'The next logical step'
In the early 1920s, with Prohibition now a reality, one newspaper compared anti-saloon campaigners to "a soldier of fortune after the peace is signed"(1). Deprived of their raison d'etre, it was widely expected that reformers would shift their attentions to tobacco, tea and coffee and this was indeed what happened. Although the abolitionists were soon forced to abandon their 'Nicotine Next' crusade, it was an early indication that prohibitionism could be a slippery slope.
Decades later, as the anti-smoking cause found its friends in government, a few voices were raised to warn of a new era of prohibitionism and the construction of a nanny state. RJ Reynolds published a newspaper advertisement asking readers "Today it's smoking. Will high fat foods be next?" When Joseph Califano, having recently given up smoking, announced sweeping anti-smoking legislation in the late 1970s, the tobacco industry spokesman William Dwyer said "America, beware if Joe Califano ever decides to give up drinking and other pleasureable pursuits."(2) Such warnings were seldom taken seriously, partly because they were so often issued by people who had an obvious financial interest in allowing people to smoke and partly because it seemed ridiculous to think that anyone would ever equate the 'unique danger' of smoking with fatty food or any other "pleasureable pursuit"....
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