An excellent article at the Tobacco Harm Reduction blog poses the hypothetical question of what a pressure group would do if it wanted to maximize cigarette sales. The answer looks remarkably like the current approach of the anti-smoking movement, particularly in the USA.
If public health organizations had as their mandate to maintain the present levels of disease and death associated with smoking (and even though their funding derives from the continuing sales of cigarettes I will not even mention in passing that that could possibly be a factor), what would their policies look like?
I imagine they would:
1. discourage any alternatives (like smokeless tobacco products or electronic cigarettes) that might make nicotine use safer
2. if they cannot make them illegal make sure that people think they are no safer
3. support regulations that do not conform to any other product information guidelines and demand that producers describe their products as more dangerous than they are.
And in this regard, they have been quite successful in making sure that little headway is made while at the same time giving the impression that they are valiantly fighting on our behalf.
Go read the whole article. You will not find a more concise and logical summary of the issues at stake.
It is time for us to rebrand these organizations. By their actions, they can no longer be identified as anti-smoking or anti-tobacco (since they fight solutions that would reduce smoking and tobacco use); they can only really be described properly as anti-social.