Arkansas Legislature

Nutty Anti-Smoking Zealot: The Uncut Version

Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson (left) with Dr. Dan Hawkins, PhD, anti-smoking zealot
Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson (left) with Dr. Dan Hawkins, PhD, anti-smoking zealot

There’s an e-mail floating around the last couple of days from one Dr. Dan J. Hawkins, PhD, of Harrison, Ark., Gov. Mike Beebe’s most recent appointee to the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee. Hawkins, who evidently will stand second to no one as a spear carrier in the War on Tobacco, has some rather unorthodox views on smoking, smokers and policymakers who differ from his view.

Greenberg beat me to it below with this fine post on Hawkins’ message. But as a public service, and to give Arkansas Project readers a fuller sense of Hawkins’ argument, I republish his message in its entirety here.

Be forewarned: It’s long. And almost entirely incoherent. It’s also decidely off-message from Beebe’s talking points at Monday’s cigarette tax rally in Little Rock, when he suggested that his goal was not to “vilify” or “demonize” the tobacco lobby and his opponents. Lest there be any confusion, Hawkins’ goal is absolutely to vilify and demonize his opponents, while pathologizing the behavior of just about everyone who might enjoy a good smoke every now and again.

Hawkins’ Unabomber-style manifesto follows.

Letter to Arkansas legislators from Dr. Dan Hawkins, PhD, member of the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Advisory Committee

24 January 2009  —  Special Attention:  Sen. Johnny Key and Rep. John Burris

The Honorable Robbie Wills,

Speaker of the House, State of Arkansas,

Arkansas House of Representatives,

State Capitol Building,

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Re:  State Cigarette Sales Tax Increase Legislation

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As the newest member of the Arkansas Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Advisory Committee, appointed by Governor Beebe and sworn into office January 9th, I took the opportunity to immediately address the issue of cigarette taxes with the Governor.

Seventy percent of cigarettes are smoked by mentally ill people. This is documented in the 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry.  I hope to share more on this twist upon another occasion.  But, for now, just let me say that 30 percent of smokers have an Axis II Personality Disorder, i.e., they not only have one or more serious psychiatric illness(es), but, may also be bad people.  Regardless of party affiliation, Arkansas legislators have historically caved in to constituents who own convenience stores that sell tobacco in counties with a border contiguous with other states, who protest that they may lose cigarette sales because of a proposed higher cigarette sales tax in Arkansas that might lead some of their customers to cross state lines to purchase their cigarettes in lower-taxed states.  Thus, these legislators would, perhaps unwittingly, “let the inmates run the asylum.”  Those who might resent some of my remarks, made here today, should perhaps instead fear that they resemble some of these remarks.  I have been led to believe that it is usually that which people actually subconsciously may feel to be true about themselves which makes them angry, mad, upset, or afraid.

Years of Potential Life Expectancy Spared with the Tax:

The proposed cigarette tax would be expected to conservatively spare Arkansans very well in excess of 100,000 years of potential life expectancy.

Explorations are currently underway to see if legislators, in their lifetime(s), can be held legally accountable (both civilly & criminally) for pro-tobacco (pro-death for profit) votes injurious to the public health; with pro-health/pro-life advocates possibly employing such legal entities as the likes of, e.g., the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and/or the Tobacco Products Liability Project of Boston… (Kinkade editorial intrusion: Click on that link for bonus insanity).  Ironically, we lose more Americans, dead from smoking, each & every single year, as were killed by the Nazis throughout the entirety of World War II.  The whole point of the post-War Nuremberg Trials of the Nazis was to disabuse our leaders of the notion that they can write, facilitate, implement, or ignore, substantially pro-death laws, and then immunize themselves as lawmakers against any legal accountability with a self-protective law, fiat, or decree, all entirely contrary to the public interest.  Unfortunately, we seem a nation morbidly preoccupied with form over substance, and it is killing us.

But, first, let me thank you for understanding that serving the corporate interests of Big Tobacco does not serve the interests of the people of Arkansas.  I describe here some of the worth of increasing the state cigarette sales tax increase.

As I did with Governor Beebe, I am also again now e-attaching a copy of some of my correspondence to the governor here & now for you and other members of the legislature as well.  Also e-attached are responses to misleading and inaccurate statements made by cigarette companies who hope to discourage increases in all state cigarette sales taxes (See example directly below).

For example… “Cigarette Company Myth: Cigarette tax increases are regressive and hurt poor people.

A. The cigarette companies have it backwards: it is the harms from smoking that are regressive.  Lower-income communities already suffer disproportionately from smoking-caused disease, disability, death, and costs.  By prompting more lower-income smokers to quit and cut back, raising state cigarette tax rates will reduce those regressive harms and costs….”

Cheaper cigarettes do no one a favor, especially the poor, despite what the tobacco cartel would have us all believe — that the poor have less to lose.

It is important that ALL members of the legislature read this.

Not despite, but, precisely because your time is of a limited nature, I would strongly urge each of you to read and “mine what I’ve said for talking points which might be useful to you.”  Short of or absent that, I have excerpted a few key parts of my correspondence to the governor for you below….  My e-attached letter to the governor also contains detailed economic analyses re: the increased state cigarette sales tax proposal(s).
Euclid, having opened a school of mathematics at Alexandria, was asked by King Ptolemy whether he could not explain his art to him in a more easily-grasped or compendious  manner. “Sir,” said the geometrician, “there is no royal road to learning.”

The 17th Century writer, Jean de la Bruyere, wrote that “The exact contrary of what is generally believed is often the truth.”  I would begin by also echoing that sentiment by sharing that I’ve been quoted in the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ nationally circulated literature provided also even members of Congress, saying that:  “I’ve found that in tobacco control, as with a lot of things, there is perhaps no greater obstacle than the unprepared mind.”

The Hypocrisy of Marketing Tobacco and Then Blaming the Victim:

For the last 45 years, as a nation, we have historically shown only a duplicity and complicity in the placing of the corporate interests of Big Tobacco ahead of both U.S. public health & economics.  Meanwhile, we have rather studiously sought to ironically “blame the victim(s)” of tobacco use whose deadly addiction we hypocritically promote and facilitate in the first place.  We allow 90 percent of all of new smoker’s smoking tobacco addiction to first be promoted & facilitated in childhood or in their teenage years, and then further enabled & facilitated and ridiculed throughout the adult lives of these children when they fail to stop smoking at the stroke of midnight on their 18th birthday.  As a result, we’ve lost about 200 million years of potential life expectancy in a nation that supposedly prides itself on the value it places on the life of a single individual.  But, it was the infamous mass murderer Josef Stalin who said:  the death of a single individual may be a tragedy, but the death of millions is [treated as] a “statistic” [by the masses].  There is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of social ills which we need to both address and stalwartly seek to remedy regarding tobacco ethics and policy, both as a State and as a Nation.

Genetics of Tobacco Use:

Indeed, the tobacco industry has spent decades creating tortured notions about both “freedom” & “freedom of choice.”  But, studies of the congruent smoking behaviors between genetically identical twins separated at birth and raised in separate adoptive families have revealed that smoking, or “nicotine-dependence,” is about 70 percent governed by genetic & inherited factors.  Genetics and inheritance are, of course, however, not about perverted notions of freedom of choice or personal responsibility.  This does not mean that smokers bear no personal responsibility in quitting smoking, only that their genetics and inheritance may bestow upon them, a very greatly unappreciated burden.  Unfortunately, an unethical tobacco industry and their related trade interest groups, and the equally unethical legislators who would enable them, would all together romanticize smoking.  The sentiment just below the surface, never said, but implicit, is that:  “It was good enough for my granddaddy, in the early part of the 20th Century, so it should be good enough for everyone else here & now, in the 21st Century, huh?!”  But, alas, these are all a people, lacking in an ethical compass or barometer, who want the rather poor & ignorant way we were all socialized to “blame the victim,” to be romanticized and validated; reflecting this morally bankrupt philosophy by codifying it into law in much the same way that Negro slavery was also once legal and considered, accordingly, just another legal business in the U.S, cf., “The Dred Scott Decision.”   Having said that, I suppose it is all that much more ironic that two-out-of-three cancer deaths among African-Americans males in the U.S. each year is also from smoking.  I asked Governor Huckabee how this was not some sort of an insidious form of genocide?  We lose as many Americans from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure each day as were lost in one of the World Trade Center Towers.  Unfortunately, we are a nation morbidly preoccupied with “form over substance,” and it is killing us; both physically, and spiritually.

Ethical Tobacco Marketing:  an oxymoron

Unfortunately,  people routinely wash their hands of responsibility after they pocket their 30 pieces of silver, having successfully conditioned an America, including most of our legislators, to “blame the victim” whose tobacco addiction they first promote in childhood, then enable & facilitate throughout adulthood.  The problem isn’t tobacco, but, the ethically bankrupt thinking behind the very marketing of tobacco.  Some of these people would make Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot blush.  If some of my language seems either hurtful or cruel to some pro-tobacco advocates, I do not mean it to seem that way.  But, I do not mean for what I am saying to seem harsh or offensive or in any way ridiculous whatsoever, but, long overdue.  Alcohol sales don’t justify tobacco sales and vice versa.  To claim otherwise might be to indulge in over-inclusive irrational non sequitur thinking.  Naïve defense mechanisms involve rationalization, minimization, intellectualization, and justification.  Naïve psychological defense mechanisms are about a naïve denial.

According to the unbiased medical epidemiological research literature, pro-tobacco legislators have both lower-rated intelligence & integrity….

Why I’m Involved in Tobacco Control Policy

Again, thank you for this opportunity to serve which you have given me.  I will endeavor to serve both you and the people of Arkansas with due diligence and more.  For you see, for me, tobacco control is a labor of love.  Governor Mike Huckabee came to Harrison to present me with some awards on television and officiate the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the Dr. Dan J. Hawkins Community Health Resource Center in 2005.  Governor Huckabee asked me why I invested so much of my time, talent, and treasure, in tobacco control efforts.  I told him that it was for the same reason that Bill Clinton gave for why he had sex with Monica Lewinski:  “Because I could.”  I also told him that it was because smoking eclipses the next five leading causes of preventable death plus terrorism all combined, both in Arkansas and nationwide, and secondhand smoke is number three.  Death and disease from smoking comes with an expensive price tag; an increasing annual national economic cost which is currently $193 billion dollars in healthcare costs plus the costs of smoking-attributable lost productivity for the U.S. – each year now.  Nearly one-out-of-every-five deaths in the United States each year is caused by smoking.  Two out of every three cancer deaths among African-American males is from smoking.  I told Governor Mike Huckabee that I thought that any such was a national disgrace.  Consider if you would, that the next time you hear that someone died from either cancer or heart disease, there is a nearly one-in-three or a one-in-four chance, respectively, that their death was from a smoking-related cause(s).  Marketing tobacco is not somehow a simple straightforward benign legal activity or any mere business enterprise as some would hope to pretend or have us all imagine.  Yet, sadly, we all seem to rather stoically embrace America’s Big Tobacco & their related trade interest groups with a worldly cynicism & acceptance, and a superficial mock maturity.

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13 thoughts on “Nutty Anti-Smoking Zealot: The Uncut Version

  • Bill from Sheridan

    Shame on Governor Beebe for giving this man a bully pulpit. I wonder how many votes this cost the Governor.

  • Cameron Bluff

    Ah, a manifesto from the Una-Butthead…

  • This just blows me away. I’m curious to know where he gets his numbers when he relates the annual deaths to the number of people killed by the Nazi’s during WWII.

  • Fourche River Rex

    I thought the Guv. is or was a smoker. Is that not true?
    This letter is a delight! I can’t think of anything better to come out in this debate. Not because I agree with it, but because it really does get to the heart of the debate…albeit in a tin-foil hat wearing kind of way.
    The point of this tax is about stopping smoking. But the people that are behind the tax don’t have the balls to say that. Honestly, I think that they should just drop a bill in the hopper that outlaws tobacco in Arkansas. Grow a pair, people!
    But despite my delight that someone actually said what their intent was and that it was said in a completely batshit crazy way, I don’t like the tax. I don’t like any tax. I really don’t like taxes that are just big brother in disguise.
    But despite that, thanks, Doc! You’ve given us the most fun this session! Hurray! Huzzah!

  • I’m just grateful for a new word to dislodge the word “impacted” in my vocabulary . . . “e-attaching!”

  • Larry Clarke

    Isn’t it ironic that this idiot would use the Nazis in his letter when he has done the very same thing the Nazi party did in the 1930s/40s. They conducted propaganda campaigns against the Jewish population that referenced “studies” that showed the Jews had a high level of mental illness and other false accusation. The Governor should terminate this individual immediately.

  • Not to worry, the fat police will coming after him shortly for the overweight are next on the hate list for attacking, taxing, dehumanizing.

    Great KARMA if you ask me!

  • John Weaver

    This man is indicative of the problem that we have in Arkansas’ government, idiots appointed to positions of power. Dr. Hawkins is an idiot that will invent data, studies or what ever to promote his view. Governor Beebe should be ashamed and revoke his appointment of this man.

    But, then again, this is coming from one of the mentally ill smokers, in the doc’s view point.

  • benpal

    Put him on a diet or call the fat police.

  • Kin_Free

    I agree with almost everything this idiot has written but with one fundamental difference! He is describing not the tobacco industry or the harm caused by smoking – BUT ‘anti-tobacco’ and the harm CAUSED by ‘tobacco control’.

    It is becoming clearer that the anti-smoking campaign was originally to divert attention away from the real causes of cancer and protect ASBESTOS companies from massive litigation. It has morphed into a way of enhancing the pharmaceutical industry’s profits and bolstering the ego of people such as Hawkins.

    For decades, resources have been hijacked by anti-tobacco and, as a result, many unnecessary lives have been sacrificed.

    Hawkins has been described as ‘nutty’, I’m sure that this will also be said by some about my comment -After all only the mentally ill would deny what everyone knows:- “smoking kills”! No one is allowed to challenge the basic tenets of the ‘smoking epidemic’!!

    BUT- Look at all the lies and junk science spewed out about SHS or even THS (third hand smoke) and the rantings of people like Hawkins, THEN think about it. Do you really believe that anti-tobacco have only just started producing all this misinformation? Is this use of propaganda a new phenomenon? ..err.. NO!

    For me, exposing ‘tobacco control’ is a labor of love!

  • Since everyone is picking on the smokers I say we smokers pick on the fat people. They say we are going to cost the taxpayers millions……uh I do believe that overweight people face diabetes, heart disease, back problems, and oh yeah some even get disability.

    Look at the CDC website, death due to obesity is catching up with death due to smoking. LMAO

  • Stacy Ray

    I know Dr. Hawkins personally, and I know him to be a man with nothing but the best of intentions. Sometimes his passion for helping others live better and yes even his intellect outrun his ability to communicate to people. He has seen personal loss due to smoking and he is directly responsible for helping thousands of people to quit smoking. Don’t ever question his motives or his grasp on the facts, because they are nothing but pure. He may not say it the way we want to hear it, but Dan at least bring light to the issue.

    Some folks want to talk about obesity and diabetes and the toll they cost our economy and healthcare system. If you would have taken the time to learn more about Dr. Hawkins you would know that he has spent as much tme fighting to reduce diabetes and obesity also; going as far as to help establish a Community Health Resource Center in Harrison that helps educate the people in Northwest Arkansas on issues surrounding tobacco use, obesity, and diabetes.

    I’m not saying it was presented in the best way, just with the best intentions.


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