Erm, I don't know about in the USA but in Britain there is a distinction between drugs: there is the legal one: Nicotine(i'm ignoring medical drugs here..), Class B (illegal but not too serious) e.g.cannabis and Class A (the deadly stuff) e.g. heroin. Dunno 'bout you but that distinction is enough for me.

b.t.w. Your claim that most nicotine addicts can quit when they want to is not true, figures claim that more than 90% of serious attempts to stop smoking fail within a year. As for the dependance being primarily habit - I cannot prove/disprove that because I do not know how strong the habit dependance is but I do know that nicotine is highly addictive in the physiological sense, to quote a 1995 report:

"...Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure, the so-called reward pathways. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. Nicotine's pharmacokinetic properties have been found also to enhance its abuse potential. Cigarette smoking produces a rapid distribution of nicotine to the brain, with drug levels peaking within 10 seconds of inhalation. The acute effects of nicotine dissipate in a few minutes, causing the smoker to continue dosing frequently throughout the day to maintain the drug's pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal. "

And nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritabilty, headaches and anxiety - hence the myth that cigarettes calm you down. They don't, they just remove the withdrawal symptoms which stress you out.

For more info see this 1998 report: it is supported by the US government but it was funded by Novartis, Switzerland and knowing the swiss i doubt they are bothered about US propaganda

Tangent thinking is cool, but try to back it up with facts...

wharfinger, read why i hate smokers. I have to praise you on the colourful language you used in your node but you have me figured all wrong. I'm not trying to purge the world of evil, nor am I trying make smoking as bad as taking a class A drug. In this node I was counter arguing 65535's irrational statements claiming that nicotine is completely harmless, if you disagree with the points that I made then you are a fool! As for your claim that I am 'scapegoating' well, maybe I am but as far as I am concerned smokers are an irritation that turns up more frequently than dog turd on the pavement and if they are not prepared to fight their addiction for the short time that they are in my company then they can go to hell!
Sure: Kids have friends who smoke weed; if you lie to them about weed, they will find out that you're lying. How likely are they then to believe what you tell them about heroin or crystal meth? Not very.

But that's beside the point. This has no rational connection to stopping kids from taking drugs, or persuading them not to, or whatever. It's not about informing people, or disinforming people, or anything like that: This is sympathetic magic.

They're driving out the demons by screaming at an effigy.

It's easy: Create something that represents what you fear. Burn it, throw rocks at it, throw your Newspeak Dictionary at it, or whatever. If you want to be a little more cerebral than that, accuse the effigy of crimes against the people and give it a good stiff lecture. Mock trials are always good.

The details are infinitely variable, but schematically it's a very simple rite:
  1. With solemn mumbling of spells, load all the Bad Things onto the effigy;
  2. Ceremonially degrade or humiliate the effigy.
And that's it. The Bad Things have been defeated! The demons have been driven out! Catharsis for all!

We've been driving out the demons that way for ten thousand years, and we're still going strong. Remember the Cultural Revolution? They put dunce caps on arbitrarily-chosen "counterrevolutionaries", made them "confess" their "crimes", and not infrequently beat the crap out of them. Remember the impeachment thing last year? The perceived sins of our nation were ceremonially piled on the hapless Bill Clinton, and then they ceremonially humiliated the poor dumb bastard. But they didn't get to light him on fire at the end, so the right wingers are still dealing with the heartbreak of catharsis interruptus. It's no joke. They're feeling genuine pain. I feel their pain, ha ha! :)

I could go on for hours, and there are far uglier examples than the above, but you get the idea. There are more benign examples as well; what is a "protest"? A ceremony. A spell. Frequently with literal effigies, just to drive the point home.

Yeah, this phenomenon is already called "scapegoating", but it's too easy to label something and stop thinking about it.

daz eddy: You've got those demons on the ropes now! Give 'em hell!

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