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California did it!

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You would think that most of us would have learned the fallacy of the Bandwagon Argument when we were six years old and our mothers asked us, ďSo? If everyone ELSE jumped off The Empire State Building, would YOU jump too?Ē

Unfortunately itís still being used as a compelling argument by the Antismoking Lobby at City Council and State Legislative hearings all over the country. Equally unfortunate, politicians are falling for it and voting against the best interests and true desires of their constituencies.

Whatís ironic is that the basis of the argument isnít even true! While the Antismokers will never admit it publicly because it would destroy their Borgian image of inevitability (Resistance is Futile!), smoking bans are indeed being resisted, weakened, and outright defeated all over the country.

The Bandwagon Argument was used extensively at Philadelphiaís Council hearing on a ban on March 7th, 2005. The Councilpeople of course never heard a word of the hit parade on the Bandwagon going in the opposite direction. In just the 30 day period preceding that hearing the following ban FAILURES took place:


(1) Feb 7th: LaPorte Indiana's City Council defeated a smoking ban proposal by a vote of 4-3 to a standing ovation from a packed chamber.

(2) Feb 8th: Virginia's Senate defeated a restaurant smoking ban bill by a vote of 26 to 14.

(3) Feb 11th: Washington State Supreme Court ruled that local health boards can't ban smoking in bars.

(4) Feb 16th: Paris City Council noted that only 30 of its 12,452 bars, bistros, and brassiers have accepted a smoking ban request from the government.

(5) Feb 17th: North Dakota's House of Representatives defearted a smoking ban bill by a vote of 47 to 45.

(6) Feb 22nd: Montana's House of Representatives exempted bars and casinos from their state smoking ban rules by avote of 58 to 42.

(7) Feb 22nd: Braxton County Wext Virgina amended their smoking ban in order to allow bars and casinos continued smoking for at least the next two years.

(8) Feb 23rd: Indiana voted to scale back a wide smoking ban to one that simply requires family restaurants to have some nonsmoking sections.

(9) Feb 27th: Peter Hain, the leader of the House of Commons in the UK declared that local pubs facing a ban in 2008 could seek exmptions through local councils.

(10) Mar 2nd: Minnesota House Commerce Committee killed a statewide restaurant smoking ban by a voice vote.

(11) Mar 4th: Wayne County Michigan shelved a smoking ban proposal after the United Auto Workers Union told them how strongly it was opposed by its working members.

(12) Mar 4th: New Mexico's Senate rejects statewide smoking ban bill 22 to 16.

(13) Mar 4th: Maryland's Senate Finance committee rejects statewide smoking ban for the third year in a row.

(14) Mar 6th: South Dakota bill to ban smoking in bars/restaurants/casinos "died with almost no debate on the House floor."


How typical was that 30-day period? I have no idea. Even with the resources of the Internet such research isnít all that easy. It took me a full month, with a lot of help from friends, to put that list together and since two of he entries were only discovered in the last few days (Iím writing this on April 10th) there are probably still a few out there that Iíve missed.

Fourteen examples of successful resistance to the modern day Attilas seeking to convince us to give up without a fight, all taking place in a one month period, should make the point though. The claim of the Antismoking Lobby about the inevitability of universal government-mandated smoking bans is just as big a lie as its claim about the incredible magical deadliness of the smallest wisps of secondary smoke.

Smoking bans have no solid basis in medical science and that fact is being increasingly recognized around the country as ban pushers have become increasing shrill and unreasonable in their demands that all of society bend to their will.

The Bandwagon wasnít a good argument when we were six years old, and itís not a good argument even when weíre sixty years old.

If the Antismoking Lobby had good arguments they would use them. If they had the truth about the effect of secondary smoke they wouldnít lie about it.

They donít have those arguments, they donít have that truth, and increasingly, they donít have their bans.


(To see my "Letter to the Editor" on this subject go to Pittsburgh Post Gazette ) or read it below:



Don't fall for the anti-smoking lobby's tricks


Alana Semuels' April 4 article "Smokers Could Lose Now That Error's Fixed" fell into a classic, and carefully planned, trap of fallacious reasoning.

The anti-smoking lobby in America has become very skilled at using various styles and tricks of fallacious argumentation to advance its cause.

At the start of the article, Semuels wrote, "New York did it. Columbus did it. Even Wheeling, W. Va., is doing it. Everybody's doing it, and some say Pittsburgh should be next to ban smoking in workplaces." This is an example of the "bandwagon argument" usually used when more solid arguments aren't available. Even if the underlying facts are true (i.e. everyone is actually "doing it"), the argument by itself is still specious.

In this particular case, however, as with far too many arguments supporting smoking bans, the underlying facts aren't even there: There are many places that are now resisting smoking bans, overturning them or weakening them to the point where they're almost meaningless. In the month before a March 7 Philadelphia Council vote on a ban, a Google search showed that there were close to a dozen towns, cities and even entire states that said "no" to smoking bans in one form or another.

But you'll never hear that information from the antismoking lobby. Unfortunately, the media seem all too willing to take the anti-smokers' press release sound bites and simply repeat them over and over again exactly as intended.

MICHAEL J. McFADDEN
Philadelphia




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