Correspondence

Under the (Smoking) Gun

In The Wall Street Journal on June 16 last, Mr. Alexander Cockburn—whose regular presence in the premier organ of capitalist opinion, by the way, nicely illustrates Lenin's maxim about rope—argued that the current antismoking hysteria is a capitalist plot. The loathsome Cockburn adduced an article in an obscure publication of the Spartacist League that maintained that antismoking campaigns are intended to control workers more closely, to increase productivity without increasing wages, and to reduce corporate ventilation costs. Cockburn also observed that an early, and rabid, antismoker was Adolf Hitler.

All of this was delivered deadpan, and it is no more ludicrous or farfetched than Cockburn's other opinions, so he may even believe it. But he was purveying disinformation (maybe not for the first time): it is well-known in these parts that antismokers are serving the international Communist conspiracy.

I offer in evidence the copies of Pravda that Philip Morris recently sent to several hundred newspaper editors and the like, with a note observing that "Pravda does not carry cigarette advertising, or indeed any advertising." That may seem a little silly, but get a load of the pinko response: according to The New York Times, Democrat Congressman Mike Synar accused Philip Morris of "red-baiting" and called the mailing an "embarrassing throwback...

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