Thank You For Smoking (Tobacco)

Wow…I just…wow.

After seeing an increase in stories about the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in Canada, I decided to check out the D.A.R.E. website. Brace yourself.


A question that was not asked by this radio talk show host but usually makes its way into the agenda is one that brings in the question of tobacco vs. marijuana, i.e., “Tobacco kills hundreds of thousands of individuals every year but nobody’s ever died of smoking pot. But pot is illegal. Doesn’t this seem a bit hypocritical?

Answer: Marijuana is a leading cause of drug-related emergency room episodes and emergency psychiatric episodes. Smoking a few cigarettes, or even a package of cigarettes, has never necessitated emergency room medical or psychiatric attention. Long-term tobacco use leads to the deterioration of the lungs, heart, circulation, etc. There are no recorded deaths from smoking tobacco short term. It is known that marijuana undermines the immune system so it is likely that in another 20 years, if use continues to escalate, the death toll from side effects of long-term marijuana use will equal those of longer-term tobacco use. Additionally, because marijuana is hallucinogenic, smokers often indulge in risky or irresponsible behavior that results in tragic or lethal consequences.”

As a person who was born in the late 1980’s, I cannot help but feel shocked by this. I have never in my life seen an organization, or even a serious individual, extoll the virtues of smoking tobacco. I certainly never expected D.A.R.E to be the ones to do it. They have literally gone as far as they can to promote tobacco, without incurring the wrath of other interest groups. I wonder if the tobacco industry donates to…nah..

A recent letter of mine elicited the following response from a concerned parent:

“Thank you Travis for your thoughtful assessment of the Dare program in North American schools. Our child entered 1st grade this year and my husband and I spent some time looking into the curriculum that she will be exposed to. I was actually looking for the DARE program because I do not want my child exposed to false propaganda in her formative years. Just as we were setting up an appointment with the school priincipal (because it is not that easy to just state that your wishes are not to have your child exposed), we read in the newspaper that the RCMP are cancelling their DARE program in the Okanagan school district. We are still going to have this conversation with our child’s school principal but I was relieved to hear this bit of good news. I know lots of people who were lied to as children and inevitably they are angry about it as adults.

Truth is the most important thing we can offer to our children. Lying to children with the intent of scaring them is similar to hitting them to “teach them a lesson”. The truth about marijuana is starting to emerge as well as the truth of the “cover up”. Marijuana has never cause one death in the entire history of mankind. You can’t say that for very many things. Sugar, salt, caffeine all kill many human beings every year. Obesity is the leading cause of death, followed by tobacco and alcohol. Marijuana is the SAFER choice. If my children must experiment, I would hope that it is with the least harmful substance, which is marijuana.”

Kid, if you ever read this, you are lucky to have such a well-informed and caring mother. Is this what parents want in elementary school, to have armed police officers tell their children that if they must smoke something, it should be tobacco? Our taxes are paying for this crap?

When I think back on it now, D.A.R.E is what made me an activist. I was told that if I smoked cannabis once, I would die a broke, homeless, friendless heroin addict. D.A.R.E destroyed any illusions that I had about the good intentions of the government, or the RCMP. Imagine that: if someone lies to you, they seem less trustworthy!

Government is merely a tool that is used by the ruling class to oppress everybody else. This is a lesson that Marc Emery would teach me over and over again, but the RCMP beat him to it.