Bad Example

Okay – this is the second time I’ve heard this recently, so I’ve got to weigh in.

Al Gore (Tipper’s ex) and some local Rotarians both said that the anti-smoking campaign was a good model for changing the public’s mind on entrenched habits and beliefs.

Gore called for a “sea change” (bad wording) in the public’s attitude toward global warming – like the one that changed smoking habits. (He also mentioned seatbelts as another success story.)

Al Gore calls for anti-smoking style sea change on climate


If Gore and the Rotarians were talking about the kind of tobacco control in the early days of the anti-smoking campaign — helpful information, good-natured chiding and the effort to fulfill the needs of both smokers and non-smokers – then I’m with Al.

But if the former V.P. is talking about fear-and-guilt based social pressure, promoting questionable statistics, punitive taxation or acting like only the people on one side of an issue have rights, then Gore is sitting on a thin branch, Sensible Smoker says.

Want a nightmare? What if they start doing to people who burn fossil fuels the same things they do to people who burn tobacco? Fear and guilt-based social pressure about driving and air travel? Punitive taxation to deter driving and flying? Questionable statistics? Suppression of other opinions?

This bad attitude was introduced most recently in the Drug War and is being perfected in the War on Tobacco. I fear we may be in for dealing with – on a number of fronts — well-meaning but misguided do-gooders wielding blunt instruments.

The short-term gain may be a “sea change” in behavior but if the effort is not based on truth and respect, the “sea change” may turn out to be more like the tides – and flow back out to sea after a period.

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