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Light Another Cigarette and Learn to Forget

Person smoking

A conversation with a friend this weekend brought up the fact that the “obesity epidemic” coincides almost exactly with the war on smoking, and the more strides on the war on smoking (tobacco) we make the fatter people get.

Now, this might be a concomitant and not a causative correlation. There are many other reasons for the growing girth of the masses, including but not limited to our eliminating intestinal parasites, the vanishing number of occupations that require the actual sweat of your brow, the widespread use of motor transportation, and yep, the increased availability and low prices of food.

However, nicotine is an appetite suppressant.

It also seems to have other side effects like increasing concentration and combating ADHD.

I’m not going to argue there’s no correlation between the use of traditional cigarettes as methods of nicotine delivery and lung cancer though I will maintain that effect is virtually nonexistent with vapor methods of nicotine delivery.

I’m also going to point out that the same people who more or less endlessly harp on the evils of tobacco smoke, and pass ever more restrictive smoking legislation, including infringing on the property rights of restaurant and bar owners — done in the name of (ill-defined, unproven and possibly wholly made up) second-hand-smoke effects — tend to be supporters of pot legalization and will go to any lengths to explain away the fact that inhaling the smoke of burning vegetation is carcinogenic no matter what that vegetation is.

Before I go further I’ll state my biases: I smoked (tobacco) for a year at nineteen. Most of it consisted of holding the cigarettes to give my hands something to do while I stood and talked. In the Europe of the eighties, it was also a means to fit in. I quit because I got a bout of pneumonia I simply couldn’t kick. Since then my childhood asthma has made a comeback, and I’ve found that anything burning near me whether barbecue coals or cigarettes will have me reaching for my inhaler.

Those are my personal biases.

And yet, I found myself thinking of my friend and colleague John Ringo’s signature line, which is: We went to the moon on coffee, bourbon and Marlboros. We're not going to Mars on Evian and tofu.

And I started thinking of the effects of intoxicating substances on humans.

Now, before you get all bent out of shape about the horrors of humans using mind- or mood-altering substances at all, I have bad news. We probably have eaten, drunk or otherwise partaken of all of those substances before we were even humans. Chimpanzee bands have been observed seeking out and ingesting fruit that has become fermented, seemingly on purpose. Or if you prefer, our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom have a tendency to go in search of hooch and get drunk off their furry *sses.

We have mentions of beer in the earliest cuneiform manuscripts and the Bible records the shame and evil of drunkenness.

Almost every human society has had some form of intoxicating substance baked right in.

Early Europe drank alcohol as a matter of course; since the rivers served as trash disposal as well as a source of water, the water simply couldn’t be trusted. (And not so early Europe, too. Though my parents have re-written history in their heads, part of my childhood was the Roman mix of half water and half wine, possibly because the water was not to be trusted. And no I don’t hold the rewriting against my parents. Laws tend to rewrite morality and the EU laws are very harsh on giving alcohol to minors.)

I once read a book on Elizabethan history which was going on about how truly bizarre and common plots against the throne were, and most of them were of the underpants gnome variety (Step 1. Collect underpants. Step 2. ?????? Step 3. PROFIT), i.e. completely crazy and unrealistic. They pointed out this was a boozy world, a world in which you started drinking ale in the morning, and didn’t stop till bedtime, and no matter how small that small ale was, it still contained enough alcohol to make you a little silly after you had a lot of it.

The thing is that different types of mind-altering substances are more prevalent in certain societies.

I will note that the rise of the West — and certainly their becoming the dominant culture in the world, even and despite their indiscriminate use of alcohol — seems to hinge on the spread of two substances: tobacco and coffee.

As my friend’s meme above notes, our trips to the moon involved widespread use of alcohol and tobacco in offices.

Other societies had other types of intoxicating substances. The ganja route is as old as intercontinental congress. And people have drunk, smoked, and injected other types of drugs since the dawn of time.

The funny thing is, most of the drugs that are depressants (ganja and heroine, for instance, or opium) seem to correlate with ancient civilizations in which the vast mass of the ruled submitted to the whims of the rulers. Even the khat chewed in Somalia seems more a way to while away life without tuning in to it.

And once you think of that, the fact that tobacco is fought with every possible weapon in the left’s arsenal — while we’re cheerfully enjoined to partake of a joint and told that pot is universally beneficial -- will make you raise your eyebrows.

After all, extending the war on smoking to vaping is even crazier than the second-hand smoke crusade, and though I personally benefit from it, there is absolutely no reason to tell restaurant owners they can’t run a smoking establishment. If the effects are as awful as the left thinks, surely those establishments would have no clientele. On the other hand, if people want to smoke while eating, what business is it of government to tell them they can’t?

In the end, it comes down to: “Who is telling you what you should smoke?” And: “What kind of society do they want?”

Because the substances you indulge in absolutely shape the society we have. Do the tobacco-hating/pot-loving left want you to have another (pot) cigarette and learn to forget?