drug cannot stop it. Only telling the truth about its effects can do that.

I don't think tobacco prohibition will actually happen though. Tobacco is too addictive. How the heck would they force everyone to suddenly quit? There would be riots and such. It just wouldn't work.

It is scary that so many people are thinking in the wrong direction about prohibitions though. It just means we need to get our message our louder and clearer.

alex said...

When cigarette prohibition goes into effect, and it WILL; mark my words...I am an unapologetic smoker with no intention of quitting soon, but I am also a cynic; I know the mass mob is dumb enough to fall for this kind of authoritarianism...

When smoking becomes illegal, people will never smoke cigarettes again. Smoking a cigar or a cigarette leisurely will become a thing of the past...

No, this is what will happen instead:New and far more deadly, and potent, tobacco-derived substances that are purified and refined for the street, will come into existence. Instead of smoking their nicotine fix, people will be snorting and injecting their nicotine fix, in huge doses. Imagine tens of thousands of tobacco plants crushed together, boiled, and refined using toxic substances like Benzene, and out comes a nifty little brown powder that is either freebased through a crack pipe or snorted.

Think about it.

People have a short memory. Remember when the Coca leaf was an innoculous little plant that was like a mild stimulant that could be chewed by Peruvian Indians or smoked by bearded Founding Fathers?

Coca leaf in it's natural form is relatively weak. But take thousands of coca leaves, refine them with Benzene, and transport them in a vast organized crime network, and you get a very toxic and potent substance: Cocaine.

Well couldn't the same thing happen with nicotine? What new street drugs will be created? Has anyone ever heard of the concept of overdosing on nicotine in the first try? Well they will. It will become a reality.

Mark my words.

Let me introduce the new concept:
The Super Cigarette. Crack-tine

Which is not a cigarette at all, but a dangerous substance that is smoked through a crackpipe, injected, or snorted.

Mark my words. It is coming. Death and jail is coming for millions. It's just a matter of time.