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I am a nonsmoker. I am not a shrill or intolerant anti-tobacco crusader, but it needs re-stating that the increasingly shrill and intolerant anti-tobacco position that the nonsmoking lobby feels itself pushed into is largely fueled by a stubborn apathy to the genuine tobacco issue plus the obtuse double talk encasing it that comes from government, industry, media and the public. In Japan the problem is amplified by a cultural aversion to confrontation that allows the debate to get obfuscated in deliberately vague language.

This is beautifully illustrated by Yui Oyamada’s Jan. 4 letter, “Learning to live with each other,” in which the writer makes the typically Japanese plea that a solution to tobacco issues lies in mutual understanding. We know that pleas for mutual understanding are often a guise for the protection of further dithering, and Japanese certainly do like to dither.

Nonsmokers understand smokers just fine. And because I suspect that smokers do not understand themselves, I want to help them in a spirit of human loving kindness. So here goes: Nicotine is a drug. It is more addictive than marijuana and has been proven to be more harmful as well. Tobacco smokers are drug addicts. As drug addicts they are not ill so much as morally depraved people who deserve as much disdain, ostracism and social inconvenience as can be legally meted out. But of course, as always, I could be wrong.

grant piper

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