(Don’t) Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

collage no "No Smoking" signs

June Thunderstorm, writing in The Baffler with the support of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, digs into the race and class issues that underlie efforts to quell smoking. Is “public health” really the name of the game?

Neither does the “public” protected by public health initiatives include people of the working class, no matter what color they are. If it did, initiatives would be directed first and foremost at the process of production, not consumption. And I mean production of everything. After all, anyone who works for minimum wage already expects organ damage, physical pain, a reduced quality of life, and an untimely death. And that, no doubt, is why the “If You Smoke You’ll Get Sick” warnings on packs aren’t working very well to inspire this particular group to quit: working shit jobs for shit pay is making the working class sicker, faster. And yet the promoter of “public health” does not concern herself with how the workers must soon enter the building to demolish rotten fiberboard all day. She is interested only in what they consume outside the door on their brief ten-minute breaks. Why should this be?

Read the essay