The Smoking Goons, by L. Neil Smith


Big Head Press

Number 523, June 14, 2009
Clearly, no nation with a Bill of Rights that includes
freedom of expression has any place anywhere for
anything even remotely like the FCC.


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The Smoking Goons
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I haven’t smoked a cigarette since 1993, when I had two mild heart attacks and had to quit. Before then, I had smoked two packs a day for thirty years, having started back when I was a freshman in college.

I had enjoyed smoking and was sorry I had to quit. In my time, starting in 1964, I’d happily consumed Winstons, Salems, Camels, Luckies, Pall Malls, English Ovals, Half & Half, Parliaments, Kools, Malboros, Gaulois, and Gitanes. Mostly it was Marlboros. I was smoking Nate Shermans in an attempt to cut down (because they’re extremely good but very expensive even then), when I experienced the first of my infarctions. I may be the last individual alive ever to smoke Sweet Caporals.

When I first came to CSU in 1964, a pack of Winstons cost 35 cents and there was a little store near campus where you could buy Mexican cigarettes (not that kind of Mexican cigarettes) in pinstriped brown paper for 20 cents. I hadn’t paid attention to prices for a while, so you can imagine my surprise and horror when I was in a liquor store the other day and discovered that the price of a pack of smokes is now $4.76!

Now we hear that the Obama Administration, thanks largely to a round-heeled congress greedily spreading its legs to the proposition, and like the sanctimonious, hypocritical, power-hungry, dogwhistles that they truly are, will call upon the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products as if they were narcotics, when the fact is that the FDA shouldn’t be regulating narcotics—and shouldn’t really exist at all, under the United States Constitution as written.

So much for the Democrats’ sympathy for the working poor who do most of the smoking in this culture. You union guys, remember this day.

Another day will come, sooner than you believe, when you will have to go to a government store, stand in a line, and when you finally reach the window, surrender your money, signature, and Social Security number to some slovenly-dressed bureaucrat smelling of sour, unwashed clothing, in exchange for a ten-pack of horrible-tasting generic cigarettes manufactured under the close supervision of the federal government.

As time goes on, they’ll want your fingerprints, DNA, and retinal scans, as well. As the filtered part of your cigarette grows longer, the part with tobacco will grow shorter. Ever see what they smoke in Russia?

It says here 21 percent of the American public smokes cigarettes. (I’d bet almost anything that the real number is higher; I’ve seen the same pollster lie about guns and the Vietnam war.) There being about 300,000,000 Americans, that means at least 63,000,000 of them smoke, a number comparable to that of gun owners, and half again the number of blacks or Hispanics, two minorities politicians pay close attention to.

The same pollsters say smokers are "too diffuse" a group to be useful to any party or individual candidate, and besides, most smokers say they want to quit. (That much is true; I spent most of my thirty smoking years saying I wanted to quit, and occasionally trying to, but it took the poleaxe of a heart attack to make me do it for once and always.)

Another reason it’s hard to organize smokers is that government, media, and the schools have been making them feel guilty about their habit for three generations and now the Gang of Three has them by the nads. Guilt is a solitary affliction and keeps people apart from one another.

What smokers need is a smokers’ union—I’d join up in a minute, as a "smoker emeritus"—to identify their common interests , provide certain benefits, and put a finger on the disgusting politicians who prey on them. It might begin as a smokers’ caucus of the Libertarian Party.

However that turns out, if you smoke—if you ever smoked—I want you to pledge with me, right now, that you will never vote for another Democrat again, for as long as you live. They are the ones who did this to you—FDA regulation, $4.76 a pack, no smoking even in restaurants that would prefer to allow it, huddling in the broiling sun or freezing rain outside your office building trying to get a nicotine break—and they are the ones who must be forced to pay for it.

Vote for any Republicans or Libertarians who will treat you with respect. I’d be interested to see where Dr. Ron Paul stands on all this.

In the end, there can be only one resolution: abolish the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well. Both have murdered more individuals than they claim to have saved. Neither is sanctioned by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which makes them nothing but gangs of outlaws, bent on stealing our money and destroying the last tattered vestiges of our freedom.

Now if you’re gonna write to tell me smoking’s bad, or that people who do it—especially near kids and pets—should be castrated with a rusty chainsaw and baked in clay over a slow fire, save it. Better yet, stuff it. Having never been permitted to hear half of all the facts about tobacco, you are operating out of ignorance. Check out the connections it has historically with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and asthma. Whatever the truth may be, my life is none of the government’s business.

How about it, smokers? You can get it started in our letters column.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world’s foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at
Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil’s 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at
Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on What Libertarians Believe with his daughter, Rylla.
See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil’s earlier novels.


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The Smoking Goons, by L. Neil Smith

4 responses to “The Smoking Goons, by L. Neil Smith

  1. Farmer Wook

    The vast corporations AND professionalists are in bed with “governance.” Julie Andrews should have sung in THIS musical! But no, it’s NOT a class act, just WAY too expensive, and plus it’s really grotesque & badly done porno, too. And guess what? WE pay for this…. If there were no monopoly of government licensing, these doctors would have to kiss ass & deal too, just like white folks, medical costs would be both negotiable and affordable, and there would be real choice in treatments. Not least this would be because all of the “healthcare managers” would be out as night janitors and earning approximately what their characters are really worth (pace, all nightmen & chars.) Ditto all else. Not least, anyone could go to the drugstore and buy all the dope they needed for a decent and, possibly, hastened death of a terminal illness.


    The “government personality” IS an objectively God-damned complete sonofabitch AND a —en nuisance.

  2. Christian Prophet

    Libertarians need to focus on the forest, not the trees. “Progressives” keep making progress by keeping the debate focused on the trees. There are not a million and one issues; there is only ONE issue. I wonder if modern libertarians can even guess any more what the one issue is. See:

  3. John Wesdorp


    Your libertarian reasoning is flawed. Most smokers continuously and desperately try to find reasons and arguments for not having to give up their nicotine addiction.

    Anything is allowed including infringement of personal freedom, pretending to get enjoyment out of smoking, big bad government intervention, buying nicotine patches and chewing gum, as well as convincing themselves that smoking is a miracle drug that both relaxes the smoker and also helps them focus.

    Smokers do not realise or even refuse to contemplate the notion that smoking only does one thing for the smoker: it temporarily stops the craving for nicotine. It does nothing else, there is no “high” from smoking, no enjoyment, and there is no nicotine related relaxation (smoking makes you take deep breaths, which incur relaxation). Smoking gives you the kind of high you get from banging your head against the wall for a while and then stop. Smokers in general tend to be more stressed than non-smokers.

    If life as a smoker was better than that of a non-smoker, many non-smokers would decide to start smoking again. Non-smokers do sometimes revert, but mainly because of stressful situations and sometimes under the influence of alcohol. When things turn back to normality and sobriety, they all bitterly regret to have gone back to smoking again.

    Smokers, have to override their immune system, so they can inhale those poisonous gasses that are the vehicle for nicotine delivery to the brain. Smokers have put up with noxious smells, bad breath and with a slowly deteriorating health.

    If cigarettes are used in the correct way for which they are manufactured, they are lethal. Smokers are and have been victims of the most efficient killing machine the world has ever known. Since the beginning of the last century, the tobacco industry have successfully killed over 100 million people (those deaths were often not sudden but most frequently they were slow and painful.

    I think it is about time we stop the killing of innocent people who, because of their addiction, do not have the freedom to give up, which is the rationale of Big Tobacco. For most, there is no freedom to quit today, both the smoking habit and the addiction causes them to continue.

    The only reason that proportionally less people smoke today than 50 years ago is because of the curbs in advertising and the dissemination of information about the lethal aspects of smoking, so more youngsters manage to resist Big Tobacco’s annual 3 billion dollar marketing budget that urges, encourages, cajoles, bribes and pressurises them to start smoking.

    Today, like every other day of the year, 3000 young people start smoking, because they believe the myths that smoking is hip, rebellious, a fashion statement, a bit dangerous, sexy, macho or whatever else Big Tobacco’s marketing men have conjured up. Out of those 3000 younsters, 1000 will die in years to come from a smoking related disease. Modern research has given plenty of facts about smoking. Big tobacco agrees that Smoking Kills, it says it clearly on their packaging. If that wasn’t the truth, they would still be in litigation about that.

    We want our governments to start doing something, like curbing the manufacturing and the sale of tobacco products.

    Your reasoning about personal freedom, government intervention and the role of libertarianism to defend the indefensible are flawed as is your deliberate attempt to mislead your readers that somehow smoking is good for asthma suffers. You asked for half of all the facts about tobacco: here it is: 50% of smokers die of a smoking related disease. If there was anything positive about smoking the tobacco industry would use it, milk it and made sure we all knew about it. They have the PR budgets to do so. Big Tobacco deciding to set aside billions of dollars to deal with claims as a result of lost court cases tells us a completely different story

    The truth is that every 6 seconds somebody unnecessarily dies a horrifying death from a smoking related disease. There just is no way around that fact and funny references to castrating with rusty chainsaws make the whole pro-smoking argument rather pathetic and its libertarian slant an ideological nonsense.

  4. Steven Northwood

    Hey hey, Marlboros are good…!