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But I deny they get pleasure from it....

Even if we agreed that smoking was pleasurable, and I certainly do not believe it is, that still wouldn't get you far, because best I can tell, sleeping with a prostitute can be pleasurable, as can taking ecstasy, or smoking crack.  The problem is, those things are destructive: they aren't pleasurable long range.

So you mean it is not the absolute standard. In other words, it may be pleasurable at some moment and so you can get pleasure from it, but in the long run the pleasure does not completely negate the disvalues: a rational hierarchy of values would make this clear.

I personally don't have any basis for judging whether smoking is pleasurable, but my 'rents did, and my father indeed did derive pleasure from it (from what I can tell). On what basis do you deny that my father derived pleasure from smoking his pipe?

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If I owned a restaurant I would not permit people to smoke in it. The majority of modern day smokers seem to be lower class, week-willed, unkempt bludgers who would not be able to afford the high qual

This topic arose out of the discussion about smoking. It seems that the biggest reason, if not the only reason, to smoke is pleasure. Let us ignore for the moment the question of whether it is a pleasure, and let us assume for the moment that it is a pleasure.

Which leads to the subject of hedonism. See hedonism in the Ayn Rand Lexicon. Ayn Rand was opposed to hedonism.

What is hedonism? From the entry in ARL, it seems that hedonism is the doctrine which holds that the good is whatever gives you pleasure. You can look it up to see if I got that right.

Several people are saying that smoking is good because it is pleasure. Then if smoking is not hedonism, then I don't understand what hedonism is.

There is nothing wrong with pleasure. The difference between hedonism and Objectivism, according to my understanding, is:

HEDONISM: Smoking is good because I enjoy it.

OBJECTIVISM: I enjoy smoking because it is good.

In the latter case there has to be some reason why it is good besides I like it.

Ayn Rand smoked and Ayn Rand was opposed to hedonism. Deduction: Smoking is not hedonism. Yet smoking appears to be hedonism according to Ayn Rand's own statement of what hedonism is. ;)

Why is smoking not hedonism?

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If that is what you mean by "I smoke," and if that is what you are confident in maintaining, then please disregard my previous comments. Though not zero, the risk involved for those few cigarettes is vanishingly small.

But that's what I was responding to, not the virtues of smoking 2-3 packs a day.

And I suspect, just that nothing more, that smoking occasionally does have zero negative physical effects. Whether it might even have positive effects is an open question.

I can't even phathom what Don is getting at when he says it's not pleasurable. It's an entirely personal experience and if someone experiences it as pleasurable, then it's pleasurable. If I'm enjoying a cigarette or a glass of wine, I can't even begin to grasp what it means to say "you're not really enjoying them". This of course isn't equivalent to saying that anything pleasurable is good or moral. That's an entirely different question. But we have reached a point in our culture where it is regarded as almost immoral to smoke - and that's what I'm reacting to. It's full-blown "puritanism" and it's the same mentality that led to Prohibition. It really shocks me when I hear Objectivists, of all people, embracing such notions.

I am mindful of the fact that a small percentage of the population is asthmatic or suffers from other respiratory problems and for whom smoking is a serious irritant. One should be curteous and not smoke in their presence. But a great many people, who were never bothered by it before, have "suddenly" become hysterical and hypersensitive to smoking. It's reached the point of the ridiculous when there are people who claim they can tell if someone smoked in a hotel room 6 months before. I had a business colleague who used to tell me that - and this very same guy used to bum cigarettes from me!!. Another business colleague was so allegedly sensitive to cigarette smoke she came into the office one day wearing a gas mask to make her point. This very same person would leave our offices on Lexington Ave. in NYC and walk down into the street bombarded by bus and car exhausts, chimney fumes, sewer emissions, and the masses of unwashed and perfumed - and that didn't bother her in the least.

Fred Weiss

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As far as I understand smoking is not merely for pleasure - the Nicotine helps concentrate better, which can be very helpful to someone who is easily distracted.

Anyway - Hedonism does not mean doing something purely for pleasure. This is perfectly alright. Hedonism means replacing pleasure with morality. I.e. - defining the good solely on pleasure.

Every pleasurable activity has a cost. Time, money, and health issues are among those costs. If a man judges the benefit of the cigarette to his life to be higher than it's cost, then he can smoke and be perfectly moral.

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I can't even phathom what Don is getting at when he says it's not pleasurable. It's an entirely personal experience and if someone experiences it as pleasurable, then it's pleasurable. If I'm enjoying a cigarette or a glass of wine, I can't even begin to grasp what it means to say "you're not really enjoying them". This of course isn't equivalent to saying that anything pleasurable is good or moral. That's an entirely different question. But we have reached a point in our culture where it is regarded as almost immoral to smoke - and that's what I'm reacting to. It's full-blown "puritanism" and it's the same mentality that led to Prohibition. It really shocks me when I hear Objectivists, of all people, embracing such notions.

I mean exactly what I said. The "pleasure" produced from smoking is the same "pleasure" produced from stopping banging your head against a wall. Notice that no one enjoys their first cigarette. Or their second. It is only when their body is addicted to nicotine, the nicotine is leaving their system, and they re-introduce more nicotine into their system, that smoking produces a pleasurable sensation. After a while, the cigarette becomes associated with that "pleasure," but associations are not causal connections.

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Let's assume smoking is a pleasure. Let's assume furthermore that smoking is not hedonism, in other words that the pleasure is not a first cause and you have a reason why it is a pleasure. So let's examine some reasons.

One reason given is mental stimulation. Helps you think better. Do you have objective evidence of this? Or is it just your subjective impression?

To illustrate what I mean by the difference between objective evidence and subjective impression: Dr. Vetrano tells the story of a woman who smoked marijuana and her excuse for smoking marijuana was that it makes her more creative. That was her subjective impression. She was a painter; for her "more creative" would mean more or better paintings. The objective evidence was that during the time that she was on marijuana she did not paint even one picture.

When people say that smoking helps them think better, is this just subjective impression? Or do they have objective evidence?

If smoking really truly does help people to think better, it would seem that smoking would be an advantage in professional chess, which in modern time is extremely competitive. Then why did Kramnik QUIT smoking as part of his preparation for his 2000 world title match with Kasparov? Why are most of the top chess players in world in 2004 non-smokers? Kramnik went back to smoking after that title match and therefore should have gotten stronger, but has never been the best chess player in the world by ELO rating, even tho he has been officially world champion for 4 years.

My question to those who say that smoking helps them to think better is: What is your OBJECTIVE EVIDENCE?

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I mean exactly what I said.  The "pleasure" produced from smoking is the same "pleasure" produced from stopping banging your head against a wall.  Notice that no one enjoys their first cigarette.  Or their second.  It is only when their body is addicted to nicotine, the nicotine is leaving their system, and they re-introduce more nicotine into their system, that smoking produces a pleasurable sensation.  After a while, the cigarette becomes associated with that "pleasure," but associations are not causal connections.

Smokers suffer from nicotine deficiency. The more nicotine they consume the worse they suffer from nicotine deficiency when they quit. ;) I, on the other hand, never consumed nicotine and never experienced nicotine deficiency. :)

When smokers go too long without a nicotine fix, they have a nicotine deficiency fit. I can go any amount of time without a nicotine fix and I don't have a nicotine deficiency fit. When smokers get their nicotine fix, they get tempory relief from the nicotine deficiency fit. This temporary relief, they call "pleasure". :huh: I do not suffer from a need (physical or psychological) for this "pleasure".

If "pleasure" is defined as "absence of nicotine deficiency fit", then I experience this "pleasure" all the time without smoking. :)

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But that's what I was responding to, not the virtues of smoking 2-3 packs a day.

Okay. But, there exists a very large range between smoking four cigarettes a week and sixty cigarettes a day, for which the health risks are substantial. Many decades ago the evidence was ambiguous, but now the evidence is clear and well-documented, including causal connections. I realize that you want to reign in the fanatical fringe on any of the anti-this or anti-that campaigns, but I am sure you would agree that, metaphorically speaking, saying "Now let's look at the bright side of cancer" is not the best approach.

For more than a decade I have worked with a man who has a brilliant mind, but he had a lung transplant due to smoking. I have seen how this life-saving operation has reduced the quality of his life, in more ways than you could imagine. He never was a heavy smoker, a fact which I hope young people will consider.

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The "pleasure" produced from smoking is the same "pleasure" produced from stopping banging your head against a wall.

If someone is smoking strictly from physical addiction, that would be true. That was not the case when I smoked. I liked it for various other reasons.

I'm a very "oral" person, and it felt nice having a cigarette in my mouth. I am a physically active person and it gave me something to do with my hands while I was listening to a lecture, watching TV, etc. I also liked the taste, particularly with or after coffee.

Way back when I smoked, cigarettes were relatively inexpensive (30 cents a pack) and you could smoke just about anywhere. That made it a nice way to take a break in the middle of a busy day and while I was thinking and working.

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i am a very "oral" person as well. Except i am oral in the way that i like to have clean teeth. HAHAHA. :huh: I am very obsessive about the color of my teeth. I value nice teeth. I use crest white strips. I dont drink any dark drinks. I try to stay away from all unusually sweet drinks. I dont smoke for sure. And i brush after every meal. But thats just me. I just must ask this question of everyone. Do you kiss you lovers with those dirty mouths? haha ;)

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So far there's been a distinction made between being a regular/heavy smoker, and a casual/light smoker, where the latter smokes, say, 4 cigarettes a day. Dr. Speicher says that small amount poses no health risks, and I agree. But the same argument can be made for heroin - if you ingest a tiny amount of heroin once in a while, and it has negligible effects on your physical health (i.e. no brain damage), is it okay to do it?

If it's not ok to consume ANY heroin, or ANY cocaine, why is it ok to consume nicotine and arsenic (two of the many ingredients in cigarettes)?

I understand Fred Weiss' point that cigarettes are pleasurable, but I don't see that as an appropriate standard. A psychologically healthy person can expect that things they find pleasurable will be healthy and okay for them to consume, but that doesn't mean that simply stating something as pleasurable necessarily implies it is healthy and okay to consume. In a debate with themselves that person can validly link the two, due to their ability to introspect, but in an explicit debate with other people, some other standard needs to be used than it simply being fun.

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Notice that no one enjoys their first cigarette.  Or their second. 

I enjoyed my first. That's why I went for the second. There are a number of things I had to acquire the taste for (which I didn't particularly like when I first tried them) - wine, coffee, spicy food for example - but cigarettes I liked right from the start. Wine and coffee btw are other examples of products which when taken in excess can be very damaging to your health, but which in moderation may actually be good for you. Again, I'm not making an argument for smoking. I'm just saying that the antagonism toward it has gotten hysterical and overblown.

Furthermore, it depends a great deal on your own ability to handle it. I am reminded of the character in the TV series "The West Wing", Leo, the Chief of Staff, who is an alcoholic. He is asked once, why it is, now that he hasn't had a drink in 6 years, and now that he has it under control, he can't have a drink now and then. His answer is that he doesn't want one drink, he wants 10 and can't even understand how anyone could just want one drink. So if you have a similar attitude toward smoking, it might be better if you never smoked at all.

Fred Weiss

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But the same argument can be made for heroin - if you ingest a tiny amount of heroin once in a while, and it has negligible effects on your physical health (i.e. no brain damage), is it okay to do it?

Granting for the moment your assumption of negligent physical health effects: then, as has been argued in another thread about the use of drugs, the objection is to the use of a substance which reduces awareness, lessens reasoning ability, and adversely affects judgment. It is not only physical health that is important, but mental health and a properly functioning consciousness too.

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Smoking is not a risk. The idea of risk produces the image of dice, it happens or it does not happen. Smoking does damage, certain. The amount of damage and kind of damage depends on a bunch of variables.

Even if you smoke and your lungs remain in the pink of health, the body must use physiological resources to keep them that way. Like the modified version of Bastiat's story of the broken window. Break a bunch of windows, a week later all of them are replaced, but economic resources had to be expended to replace the windows.

Here is a tidbit of information that surprised me.

http://www.nutri.com/smoking/

-- begin quote --

Blood flow to the extremities is decreased (cold hands and feet). One puff lowers the temperature in the fingertips 1ºF to 3ºF in 3 minutes.

-- end quote --

Not one cigarette, but one puff! :lol:

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As a tobacco pipe smoker I find this thread, and the responses to it quite interesting. There was an older guy in the UNLV Objectivist club a while back who supported smoking bans because he didn't like smoking. No argument I could make about property rights could sway this person's mind about how badly he disliked smoking, he even went so far as to agree with the language of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which was one of the first laws to call hotels and restaurants public places, therefore subject to legislation.

As someone mentioned, it is with those things one detests and disagrees with that your beliefs in certain principles are tested. Everyone (or almost everyone) thinks Veterans should be able to march and assemble on Veterans Day, but if you changed the circumstances to Nazis on MLK Jr. Day or Communists on May Day you begin to see support fall apart.

Smoking, because of numerous government funded studies, has become the modern scurge of mankind. But why does government support studies, which invariably come back negative? Because it allows them to present a seemingly viable excuse to up taxation on cigarettes, though amusingly not on cigars and pipe tobacco (to the same extent). Busybodies and leftists then use the info to violate property rights and dictate restaurant policy to owners. Government supported studies are worthless in my mind because they are anything but non-biased. The always ridicule tobacco company studies but the government has a higher financial interest involved than any one tobacco company.

It is also amusing that so many of the posts are so colorfully and emotionally against the act of smoking, caling it "disgusting" and other such adjectives. Why? What does it do to anyone? While a great number of studies, mostly from government or paid lackeys of the government, have proposed a link between smoking and some diseases it is laughable in the scientific community that any real or provable link exists between so called sencond-hand smoke and anything. But the repeated suggestion of there being some kind of link, usually in public service announcements or government campaigns to get smoking bans approved by voters, no doubt acts like a placebo on some people's minds and they literally think they are in mortal danger when they are around smokers. This is absurd and irrational.

Private property means nothing if you can't decide who comes in or who you kick out (for any reason, even race and gender) and what you allow to occur inside, assuming it isn't violating any real rights. But even if you thought second hand smoke caused something, or even if it did, I still see no reason to outlaw it. As long as no one forces you to go out to bars and restaurants where smoking is permitted then you have an easy way to avoid the plague of smoking, don't go into places that allow it! And if everyone allows it then you're out of luck until you or someone like you starts your own restaurant. This attitude that we can go to a government to rectify dumb and unimportant things we don't like is bad enough when coming from the unthinking irrational rabble, but when it comes from so called objectivists it is truely saddening and wrong.

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Howdy all,

I started smoking when I was 16. I have been smoking for half my life at this point. Sure I have quit a few times, but never permanently.

The subject of the smoking ban is of particular interest to me. Once again the Nanny-State is trying to put such a ban in place here. They tried a few years ago, but were narrowly defeated. Since the propaganda regarding smoking is always negative, I am sure that this time it will pass. I have already heard one of the local Fascists using my favorite worn out bromide, “We need to do it for the children”.

I will not smoke in another’s house if they are non smokers. Likewise I will not smoke in a non smoking restaurant. I respect the owner’s rights in this matter. I see this not as a fight against smoking in particular; but instead a fight against the looters.

The Attack on “Big Tobacco” was easily accomplished. Smoking is an unpopular, and may be an unhealthy habit, so it had few defenders. Now the case has been established that government entities can sue businesses for the supposed healthcare costs associated with a bad habit.

Anyone notice the new health kick that almost all the major fast food chains are adopting? Despite its directors desires, the movie “Supersize me”, had little to do with this. Let it slip that Ronald may be the next Joe Camel and suddenly your Big Mac comes with digital pace counter. Not that that will stop them. Look at all the hoops the tobacco companies had to jump through before they were finally “made to pay”.

I wonder if MacDonald’s has any internal documents that pertain to how unhealthy their menu actually is?

Course I still think the looters will go after “Big Alcohol” next. They will be able to tap into that puritanical streak that lurks beneath the surface of a large part of our population. Prohibition failed, (and always will), this time they will just loot.

Thanks I needed the rant.

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...I am alarmed by the amount of rash condemnation of smoking as immoral by members of this board. I can see someone mistakenly thinking that it was careless behavior. But immoral? For pete's sake.

...The smokers are relaxed, interesting people who are in touch with their own bodies and emotions. The non-smokers are uptight, negative, and repressed.

:lol: Maybe they'll stop their moral condemnations of you when you stop your psychologizing of them...and frankly, of the two, your position here has got to be the more ridiculously baseless.

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Smoking is not a risk.  The idea of risk produces the image of dice, it happens or it does not happen.  Smoking does damage, certain.  The amount of damage and kind of damage depends on a bunch of variables.

Even if you smoke and your lungs remain in the pink of health, the body must use physiological resources to keep them that way.  Like the modified version of Bastiat's story of the broken window.  Break a bunch of windows, a week later all of them are replaced, but economic resources had to be expended to replace the windows.

Here is a tidbit of information that surprised me.

http://www.nutri.com/smoking/

-- begin quote --

Blood flow to the extremities is decreased (cold hands and feet). One puff lowers the temperature in the fingertips 1ºF to 3ºF in 3 minutes.

-- end quote --

Not one cigarette, but one puff!  ;)

Howdy,

I checked that link, and I found my favorite reason to quit smoking.

“By dying earlier, the smoker will lose many tens of thousands of dollars in social security and other benefits which will naturally end up in the pockets of the non-smoker. The cigarette tax is more money from the smoker to the non-smoker.”

The first reason just cracks me up. I already know where my social security “donations” are going. The second is the only reason I would even consider quitting.

Than again, if all goes according to my plans I will own enough land to grow my own tobacco.

Needless to say if one were to check out the link, one can see easily see the non-objective slant of the site.

I am sure if I read that site again that I will discover that smoking causes venereal disease.

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Smoking, because of numerous government funded studies, has become the modern scurge of mankind. But why does government support studies, which invariably come back negative? Because it allows them to present a seemingly viable excuse to up taxation on cigarettes, though amusingly not on cigars and pipe tobacco (to the same extent). Busybodies and leftists then use the info to violate property rights and dictate restaurant policy to owners. Government supported studies are worthless in my mind because they are anything but non-biased. The always ridicule tobacco company studies but the government has a higher financial interest involved than any one tobacco company.

I have a friend who works for a famous anti-tobacco non-profit. He is a Grass-Roots Coordinator/Lobbiest. He makes about $40,000 per year. I was shocked at how much money goes through his cause. The ads you see on TV, before movies in the theaters, and on billboards, are paid for. He has legislation strategy meetings, and writing campaign "Legislative Action Alert" networks, that provide up to minute responses to congressional voting. He works for a national non-profit, so he is 1 of at least 250 other national advocates, magnified by the other 100's of advacates, from the other national non-profits that network and rally together. It is truely 70's, Leftist activism, and when he tells me about his job, I get angry, and awe struck.

Ayn Rand, and Edwin Locke, quit within reason, due to the risks to their health. But make no mistake that now-a-days, smokers are the last persecuted minority because the mystics of muscle have made carrers in persecuting them.

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Several points, in no particular order except my memory of reading this entire thread these past 30 minutes:

1) Smoking is not a "risk". Smoking causes various kinds of harm, to the cillia, the lungs, the cardiovascular system, etc. Smokers suffer from more common colds, more influenza, lack of stamina, etc. Many smokers die from cancer and emphysema (I am not sure which disease is more horrible), but even those who don't suffer the consequences of their awful habit.

2) Knowledge is not automatic, nor intrinsic. When Ayn Rand started smoking (I am guessing in the 1920's), it was not known to her that smoking was harmful. When her doctor told her it was killing her (in the 1970's, I think) she quit cold turkey. In any case, this has nothing to do with a high school or college kid today who chooses to start smoking. The kid today knows.

3) To knowingly choose to act such as to harm yourself is "immoral". No matter how much you call me names for naming this evasion, it won't change the fact of the matter.

4) I don't believe in the myth that some people smoke 4 cigarettes per day. I have never seen one, nor have I see a ghost.

5) I have observed that smokers have poor acuity in taste and smell. I have checked into motel rooms that reek of cigarette smoking, marched downstairs and demanded a different room. I have argued with clerks who insisted it's a non-smoking room. What am I to do--repress the evidence of my nose? (I say this having a particularly keen sense of smell.)

6) I find the smell of cigarettes to be horrible, and I have always been this way. The proper word for something that reeks is "disgusting".

7) When I first discovered online Objectivist fora, I thought everyone would agree on such a clear-cut issue as smoking in this day and age. Boy, was I wrong! It still shocks and amazes me that people who claim to believe that life is a very high value treat theirs as a toy which they abuse for the pleasure of one moment. I can but admonish "integrate the philosophy into your life," and shake my head.

8) I speculate that some of the difficulty that even non-smoking Objectivists have with calling smoker evaders (today, not Ayn Rand back in 1920!) is a broken syllogism. (a) Evasion is the root of all evil; (B) Bearster is saying to smoke is to evade; © therefore Bearster is saying smokers are pure evil. Nonesense! One evasion on an issue like smoking or overeating does not make one evil, much less "pure evil". But on the other hand, these are immoral choices. If one values one's health, one should act to gain and keep it. If one values one's health and yet chooses to smoke, one is acting on a whim. (I say this being somewhat overweight)

9) I read DPW's essay on his website. I think this is an excellent analysis.

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Bearster writes:

4) I don't believe in the myth that some people smoke 4 cigarettes per day. I have never seen one, nor have I see a ghost.
Actually, they do exist. My ex-girlfriend was one of these. The best evidence I've heard indicates that some people are more sensitive to nicotine and thus cannot smoke more than a few cigarettes a day without becoming uncomfortable or even ill. These people usually end up becoming non-smokers pretty quickly, or smoke but a couple cigarettes a day. Nevertheless, the rest of your post makes it clear why that doesn't make their smoking a good thing.

9) I read DPW's essay on his website. I think this is an excellent analysis.

Thank you.

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1) Smoking is not a "risk".  Smoking causes various kinds of harm, to the cillia, the lungs, the cardiovascular system, etc.  Smokers suffer from more common colds, more influenza, lack of stamina, etc.  Many smokers die from cancer and emphysema (I am not sure which disease is more horrible), but even those who don't suffer the consequences of their awful habit.

Context! Context!

Certainly smoking harms the body, but the body has the ability to recover. That fact, combined with the benefits of smoking -- the pleasure, relaxation, the positive effects of sharpening awareness -- may lead a person to rationally conclude that smoking is worth it.

This is similar to other activities which cause temporary, repairable harm to the body but are worth it in the long run. If you go on a long hike you may suffer muscle soreness, blisters which can lead to infection, wear and tear on the joints leading to arthritis in old age, etc. -- but still worth it. A preschool teacher will pick up many more infectious diseases from her young charges than someone in another occupation, but the joy of encouraging young minds may more than compensate.

Yes, smoking can be harmful, particularly to some people, but the damage may be only temporary and it may be outweighed by the benefits. That is a decision each person has to make in the full context of his own life and not as the result of moralistic "Thou shalt nots."

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