mm109: Too much of a good thing department

August 20, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

William Saletan of is another of that site’s not to be missed writers, in the bio-scientific realm.


Kicking Butt – The international jihad against tobacco.

By William Saletan
Posted Friday, Aug. 17, 2007, at 8:09 AM ET

Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.

I hate smoking. It’s a filthy habit. It kills hundreds of millions of people, including bystanders. Just being around it makes me nauseous. Cities, states, and countries all over the world are banning smoking in public, and I couldn’t be happier.

In fact, it’s such a rout, it’s getting out of hand.

The problem with tobacco all along was that politicians and the public didn’t recognize it as a drug. They called it a tradition, a “crop,” and a “legal product.” As though coca and marijuana weren’t crops. As though a product’s legality should decide its morality, instead of the other way around. When it came to smoking, culture overpowered reason.

MUDGE has loved ones (including he who bestowed the appellation itself) who are fanatical anti-smokers, for the most popular reason: they are reformed smokers.

They helped lead the successful (by no means a certainty 8-10 years ago when they started) fight against smoking in public places, starting with restaurants (of course these really are private places open to the public) in our tiny corner of the universe.

And smoking is one of the few vices that MUDGE has never stuck with; maybe because Philip Morris never developed a pralines and cream flavored Marlboro.

But I can’t help agree with Mr. Saletan that perhaps we’ve all gone a bit too far.

Read on:

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The international jihad against tobacco. – By William Saletan – Slate Magazine

I especially enjoyed the creative medicinal use for tobacco near the end of the article:

Instead of indiscriminately vilifying tobacco, we should reengineer it. Bypass the combustion, purge the tar, dial down the nicotine—whatever serves public health. We could even use it to cure people. Two years ago, Henry Daniell, a biologist at the University of Central Florida, proved that an anthrax vaccine could be grown in genetically engineered tobacco. Tobacco was a logical vehicle, he said, because it was prolific and wouldn’t end up in the food supply. Last month, he reported progress in growing a protein to prevent diabetes, but he had to do it in lettuce—a food supply risk—”due to the stigma associated with tobacco.” When the war on smoking has come to this, it’s time to step back and take a deep breath.

Any time you anti-tobacco activists, flush with your victories, are seeking to extend your power toward a new cause, MUDGE has one for you.

One to which I’ll lend all the grandeur and prestige accrued in the 3½ months of this blog: Come on, people, let’s ban the public, and private consumption of zucchini once and for all!

It’s it for now. Thanks,