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From: govegan@uclink.berkeley.edu (Scott Andrew Selby)
Newsgroups: talk.politics.drugs,alt.drugs
Subject: Why Drug Free Revised
Date: 1 May 1994 23:15:06 GMT
Message-ID: <2q1d5q$8v0@agate.berkeley.edu>

Thanks for people's feedback. Much of this second edition has been changed.
If you like this, please let me know. If you have any disagreements, please
send me specific, constructive criticism. E-mail me directly
(idealforliving@uclink.Berkeley.EDU) as I am not subscribed to any
newsgroups or mailing lists. 

Before passing judgement on this, first read all of it as it is coming at
the issue from a completely new perspective.  This an attempt to disseminate
information about the political effects of drug use from a liberal
perspective - it is NOT about the issue of drug legalization and does not
advocate prohibition, nor is it a personal attack on drug users. Instead, it
discusses the impact of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on people's
health, world and U.S. politics, and the environment. 

If you like this file, send a SASE to the address at the end of the file for
a hard copy and pass this e-mail file on to anyone who would be interested.

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********  Personal and Political Responsibility in Daily Life  ************

	Recreational drug use is one of the most widespread and 
destructive problems facing us today. Much like other matters of 
lifestyle, drug use is not contained entirely within either the private 
or the public realm, but lies somewhere in between. The ramifications 
of the purchase and consumption of a beer and a cigarette include, for 
instance, not only obvious harm to the consumer’s body, but also tacit 
financial support of the political causes to which the given 
alcohol/tobacco corporation contributes, often right-wing in nature. 
The successful election campaigns of North Carolina Senator Jesse 
Helms in 1984 and 1990, for example, were both funded in large part 
by profits from the alcohol and tobacco industries, of which the right-
wing congressman has been an ardent supporter.1 There is an element 
of irony in this; the drugs that are used in the name of youthful 
rebellion end up benefiting the extreme-right— against which the 
rebellion claims to be pitted in the first place. From the point of view 
of activism, drugs only contribute to maintaining the status quo. 
Those who are opposed to the current system often believe that there 
is something rebellious about consuming illegal drugs. The reality is 
that by purchasing and using drugs, they support the establishment 
which they dislike so much. Their consumption also minimizes the 
volume of their dissent by neutralizing their activist-tendencies. 
	From a health/social perspective things look even worse. 
While political setbacks can in the end be overcome, nothing can be 
done to bring back the four-hundred thousand people who die in the 
United States as a result of cigarette consumption alone every year, 
during which hundreds of thousands more fall victim to other 
alcohol- and other drug-related deaths.

				HEALTH
	Perhaps the most obvious argument against recreational 
drugs is the toll their use takes on the human body. Cigarettes have 
been  shown to cause lung cancer; cancer of the pharynx, larynx, 
esophagus, bladder, and pancreas; chronic bronchitis; peptic ulcers; 
emphysema; and various birth defects (if consumed by a pregnant 
woman).2 Moderate alcohol consumption increases one's risk of 
certain cancers threefold,3 and use by a pregnant woman can cause 
birth defects.4 A single marijuana cigarette, often thought to be 
harmless, causes as much lung damage as five tobacco cigarettes.5 
Marijuana also often leads to a long term lack of motivation and 
apathy among regular users.6 And underlying almost every drug’s  
list of individual problems is physical dependency (including 
marijuana, commonly thought to be only psychologically addictive).7 
New drugs continue to be created whose health effects are not fully 
known.

			SOCIAL RAMIFICATIONS
	An individual’s drug habit has a profound effect upon the 
community of people with which he/she interacts on a daily basis. 
For instance, second hand smoke alone is responsible for the deaths 
of fifty-thousand Americans each year.8 Drunk drivers kill an 
additional seventy-thousand people at the same rate. 
	It is clear that while under the influence of any mind-
altering drug, one has decreased control of one’s actions. This affects 
both the individual and those around him/her. It is often the main 
factor in occurrences of assault, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and 
physical abuse in general. Date rape is often caused by aggressive 
sexual behavior brought on by drug consumption. A complete list of 
social problems exacerbated by drug use is too long to include in a 
pamphlet of this length. Even if one has never been a perpetrator in a 
drug-related incident, one is still responsible for such occurrences (to 
some degree), through drug consumption or support thereof. 
				       
			POLITICAL ISSUES
	Unfortunately, while use of illegal drugs is combated, 
consumption of alcohol and tobacco is promoted. Corporations 
consistently deny that the products they sell are dangerous. Cigarette 
manufacturers, for example, claim that cigarettes are neither a threat 
to the consumer’s health nor addictive,9 despite scientific proof to the 
contrary. After a Philip Morris research team concluded that  
nicotine is addictive in a 1983 report, the company forced a science 
journal to withdraw the resulting article.10 The fact is that cigarettes 
are at least as addictive as cocaine and heroin11 and their threat to 
public health is undeniable: studies have shown cigarettes to contain 
a horrifying array of substances, including acetone, carbon 
monoxide, methanol, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, insecticides, and 
benzene.12  In terms of public safety, the major tobacco corporations 
have for years had the technology to safeguard against fires caused 
by their products by making cigarettes that go out after a period of 
non-use, but still they put additives in cigarettes that increase the rate 
at which the product burns.13
	The federal government is not doing much to stop the public 
health threat caused by alcohol/cigarette consumption because 
corporations have the United States Congress in shackles, which take 
the form of gifts, contributions, and campaign funds.14 In the 
American South, where tobacco is an important industry, 
congressmen are forced to support the tobacco corporations or face 
expulsion from office.  For this reason, government subsidies exist for 
tobacco growers that insure them a profit on their crops.15 The 
corporations placate the would-be opposition in government with 
money, which allows them to manufacture their products 
unquestioned. Indeed it is only a minority of government officials 
who have been fighting the tobacco industry.
	The products and their health-hazards, however, are only 
part of the picture. Almost all of the corporations that manufacture 
alcohol and cigarettes turn over a significant portion of their profits 
to special-interest groups that oppose civil-rights legislation and 
social programs. The Coors corporation, for example, has opposed 
the U.S. Civil Rights Act, affirmative action, the Equal Rights 
Amendment, U.S. labor unions, and has been guilty of severe 
environmental damage in Colorado. Perhaps most conspicuously they 
are the founders and primary financial backers of the Colorado-
based Heritage Foundation: an anti-Semitic, racist, anti-civil rights, 
right-wing think tank.16 Coors is not alone in its reactionary 
pursuits. Henry Weinhard’s brewery, for example, has used profits 
from beer sales to fund Operation Rescue.
	 It is the people who live in the worst conditions, (and thus 
have the greatest need to fight for social change), who most often 
become drug addicts, attempting to escape the troubled conditions of 
this world instead of working to change them. This serves the 
interests of those who run the country: they face no threat of 
rebellion as long as the disenfranchised are busily involved with 
drugs, e.g. the rampant  alcohol abuse in Native American 
communities. In 1989, under President Bush, the government set up a 
highly-selective “War on Drugs”, which gave law enforcement 
officials free reign to abuse their authority among society’s urban 
underclass, while condoning the promotion of alcohol and other legal 
drugs in the same sector of society.
	Drug production is a waste of environmental resources. 
Food-stuffs, which in sharp contrast are important to produce, could 
be grown on the land used to grow and manufacture drugs. Coca 
plants (used in cocaine production) litter vast tracts of land in 
Central and South America, as do poppies (used for heroin 
production) in various Asian countries. California marijuana 
growers kill large numbers of deer, in some areas more than hunters, 
in an effort to protect their expensive crops.17 Tobacco production 
involves heavy use of wood, burned in order to “flue cure” the 
product. In Eastern Kenya, Pakistan, and heavily-forested Brazil, the 
effects of logging for the purposes of this aspect of cigarette 
production have already been felt. In fact, it is estimated that one tree 
is felled per 300 cigarettes made.18 In addition, significant pollutants 
are created with the production of cocaine, alcoholic beverages, and 
heroin. The packaging involved for drugs is also wasteful, especially 
that of cigarettes, which involves plastic products such as filters, 533 
billion of which are disposed of in the U.S. each year.19	
	Problems in the non-industrialized world brought on by 
legal drug corporations as well as illegal drug producers are another 
disturbing consequence of the drug business. Tobacco and alcohol are 
sold to poor people in developing nations often without any 
warnings about negative health-effects, especially severe considering 
that  the cigarettes sold there generally contain twice as much tar (the 
main carcinogen in cigarettes) as do those sold in developed 
nations.20 With cigarette sales waning in the United States, the major 
cigarette corporations have nearly doubled international sales. 
Philip Morris, the largest player in the U.S. tobacco industry, has 
increased its revenues abroad from $8.4 billion in 1989 to $15.7 
billion in 1993.21 Instead of improving their dire conditions, people 
in third world nations are encouraged to spend what little money 
they have on products that will make them more like members of the 
industrialized world. Cigarettes, for example, are promoted on 
television and billboards as a symbol of progress.22  The reality is 
that drug use only worsens living conditions in the non-
industrialized world, where the drain on financial resources caused 
by a drug habit is magnified. Unfortunately, many of the targeted 
consumers do not have the opportunity to make an informed decision 
about the products that may eventually kill them. 
	Legal and illegal drug production in the developing world 
affects not only consumers, but workers as well. They are abused by 
employers, earning scant wages picking cash crops that they cannot 
use for food. The employers, especially those who manufacture and 
traffic illegal drugs, often resort to violent means of protecting their 
industry. In some countries, most notably Columbia, the result is 
chaos. With the money obtained from selling illegal drugs, those 
involved in the trade have created a climate of corruption and 
violence throughout the non-industrialized world, as they have in 
many depressed areas of the developed world.
	
			ALTERNATIVES
	In the face of a corrupt industry, both in America and 
abroad, people must challenge the idea that illegal drugs should be 
treated separately from alcohol and tobacco, a distinction based 
upon the assumption that only illegal drugs are truly “drugs”. This 
way of thinking demonizes illicit drugs and at the same time makes 
licit drugs appear innocuous— hiding the fact that there is no real 
difference between the two categories. A prominent proponent of the 
legal/illegal mindset is “Partnership for a Drug-Free America”, 
which, in fact, is financed by the alcohol and tobacco industries. The 
ideas promoted by this group through print and television ads bolster 
the sales of the legal drug industry’s products by helping them 
maintain a good public image. They operate on the assumption that 
the public is gullible enough to believe that “drugs can’t be too bad if 
they are legal.”  Much too often, their strategy has worked.
	A change in personal lifestyle can be a slow process, but 
luckily there are many effective methods of ending one’s drug habit.  If 
you are addicted to drugs and want to quit, you can. Seek help or 
counseling if you need it. By being drug free, one boycotts both the 
various industries (legal and illegal) that produce drugs as well as 
the concept of drug-taking. Awareness and a change in personal 
lifestyle are both essential to effecting political change.

				ENDNOTES
1  (White) pp. 56-69.
2  The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Dr. Charles
   B. Clayman, Random House, 1989, pp. 991-992.
3  You Are What You Drink, Allan Luks & Joseph Barbato, 1989, p.69
4  Health and Wellness, Edlin Golanty, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Fourth
   Edition, 1992, p. 292.
5  Personal Health Choices, Sandra Smith, Jones & Bartlett Pub., 1990, p. 399.
6  Clayman p. 665.
7  ibid, p. 665.
8  California Department of Public Health, 1994.
9  “Blowing Smoke at Congress”, New York Times, April 24 , 1994, Editorial.
10  “The Butt Stops Here”,  Time, April 18, 1994 , p. 59.
11  “Should Cigarettes be Banned?”,  U.S. News & World Report,4/18/94, p. 36.
12   Golanty p. 304.
13  (Whelan) pp. 151 and 164.
14  (White) pp. 45-71.
15  (Whelan) p. 147.
16  (Bellant).
17  “Pot Growers Killing California’s Wildlife”, International Wildlife,  July/
     August 1985, p. 32.
18  (Whelan) p. 172.
19   Golanty p. 304.
20  (Whelan) p. 170.
21   “Smoke, Flame and Fire”, U.S. News & World Report,  April 18, 1994, p. 47.
22  (Whelan) p. 169.
 			
		SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY/BOOKS TO READ
Booze Merchants: The Inebriating of America. M Jacobson, R. Atkins, G. 
Hacker. CSPI Books, Washington D.C. 1983.
Coors Connection R.Bellant. Political Research Associates, Cambridge, MA 
1990. (Bellant)
Merchants of Death: The American Tobacco Industry L.C. White. Beech 
Tree Books, New York, NY 1988. (White)
Smoking Gun: How the Tobacco Industry Gets Away With Murder  E.M. 
Whelan. George F. Stickley Co, Philadelphia, PA 1984. (Whelan)
	Ask a local librarian for help borrowing these books or books on 
quitting specific substances. Please photocopy and distribute this pamphlet. 
For more information or if you want to help, send a self-addressed stamped 
envelope to: 
			Ideal For Living
			PO Box 4353
			Berkeley, CA 94704-0353

		e-mail:  idealforliving@uclink.Berkeley.EDU