Fox News host Tucker Carlson has received criticism and mockery online over his continued advocacy for smoking tobacco.
Carlson most recently touched on the topic during his Friday night broadcast while discussing efforts to ban menthol cigarettes. In addition to claiming without evidence that nicotine, the addictive chemical found in most tobacco cigarettes, “frees your mind,” he also insisted that efforts to ban types of cigarettes are actually part of a plot to promote marijuana.
“Boy do they hate tobacco, and it’s not because it causes cancer,” Carlson said. “They don’t care about your health…They hate nicotine. They love THC. They are promoting weed to your children, but they’re not letting you use tobacco or even non-tobacco nicotine delivery devices, which don’t cause cancer. Why do they hate nicotine? Because nicotine frees your mind, and THC makes you compliant and passive. That’s why.”
His comments about cigarettes, like ones he has made in the past, were immediately picked up on social media, with detractors either sternly criticizing the conservative host or mocking his full-throated support of smoking. One Democratic representative compared Carlson’s comments to the lies of Representative George Santos, a New York Republican.
“Tucker Carlson claims JFK was assassinated by the CIA and Nixon was overthrown by the deep state,” Ritchie Torres of New York wrote Saturday. “He claims nicotine ‘frees your mind’ whereas marijuana controls the masses. Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy theories are as absurd as George Santos’ lies.”
“And lung cancer is a total hoax [Tucker Carlson], just ask my mom. Oh wait, you can’t. She died in 1985,” Twitter user StutzBearcat wrote. “You know, nicotine and what not. Nice rant.”
“Really? They’re going to use *nicotine* as a bugaboo?” another user, Swiss Army Nerd, wrote. “Remember, folks, Fox News argued in court – *and the judge agreed* – that no reasonable person should take Tucker Carlson’s words at face value.”
“Tucker Carlson chewed nicotine gum for more than a decade after he quit smoking but has since stopped,” Madeline Peltz, Deputy Director of Rapid Response at Media Matters, tweeted last week, highlighting Carlson’s own complicated history with smoking. “He once said he spent $300 a week on Nicorette.”
A week before his most recent smoking comments, Carlson spoke with a GOP representative about the increase in indoor smoking on Capitol Hill. The congressman, Troy Nehls of Texas, claimed to be part of the “cigar caucus,” which had led to reporters noting a visible uptick in smoking in government buildings under the new Republican House majority.
During the broadcast, Carlson referred to smoking tobacco as “the most American of all pleasures,” and said that it had “founded the country.”
Despite Carlson’s recent claim, there is no scientific evidence that nicotine offers any sort of benefit to users, or has any other effects beyond being addictive.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has in the past year proposed a nationwide ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes. Menthol is utilized in cigarettes to give them a minty flavor and to dull the harsher effects of smoking, thereby making them more appealing.
Newsweek reached out to Fox News for comment.