Enter Stage Gabbing

The Health Jihad continues

web posted July 1998

The June 17 "death" of the tobacco bill was a good thing for both Americans and Canadians, for what "progress" is made south of the border usually occurs here a short time later. That said, that bill's demise is only a temporary respite. Further action will be launched against tobacco both in the United States and Canada.

In case some Canadians missed the story, the tobacco bill trumpeted by men like Arizona Republican John McCain and Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy would have further regulated advertising, raised a mere half trillion dollars in new taxes (from those who smoke the most, the poor), and raised the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.10 to discourage teen smoking.

Basically, it would have imposed limits on free speech, dictated the price of legal private products, and removed the onus of self-responsibility from smokers. It's the same battle that's currently raging in Canada right now.

As much as I dislike the slippery slope argument, it seems to hold true in this case. The campaign against tobacco is merely the opening shot in a wider jihad against everything that the so-called health advocates are opposed to.

Take the recent redefining downwards of the height/weight numbers by the U.S. federal government. At the stroke of a pen Americans were made less healthy since more of them are now classified as overweight or obese.

It's the same tactic that is being used against the tobacco industry.

  1. A bureaucrat creates a health problem with a stroke of their pen.
  2. Now a problem has been identified.
  3. Calls for regulation begin so that we can "save the children."
  4. An increasing amount of media reporting is brought to bear on the new problem.
  5. Calls for public money to solve the problem begin in earnest.
  6. Action on legislation begins.

In this case, however, the redefining of height/weight creates the problem of the fast food industry.

As the National Center for Public Policy Research's Amy Ridenour pointed out in a recent press release, Yale University researchers have already called for the government regulation of unhealthy food, federal subsidies of fruits and vegetables, and punitive excise taxes on high-fat foods.

"Junk food advertisements should be regulated, and excise taxes imposed on high-fat foods, just as they are on tobacco and alcohol." said Professor Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale's Center for Eating and Weight Disorders

"As a culture, we get upset about Joe Camel, yet we tolerate our children seeing 10 000 commercials a year that promote foods that are every bit as unhealthy."

Brownell is also being backed up by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the same leftist group responsible for the banning of high fat popcorn butter a few years ago. "It's high time the [restaurant] industry begins to bear some responsibility for its contribution to obesity, heart disease and cancer."

But the fast food industry won't be the first target. Ridenour says that easier targets like alcohol and caffeine are first on the list of verboten substances. The American Medical Association's Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse is already calling for the same prohibitions placed on the tobacco industry to be placed on the alcohol industry.

And caffeine? Have you noticed the recent articles about children drinking excessive amounts of "high octane" colas, as sodas were recently referred to in an article I came across? Already the groundwork is being laid down for the attack on caffeine.

"Caffeine Inc. is raking it in, often targeting teens and younger kids. The major caffeine suppliers to kids have been throwing millions to advertising and giveaways," said the Nation magazine recently.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (there they are again) has called upon the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the caffeine content in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate. Those with any kind of memory should remember that the jihad against smoking began with the call for FDA regulation of tobacco.

I'm not defending the tobacco companies. The fools at the companies dug their own graves by acting the way they did decades ago. They acted poorly by not being honest and saying they had reasonable evidence to suggest that smoking could lead to health problems.

No one this century, however, can claim that they hadn't heard that smoking wasn't a wise habit. As early as the turn of the century, cigarettes were called "coffin nails", leading me to believe that they were already commonly held to be unhealthy.

And no one can be oblivious when it comes to the common knowledge that alcohol, caffeine and fast food should be consumed in moderation.

That said, these moves against tobacco, alcohol, and in the future, caffeine and fast food are not simply a push for a healthier lifestyle. They are also an attack on personal responsibility and a further expansion of the government. In the United States, these actions -- combined with the power of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- will radically expand the health care system since the definitions for disabilities will also surely be expanded by the courts. Being overweight will probably, if not already, qualify you soon for protection against yourself.

Participate in the battle against tobacco companies and you immediately give sanction to all future attacks against any of life's pleasures. It's easy to attack a habit you may find disgusting, it's harder to defend someone else's liberties...but it's worth it if your own "vices" are used to demonize you one day.

And if present trends continue they will.

Thanks for reading,

Gord Gekko

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