U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona is on a crusade against smoking — specifically, second-hand smoke.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke remains an alarming public health hazard,” Carmona said. “Nonsmokers need protection through the restriction of smoking in public places and workplaces” _ and by smokers voluntarily not puffing around children.

The report won’t surprise doctors. It isn’t a new study but a compilation of the best research on secondhand smoke, the most comprehensive federal probe since the last surgeon general’s report on the topic in 1986, which declared secondhand smoke a cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.

The first question that came to mind was this: “When did we get a new Surgeon General?” They must have promoted a Surgeon Colonel or Surgeon Lieutenant.

Is the Surgeon General largely the most useless government employee, or what? “Smoking is dangerous,” “pointy things on playgrounds are bad,” “don’t eat yellow snow,” “stay out of the sun,” and other bits of wisdom that any good mother, or Frank Zappa, came up with long ago.

Speaking of “second hand,” what happened to Jocelyn Elders?

Anyway, back to General Carmona’s statements on second-hand smoke.

Yes, cigarettes are bad for you, but how much money per year does the government earn from cigarette taxes? It’s well into the billions of dollars.

As I wrote a while back in my American Spectator column, “Governmental Viscosity Breakdown,” if you’re a fan of irony, there is a petition on the State of Michigan website that you can sign to demand action against high gas prices and obscene oil company profits. Not so oddly enough, I don’t see where they mentioned that the Michigan state worker pension system currently holds $832 million worth of Exxon-Mobil stock.

Well, states do the same thing with tobacco. They invest in it, use some of the dividends to buy ads telling you not to smoke and generally say that smoking is the anti-Christ with a filter, and then they put the rest of the money in various pension funds and as other forms of feed in the public trough.

The point being this: If the government really wants to make an impact and convince us that they were serious, then they’d stop profiting from people killing not only themselves, but others.

Why wouldn’t the government stop profiting from this killer? Because they’ll tell us how much the tax money is used to help the poor (to recover from lung cancer, in some cases).

In other words, it’s the typical double-message. If you smoke, you should quit for your health, but if you do quit, remember, you’re harming public health.

It’s maddeningly normal for the government.


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