A Letter To The President

If we are to have any chance of affecting real change in the world, it can only be done by pressing on the people who have the power to do what's right. In most cases, a single voice is lost in the crowd; but that doesn't mean you should ever stop trying. Personally, I like going straight to the top. What follows is the text of an actual email I sent to President Obama on June 12, 2009. I know I normally include all kinds of colourful language on this site, and little inserts on the side, but I think this content speaks for itself.

Subject: Weapons of Mass Destruction in the United States

Hello President Obama,

I am writing to you to inform you that there are currently biological weapons of mass destruction in the United States. There are dozens of them, and they are all slowly poisoning American citizens, causing cancer in hundreds of Americans each day. Among the chemicals these weapons are releasing in to the environment are Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Arsenic, Ammonia, Formaldehyde and Benzene, and over 40 chemicals that are proven to cause cancer.

These weapons are dangerous and highly lethal, and they must be stopped. They exist for the sole purpose of poisoning American citizens, while those who control them make billions of dollars off the suffering of others. These weapons are responsible for over 400,000 American deaths each year, and yet they are allowed to continue functioning because they pose as legitimate businesses.

Mister President, you have to shut down America's cigarette factories. Cigarettes contain over 4000 harmful chemicals, 43 of which are known carcinogens, and they have no purpose except to kill the people who use them. They also contain the single most addictive chemical known to man, being nicotine, and the ammonia is added specifically to increase the amount of nicotine absorbed by the smoker.

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines a weapon of mass destruction as having "the capacity to inflict death and destruction indiscriminately and on a massive scale." The US Military Dictionary defines it as being "capable of a high order of destruction and/or of being used in such a manner as to destroy large numbers of people." Surely cigarettes are indiscriminate in who they kill, and clearly the number of people they kill each year is staggering. And the cigarette factories are the source of this destruction.

President Obama, I plead with you to ban the production and sale of cigarettes in the United States, and to encourage other countries to take similar action. Without cigarettes people will have more money to spend on items they can use productively. They will have a higher quality of life. There will be less litter from discarded cigarettes (being the most littered objects in the world), and the air will be cleaner. Hospitals will be less crowded. Americans will live longer. As far as the health of the American public is concerned, there is absolutely no downside to banning cigarettes and shutting down the factories.

Of course, this raises the question of how the thousands of people who make a living working in the cigarette factories would survive after their jobs are shut down. First of all, the cigarette companies should have no problem subsidizing their newly unemployed while they find work elsewhere. Beyond that, however, two problems are solved at once:

With cigarettes unavailable, smokers would have to find other sources for their nicotine. There are gums, patches and inhalers available as stop-smoking aids, and these can do that job quite nicely. When cigarettes go away, more people are going to need these alternative nicotine sources, which means the companies that produce them will have to open more factories and hire more people in order to meet demand. That means the people who used to work in the cigarette factories can move laterally to these alternative nicotine factories, and the cigarette manufacturers can strike deals with them so that their employees get hired first to minimize how many become unemployed.

I hope you will consider this message with as much care as it took to write.

Sadly, he never wrote back.

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