The Pipe You Can Save
[The following is a “guest post” by Roger Scruton. Actual passages from Mr. Scruton’s columns in The Wall Street Journal appear in quotes, followed by links to the original articles.]
Each day 19,000 children die from preventable, poverty-related causes. For the vast majority of these children, their early death means that they will never have the chance to take up smoking. And if the World Health Organization has its way, the number of such tragedies will only increase.
The WHO is aggressively pursuing anti-smoking policies in the developing world. Measures range from excise taxes to warning labels to complete bans on advertising. “This despite the fact that tobacco-smoking has not been identified as the sole cause of any of the diseases associated with it.”  “Of course tobacco, used to excess, can damage one’s health.” But “what do we mean by health? The average smoker gains mental relaxation, social confidence and an easy form of hospitality from his habit: are these not parts of health? And are we necessarily right to trade them for a few extra years of life, when most of us live too long in any case?” 
These are questions which each person should be free to answer for themselves. In view of this fact, I am proud to unveil The Pipe You Can Save, a new public-health campaign designed to increase smoking in the developing world. With your help, we can save smoking. Save it from “the mad prejudice that sees tobacco smoking in the same light as the Victorians saw masturbation.”  Save it from the “unelected bureaucrats” at the WHO. And save it from Director-General Margaret Chan, who “in her public pronouncements … has nothing to say about the positive effects of smoking.” 
Thankfully, there is something you can do to resist this assault on the freedom of the world’s poor. For just 60 cents a day you can supply a family of four in India with rolling papers. A dollar a day will provide a farmer in Afghanistan with an ongoing supply of cigarettes. And with a one-time donation of five dollars, you can give a child in Haiti her first corncob pipe and enough tobacco to last for three months. More than 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. Compare that to the dollar or more which a pack of cigarettes in the developing world typically costs, and it’s no wonder that nearly 70% of people in such countries still don’t smoke.
In the past I lobbied against government anti-smoking measures, occasionally writing columns in The Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately that ended when it was revealed I was taking money from the tobacco industry and had asked for a raise to place articles in a wider array of venues. (Though if you think there isn’t money changing hands between Peter Singer and Oxfam, then you’ve got another thing coming.) I view The Pipe You Can Save as a fresh start, a chance to leave behind the misunderstandings of the past and focus on what’s important: the fight against the fight against cancer. I hope that you join me.
Roger Scruton is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “Washington, D.C.’s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.”  He is also a visiting professor in the philosophy departments at Oxford University and the University of St. Andrews.
[Thanks to Toby Coe and Peter Hardy for the idea for this post. Also, I’ve finally updated the “featured posts” menu on the right-hand side of the page. So click around — or just scroll down on the main page — to check out some of the older posts.]