If car driving had been treated like smoking

Imagine for a moment if concern over traffic death and injury had been treated the same way that smoking related death and disease has been.

1. The main cause of traffic deaths is driving. The optimal means to eliminate this danger is to stop driving. However, though there are alternatives, driving is so basic to most cultures that few governments can seriously consider making private vehicle ownership, or driving, illegal.

2. Enter the inventions of seat belts and airbags. These are not perfect solutions; in fact, though over the population these would radically reduce the toll from driving, some injury and death would arise from using these devices (see here, and here). Given that these alternatives are not perfectly safe, we cannot in good conscience allow them onto the market.

3. Automobile manufacturers are allowed to make their cars safer but must refrain from introducing these devices as they might not only cause some injuries but that they may encourage people who otherwise might not drive to then do so. (If these manufacturers are able to improve the safety of their cars they cannot in any way promote their cars as being safer than any other).

4. Anti-driving groups push for auto prohibitiion and regulation on the grounds that not only does driving hurt drivers but that vehicles imperil innocent pedestrians and children. These same groups also argue against seat belts and airbags because not only are they particularly dangerous to children but that even if they are safer overall, they are much more dangerous than just not driving.

5. These same groups then move to add r ratings to movies in which automobile driving is seen as normal. If there is someone driving in a movie they should either be a villain or they should end up in an accident before the movie is over.


5 thoughts on “If car driving had been treated like smoking

  1. The comparison between tobacco harm reduction products and seatbelts is great, but I am not sure about the comparison between passive smoking and harming pedestrians. Cars actually do harm pedestrians, and there’s no doubt about it, but I have my doubts about passive smoking.

    I’d be interested in knowing your opinion on passive smoking, and your reaction to articles like this:


  2. I do believe the dangers of passive smoking are overblown. Personally, I have absolutely no concerns about my health when I am around it.

    The point here was not to draw a health parallel between second hand smoke and cars hitting pedestrians but more the parallel of regulations and actions being promoted via the fear of everyone being at risk.

  3. Paul, I do understand your point of regulations and the actions of regulatory groups promoting the fear factor case in point the recent RJ Reynoldson controversy.

    The company’s three innovative dissolvable smokeless products — Camel Orbs, Camel Sticks and Camel Strips have come under fire from the FDA accusing the brand of placing these products in the hands of minors.

    This is a far streach for the agency to take in order to get their way. In the face of no prove their allegations do nothing but instill the fear factor.

    Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, said he welcomes “open-minded” research that determines whether smokeless-tobacco products and electronic cigarettes are less-harmful options.

    What he doesn’t like, he said, is politicians and anti-tobacco advocates “grandstanding” with accusations of Reynolds “target marketing candy tobacco to children without providing any evidence to back up their theatrical allegations.”

    You can catch the article here:

  4. Paul, the whole thing about flavours as child attractors (rather than human attractors) bothers me quite a bit. And this is partly self motivated as I do not want to see flavours removed from various products I enjoy (such as Pernod) just because a child shares my desire for things that taste better.

    Flavoured tobacco products are not “candy” flavoured any more than they are “fine liqueur” flavoured.

    And why is it even reasonable to argue that smokers or smokeless users who are present consumers should be deprived of a pleasant taste. This argument leads to making sure that all food tastes either bland or bad so that people will not overeat (and that might actually work!)

  5. Not adding sugar and salt en mass would help reduce addictions to food as well… But it’s rarely the drug that causes addiction, it’s the drug + the user + the environment. – Only that tobacco seems to be up there with heroine in sense of how addicting it is, if you look at how many people tried to stop and failed. 1 out of 4 Americans (25 %) between the age of 26 and 34 have used cocaine in their lifetime, but way way less (under 5 %) have used in the last year, meaning that the other users either stopped using, or never “really” got started, but used it only experimentally. 90 % of smokers tried and failed at least once to give up smoking. I find that pretty scary… Haven’t taken either (yet) but from what I’ve been described and what I have read, I imagine Cocaine way more fun, thus more addicting than Tobacco. I guess not everyone is looking for fun when they consume drugs… some people just try to numb pain or stress…

    Any how, nice parallels! ๐Ÿ™‚ And you have convinced me that driving is a dangerous thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe we should have cool bus/train systems throughout bigger cities and ban private traffic from certain areas, and save lives and money and CO2. — Also a better public transportation system would give drunken people a way to get home safely. — Although you can still run into a bus, like a skateboarder did this summer in my town. On the other hand, they’re loud and big – hard not to see them, and if you’re zooming down a road full speed on the wrong side of the road around a corner… well… — Buses seem to be OK. Think about how many buses and train tracks you could build only from those fucking hummers and huge trucks that people buy?!

    But sorry: No smoking on the bus.

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