Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dissidence or Orthodoxy? My Interview on FORCES International Roundtable

Today, FORCES International has posted online what I expect will be the first of a series of roundtable interviews with me concerning issues of interest to smokers, smoker's rights advocates, and hopefully also to anti-smoking advocates, public health practitioners, and other members of the public at large.

This interview, conducted by FORCES' own Gian Turci, provides insights into my own experience with the tobacco control movement and my perspective on the McCarthyist nature of the movement. In addition to presenting my own story, it includes my perspective on issues such as the changes in the scientific integrity of the movement, the disallowance of any dissent in the movement to its established agenda and tactics, and the folly of the FDA tobacco legislation that is being overwhelmingly supported by almost all major anti-smoking groups.

The interview does include my revelation of some aspects of my own history with the tobacco control movement that I have not previously discussed on this blog.

FORCES introduces the initial interview as follows: "We are glad to present to our readers this new session of the FORCES Round Table. Gian Turci's guest this time is Michael Siegel. As most of our readers know, Siegel is a tobacco control advocate who has become, shall we say, the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of the movement. We don’t believe that the parallel is an exaggeration. As he discusses with the host, the tobacco control movement has degenerated into an ideology aimed to control behaviour and culture through demonization, censorship, discrimination and promotion of hatred and intolerance, and for which any means – truthful or not, moral or not – is legitimate to get rid of the smoker. Such ideologies do not tolerate the slightest dissent, and promise harsh punishments for those who dare."

I hope The Rest of the Story readers will enjoy listening to this interview.

I am very grateful to Gian Turci for his willingness to sit down and discuss these issues thoughtfully with me, despite our obvious difference of opinion on several aspects of tobacco control policy. I truly believe that it is only through thoughtful discussion and a willingness to hear the other side that we can work towards an effective approach to addressing problems such as this one. And of course, that goes for the tobacco control side as well (which is why I am committed to providing this forum to allow smokers' rights advocates and all interested members of the public to air their concerns, despite my strong views in support of workplace smoking bans).

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