New Fox News Op-ed: Where There's Smoke, There's Government Intrusion

The new piece is available here:

This is still a free country, right? Last week, the US House of Representatives passed legislation to more closely regulate the wages that firms pay workers and more strictly regulate tobacco products by putting them under FDA supervision.

The Los Angeles City Council also approved a one-year-moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in a 32 square mile low-income area in the city, the poor after all have “above-average rates of obesity” and must be protected from themselves.

Perhaps the government may just want to ask people if they are poor before we let them enter certain restaurants.

Barack Obama promises a national ban on smoking in public places. Such micro-managing of peoples’ behavior will likely to only get worse, as anyone who has been to countries such as Sweden can attest. . . .

While I would appreciate people adding their comments here, you can see some other comments here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Government intrusion only seems to be a selective thing at best. When Kansas City, Missouri enacted a smoke ban they said it was for the health of the employees in restraunts and bars.

You could apply logic to this and agree, however they exempted casino gaming floors, even though the casinos are the second largest employer in the city. Also exempted were outside seating areas, granting a competitive advantage to a new development in the downtown area.

All things considered, smoke bans will only be used as a tool when pandering to certain groups.

8/04/2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If smoking was invented today, there is no way you would be allowed to walk into a public place carrying something on fire.
Eventually, this country will ban public smoking nationwide but we will probably be one of the last developed countries to do so.

8/04/2008 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article demonstrates so little intelligence that I had to look to see if bill orally penned it.

8/04/2008 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re your article on smoking bans. You said that secondhand smoke doesn't harm people. Well, I can tell you from personal experience it does. In fact, it COULD kill me. And it killed my mother-in-law, a lifelong nonsmoker, who had to work in a smoke-filled office. She died of lung cancer. The fact is, smokers don't have a right to aggress against other people, and business owners don't have a right to be accomplices. Secondhand smoke IS aggression. In the name of protecting property rights, we don't give people permission to shoot other people with their own guns. Why allow it here? Besides, my body is my property, and when the smoke enters my lungs, it violates MY property rights. Banning smoking in restaurants does NOT hurt the business of restaurants. We learned that from banning smoking here. People could have "private smoking clubs" if they wanted. Pay a dollar to join. Almost no restaurants decided to opt for this solution. Business in restaurants increased as nonsmokers now were able to go to restaurants instead of staying home. For the sake of not inconveniencing smokers who might have to go outside to smoke, the practice of allowing smoking in restaurants could deprive me of essential services when I am traveling, making it impossible for me to find a place to eat in a small town. I have had this happen. I have also been exposed to smoke enough to cause a physical reaction (horrible coughing fits) when I deliberately sat in the nonsmoking section. The air is part of the commons, and nobody has the right to foul the commons. And it turns out, harm to nonsmokers HAS been amply demonstrated through research. Why people are ignoring this is a mystery to me.

8/04/2008 3:23 PM  
Blogger jwhit said...

As a health care provider, I can say that John Lott is so incredibly wrong on this issue that it's almost not worth responding to. I have seen the effects of second hand smoke and if John would like to tell them and their families that they should just live or die because some smokers don't want to avoid smoking in the house or car with their kids or love ones then maybe we should send him to Sweden. You are obviously just an elitist liberal that wants to do whatever you want. I think we should have freedoms but based on responsibility. If a drunk driver kills someone then they go to jail. But nothing happens to the parent that causes a severe asthma attack in their child that kills that child, all because they didn't want to go outside to smoke or had to smoke in the car with the child. It causes senseless deaths, not just from long term smoking but from short term second hand smoking. Please get all of the facts before spewing your garbage out to the rest of us.

8/04/2008 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just a hate-campaign based on junk science. The WHO study on second hand smoke (the most complete and comprehensive to date)found NO HEALTH PROBLEMS cause by second hand smoke so the study was suppressed and more anti-smoker junk science was financed by such hate-mongering non-profits like the ACS and RWJF.

8/04/2008 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


8/04/2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, John, for posting this unpopular side of the issue. Anyone who spends even a minimal amount of time researching will find that there are many studies that have shown little to no negative effects from second-hand smoke. The second-hand smoke craze is a result of anti-smoking zealots, Master Settlement Agreement funded busybodies, and the intolerant.

8/04/2008 7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Die pig. Such sick and bizarre logic.

8/04/2008 8:34 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Third Anonymous:

I am sorry that your Mother-in-law died from lung cancer, but even non-smokers get lung cancer and the fact that she was around smokers doesn't prove a relationship there.

The large meta studies have found no relationship regarding second hand smoke, but the point of my piece was that assume that such a relationship exists. Harm from second hand smoke doesn't justify a ban on smoking.

8/04/2008 8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. Although so many of the comments posted here are just darned silly.

"If smoking was invented today, there is no way you would be allowed to walk into a public place carrying something on fire."

Which ignores the fact that restaurants are private businesses -- and also conveniently ignores the fact that furnaces, automobiles, etc... emit far, far more products of combustion than cigarettes. I guess they wouldn't (or shouldn't?) be allowed either?

Then there's "a lifelong nonsmoker, who had to work in a smoke-filled office. She died of lung cancer." -- which means what? Is the poster not aware that all sorts of people die of all sorts of cancers? People get skin cancer who spend little time in the sun. People get colon cancer, who follow a "good" diet. It happens. But there is no strong evidence to support a connection between a "smoke filled office" and lung cancer. Did she drive to work? Ride a bus? Could be that her own (or yours or mine) auto exhaust "gave your m-in-law cancer.

and.. "Banning smoking in restaurants does NOT hurt the business of restaurants" -- uhh.. do some research. 'Nuff said on that.

and then..

"nothing happens to the parent that causes a severe asthma attack in their child that kills that child" -- which ignores the fact that the largest study conducted on the issue (by the world health organization) found a protective effect for children of smokers (for lung cancer). That is, children of smokers got fewer lung cancer. And second hand smoke showed no significant effects for adults.

In addition, as smoking has DECREASED in society, asthma rates(especially in children) are skyrocketing. Odd huh? Finally, many asthmatics smoke, and report that it gives them relief from symptoms.

But the propaganda wheel keeps turning. I guess because people must have something or someone to hate.

8/04/2008 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to correct one very common misconception in your op-ed piece. Smoking is actually good for people. Here's how I know:


8/04/2008 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's strange how the supposedly weak evidence seems to convince so many intelligent people, including judges. Just today an Iowa judge ruled on an attempt to obtain an injunction against the new smoking ban in that state. He stated that the evidence that secondhand smoke was a health hazard was strong and the only weakness in tht states law could be that there were exemptions granted. I believe that a judge in Omaha Nebraska recently came to the same conclusion. Apparently lawyers and judges are just as dumb as virtually all members of the medical and scientific communities on this issue.

8/04/2008 10:12 PM  
Blogger Michael J. McFadden said...

Very excellent article John! Are you sure your last name isn't Locke? :>

While I doubt that those posting some of the Anonymous comments here would appreciate it, others might find a small free booklet I wrote to be of some interest. It is called the Stiletto and is specifically designed to be printed out for "easy reading" in dimly lit bars, pool halls, and similar environs. It forcefully, accurately, and clearly shows the lies behind the bans - both of the health and the economic variety.



to download/print or just read it. Feel free to print up and distribute copies as you feel they would be helpful in activating dejected smokers, reassuring nervous nonsmokers, or simply waking up politicians mesmerized by skilled antismoking lobbyists.

Keep on fighting! The Antis never gave up... and we need to remember and follow that lesson!

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

8/05/2008 12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the only thing i know is that i have been a smoker for forty years.i don't smoke inside my home because of my grandchildren.but we do need different sections to smoke in because of our preference to smoke or not.but the government has no right to make us quit.

8/05/2008 12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, Here in Ireland, there was a marked increase fatal house fires, following the introduction of the smoking ban.

Also potentially linked to both smoking ban and enforcement of drink driving laws is increased suicide ammong aging single men in rural areas, who's social lives are now seriously limited.

One of the results of banning indoor smoking was the installation of outdoor gas heaters. Smokers are good customers for the pubs and clubs, so it pays them to look after them.

(non smoker)

8/05/2008 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of hip young facists here I see. (if smoking was invented today, there is no way you'd be allowed...oh brother...) It's so tiring to keep explaining liberty to these government educated drones.

8/05/2008 7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh let's just cut to the bottom line shall we? And that is people don't like the smell of the smoke - but my bet is they enjoy the benefits from the taxes paid by smokers.

Here's what I deduce. How can any study be trusted about first or second hand smoke given all the different variables. And let's not forget - some smokers do not get lung cancer and some people who have never smoked do. Seems to me that there must be a "marker" and that is triggered causing cancer.
Studies are hysterical. Give them a couple of months and everything changes anyways.
Gee whiz - I'm allergic to musk perfume. Causes me migraines. Maybe we could pass a law about that?

8/05/2008 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a fool, Lott. Looking at your writings on guns, global warming, and other issues just shows that you are a complete fool.

8/05/2008 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually agree with John on most of his topics but on this he is way off. If the market dictated what restaurants and bars provided for their customers then it would fall somewhere near the averages for smokers and non-smokers, it doesn't. Also, smoking is intrusive and even if it wasn't unhealthy, hard to believe it isn't unhealthy given it's smoke laced with toxins. No John, this is a public health issue and it should be addressed, or is your addiction so severe you can't go an hour without lighting up?

8/05/2008 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear Hear! I completely agree with your rationale that banning cars would make more sense if the goal were really to improve public health -- banning cars would save not only all the lives lost in accidents, but would cut down on all the cases of asthma and other disesases and deaths that are directly attributable to 'second hand smog'. Banning NASCAR would make more sense than banning cigarette smoking if 'cutting down on outdoor pollution' was the real goal. Smoking bans are simple big brotherism, nothing more, nothing less. Home of the free? yeah, right. "Let me tell you how to live your life -- for your own good, of course"... Telling a neighborhood pub which is owned by smokers and frequented by smokers that they can no longer smoke in that bar is NOT in anyone's "best interest". The pub will simply close -- more people will be out of work and the smokers will simply have yet one less place to spend their money. Smoking Bans ensure that at least 25 percent of our population -- and all their friends -- no longer spend money at restaraunts or pubs or any other public place because they're no longer welcome. And we wonder why the economy in the US is in heading down, ever down......

8/05/2008 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.” —C.S. Lewis

Like the fast food and trans-fat restrictions in CA, the minders here cannot cope with, repair or forsee huge budget problems, crime, abysmal public schools, but they sure can tell the sheep what to eat...

8/05/2008 10:13 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

People who favor smoking bans in "public" places tend to miss the most important aspect of such an action. We need to first dispel the myth of "public" property. The key to property rights lies in the owner's right to the absolute and uninfringed disposition of his property. A property owner exercises this right by deciding many actions in regard to his property including who has the privilege of being on his property and the conditions of that privilege. Property is either privately or governmentally owned and the decisions as to the disposition of those properties should be the right of those owners. In the case of what we call "public" property, these are usually private properties which are open to the public or properties owned by government. On government property, government dictates who has the privilege of use and the conditions. You may drive of the government's roads as long as you buy a license, wear your seat belt, and obey their litany of rules. Fail to do so and you lose your privilege. You may use the government's parks during their specified operating hours but you may not bring glass containers, build an open fire or dance naked. If you believe in "public" property, simply try exercising your absolute, uninfringed property rights there and see how quickly you're expelled from the premises or fined or tasered or imprisoned. In your home you too should enjoy the absolute uninfringed right to the disposition of your property, however in Amerika it is painfully obvious that the government holds the trump card. They can dictate what you may or may not do on or to your property, tax you eternally for the privilege of ownership and, if they decide they want your property, they can use eminent domain to steal it from you. In the case of private property, a property owner who decides to grant the privilege of access and use of his property to the general public, has in no way abdicated any of his property rights to the government. The government has no more right to dictate the conditions of that privilege than they do to dictate the conditions you would impose on people who you invite into your home. We are rapidly becoming a socialist/fascist state and the sad thing is, that in most cases, we're asking for it, (so long as it's the other guy's rights that are being violated.)

8/05/2008 10:53 AM  
Blogger USAFspouse1 said...

There is a difference between privacy and smoking. Certainly the government should not intrude on our privacy, unless they have good reason to do so. But I believe a smoking ban in public places makes perfect sense.

When smokers smoke in public places, where they come together with non-smokers, they are basically forcing their right on non-smokers. When non-smokers inhale second-hand smoke, it is as if they are smoking too.

I do not wish to argue about the science (or lack thereof) about the effects of second-hand smoke. (I think we all can find information out there that will justify our particular position on the issue.) I just don't want to inhale it -- period. I don't want my children inhaling it -- period. And I don't like my clothes smelling like an ash tray. If smokers must have a cigarette, they can go outside to smoke it. What's so difficult to understand about that?

We all may not agree about this issue, but we all have the right to speak freely about how we feel. There's really no need for people to spew hateful words at others simply because they do not agree. It's rather counterproductive, not to mention childish.

8/05/2008 12:14 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear USAFspouse1:

Your point doesn't address any of my discussion on why we should let the companies who own these public places make these decisions. I would be most interested in hearing you say why I am wrong, but right now you haven't addressed any of my points.

8/05/2008 12:25 PM  
Blogger Karl said...

I wish that we would stop using the phase 'public place'. Most of these locations are not public, they are a private business that choses to let others visit their property. If you do not like what they are selling or the environment of their business, stay out.

8/05/2008 1:08 PM  
Blogger USAFspouse1 said...

"Dear USAFspouse1:

Your point doesn't address any of my discussion on why we should let the companies who own these public places make these decisions. I would be most interested in hearing you say why I am wrong, but right now you haven't addressed any of my points."

Respectfully, Mr. Lott, I am not willing to say that you are wrong. It seems I missed your point. I read through the many comments that were left on your page, and I responded accordingly. If I missed your point, it seems that I am in good company.

Certainly, if public establishments are not government-funded, then they have the right to set forth their own conditions. I support a ban on smoking in public places, but that does not necessarily mean that I support government interference where it does not have jurisdiction.

Many of the restaurants and businesses that I enter do not allow smoking anyway. We live on a military installation, so obviously our establishments are smoke-free. But even if they weren't, why should smokers be allowed to force their right on non-smokers? Why can't they just go outside and smoke? That's the point I was really trying to make.

Perhaps I'm just on the wrong side of the debate. This really isn't an issue that largely affects me because I am not a smoker and most of the places we enter are smoke-free. If I were a smoker, it would be different. True, the science about second-hand smoke can be argued. But I have seen what tobacco does to the internal organs. That cannot be argued. I am also aware of the poisons that are in tobacco, which are released into the air for others to breathe. That, also, cannot be argued. Not to be mean, but smokers might as well wrap their lips around the tailpipes of their cars and take a puff.

8/05/2008 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that as non-smoker, I do not like being confronted with someone else's cigarette smoke. I prefer sitting in the non-smoking section (although often that means I am sitting right next to a smoker, seperated only by a half wall, which defeats the purpose.) I have worked in restaraunts, and if you really think that they will pay more money if people don't want to deal with the smoke, think again. They will hire someone else, someone cheaper, who doesn't care, or is so desperate that they will take any job. People work in smoking environments because they feel they have no other choice, and sometimes because of poverty, lack of education and upbringing they really don't have another choice.

All that said, I do not think that it is right to ban ALL smoking in public places. Do I want to sit next to a smoker..no, but could they have their own area INSIDE the restaraunt...why not? It seems fair to me that if they have a room, and I have a room, then there is no conflict. Once the smoke goes through the HVAC system it isn't nearly as toxic smelling, and afterall, it is the smell that gets me. I don't want to walk through smoke to go into a building either. Banning smoking indoors means that people stand by the door and light up, so if you are a non-smoker, you walk right through the smoke. I don't like smoke, I am allergic to it, but I am not the only person in the world, and I cannot expect other people to bow down to what I want, I need to make concessions as well. It's called living in harmony, and I prefer that.

8/05/2008 2:40 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Last Anonymous and USAFspouse1:

Thanks for your responses. The question is how much you are willing to pay for the service of cleaner air. If a public establishment lets people smoke, apparently those people value doing that more than the customers who don't like smoking value having cleaner air. You might want to mandate cleaner air, but just realize that you are taking something that you aren't willing to pay for. If it paid to create separate rooms for smokers and nonsmokers, those restaurants that set up separate rooms would get more customers. The restaurants just have to figure out whether the increased business that they get more than offsets the costs of setting up rooms like that.

Thank you.

8/05/2008 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The government should be able to over rule any private place that allows smoking. I believe all public places should be smoke free.

8/05/2008 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting that your article addressed smoking and various debatable bans against it, and that over 400,000 people die each year from the effects of smoking, you try to downplay the risks, and you seem to be pro-tobacco.
How could you treat the number of deaths so lightly??? Sure, we need to look at all the accompanying health issues those people had, but are they the result of smoking as well??
My big grip is that the tobacco industry is not required to divulge what chemical are added to the tobacco that they sell in those death sticks. That is so outrageous!!! People who smoke do not have all the facts, and make the decision to smoke on the basis of the few people they know who died from something other than tobacco related causes.
We should have a national movement to require the tobacco industry to list all the poisons they add to make tobacco more addictive. In addition smokers have the right to know what chemical they are inhaling when all that mysterious cauldron is set on fire. What chemicals do those additives make when they are burned? Certainly there are some additional chemical when combined with fire are more potent and changed.
Please consider the real story and stop belittling the tobacco industries license to poison Americans for a profit.
I am a former smoker, quit over twenty years ago, when it finally struck me that the tobacco industry is making a profit to kill me, and I decided I would not let that happen.
Your article is irresponsible and shallow when you overlook and downplay the health problems.
You must own stock in tobacco.

8/05/2008 4:02 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Judith:

Thanks for the note. I don't take deaths lightly. But at the same time, I am not going to stop people from driving their cars just because people get into car accidents. I am not going to stop people from eating ice cream or going hang gliding just because ice cream can lead to heart attacks or crash when gliding. Would you stop people from doing those things? How about drinking alcohol? Surely those who drink a lot have shorter life expectancies.

How about the reverse? What about people who don't exercise? Should we force people to exercise?

As to the ingredients in cigarettes or any other product, I would leave it up to customers to decide what they want. The same hold true for recent rules in NYC that require detailed information on what is in the foods served in restaurants.

Smoking causes deaths, but so do lots of other things. The vast majority of life long smokers who die from smoking live past age 70. Do you believe that ice cream makers or alcohol distillers are making money off of killing people?

As to owning tobacco stocks, no, I don't. But it would be nice to argue these points on the issues.


8/05/2008 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lott,

In response to an annonymous comment, you stated, "Harm from second hand smoke doesn't justify a ban on smoking." Furthermore in your article, you mentioned Barack Obama wanting to ban smoking in public places. You also mentioned the Swedes going into homes because of suspected drinking. You use that as a corrolation in the smoking-ban issue. For the sake of clarity, I am not aware of anyone wanting to ban smoking -- period. And I am not aware of anyone supporting the idea of going into homes because of suspected smoking. What we are talking about is a smoking-ban in public places.

Also, there have been several comments left on your page that scoff at the second-hand smoke studies. In your article, you even call the findings "weak." In another response to a comment, you said, "There are large meta studies that find no relation to second-hand smoke..." My question to you is this: Can you name one study that you are referring to that wasn't funded by the tobacco industry? To the best of my knowledge, studies which find no relation are the ones either funded by the tobacco industry, or with connections to the tobacco industry. Find the connections, and the findings will make perfect sense.

If the effects of smoking were not harmful, then it wouldn't be the leading cause of death in the US. And, as a society, we cannot complain about the rise of healthcare costs if we are not willing to do our collective part to bring them down. All you have to do is look at how much tobacco use and obesity cost the American taxpayers in healthcare costs every year. If we are really serious about healthcare, we will put down the cigarettes and cheeseburgers. If not, then we shouldn't complain while expecting the government to fix our financial problems. And we shouldn't complain on top of that because the government is trying to regulate what leads to public health crisis.

If we want to live by the 'I can do whatever I want' mentality, then just remember: we reap from what we sow.



I applaud you for making the difficult journey to quit smoking. Good for you for realizing what so many people deny. Good for you!

8/05/2008 9:29 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Last Anonymous:

I agree that smoking has real health consequences. I never denied this. I also was willing for the sake of argument to accept that there could even be second hand effects, despite the lack of evidence.

However, smoking isn't the leading cause of death. It is only the leading cause when only smoking is attributed as the cause in the way the piece discusses without treating all the other ways of death in the same way.

The point of my piece though was that people are making choices. Are you going to ban ice cream?

8/05/2008 9:49 PM  
Blogger Michael J. McFadden said...

An Anonymous wrote, " And I am not aware of anyone supporting the idea of going into homes because of suspected smoking"

How about John Banzhaf, founder of ASH, applauding some California communities and promoting that the concept be spread further? "“Here we are literally reaching into the last frontier -- right into the home... No longer can you argue, 'My home is my castle. I've got the right to smoke.' "

The antismoking organizations have entire websites devoted to going after the private home in various ways.


Anonymous also wrote, "
Can you name one study that you are referring to that wasn't funded by the tobacco industry? To the best of my knowledge, studies which find no relation are the ones either funded by the tobacco industry, or with connections to the tobacco industry. "

Sure. Piece o' cake. Not only that, I can point you to the LARGEST study of its kind, and the only one based on completely verifiable public data:


And before you try to do what TobaccoScam did and write it off because Mr. Kuneman worked as a soda-flavoring analyst for Seven-Up back for a few years back in the early 80s, think about how silly that sounds.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

8/05/2008 10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lott,

In reference to your last comment, you admit that smoking has real health consequences, but it seems you question whether or not it actually leads to death. You also say there is a lack of evidence regarding the effects of second-hand smoke. There is evidence, it just depends on which study you are willing to pay lip service to.

Do you dispute the evidence that smoking affects the unborn child? In essence, the unborn child is taking in second-hand smoke. The chemical additives/poisons (over 4,000 of them; 43 of which are carcinogens) that are found in cigarettes are passed to the child through the mother's bloodstream. It has been linked to fetal abnormality, premature delivery, and even miscarriage in some cases.

Would you drink ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, or acetone? Would you eat arsenic, which is basically rat poison? Or would you ingest insecticides? These are just a handful (out of the 4,000) of the chemicals that are found in cigarettes. Some may not seem harmful, but when they are burned, their chemical compounds are extremely harmful. Simple chemistry. To say that the second hand effects are not harmful, or that there is a lack of evidence just seems to ignore basic common sense.

My sister smokes. She has had numerous ER visits due to bronchitis and pneumonia. You do not dispute the fact that smoking has these particular health consequences. Her daughter, however, has had numerous ER visits due to severe asthma attacks. Are you saying you find it hard to believe that second hand smoke is the culprit? Can you prove that it isn't?

You are absolutely right -- it comes down to choice. People have the right to choose how to live their life. If they want to live a life that will lead to pulmonary disease, diabetes, high blood-pressure, etcetera, then that's their choice. But when American taxpayers have to foot the bill for the medical costs related to their choices, then it becomes everyones business.

8/05/2008 11:11 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear last anonymous:

I don't know what you are reading. Sure cigarettes increase the probability of death, but so do lots and lots of other things people do. People get some benefit from smoking and there is a cost. People get some benefit from eating ice cream and there is a cost. Why wouldn't you let people make these trade-offs for themselves? There are surely many activities such as hang gliding (if you do it regularly) that have higher death rates associated with them then smoking. Will you ban it? Will you ban ice cream? Will you ban sports cars? Whatever ingredients that are above the microscopic trivial level is something for consumers to decide if they want in the products that they consume.

By the way, asthma problems in children have been increasing as smoking rates in their parents have been falling.

As to the costs.

1) Not everyone's health care costs are covered by the government.
2) Possibly we should avoid the problems and arguments seen in Sweden and not have the government pay for health care. Also, what are you going to apply this to besides smoking?
3) Smokers actually have lower health care costs than others. Everyone dies. Smokers when they die tend to die more quickly and thus have lower health care costs on average.

8/05/2008 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. McFadden,

Thank you for the Smokers Club website. Is the British Medical Journal study your site refers to the same British study that has been debunked as flawed? Interestingly, the study was partly funded by the Center for Indoor Air Research, which is said to be connected to Philip Morris and other tobacco companies. If it's the same study, you failed to present one that has not been influenced in any way by the tobacco industry.

8/05/2008 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lott, I respect your position. You have presented us with legitimate questions. A few times, you have asked whether ice cream should be banned or not. I am not sure why you are comparing ice cream to cigarettes, though. The person sitting next to me is not harming me by eating ice cream. But the person sitting next to me, blowing smoke in my face is. Was your point really about choices because I thought you were wanting to discuss second hand smoke?

8/05/2008 11:56 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Last Anonymous:

First assume that there are no problems from second hand smoke. Then the comparison to ice cream is obvious. You smoke, you bear the risk. You eat ice cream, you bear the risk.

Now for the sake of argument assume that there effects from second hand smoke. The point there is that you are making a choice where to go just as much as smokers are making a choice to smoke. Restaurants make a choice to provide their customers with what service they want. If you want nonsmoking areas enough, restaurants will provide those areas. Similarly for businesses.

8/06/2008 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Lott it is nice to see that you actually participate in your blog as so many journalists do not. You do have valid opinions but I do disagree with the basic premise or your arguments. That said these private business' have been deemed by not only the government but the people as well as public. This is why they all must allow ADA access. How different is it really to tell someone who is mobility restricted that this business must make accomadation for them but for the person with asthma or other ailment that they are somehow less valued as a member of the public? Interestingly, before my home state banned smoking in restaurants and bars most restaurants without a bar and even some bars were starting to go non-smoking. These owners claimed they did so because it increased business, they were a niche service offering something to the significant majority of the available market, as well as reducing the costs to the business of allowing smoking. Most of these business' actually lobbied for the ban in my home state. Many of these same business' felt that initially they lost business to private clubs but then the non-smokers started coming in and after a few weeks the smokers started coming back as well. Actually increasing their business. There were some areas in our state where restaurants and bars lost business, along the border with states where the ban had been enacted long ago. There were business' that had seperate smoking and non-smoking areas that I had comfortable in and couldn't detect the odor of smoke, until the ban went into place in these other states and it became outright offensive due to the extravagant increase in business from out of state business. I stopped going to these places but for every regular customer they lost they probably had ten new customers. So yes, there were some economic affects in my home state but I would argue they were artificial affects. Of course I no longer frequent these establishments since the ban. The hand that bites you and all that. That said I highly question any claims of economic impact as restaurants and bars have one of the highest small business failure rates with or without smoking bans. It's hard if not impossible to justify that argument. The recent gas crunch has far more to do with any economic impacts to these small business' as people today aren't making the choice of going to a restaurant or bar because of their smoking policy or any government ban but because they are making the choice between what want they can not fill so they can fill the gas tank.

8/06/2008 2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting piece.

I look at a smoking ban (in public) like I look at a speed limit. The speed limit is there to protect law-abiding citizens from the harm/death that could potentially be inflicted on them from law-breakers. Sure, there will be accidents/fatalities, but the limit protects more people than not everyday. No, banning sports cars is not the solution. The speed limit is the solution, not to mention the legal and financial consequences, should a person cause harm/death to someone else due to their choice to speed.

I look at smokers like I look at law-breaking speeders. They seem to have no respect or regard for others around them. They do not seem to care about how their choice could potentially harm others. All they are concerned about is doing whatever they want to do.

Just like the speed-limit, I don't see a problem with the government enacting, or even backing a public smoking ban. The government, love it or hate it, should be protecting and governing its citizens. Sometimes it even has to protect us from our choices -- most especially the choices that will affect not only us, but also the multitudes around us. It's not banning smoking completely. It's setting a limit by basically saying you can smoke in the realms of your privacy, just not in the public sqaure.

8/06/2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger Michael J. McFadden said...

Mr/Ms Anonymous(es?), let me respond briefly to several points that you anonymously make:

I believe the main study I referred you to as deeply flawed was the Helena study. Most studies on secondary smoke are funded by organizations and corporations openly devoted to promoting smoking bans. If you are a researcher or scientist grubbing around for funding and prestige, you darn well better design studies that will support the antismoking cause or you won't be feeding your family the folowing year.

You may also be referring the the Enstrom/Kabat study which has generally NOT been criticized for anything other than using the same data that other antismoking studies have used and for taking a final small grant from PM's CIAR to fund publication. As you can see, vastly and qualitatively different from the severe scientific criticisms made of the Helena and Helena-clone studies.


An Anon also said, "American taxpayers have to foot the bill for the medical costs related to their choices, then it becomes everyones business."

Actually Anon, it's smokers who are footing the bill for nonsmokers. That situation should indeed be rectified and smokers recompensed. See "Taxes, Costs, and the MSA" for a fully referenced explanation:



And Anon said, "I highly question any claims of economic impact as restaurants and bars have one of the highest small business failure rates with or without smoking bans. It's hard if not impossible to justify that argument."

Not hard at all. When a smoking ban comes into a country and the pub failure rate shoots immediately from 3 per week up to 27 per week there's not much question. And if you don't like statistics, even when they are THAT extreme, just read the case-by-case facts and quotes from owners in the Stiletto at:


If you want much more than this, I'd suggest getting my book: I don't think John wants a 400 page book on his blog. LOL!

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

8/06/2008 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People arguing the merits of a smoking ban or related government parenting are missing the point. It is not whether such measures are wise or misguided, but whether it is within the purview of government to make such decisions for individuals.

It would also be interesting to consider the civil rights implications of banning fast food in places that are primarily occupied by poor blacks.

8/06/2008 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, the ban on smoking is not just for the benefit of customers. The ban is for the benefit of employees who are exposed to second hand smoke for far longer periods than a customer. Statistics show that these people suffer from lung ailments and smoke related diseases in far greater numbers than non smokers in other industries.

8/07/2008 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

400,000 heart attack deaths per year!
So? It's never mattered before. Who makes up the lost revenue to the medical industry if 400k people don't die a long slow painfull death. What happens to the lawyer's if they lose 400k potential customers.
This country can't stand the loss, nor can my current Congressman.
He still accepts those Big Tobacco donations, he doesn't pass up a buck of any kind. Doctor's, Lawyer's, he'll even take from the grave diggers union if one exists.

The point is what's happening to our personal freedoms and why are we allowing the escalation of Government intrusion into our lives on a daily basis.

I'm suprised John didn't say his name, www.bobbarr2008.com . Smaller government will be the only cure for Cancer, Smoking, Drinking, and even Heart Attacks.

As long as it's so profitable currently, Congress, Doctors, and Lawyers will fight to keep the cost of dying on a fast pace growth program and the cash flowing.

Check your offical running for office, the job doesn't pay well but "man-o-man", the benefits are SWEET! Ever see a poor man leave Washington D.C.?

8/07/2008 10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. McFadden, I followed the link to your anti-smoking ban website and read through it. To be frank, I wish I could take back that hour of my life wasted. I am supposed to believe that there are no affects from smoking or or second hand smoke so obviously black lung is perfectly normal. Then later you write that as long as there is a good ventilation system there is no danger from smoking in a bar or restaurant, what danger Mr. McFadden since smoking isn't harmful anyway, right? Also, with regard to your dramatization of bar and restaurant closures, I recognize most of those cities as being close to NY state's border, I already agreed that such business' near state borders where smoking is not banned over the border do suffer a loss of business. Mr. McFadden it appears you believe that everyone who does not support your view must be lying. You might want to list the sources of your "facts" else you come across as that you are just lying to try and get your own way without any regard for the harm you may cause. You write of the bias and extremism of others yet your own bias is truly unadulterated.

8/08/2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger Michael J. McFadden said...

One of the Anonymouses wrote, "I am supposed to believe that there are no affects from smoking or or second hand smoke so obviously black lung is perfectly normal."

Since there is nowhere in any of my writings a claim that "there are no effects from smoking" so I must confess that I have a hard time believing that you spent any real time reading them.

However, I'd be quite happy to see you try to produce such writings... just Google "Michael J. McFadden" and you should have no trouble finding them if they exist.

As to the listing of businesses harmed/destroyed by NY's smoking ban, the list covers eighty-four cities, including multiple listings in Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, all, I believe, 50 miles or so from the border. And if you truly think that tens of thousands of drinkers are driving even 20 or 30 miles to avoid state bans then I would hope that you activate militantly against such bans and the drunk-driving deaths they cause.

Did you know that a recent study indicates that such deaths go up by roughly 13% after bans go in place? The author suggests that some of those deaths may be due to driving to a legal locality, but also believes some are simply due to longer drives to "smoke-easies" ... something that more bans will simply produce more of.

In terms of my bias, I've always been quite open about my beliefs. As a matter of fact, right on the second page of the Author's Preface, before the page numbers even begin, I state quite clearly:

Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains has an openly admitted point of view but is honest in its facts and presentation. It flows from a strong belief that smokers are being unjustly discriminated against personally, financially, and societally, and argues that this is largely the result of an intense and well-funded campaign by a small group of activists and agencies that have tapped into the endless ocean of smokers’ tax dollars.

Finally, as far as "sources" for my facts, Brains has over 600 references throughout its 400 pages... and no one has EVER found a mis-cite among them!

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

8/09/2008 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is John R. Lott, Jr. related to former US Senator Trent Lott from Mississippi, also a big supporter of the tobacco industry?

8/19/2008 11:26 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Last Anonymous:

I am not related to Trent Lott, but even if I was, this seems like a particularly dense point to be making. Because someone might be related to another person is supposed to mean that you don't have to respond to the substance of their arguments? In any case, the answer is "no."

8/20/2008 3:25 AM  
Blogger Michael J. McFadden said...

John, the "attack by association" is a standard tactic of Antismokers so don't feel singled out. When Dave Kuneman and I came out with our study disproving the cherry-picked "Heart Attacks Plummet After Smoking Bans!" nonsense we had our research tied down tightly enough that there were very few grounds for any legitimate attack.

So what did TobaccoScam do? They focused in on the fact that my co-author had spent several years working as a flavoring chemist for 7-UP back in the early 1980s and declared our work illegitimate because it was done by a "tobacco industry researcher" since 7-UP was bought by Philip Morris around that time as part of their attempt to diversify out of tobacco.

When you can't contradict the science or the facts, and all you've got left is mud puddles, you throw mud.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" who still thinks you're hiding your illegitimate ancestral link to John Locke btw...

8/20/2008 8:34 PM  
Blogger Shelby Rebecca said...

Here in California smoking is not allowed in buildings or 30 feet from a doorway. This did not stop people from going to restaurants as this article depicts due to smoker preference. In fact, if I went into a restaurant and there was smoking allowed I would have to leave. I have asthma and even breathing cigarettes outside can cause an asthma attack for me.

This wasn't always the case but I was exposed to a long term roofing project where I live using asphalt roofing tar which has damaged my lungs. I have to watch out in public outside areas because if I'm exposed to someone's smoke I will get sick and the coughing can last up to a week sometimes.

I would like to propose smoking restrictions in outside areas as well. For example, I live in the Sacramento area and my family and I went to "The Lighting of The Christmas Tree" at the Downtown Plaza. This is a family event with children everywhere and there are people smoking in the crowd. Why should I have to deal with that? They shouldn't be able to impose their bad habit on my air. They need to move somewhere else to smoke far away from all the regular people.

12/01/2008 3:57 PM  

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