Prof. Dr. Günter Ropohl (1939-2017) was a Professor Emeritus of General Technology at the University of Frankfurt on Main, Germany. He was an active member of Netzwerk Rauchen. Tomorrow would have been his 80th birthday. We honor his commitment against discrimation of smokers and the passive smoking fraud by publishing a text of his from the past decade.
On a worldwide scale hundreds of millions of our people are being deprived of fundamental rights. They are being refused the right to enjoy tobacco in public buildings, on public transport, and places like restaurants, pubs, and bars. So their basic right to social interactions expressing their own personalities and choices is drastically restricted. This will certainly not stand up to judicial review by supreme and constitutional courts.
This violation of basic human rights is justified by the claim that a higher ranking value is at stake, the health of nonsmokers. The environmental air, it is said, is polluted by tobacco emissions which, involuntarily (“passively”) inhaled by nonsmokers, will cause lethal diseases.
This claim, invented in the USA some 30 years ago, has been examined over and over again. Most of the studies it is based on, however, are nothing more than statistical estimates. The results, inconsistent and highly debated amongst scientists, are not able to demonstrate causal evidence for the alleged health dangers of environmental tobacco smoke. Public health activists, however, vehemently maintain the contrary and seek to abolish a basic human right just because of scientifically questionable speculations. To control an unproven hypothetical risk they fight against real freedom.
The smoking bans offend a fundamental principle of legislation: the principle of appropriateness.
(1) Smoking bans are not a suitable means for establishing an additional protection of health. If environmental tobacco smoke really does not harm people’s health, smoking bans are not only unsuitable, they do not make any sense at all.
(2) Smoking bans are not required. Even if they may be suitable to protect a minority of sensitive nonsmokers against personal annoyance, there are measures more moderate which would provide this protection goal. In public places, separated areas for nonsmoker and smoker may be set up, so that everybody has a free choice. These separate areas were successful in railway carriages for years, until total smoking bans, that clearly have no basis at all, were being introduced.
(3) The disadvantages of general smoking bans are out of proportion to very questionable benefits. Millions of people have had their participation in public sociability and mobility strongly interfered with. In work places, long distance trains, hospitals and retirement homes they are forced to painfully refrain from the enjoyment.
Finally tens of thousands of restaurant and bar owners are being threatened with the loss of their business, as well as traditional pub and tobacco culture being destroyed.
The managers of airlines, public transport services and public buildings abuse the baseless fear of tobacco smoke as a cover-up for saving money on cleaning services and ventilation via the smoking bans. Yet the smokers contribute most to public finances by having to pay extortionate tobacco taxes. The basic right to express personality and social development is being sacrificed on the altar of misplaced stinginess.
Managers and people from organizations belong to the so-called ”higher circles”, and among those people smoking has gone out of fashion. The “higher circles”, however, exercise the power in society. What they on their part, more or less voluntarily, are refraining from, they try to forbid others: the hairdressers and the lorry drivers, the office employees and the workers, the shop assistants and the labourers, in a word, the “ordinary people”, who cannot be heard.
The fight against smokers is a novel class struggle, a class struggle starting at the top. Health fanatics and managers form an alliance against the smoking 30% of mankind to deprive them of freedom and life enjoyment. Just as in former times the labour movement had to fight for their rights by forming powerful organizations, nowadays the smokers have to resist the ever growing suppression attempts.
Smokers of all countries, unite!