Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Regulating bullshitters

I find it difficult to believe that anyone could have been more addicted to cigarette smoking than the fellow typing these words. Still, four or five years after quitting, I crave. I miss the taste. I miss the work breaks in which my friends and I would step outside and gossip, blowing smoke. The little nicotine rush, always unnoticed except in its absence.

For a long time, I'd dream about me, in one dream adventure or disaster or another, suddenly looking down at my hand. It held a glowing cigarette! "Oh shit," my dreaming mind thought, "I've screwed up! I'm smoking again!"

Actually, although such dreams rarely but sometimes occur to this day, I never actually screwed up. I quit for good, in my late 50s. But I think of the kids. They are just starting.

It goes without saying that tobacco companies, for their long-term financial "health," need to addict kids. For what other reason would those companies in recent years come out with berry-flavored cigarettes?

And for whatever reason would new rules be formulated - effective today - to ban such shameful (and shameless) advertising? Common sense, perhaps?

I'm no advocate of banning tobacco smoking. That would be even dumber than Prohibition was back in the 1920s. But in a country in which people are constantly blind-sided by disinformation, special-interest spin gone amok, direct-to-consumer drug ads that fail to mention negative results, companies with a vested interest in trying to discredit climate warming with a careful campaign of deceit, fear-mongering attacks on health care reform, I can handle some regulation of the bullshitters.

Regulating bullshitters, including Wall Street types who bet against their customers, is just fine by me.

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