How Truth Became a Casualty of the War on Smoking

Different types of nicotine consumption pose different amounts of risk.

by Jacob Sullum

The Rediscovery of Tobacco: Smoking, Vaping, and the Creative Destruction of the Cigarette, by Jacob Grier, Kindle Direct, 267 pages, $14.99

The Cigarette: A Political History, by Sarah Milov, Harvard University Press, 394 pages, $35

When Clara Gouin started running the Group Against Smokers’ Pollution (GASP) out of her College Park, Maryland, living room in 1971, she was rebelling against social norms she deemed oppressive. “Gouin was a housewife and the mother of two daughters, the youngest of whom had an allergy to smoke,” University of Virginia historian Sarah Milov writes in The Cigarette: A Political History. “The child’s reaction to cigarettes was so severe that it prevented the family from going out to eat. Even worse than being restricted in public was the expectation that nonsmokers had to accommodate smoking guests in their own homes. Ashtrays in the homes of nonsmokers were monuments to smokers’ supremacy. ‘What doormats we were!’ Gouin recalled thinking as she lay awake one night contemplating nonsmokers’ powerlessness.”

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