Did you know that secondhand cigarette smoke can travel through solid walls?
Did you know that, unlike any other toxin on the face of the earth, diluting the amount of secondhand smoke has no effect on the healthiness of the air?
Did you know that although rates of smoking and especially exposure to secondhand smoke that are the lowest in decades, tobacco is responsible for the increase in cancer rates?
I didn’t either, before I attended a recent City Council meeting and listened to the supporters of a tighter anti-smoking law for my little Alaskan town on the sea-strewn rock.
There are 14 bars in our town of 9,000. Twelve of them do not allow smoking, two do. There are four private clubs – two do, two don’t.
A phalanx of public health workers debarked en-masse from their 8-acre tobacco-free hospital campus, all dolled-up with “We Love Clean Air” buttons and made the above ridiculous claims as part of their arguments in favor of prohibiting smoking in the last four establishments in town where smoking is allowed indoors.
And it occurred to me, as I watched all the public health workers (and most of the City Council) nod their heads solemnly as the ridiculous claims were made, that it was important for the claims to be ridiculous.
You can get anybody to agree to reasonable stuff, but you have to be a real loyal soldier to sign on to the ridiculous stuff.
Watching the nodding heads and listening to the drones of assent, it occurred to me that I was watching people take a Loyalty Oath.
Remember the ridiculous claims (now debunked) about the danger of marijuana? Remember the crack babies that turned out never to exist? Been on an airport security line when they checked a young mother’s breast milk or a child’s toy laptop for explosive traces?
But the more ridiculous, the better. Makes a more effective Loyalty Oath.