Saturday, 16 January 2010 01:14

Tobacco, Guns, and Money

Written by Mick Hellwig
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My other passions in life, beyond nicotine, my lovely wife and kids, are firearms and the politics involved.  I am a certified gun nut. I vote mainly based on where a candidate is on the Second Amendment. I have been involved in the political battle for gun rights since I was a child.  My father was great at math but bad with words, so he would have me spell words that he was actually writing in a letter to his Congress critters. For those of you old enough to remember that would have been Howard Metzenbaum.

I am well acquainted with politicians ignoring us and how that particular fight has gone over the years. I will not go meekly. I have seen these same tactics before and know how they are being beaten. Unfortunately I also know how they are being used against us.   There are many parallels between the War on Tobacco and the War on Guns.

"Oh the Children!"  This kids parents should be arrested.There are the biased studies and statistics.  Smoking kills 400,000 people a year. Guns kill 50,000 a year. There are emotional arguments, “It’s for the Children”, “You are killing your waitresses Gun Control Protects Rapists from Having a Bad Day.with your second-hand smoke”. "You will get cancer". "You will be shot by your own gun"  "Your tobacco and gun use is a danger to others."  The arguments are the same and the statistics and studies tailored to match.  Take pretty much any anti-gun quote, replace guns with tobacco, and Smith & Wesson with Swedish Match. It almost seems there is a standard template these people share;  all they need to do is change a few words and Viola! a new press release is born. (USD 57.12)

All of this is focused on the negative aspects of tobacco and guns.  Very rarely do they highlight how many lives are saved by the defensive use of firearms; they never highlight the beneficial aspects of tobacco. Pharmaceutical companies are researching the positive effects of nicotine in Parkinson’s disease and various mental disorders, like Schizophrenia. I suppose it only counts when the product comes from them not V2 Tobacco ......or isn't marijuana which the press loves to speak of in glowing terms.

I have read many posts from people who use tobacco to self medicate with nicotine. Is this medically wise? I really have no idea. What I do know is it works for the ones who use it that way.  I control my ADD with nicotine. It slows me down and allows me to focus..... most times.  Now with the FDA involved and PACT waiting in the wings, I may have to spend a ton of money to buy nicotine from Big Pharma or start smoking again.

Honestly, I doubt the politicians thought of me when they were considering The Tobacco Act and PACT.  I know they didn’t listen to me.  How could they hear me over the sound of money being dropped into their pockets by Philip Morris, Pfizer and the Committee for Tobacco-free Kids?

Recently I have been paying attention to the anti-tobacco battles being waged in the European Union, mainly Great Britain. There is a vigorous debate going on there and like in the USA, the pro-tobacco side is being ignored. The Anti's are using the same words and studies they have used here with a few twists.  It still all boils down to tobacco in any form is bad.

Unfortunately for those in Great Britain, snus and most other smokeless tobacco is illegal to sell.   No running to the corner store for a can of Camel SNUS, or Skoal.  It can be ordered on line, but at prices that would scare us Americans away from those options. At the current exchange rate, using prices found at one of the Swedish shops, a single roll of Swedish Match’s wonderful Nick & Johnny Black portions costs $56.24, before taxes!

Snus is still somewhat under the radar in the USA, nasal snuff even more so, but for how long?  Already we are seeing more press about smokeless tobacco and I see a hard bumpy uphill battle to differentiate snus from dip & chewing tobacco. (I doubt nasal snuff will ever be big enough to garner any attention whatsoever, as even some of those in the Harm Reduction community already discount it.)

What is it about tobacco that makes the political elites want to take it away from the “little people”?  Our current President smokes, but actively supported increasing taxes on tobacco. While $10+ dollars a pack may not bother a multi-millionaire like Mr. Obama,  it sure hurts those of us on the bottom of the ladder of success.  The PACT act would effectively stop me from buying snus, but would allow the people who can afford to pay $10 or $20 a stick for cigars to have them delivered by their friendly USPS employee.  I don’t believe for a moment that most of the fight over tobacco is about health.  I believe it’s more about control and money. Money for Big Pharma, money for Big Cig, money for politicians to spend on their favored pork projects.

As has been shown in a couple of recent articles here at, governments, rulers, politicians have been actively trying to limit access or ban tobacco since it was brought to Europe. All the while trying to make money from the “evil weed” in the form of taxes.  Here in the U.S. the SCHIP program counts on continuing payments from taxes on tobacco while telling us that those same taxes are intended to reduce tobacco consumption. What happens if the income from tobacco taxes drops below acceptable levels? Do they raise the tax even more?

Or find another item to tax? Great Britain is now talking about higher taxes on alcohol. Again the same template is being used to demonize alcohol that has been used for tobacco and firearms. Where does it end? How much more straw will be piled on this Camel’s back? More importantly, who pays the additional taxes when we all give up tobacco?

The main point of all this is to keep a stiff upper lip. Keep fighting the good fight. Tobacco has been in use since a caveman somewhere wondered what would happen if he put it in his mouth. Even the most repressive governments and rulers have not been able to eradicate tobacco use in at least 500 years. The usage has changed, but never stopped. Fortunately we have science on our side this time. Smokeless tobacco is less harmful than smoked tobacco, and it seems snus may just be the least harmful of all.

Mick Hellwig
You'll have to take my Nicotine and Guns from my cold dead hands!

Leave my Swedish Snus and Firearms Alone!Govt_Disclosure-Snus-Guns

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