Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Common sense up in smoke

In order for government to justify its existence, it must continually take actions. Maybe it raises taxes. Maybe it makes proclamations. Usually it just creates stupid new laws. That's exactly what it did last week.

Last Sunday a new law went into effect banning cigarettes. Not all cigarettes, of course – the tobacco lobby is far too powerful for that to happen – just flavored ones.

The theory seems to be that cigarettes are bad for you ... and even worse for your kids. And there should be every effort made to prevent kids from smoking. The theory also seems to be that minors start with flavored cigarettes.

Seems logical to me.

So the government has banned the production and sale of any flavored cigarettes. Well. Um. No. Not really.

See, the ban includes cherry, grape, chocolate and the ever-enticing clove cigarettes, but not menthol.

Personally, I've smoked since the age 12. Aside from a five-year respite in the middle, that's 22 years of tobacco addiction. I never knew there were cherry flavored cigarettes. Nor grape or chocolate. And in all my years of smoking, I've only met two people who smoked clove cigarettes. Neither was a teenager.

Now, menthol cigarettes? With no effort, I can think of half a dozen teenagers who smoke them. I mean, come on! They're mint flavored. Talk about a gateway drug.

Muddying matters further is the fact that the vagueness of the law seems to exempt flavored cigars and cigarillos, such as the ever-popular Swisher Sweets, mini cherry-flavored cigars.

Just a couple weeks ago, I was talking with a teenage boy who had decided to start smoking those flavored mini-cigars because, as he put it, “it wasn't really smoking.”

I think that's probably the mindset of a lot of people who start smoking Swisher Sweets. “It's not really smoking.” But it could very potentially lead to it, which I pointed out to the boy. He acknowledged that it very-well could.

But these gateway cigars were exempt. Just like the minty cigs.

So if the real goal is to prevent teens from smoking, why not ban the cigarettes teens are most likely to smoke? Or the flavored cigars that are actually cheaper than cigarettes? That takes us back to the tobacco lobby. Phillip Morris and their like make lots of money of those minty smokes. They'd never let their bought-and-paid-for representatives in Washington pass a law that would do any significant financial damage to them.

And the politicrats in Washington know it. In fact, the FDA made no effort to ban menthol cigarettes. None whatsoever. And as stated before, wrote the law so vaguely as to essentially exempt flavored cigars.

So if the new regulations come with loopholes which basically makes the regulations themselves moot, you have to wonder why they enacted the ban at all.

Plain and simple: to justify their existence. They want you to think they're doing something. Even if the something they're doing works out to be nothing.

And I didn't even get into the very basic concept that it is not government's job to protect us from ourselves. Anyone over the age of seven knows that smoking is bad for them. We don't need to government's help on the issue.

Thank God for that, by the way. Since if we did need their help, they'd enact a law very similar to the one we got.