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Smoke ’em if you got ’em

November 15, 2014

I’ve been smoking for 45 years (nearly as long as I’ve been paying FICA, now that I think about it). And I get the externalities of smoking, so I don’t feel aggrieved when people or organizations prohibit smoking on their property. No problem: I’ll respect their air and grounds.

I’ve got tenants who are heavy smokers and, yep, that house has a definite stink to it. We’ll need a few gallons of KILZ when they move out. Again, no problem. It’s their home and we knew they smoked when they signed the lease. The clean-up is a very minor cost, all things considered.

What I do have a problem with, though, is when the Nicotine Nazis get their hands on the levers of power and start proposing regulations like the one described below. Banning tobacco sales is just another form of Prohibition, after all, and we know how well prohibitions work.

What we learn from history is that we never learn from history (said whomever you want to credit with that adage).

Raucous hearing on tobacco sales in Westminster halted

WESTMINSTER — An unruly public hearing on a proposal to prohibit the sale of tobacco products came to a sudden and rowdy halt Wednesday evening after shouting and clapping opponents of the ban repeatedly refused the chairwoman’s request to come to order.

The ban, proposed by the Board of Health in this Central Massachusetts town, would be the first of its kind in the state. It has led to angry reactions from residents who worry that it will hurt the local economy and allow government too much discretion in controlling private conduct.

“This is about freedom; it’s my body and it’s my choice to smoke,” said Nate Johnson, 32, a Westminster farmer and auto body worker. He was puffing on a cigarette at a rally before the hearing where opponents held signs saying “It’s not about tobacco — it’s about control” and “Smoke ’em if you got them.” […]

The ban would cover sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, which use batteries to heat nicotine-laced liquid, producing a vapor that is inhaled.

The proposal, made public Oct. 27, touched off an intense reaction from opponents. More than 1,000 of the town’s 7,400 residents signed a petition against the ban.

I was tickled to read about the residents of Westminster raising hell about this proposal. Evidently there were even non-smokers upset about the proposal — as they should have been since it’s the kind of idea that reminds you of Mark Twain’s comment about school board members.

whats-next-in-westminster-massCJ GUNTHER/EPA

“What’s next?” is a very good question. It’s one we ought to be asking ourselves about practically everything the government plans or does.

And just as a matter of curiosity, doesn’t it strike anyone else as curious that several states are now allowing the sale of marijuana to be smoked – Massachusetts itself may allow it – and this Board of Health wants to ban the sale of tobacco?


Here’s some commentary about a topic related to my question above. It’s from Kevin Williamson at National Review (1/28/15).

A Lifestyle So Good, It’s Mandatory

California has effectively decriminalized marijuana (possession of less than an ounce is a civil matter roughly equivalent to a speeding ticket — a rarely written speeding ticket), and the state has a medical (ahem) marijuana program that is, for the moment, largely unregulated. At the same time, the state is launching a progressive jihad against “vaping,” the use of so-called e-cigarettes that deliver nicotine in the form of vapor. The state public-health department says that this is justified by the presence of certain carcinogens — benzene, formaldehyde, nickel, and lead—in e-cigarette vapor. But by California’s own account, all of those chemicals are present in marijuana smoke, too, along with 29 other carcinogens.

If that seems inconsistent to you, you are thinking about it the wrong way: For all of its scientific pretensions and empirical posturing, progressivism is not about evidence, and at its heart it is not even about public policy at all: It is about aesthetics.

The goal of progressivism is not to make the world rational; it’s to make the world Portland.

Vaping is, from the point of view of your average organic-quinoa and hot-yoga enthusiast, a lowlife thing. It is not the same thing as smoking, but it looks too much like smoking for their tastes. Indeed, California cites the possibility of vaping’s “re-normalizing smoking behavior” as a principal cause of concern. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, says that vaping should be treated like “other important outbreaks or epidemics.”

But epidemics of what? Prole tastes?

In addition to regularly writing incisive opinion pieces, Mr. Williamson was also a cell phone vigilante a couple of years ago.

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