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How the Tobacco Industry Should Retaliate by Crad Kilodney

How the Tobacco Industry Should Retaliate by Crad Kilodney

August 2001 Extra

As a smoker for 36 years, two things piss me off: first, the relentless war against tobacco, which has become increasingly a war against smokers themselves; second, the docile way in which the tobacco industry obligingly bends over to be butt-fucked like a juvenile baboon.

From the very beginning, the tobacco industry has misunderstood what it is up against: the anti-tobacco forces will not stop until tobacco is completely extirpated from North American culture. So it is pointless to try to meet them half-way. Big Tobacco should stop trying to be conciliatory and recognize that a state of war exists.

Here, then, is a war plan for the tobacco industry in the U.S. and Canada.

I. Solidarity

All tobacco companies in the U.S. and Canada must close ranks and act together as allies, not competitors. Survive together or perish one by one.

II. Embargo

Two states and one province should be chosen for a total embargo of tobacco products. (My nominations: California, Mississippi, and British Columbia. They’ve been unusually hostile to tobacco.) The immediate effect will be to deprive these governments of tax revenues. This is, after all, primarily an economic war. The direct and indirect losses of revenue will be damaging. In addition, a bootlegging industry will spring up that will be impossible to stop, largely because every cop will be moonlighting as a cigarette smuggler. But many people will not be able to get any smokes at all, and cases of violent withdrawal rage will be widespread. The anger of smokers will be directed against government officials, because they’re the ones who have been treating smokers like shit for years.

The embargo will not mean that tobacco companies will distribute more products to neighboring states and provinces. Just the opposite. They will reduce their production by the amount that would normally be distributed to the embargoed territories. Predictably, neighboring states and provinces will have a large part of their quota siphoned off by bootleggers.

III. No More Payments

The tobacco industry should refuse to pay another dollar in any tobacco lawsuit — even settlements previously agreed to. This will be a major blow to those jurisdictions, like New York City, that have “securitized” future payments into so-called “tobacco bonds.” Of course, the various governments will attempt to freeze the bank accounts of tobacco companies, but there will be very little cash left in those accounts because the companies will have deliberately depleted their cash by buying back their own shares and debt securities for cancellation. What will the government do then, seize the manufacturing plants? What will they do with them? But more to the point, if the entire tobacco industry is shut down indefinitely, the economic consequences — especially in the U.S. — would be enormous. Not only is the tobacco industry the biggest taxpayer in the U.S., but retailers and distributors will go out of business, and farmers and tobacco workers will swell the welfare rolls. Federal and state budgets would be wrecked, the U.S. dollar would be hit, the financial markets would be hurt, and you’d probably have inflation and a recession. Smokers would take out their rage on the government, but plenty of non-smokers would be angry, too.

IV. No More Corporate Sponsorships or Charity

Tobacco companies sponsor major public events, including sporting and cultural events. These events are important to local economies. (Benson & Hedges should have cancelled their annual fireworks festival long ago and told Toronto City Council to shove their smoking by-laws up their asses!) The latest trend now is for charities to refuse donations from tobacco companies for ethical reasons. Okay, cut off all charitable contributions! Let the anti-smoking crackpot groups make up the difference!

V. No More Advertising

A cessation of tobacco advertising will have serious consequences for print media, which need the revenue. Print media also generate editorial opinion, of course. That editorial opinion will target government.

VI. No More Self-Denigration

Enough apologizing already! Quit feeling and acting so guilty! And don’t have anything to do with “education” programs to discourage people from using tobacco. There are no “victims” of the tobacco industry — just people who lack moderation and common sense. Most smokers don’t get sick from smoking — only those who smoke too much.

VII. Attack Your Critics

I love this one. In logic we call it the ad hominem argument — the personal attack. And nobody deserves it more than the anti-smoking zealots. Ridicule them. Insult them. Puke all over them. My brilliant idea: do limited production runs of collectible cigarette brands named after the most obnoxious anti-tobacco politicians. (Hey, Imperial Tobacco, this one’s for you! Rock Specials, featuring a cartoon caricature of our fuckhead Health Minister, Allan Rock! What’s he gonna do, threaten to sue you? Let him!)

Yes, it’s a PR war, so make it a PR nightmare for the other guy.

VIII. The Counter-Cultural Attack

Why stop at the usual warning labels? Let’s do this thing totally rad. Create new brands with names such as “Death,” “Skull,” “Toxin,” “Nuke,” “Satan,” and “Murder” — all with appropriate artwork. First, the Goth set will snap them up; pretty soon, they’ll catch on all over the place. You won’t even have to advertise. The media will do it for you.

IX. Individual and Collective Protest By Smokers

Okay, admittedly, this sounds vaguely Leftish and boring, but all you have to do is use your websites and make a few suggestions to plant a seed. The best ideas will come from smokers themselves. Personally, I think people should refuse jury duty on the grounds that they can’t go without smoking in a courtroom for hours at a time. Bars that have been forced to adopt no-smoking rules should refuse to serve the city councillors who voted for those laws; even better, they should post pictures of the councillors (old campaign posters would do nicely!) along with the sign “These jerks will not be served here!”

X. The Objective of the War

You’ve won when governments stop trying to sue you, tax you to death, or call you murderers, and when tort law is reformed to protect the tobacco industry.

If the tobacco industry acts as one entity, it can flex its economic muscle and get North America’s health Nazis to back off. And that’s just what it should do. Tobacco is a legal product, and smokers are not social criminals.

(Note from the management: We are too shy to e-mail this item ourselves to tobacco companies and media outlets, but we don’t mind if you do.)



Crad is not only happily addicted to his pipe, but he was also happily addicted to Hoyle’s “Battling Ships,” which he would play on my computer in Toronto. He won about 75% of the time.


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