De serieuze media in de VS geven steeds meer ruimte aan kritische vragen bij de anti-rokenbeweging. De Boston Herald publiceerde vandaag een zeer kritisch artikel van de hand van de dissidente anti-roker Dr. Michael Siegel. In het stuk beschuldigt Siegel, eveneens als op zijn blog, de anti-rokenbeweging in de huidige vorm én de overheden van verregaande misleiding. Hij geeft aan dat hij bang is dat de anti-rokenbeweging, waartoe hij zich nog steeds rekent, op deze manier alle geloofwaardigheid bij het publiek verspeelt.
“I fear that the anti-smoking movement is on the verge of running amok. Ultimately, what is at stake is the credibility of the tobacco-control movement, as well as the integrity of its evidence-based approach to the protection of the public’s health. If we lose that, then the truly legitimate, science-based aspects of tobacco control will be undermined.”
As a physician who has devoted 21 years to advocacy in tobacco control, conducting research and publishing a number of studies on the hazards of secondhand smoke, it is not surprising that I favor a wide range of anti-smoking measures. But anti-smoking tactics adopted by some municipalities, companies and organizations do not serve smokers or the public. The methods are mean-spirited, unsupported by science and attempt to stamp out smoking by punishing and marginalizing smokers. They go too far.
The City Council in Calabasas, Calif., recently enacted an ordinance – supported by several anti-smoking groups – that bans smoking in just about all outdoor areas of the city, including streets and sidewalks, unless there is no other person within 20 feet.
The expressed purposes of the ordinance are to protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke and to reduce “the potential for children to associate smoking and tobacco with a healthy lifestyle.”
The hazards of exposure to smoking in the workplace have been proven, but there is no scientific evidence that shows that small, transient exposures to secondhand smoke in outdoor areas – places where people can easily avoid prolonged exposure – represent any serious public health problem.
The argument that these policies are needed to prevent children from seeing people smoke in public would ostracize citizens for pursuing a legal activity. What comes next? Laws that ban fat people from the public square so that children won’t associate obesity with public acceptability? Laws that prohibit people from eating fast food in public so children won’t see this behavior and associate it with a healthy lifestyle?
Frustrated by its inability to outlaw smoking, this arm of the anti-smoking front seeks to outlaw smokers. I’m all for efforts that make smoking seem less glamorous, desirable or cool, but it is wrong to restrict people’s rights because you do not like what they do.