Big Tobacco: A threat to Australian democracy

The news that the tobacco industry is seeking to abuse Freedom of Information legislation to gain access to surveys of Australian teenage attitudes to smoking confirms what has been obvious for a long time. The tobacco industry is a threat to democracy. Among its many hostile actions
* Misusing ISDS and other provisions of trade treaties to undermine domestic health policy
* Debasing public debate through the use of scientists for hire, fraudulent lobby groups and thinktanks, vexatious litigation and other tactics. In the use, these actions have led to criminal racketeering. The denialist apparatus set up by the tobacco industry was taken over by the fossil fuel lobby to promote global warming denialism
* Large scale purchasing of politicians and political parties

The big question is, what should be done about this? We need to consider a comprehensive approach to drug policy, which would also take account of the failure of the War on Drugs, and provide a model for legalisation of currently illegal drugs. That rules out prohibition of tobacco, but would leave no role for corporate pushers.

Even if we don’t get there immediately, it’s highly desirable to start the discussion. Big Tobacco and its friends should be warned there is something to lose from attacking democratic government.

29 thoughts on “Big Tobacco: A threat to Australian democracy

  1. @Collin Street

    Off topic but Nah it’s environment; if there were genes that determined that this sort of personality is hard wired unalterable feature of human ‘nature’, these genes would have been eliminated by now being as they are so dysfunctional for human cultures.

    Psychopath genes can be very useful for the group if the person with them is properly socialised. Even if one does not have genes for empathy or understanding others, social intelligence, people like this can learn to understand that the other is a real thing that matters, in an abstract or cognitive conceptualisation. When this is not present in the family or social environment children do not develop this ability.

    Anecdote alert. This is just one of the ways that spoiled children who grow up to be unable to understand that other people matter, are not taught to care about their own behaviour. At the preschool group there were two kids, a boy and a girl playing and the boy gets a bit rough and the mother of the bossy boy says to the mother of the girl – you better take her away before he hurts her.

  2. It is absolutely clear that there is no way a ‘war on drugs’ could be won at a cost society could or ought to pay. Victory, even were it achievable: i.e ubiquitous compliance with the state’s mores on self-medication for mood — would be pyrrhic. The state would perforce have to invade every private space at enormous cost both to personal integrity and other programs (see opportunity cost thread).

    Even then, it’s likely that one of the ways in which privilege would be defined would be through the scope to flout state controls. The police would be even more corrupt than at present and the means of blackmailing people would be much enlarged, much as was the case when homosexuality was illegal. The prisons would be even more overcrowded than they are now, and these largely with folk from the bottom two to four deciles. Productivity would be down because people in jail tend not to be very productive.

    No — the time is long overdue to abandon this fool’s errand and create legal means for people to self-medicate for mood, through resort to agents that are relatively innocuous — or at any rate no more noxious within a legal regime than cigarettes or alcohol.

    This need neither be costly nor difficult to administer in practice and for as long as other jurisdictions remained recalcitrant on policy, likely to be strongly revenue positive. Many overseas visitors would come here if there were legal, TGA-approved preparations to achieve the kinds of mood people who are so inclined seek to achieve. There would be good export markets too, as jurisdictions like Colorado move towards legalisation.

    Throw in savings in police staff hours, reduced imprisonment and improved productivity and what we have in this harm minimisation policy is a program where nearly everyone is a winner. I say nearly, because the existing tobacco and alcohol industries stand to lose a great deal.

    Sadly, moral panic, once raised, is hard to staunch, and the madness that marks current policy is likely to persist for some time.

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