Mike Pence Was Right

Now that I’ve got your attention…

No, this is not about the Vice President declining PPE. (Hell, how could the Mayo Clinic afford to jeopardize its bankroll?)

Smoking Doesn’t Kill

In 2001 Mike Pence, on his (butt ugly) campaign website, included an unattributed statistic:

In the coming weeks, Americans are going to be treated with the worst kind of Washington-speak regarding the tobacco legislation currently being considered by the Congress and Attorney Generals from forty different states. We will hear about the scourge of tobacco and the resultant premature deaths. We will hear about how this phalanx of government elates [sic] has suddenly grown a conscience after decades of subsidizing the product which, we are now told, “kills millions of Americans each year”.

He followed it up with:

Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three [sic] smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten [sic] smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you…. news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit. The relevant question is, what is more harmful to the nation, second hand smoke or back handed big government disguised in do-gooder healthcare rhetoric.

Despite Pence being challenged in the compound-word department (and otherwise), this was picked up years later by media that blared headlines like “Smoking Doesn’t Kill” And Other Great Old Op-Eds From Mike Pence. Everyone knows that smoking kills, right?

Lies, Damned Lies & The Nicotine Vaccine

Three years before the Pence campaign post, the Cato Institute had provided data supporting Pence’s assertion, with its “Lies, Damned Lies, & 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths,” as published in its Regulation magazine.

Does smoking kill? You be the judge.

But what if Smoking Saves?

A neighbor of ours, as an essential worker counting the number of customers leaving a home improvement retailer, became bored with, mm…, being counting. And so in the course of repetitive motion on the one hand they diverted, literally, on a cell phone held in the other, looking into COVID-19-related stories. One such caught their eye and they tried and tried to determine that it was either a hoax or a Big Tobacco-funded ploy. They couldn’t debunk it and suggested that I do a simple search: france nicotine.

Well, it is, as they say, a thing.

Read “France has banned online sales of nicotine substitutes after a study showed smokers are less likely to be admitted for COVID-19.” It’s not from RT, not from The Washington Times, not from a British tabloid. You’ll find the story in myriad sources, from the New York Times to Deutsche Welle.

I asked our neighbor if they’d been to France. No, only Germany. I told them that on at least one occasion in 2002 my family literally was smoked out of a Paris restaurant by denizens who recognized our American and Thai accents (we spoke English). My neighbor told me the smoking rate in France is twenty-seven percent. Indeed, that’s what it was in 2018. À votre santé.

Tepid Turkey

I smoked for years. Stopped for years. Smoked for years. Stopped. It never felt like cold turkey.

And so just now I dusted off my Rizla roller. Did I toss that pouch of organic American Spirit from my underwear drawer? If so, it seems tabac is an essential business here in Denver, with curbside delivery available. But a local TV channel a month ago reported that the CDC claimed that smokers “could expect a more severe infection.” Hmm…

Still, my wife Andrea always wanted to move. So I’m looking for my college textbook Langue et Langage in order to brush up.1

  1. Tonight when looking online I recognized that the textbook for my college language course was cowritten by Oreste Pucciani, who was the partner of Rudi Gernreich, a cofounder of the Mattachine Society, the pioneering gay civil rights organization, about which I have written.

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