I have set out to write in defense of tobacco. I do it for the challenge. There are other things that would be almost equally challenging, but I don’t know enough about them: I’ve never committed pedophilia or sent out spam emails or run for congress, so tobacco seems the only remaining choice.
I know very well the cards are stacked against me. The only people who love the big tobacco companies are those who own the big tobacco companies. In this way tobacco is not unlike oil. A difference between them is that, in the last twenty years at least, no country has been invaded for its tobacco crop. To me, this is a point in favor of tobacco, but no doubt others differ.
Now, I am aware that tobacco is not good for me. I have been assured of this by, not only the medical profession, but by other good-hearted folk who, I am certain, have been earnestly told by their doctors and clergymen that they should seek me out and inform me. I have had kindly people travel a thousand miles merely to tell me that tobacco is bad for me. Sometimes they bring friends and distant relations and remain for weeks to be certain I have this information. Such evidence of good will cannot be ignored, and I do not ignore it. I am convinced that they are right and tobacco is not good for me, that I will live longer if I refrain. And, as has been said before, even if I do not live longer, it will feel longer, which is the same thing.
I am also aware that tobacco is not good for the fellow next to me. There have been studies indicating that spending forty hours a week for twenty years in smoke-filled rooms may be harmful; it seems reasonable, therefore, to conclude that if a chance whiff of my smoke should infiltrate the air of someone next to me he will drop dead on the spot, and therefore I accept this as a fact. I know that if it should happen I would feel bad.
Another thing that makes it hard to defend tobacco is the recent increase in Federal tax on tobacco. The tax on loose (roll-your-own) tobacco just increased by a factor of ten. What makes this especially praiseworthy is that such an increase, like all taxes on goods and services, hits especially hard on the poor. This will encourage the poor to quit smoking, because as we all know raising the price of something at once causes those addicted or habituated to it to quit; anyone pretending that our government cares little for the poor should be convinced by this statistic. And it need hardly be said that this tax has the additional benefit of providing much needed funds for bailing out billionaire bankers and invading countries for their tobacco, or whichever resource that was.
With all of this working against me, how can I even consider defending tobacco?
Suddenly I am at a loss. Let me light a cigarette. Ah, yes, now I remember. My defense is as follows: I like it.