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Are Anti-Tobacco Groups Lying to Us?

Updated on January 5, 2017
Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin is a former tobacco user who hopes his experience with the drug can help others quit.

A Quick Word from the Author Before We Start

I recently got my 2-year chip for being tobacco free. If you’re asking yourself, “Where do you get a chip for quitting tobacco?” There may be other groups that give them out, but my wife makes me one each year. It’s been an arduous, painful battle to get where I’m at, and I still have bad days, but though the craving continues to hit on occasion, I’m still free.

The reason I’m writing this introduction is that sometimes people don’t understand my motivations for writing articles that criticize anti-tobacco groups when I’ve fought, am fighting the addiction myself. How can somebody hate tobacco and the way it claims human lives in one breath, and in the next criticize so many of the groups that oppose it? The answer is nonsense is nonsense. As the adage goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”


A Quick History Lesson

The tobacco companies spent billions of dollars over the course of at least a century to lie to the public about their product. They started by hailing it as a cure-all medicine. At some point that bubble burst, so the business paradigm changed to marketing tobacco as a harmless and enjoyable habit. A big push from anti-tobacco groups, and finally the tobacco companies were forced, however reluctantly, to admit that their product might could actually make a person sick.

So on etcetera until we get to the modern day scenario in which the anti-tobacco groups have the upper hand. The good guys won? Actually, no, I don’t believe they have. I think the good guys are just becoming the bad guys. To what end? The same end as always: Money.

I believe just as the tobacco companies falsified information for their own gains, anti-tobacco groups are falsifying information to advance their monetary wealth. The result is a culture of unreliable data that does not help society one damn bit.

1st and 2nd year tobacco free chips.
1st and 2nd year tobacco free chips. | Source

Why does it Matter?

So why, you might ask, does it matter if we fudge the numbers concerning an admittedly deadly product like tobacco? The reasons are so very numerous, but let me outline a few.

One reason is that it marginalizes the tobacco companies to the point that it seems all but righteous to steal from them. And who is it that is ultimately able to wrestle the money away from them: the victims, the victims’ families? Sure, they have to get some token amount for the newspaper headlines, but no, this money primarily ends up going to lawyers and various other groups that were already wealthy whose interests are only monetary.

And even if the tobacco companies are willing to call their product what it is: poison, the sharks smell blood in the water and aren’t willing to stop until there’s not so much as a piece of cartilage or gristle left. Again, so, what’s the problem?

Well, eventually tobacco is made illegal, because making drugs illegal has always been so successful in the past, right?

In fact, these anti-tobacco campaigns are already laying the ground work and marginalizing tobacco addicts. Think about it. Remember when smokers were victims?

We’ve went from tobacco kills smokers, to tobacco kills people exposed to secondhand smoke, to making people smoke outside, to 15 feet away from entrances, to nobody can use tobacco products anywhere, and if they do they may as well be picking folks off with a sniper rifle.

Do you see where the scale was tipped from reasonable to accusatory nonsense? In a free society, it is reasonable to ask folks to smoke outside, with the evidence. Whether the statistics have been bloated over time or not, it is known that secondhand smoke can kill. Does that really mean that folks who want to hack a butt outside on break should be treated like criminals?

Here’s an even better example. I used tobacco for roughly 19 years, but I didn’t smoke. I dipped. Unless you accidently take a swig out of a spit cup, there’s no such thing as secondhand chewing tobacco. I never understood why I wasn’t allowed to dip in public institutions, nor did it ever keep me from dipping there or inspire me on any level to want to quit. It just made me, a good, law-abiding citizen, feel like a criminal.

And I don’t know that any addict in the history of the world has ever quit as a result of being forced into it. People just don’t understand that breaking addiction, truly conquering it, comes from within. Yes, the support of others is helpful, but force is useless. It is practical on every level to ask smokers to take it outside. There is a clear and present danger to others if they don’t. What is foolish is to try to strong-arm employees into stopping their addiction upon penalty of losing their livelihood. These policies only breed dishonesty and make criminals of the innocent.

Is this the future of tobacco?
Is this the future of tobacco? | Source

Further Reaching Implications

So as things get more vicious, the powers that be continue to divide and conquer. Tobacco users are vilified. We’re told they work less, take more sick days, etc. I ask, where is this coming from? The smoke break is not a new thing. It was never a big deal before. U.S. workers already work too many hours with too little time off at too low a pay. I say, God Bless the smokers if they’re able to get a little more time to themselves.

Question it, folks. Who wins if fewer employees are kept to work longer periods break-free with fewer days off? The employees? No! Negating the obligatory payouts that have to be doled out for appearance’s sake, it all goes to line the pockets of ownership.

And as we metamorphosize into a society willing to marginalize tobacco addicts, we start by taking away their smoking areas, to taking their jobs, to taking their right to healthcare. Again, tobacco has always killed people. They’ve been insured like everyone else. What happens when we’ve made the act of using tobacco so criminal that the insurance companies just won’t pay for their care anymore?

Again, I used tobacco for 19 years. I quit. What happens when they tell me, “I’m sorry, friend, that’s too long. We won’t cover you”? Do you think that’s crazy? Really? Do you think anything so low that an insurance company wouldn’t do it? Except for when they do it, they’ll skew things in such a way as to have the masses believe it was done in their best interests, while continuing to shirk their one and only function: to pay out claims.

What happens when all the tobacco users realize they’re just like all the other junkies needing a fix? Do you really think there is something so intrinsically different between tobacco addiction and every other that people won’t resort to crime to get high once it’s made illegal?

Let's face it: Lots of substances have caused cancer over the years.
Let's face it: Lots of substances have caused cancer over the years. | Source

A Story of Two Brothers

Do you think I’m crazy? Well, I never claimed to be 100% accurate in any of my prognostications, but I am a keen observer of history. I know that all mistakes of the past can and probably will be made again in the future, and the biggest force behind my skepticism of the War on Tobacco is the true story of two brothers, simple farmers from Southeastern Oklahoma.

These two brothers grew up in a tobacco-free environment. One of these brothers chose to never use tobacco products. This brother worked with all manner of hazardous chemicals in the Korean war and just being the Jack of all trades that running a successful farm requires. Think about all the chemicals that have been banned over the years: poisons like DDT to substances like asbestos on farm equipment and all the other stuff in between. There was even a soap that really cleaned up a person like you wouldn’t believe but was discontinued after the death of a dozen children or so. Between the 1930s and today there have been plenty of dangerous products to be discontinued that weren’t tobacco.

The other brother chose to start dipping in his mid-30s. The tobacco gave him the energy he needed to be a farmer/mechanic/teacher/father. While he missed out on the military career, his mechanic work, far more extensive than his brother’s, would lead to just as, if not a more extensive laundry list of hazardous substances exposed to.

On top of this, the brothers came from a family whose history was fraught with cancer, especially amongst males, despite there being very few tobacco users.

One day the brother who never used tobacco gets throat cancer. He survived. A few years later the brother who dipped tobacco gets lung cancer. He died. On this brother’s Death Certificate under cause of death is written: “Tobacco Related.”

This ill-fated brother was my Father.

Cancer ridden lung of a smoker, not a dipper.
Cancer ridden lung of a smoker, not a dipper. | Source

Can Smokeless Tobacco Cause Cancer?

Is it possible that years of dipping caused his lung cancer? Yes. Though unlike the obvious 1:1 relationship between lung cancer and smoking, it is theoretically possible that a dipper could get lung cancer from dipping, but seeing as with smoking, tobacco smoke is passed through the lungs constantly and purposefully, and with dipping at most a little smokeless tobacco debris makes its way through unintentionally, it’s unlikely.

It’s not that chewing tobacco doesn’t cause cancer; it causes all manner of it. There just isn’t much evidence it would cause lung cancer with any regularity.

So, not taking anything in his history into consideration besides dipping, is it probable tobacco caused my Father’s lung cancer? Again, not to a degree of any certainty. And additionally taking the rest of his history into account as a mechanic and farmer, what is the likelihood his lung cancer was caused by dipping? About zero.

Yet the coroner put, with no hesitation, on my Father’s death certificate the cause of death, definitively, as tobacco. So, there must be a test, a trustworthy method to tell beyond a reasonable doubt if a dipper’s lung cancer is caused by tobacco, right? Surely the hospitals wouldn’t falsify information just for the sake of something as trivial as a cause or funding?


Do you think anti-tobacco groups are falsifying information?

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My Father’s death certificate, and I suspect many others, is just a lie! And it matters!! Lies get us nowhere!!! And we’ve come full circle. Just as no cancer can be attributed to tobacco with absolute certainty, no person to ever have been exposed to tobacco in any form and to have gotten cancer can conclusively be proven to have not contracted it from tobacco.

The anti-tobacco groups are using the same asinine method to falsely bolster the number of tobacco deaths that the tobacco companies used to erroneously claim their product was safe.

It is because I experienced this firsthand with my father’s death that I question the reliability of any data that the anti-tobacco machine produces. Everybody knows that tobacco kills; wouldn’t it be nice to have reliable data compiled by levelheaded scientists not backed by an agenda?

Not only am I convinced to a level of absolute certainty that any factor besides tobacco was never even considered regarding my father’s death, despite our efforts to explain to them otherwise, I don’t think the medical staff involved were ever even able to grasp that he never smoked.

I’ll end this article with a question: Do we ever evolve as a society to the point that it is no longer about winning a war but finding the truth?


1. Warnings on Tobacco Products: As for sources that prove tobacco kills, just choose one. Here we're choosing what the tobacco companies themselves say, but one could choose any number of books and documentaries detailing the sins of big tobacco.

2. The Breathe Easy Campaign: Again we have a "just choose one" scenario for anti-tobacco campaigns that have become overbearing and ineffective. The Breathe Easy campaign is a prime example. It is so extreme that it has made public institutions entirely tobacco free, including the outside.

Basically they have sold the public on the concept that smokers outside and well away from buildings serve a greater danger to the health of bystanders than what is coming out of the exhaust of everyone's cars.

3. M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital: Considered by most, including myself, one of the preeminent cancer hospitals in the world, they are also the institution that insisted my father's death was tobacco related, as denoted on his death certificate.

4. Personal Experience: I am not only referencing my experience with my father's death but the experience of my lifetime. I've seen firsthand the transformation from a society so ridiculouslay naive that one could smoke on an airplane to a society so on edge with paranoia they would make tobacco illegal.

5. Countless Discussions with People About the Tobacco Topic.


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    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Arthur: thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Nathanville profile image

      Arthur Russ 

      4 years ago from England

      A very enlightening read Larry, it’s given me a new perspective on the subject which I like; thanks.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Addiction is real and tobacco kills most people who use.

    • ValKaras profile image

      Val Karas 

      4 years ago from Canada

      Larry---In my modest opinion, it is not tobacco that kills people but their psychological profile that needs it as a chemical crutch. Some folks smoke to their 90's and nothing happens; others smoke one after dinner and get a cancer---while lungs are more-less of the same texture in everybody.

      I used to smoke 2 packs a day for decades. Then I just quit cold- turkey, with no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. After 15 years I don't even think of them.

      You wrote a great hub about these anti-tobacco movement. I think those who are pissed at smokers run a bigger chance to die prematurely due to their negative attitude than those smokers---providing that smokers are some happy campers.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Interesting read Larry

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Nadine: I always enjoy your perspective. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Interesting point of view on smoking Larry. Yes being anti about almost anything like smoking and several other food related addictions is often money making related, especially over the internet. Not to mention slimming diets activists! The pictures from smoker lungs says enough for me. I smoked during the late sixties into the seventies but stopped cold turkey after 10 years and never went back .

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Teaches: that's what I'm trying to show people. They've deviated from the what was initially an honorable mission.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      If only the agenda for anti-tobacco groups were driven by a desire to truly help people.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Jo: not to light a fire, but most of those guys are still very wealthy.

      I don't have a problem with tobacco being legal, but let's call it what it is: poison.

      And as for the anti-tobacco factions, let's do things right. We don't need to skew the data, the truth will be enough.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Alicia: thanks for dropping by.

      Seems that you would appreciate the validity and methodology of how scientific data is collected.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      4 years ago from Tennessee

      I'm glad you quit. I'm glad I quit. I'm glad someone scared us in to doing it. And I'm glad those tobacco executives got theirs. Every time I see that old newsreel of those tobacco executives standing before Congress and lying through their teeth, I get angry. That's about as far as I ever think about these things.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      Thank you Larry, it was a very merry though exhausting one too. I was remiss in not giving you Christmas greetings on my earlier post so I'll do so now and throw in Happy New Year to boot.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's great that you've been free of tobacco for two years, Larry. Your arguments in this article make a lot of sense to me. They are certainly something to consider.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Mel: I'm walking a fine line here. Tobacco companies are awful, and people should quit that terrible habit, but "forcing" people to stop in a "war" scenario is never effective.

      It also doesn't help society to compile stats that are inaccurate, something I believe both sides have done.

      As to the health insurance topic, drug wars cost far more than insuring everybody. They also make billionaires of some.

      Also, yeah, you may not smoke, but do we really want to walk down that slippery slope of denying people due to lifestyle. What about cheeseburgers or processed meats? We choose to eat those.

      Just because they don't smoke, people don't realize how quickly the insurance companies could be dictating every aspect of our existence.

      I always enjoy your feedback. Don't know if I had a chance before, so Merry Christmas. I hope it was a good one for you and yours, and Happy New Year.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Gilbert: I always appreciate your feedback.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Catherine: vaping is a similar drug addiction if it is of the nicotine variety. The addictive substance of nicotine hasn't been directly linked to cancer yet, but why be addicted to something if you don't have to?

      On one hand, it's a much safer alternative for smokers. On the other, it's a new form of addiction for non-users.

      As for where you can smoke, I think it is foolish to not let smokers smoke outside.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      4 years ago from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado

      I am of two minds on the subject. First of all, if people want to kill themselves slowly, let them do it. On the other hand, I find some credence in the argument that tobacco related health problems raise insurance rates for all of us. Of course, that is an insurance company argument, which reduces its credibility.

      Tobacco could just be a smokescreen and a scapegoat to hide all the other crap that they are killing us all with, as you alludes to with your Father. I think we are all being poisoned with preservatives, corn syrup, and glued meat. That could have been what killed your pop, but Lord knows we don't want to open that Pandora's box so let's just stick to demonizing tobacco because the public has been conditioned to accept it.

      Lies by the anti-tobacco witch hunt? Absolutely. Magnificent exposė.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      4 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Anti-tobacco groups certainly raise a passionate anger in your writing, Larry. I don't smoke. I sampled a couple of cigarettes as a kid, but never got addicted to tobacco. As an open minded reader I empathize with your personal conflict you've experienced smoking cigarettes and how it effected your family. The example of your father's bad luck screams out that some people are more badly effected by addictive substances than others.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Now people are vaping. I'm not so sure that vaping isn't as bad for a person as smoking. I guess vaping is becoming acceptable because there is no second-hand smoke.

      As a non-smoker, I am glad there is almost no place left where people can smoke. Years ago I wore an expensive sweater to a bar where people smoked. No matter how I tried I could never get the smell of smoke out of the sweater and had to throw it away.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Dreamer Meg: I'm always surprised how little empathy or remembrance of the struggle of breaking the addiction that former tobacco users have.

      If anyone should understand what is effective in quitting tobacco, it should be former users, but so often they are the ones leading the fight to bully everyone into quitting.

      Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Bill: yes. You get it. I am anti-tobacco at my core, but that doesn't mean we should blindly align ourselves with any group that says it's anti-tobacco. Not in a world fueled by something as dirty as money.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Buildreps: always enjoy your feedback.

      That's a big part of my point. To me life is a search for truth. Let's be contented when we find the truth.

      Maybe it is that anti-tobacco is so used to fighting, they don't know how to handle having won? Though I think there's more to it than just that.

    • Larry Rankin profile imageAUTHOR

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      First Cook Lady: so glad to hear from you!

      All smoke is a carcinogen. As a result, too much time around a campfire is hazardous for your lungs.

      That said, how dangerous smoke is varies widely on what's burned. For example, growing up on a farm, we burned our own trash.

      As an adult, I regret having taken part in this activity so much. Inhaling the packaging of garbage and all the chemicals that were stirred up from burning them can't have been healthy.

      Thanks again for chiming in.

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I think there are several reasons that this could be true as well as the one you point out, with which I agree. Another possible reason is the fervour with which former smokers rail against tobacco use. Once they give up, they want everyone else to follow suit and the anti smoking faction are only too happy to encourage any similar nonsense, knowing that if it is discovered, they themselves can do the hand-wringing bit, denying all and blaming others.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love articles like this one, Larry, because there are truths many people don't want to acknowledge in it. There is no black and white in this world...there are always things to consider that we may not want to consider....and that's why this article is so important. Well done, my friend, and Happy New Year.

    • Buildreps profile image


      4 years ago from Europe

      Very interesting read, Larry. It seems to me that anti-tobacco groups behave similarly as political revolutionary movements. They are against the establishment, want to overthrow it. Once they have done that they appear to behave the same (or worse) as the dictator that was before them. Look at our history, and you know enough.

      Anti-tobacco are not different. These groups don't use guns and bombs in this case but falsify information to get in control. Your point seems very likely to me.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      Ahem... it's my turn... Nobody seems to worry about the smoke produced by family outings, during a campfire. Or, people who get burn permits from their local sheriff's office and cause a lot of smoke... People love the smell of a campfire. PERHAPS, they should make cigarettes campfire smell. [This is where we laugh together]. Congratulations on 2 years of being smoke free. That is an accomplishment! - On another note, which may become another page, pharmaceuticals push pills that have TONS of side affects, many of which seem worse than what they are curing, if they cure. And, watch the commercials for Lawyers right after a commercial for pills. "If you, or a love one, has been injured by some pill, call us. No cost unless we receive compensation."


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