FORCES columnists offer news and perspectives on such issues as smoking and public policy, smoking and science, and the increasingly evident slippery slope that is leading to tobacco prohibition. They also venture into adjacent territory to chart the course of an authoritarian and censorious political and bureaucratic elite that uses state-of-the-art propaganda techniques, corporate handouts and tax dollars to woo the public towards a vision of the future that offers utopian illusions about health and safety in exchange for the privacy and freedom of both mind and body.

The concerns of our columnists range from a detailed examination of local legislative issues to broader philosophical considerations touching, for example, on the gradual (and decidedly undemocratic) globalization of public health policy.



(+ and - allowed)



Latest Articles


  • Binge drinking, advertising bans and higher duties- the wrong prescription
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 15/02/2004
    There is an unfortunate tendency in contemporary public policy debates to attempt to solve long-standing and multi-dimensional problems with simple solutions that resemble political slogans or sound-bites more than serious attempts to deal with complicated issues. Whilst this tendency is found across the policy spectrum it is particularly obvious in policy debates that involve advertising and health. Michael Prowse exhibits this tendency all too clearly in his completely unsubstantiated claim that the answer to the UK’s ‘binge drinking’ problem is to ‘ban alcohol advertising and sharply raise taxes on products aimed at the young’ (18/19 October, 2003)

  • The perils of denormalization
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 15/09/2004
    One of the more disturbing contemporary trends in tobacco control is the increasing use by both anti-smoking activists and governments of “denormalization” campaigns against the industry. As used by the tobacco control movement, denormalization is as a made-up word that functions as noun and verb to describe both a state in which the tobacco industry and smoking are perceived to be non-normal, aberrant, and deviant and a series of activities designed to achieve this end.

  • The real light and mild scam
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 15/01/2004
    For the last few years one of the major strategies of the anti-tobacco activists and their opportunistic friends in the plaintiff’s bar has been to attack the description of tobacco products as “light” and “mild”. The activists have claimed that such descriptors are inherently misleading in that they convince smokers that using these cigarettes is less risky than other cigarettes. For the activists’ legal colleagues the use of light and mild constitutes a novel but massive commercial fraud which the experts in tobacco litigation have been quick to convert into the only thing that really counts in the American tobacco war- multi-billion dollar judgments.

  • Canadian content at WHO
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 01/02/2004
    Like many of his fellow citizens Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman didn’t know a lot about WHO until the last few days, when its nature and powers became quite undeniably real and frightening. But this bit of national ignorance, however understandable, is completely unjustified for Canadians, of all people, ought to know what WHO is like. This is because for over the last thirty years we - or at least the people we trust our health care system to - have provided the intellectual foundations for WHO’s approach not only to SARS in Toronto but much else. And call if whatever you want - the boomerang effect, things bite back, or reaping what you sow - the WHO we have helped to create has now come back to haunt us.

  • Sheela Basrur, junk science and phantom risks
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 15/01/2004
    You would have thought that between SARS and the looming return of West Nile that Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health would have a fairly full plate.

  • The dark side of tobacco taxes
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 10/01/2004
    Neither Finance Minister Greg Sorbora nor Health Minister George Smitherman appear to get it. Both Ontario ministers, along with Premier McGuinty and his Manitoba counterpart believe the orthodox fiction pushed by Canada’s anti-tobacco activists that raising tobacco taxes is an innocuous, cost-free policy measure that improves public health. Yet the evidence clearly shows that both of these claims, that higher tobacco taxes improve public health and that they are a cost-free policy measure are untrue.

  • Junk science redux
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 28/12/2003
    It used to be that the only junk that Canadians had to deal with regularly was the kind that dropped into their mail boxes. Now however, there is not a week that goes by without a new piece of junk science appearing in the press.

  • Fat chance: some cautions about the war on fat
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 20/12/2003
    Ever since the Lancet last year called for sin taxes on ‘junk food’ and prohibitions on food marketing and advertising to children it was clear that Britian’s health establishment paternalists were planning a massive new war on fat. It is now impossible to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without encountering a new claim about the damage done by fat, the causes of obesity or what to do about it. Perhaps the most obvious sign that government intends to get involved is to be found in this week’s hearings by the Commons Health Select Committee at which representatives of the food industry including McDonald’s Cadbury Schweppes and PepsiCo will be asked to explain their role in the rise of obesity.

  • The origins of the junk science epidemic
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 15/12/2003
    The anti-tobacco movement likes to call the tobacco industry the “disease vector” of the tobacco epidemic. While that claim is certainly disputable, what is indisputable is that the anti-tobacco movement and their allies in the public health community are the disease vector of the junk science epidemic that threatens to overwhelm sound public policy, not only in tobacco but in a wide range of health issues.

  • Ten wasted years
    Details Author(s): John Luik
    Article Published: 31/01/2003
    The Health Minister's decision to slash funds for Ottawa's multi-year, half-a-billion-dollar anti-smoking campaign is one of the few positive things to come out of last week's annual National Non-Smoking Week. The move signals that perhaps the government finally realizes how much of its tobacco control strategy over the last decade has been driven by the unevidenced rhetoric of the anti-smoking movement...


Showing results 20 to 30 of 46


FORCES is supported solely by the efforts of the readers. Please become a member or donate what you can.



Contact Info
Forces Contacts
Media Contacts
Advertisers
Columnists
Ian DunbarIan Dunbar, United Kingdom

Latest Article »»  

Bill Brown, USA

Latest Article »»  

Michael J. McFadden, USA

Latest Article »»  

Joe Jackson, United Kingdom

Latest Article »»  

Virginia Day, USA

Latest Article »»  

Robert Prasker, USA

Latest Article »»
Contact Robert Prasker »»

John Dunn, MD, United States

Latest Article »»
Contact John Dunn, MD »»

Andrew Phillips, Canada

Latest Article »»
Contact Andrew Phillips »»

Pat Nurse, United Kingdom

Latest Article »»
Contact Pat Nurse »»

Elio F. Gagliano, MD, Italy

Latest Article »»  

Edmund Contoski, USA

Latest Article »»
Contact Edmund Contoski »»

John Luik, Canada

Latest Article »»  

Norman Kjono, USA

Latest Article »»
Contact Norman Kjono »»

Gian Turci, Italy

Latest Article »»  

Søren Højbjerg, Denmark

Latest Article »»
Contact Søren Højbjerg »»