A Word On The Golden Age American Tough Guy Image
So what’s the anti-smoking lobby all about? Well, we know they’re not about anybody’s health — because they’re against harm reduction strategies like Swedish snus and electronic cigarettes.
Here’s what I think they’re about: I think they’re about wanting Americans to forget about icons like this guy in the picture.
Now, I know that sounds far-fetched, but think about it for a second. Guys who personified the particularly American brand of masculinity during America’s golden age — guys like John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, even guys like W.C. Fields and Groucho Marx — these were guys who had a few core things in common — let’s mention just two:
First, they didn’t take shit from anybody. They didn’t kneel for anybody. Somebody tried to tell these guys their business, that somebody found themselves on the business end of a gun, a boot or a razor-sharp one-liner.
Second, they all had vices. Things that made them all at the same time more vulnerable AND tougher than their peers. Those vices were usually visible, to varying degrees, but the most visible of them was a cigar, cigarillo or cigarette.
So what’s the big idea behind sweeping the iconic vice of smoking out of the public eye? If it was health, the FDA wouldn’t be trying to ban electronic cigarettes. Why are they anyway? Because electronic cigarette ditch the health hazard, but they keep that image alive. It’s the image, the icon, NOT the health risk, that the anti-smoking crusaders are actually after.
And I’m not talking about regular people — they really do have their own health and maybe even yours in mind. I’m talking about Big Pharma and Big Government. They’re the ones who want to keep lining their pockets selling snake oil, in the former case, and wanting you to forget the toughness and defiance iconized by the guy in the photo, in the latter.