Monday, January 28, 2013

Hard to stand on that imaginary 'slippery slope'

In 2006, Americans for Non-Smokers' Rights published a document titled "What To Expect From The Tobacco Industry." In it, the group claimed a "tactic" of the tobacco industry and it's supporters would be to "introduce other issues in a smoke-free air campaign to imply that the real problem is something other than secondhand smoke, and/or that the creation of smoke-free air is a “slippery slope” of government regulation. Smoke=free opponents will often exclaim, “What’s next? Cheeseburgers?” Cheeseburgers do not cause disease and death in non-cheeseburger eaters. The issue isn't about cheeseburgers, or even about smoking, per se. It’s about smoking in ways that harm other people. It’s about protecting innocent people who are being exposed to a leading cause of preventable death and disease."

Stan "The ANTZ" Glantz, founder of that organization, essentially called the "slippery slope" a tobacco industry myth saying, "The 'slippery slope' argument is one that the tobacco industry has routinely raised to oppose policies against its interests, including smoke-free policies, decisions by arts and cultural organizations not to accept tobacco money, advertising restrictions, and other policies. These predicted subsequent problems simply have not materialized."

John Banzhaf, founder of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) , said in 1991, "They use the 'slippery slope' argument. 'My God, if they can do this to smokers today they can do this to people who eat Haagen-Dazs ice cream or whatever."

In other words, there is not nor will there be a "slippery slope" effect, you crazy people!

For the record, Banzhaf later became a "leader in the obesity-lawsuit movement" against fast food restaurants and yes - in 2003 sent letters to the ice cream makers, including Haagen-Dazs.

And this past Saturday, Associated Press medical writer Mike Stobbe published a piece that seriously considers singling out smokers and overweight people with public shaming campaigns.

"Your freedom is likely to be someone else's harm," said Daniel Callahan, senior research scholar at a bioethics think-tank, the Hastings Center.  
"Public health officials shouldn't shy away from tough anti-obesity efforts, said Callahan, the bioethicist. Callahan caused a public stir this week with a paper that called for a more aggressive public health campaign that tries to shame and stigmatize overeaters the way past public health campaigns have shamed and stigmatized smokers. 
National obesity rates are essentially static, and public health campaigns that gently try to educate people about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating just aren't working, Callahan argued. We need to get obese people to change their behavior. If they are angry or hurt by it, so be it, he said.

Smoking then smokers. Fast food and big sodas then the obese. Alcoholics then alcohol (again). Watch your back, vapers and smoke-free users. If there is no slippery slope at your feet then it must be an avalanche coming down at you.

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