And, slowly but surely, smoking is becoming less popular. Just like drunk driving before it, smoking is becoming socially disreputable. It’s a long, hard road, though: not just because nicotine is addictive, but because youngsters continue to take up smoking despite the social stigma increasingly attached to it.Sometimes they smoke because of, not despite, that social stigma. Sometimes they want to rebel against social control.
the battle to protect youngsters from taking up smoking is one that virtually all adults, smokers or not, support.This is a political position which is nowhere near universal. Not everyone thinks children should be "protect[ed]" – meaning controlled supposedly for their own good. Some people value the freedom to smoke, and the freedom of individuals (even young individuals) to choose their own fate. Some people see some value in smoking (e.g. South Park has defended smoking). Some people think children should be helped to become more wise, rather than protected. Maybe good advice and control over their own lives works better for children than protection. There are diverse approaches to this topic.
Similarly, not everyone agrees about addiction. I don't.
Approaching issues by saying everyone agrees is a bad approach in general. Look what would happen with SENS and aging. People would say virtually everyone disagrees with SENS, so it's bad. The same tactic could be used against most innovative new ideas, early on.
with smoking, even though it causes some of those self-same diseases, somehow society is itself subject to an addiction that robs it of its rationality concerning new young addicts. We face every day the brutal disconnect between allowing cigarettes to be advertised and sold widely and seeing how much they blight and shorten the lives of those who fall under their spell.Rather than argue with people who disagree with him, here Aubrey de Grey attacks their rationality and metaphorically accuses them of a mental illness (addiction). He then attacks free trade and free speech, as if his positions against those things are uncontroversial and need no explanation. (Saying a product is good is speech; selling it is trade. Disallowing those things is incompatible with freedom.)
People who disagree with you are not mentally ill. They have not fallen under a magic "spell". People are capable of thinking and disagreeing with you. You should expect that and speak to the issues, rather than gloss over the issues (no direct criticism of freedom was provided) and spend your time denying the other side exists. Try to find win/win solutions which address people's concerns. Persuade people instead of calling them mentally ill, irrational, or otherwise talking around their arguments.
It'd be better to approach this like David Deutsch: "in every human dispute there’s a substantive issue at stake". Calling the other side mentally ill does not help anyone better understand the substantive issue at stake. Claiming (correctly or not) that one's position is popular, or creating a social stigma against things one disagrees with, are not truth-seeking approaches.