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Stogie News: The ‘Latest Front in the War’ Against Smoking

1 Jul 2008

It has long been a suspicion that the anti-smoking movement would not be content with dictatorial smoking bans and oppressive tobacco taxes. Last week that suspicion was reinforced in a big way.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) issued a scathing press release citing that “57% of the people in Ireland support a ban on smoking in all homes and cars” and that “this could expand the latest front in the war to protect nonsmokers.” John F. Banzhaf, executive director and chief counsel for ASH and professor of law at George Washington University, went on to make this ominous statement:

“As politicians in many states continue to debate whether to ban smoking in restaurants, bars, casinos, and other public places, it looks like legislators are once again far behind the growing public sentiment for smoking bans, and also far behind how far judges and regulatory agencies are willing to go.”

Now it comes as no surprise to our regular readers that government-mandated smoking bans and the anti-tobacco zealots who advocate them get no sympathy here. We’ve made no secret of the fact that such invasive bans limit choice, violate private property, and are justified only by shoddy “science.” But this call for smoking bans in private homes and cars takes tyranny to a whole new level.

Ironically, as our friend Jacob Grier so eloquently describes, “Despite all the recent victories for the anti-smoking lobby, its increasingly untenable claims and restrictive proposals will open the door to blowback.” Such impending retaliation should have the anti-smoking community at least a little worried (that is, of course, if the cigar industry gets its act together). Physician Michael Siegel, a proponent of smoking bans in workplaces, recently penned this on the subject:

“I must also say that ASH is making the pronouncements of smoking ban opponents look good. Many years ago, when I was lobbying for smoke-free workplace laws, opponents of these laws argued that this was just the first step: Workplaces were the first step and eventually we [the antis] would be trying to get smoking banned in the home. I countered these arguments by stating no—you’re wrong—we are going to stop after getting smoking banned in the workplace. Unfortunately, it looks like I was wrong and the smoking ban opponents were correct. Thanks to ASH, all those smoking ban opponents can now say ‘I told you so.’ Why would ASH make a public statement like this? Wouldn’t ASH recognize that by doing this, it paints all anti-smoking advocates and groups as being complete fanatics whose ultimate goal is to ban smoking everywhere, even inside the home?”

Maybe it was naïve to think a complete tobacco ban wasn’t the goal of anti-smoking groups from the get-go. Is it any wonder that those who would organize and put great effort into restricting the rights of others are not to be trusted?

In any event, as a cigar enthusiast and an overall fan of individual rights, I hope the cigar industry—including all those well-intentioned groups that sprung up last month—can use ASH’s brazen lack of judgment to make some gains for smokers and liberty.

Patrick A

photo credit: CNN

Drew Estate

13 Responses to “Stogie News: The ‘Latest Front in the War’ Against Smoking”

  1. Jon N. Monday, June 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    This is very troubling news, but I take some measure of comfort in the hope that the US Supreme Court would never allow an outright ban to happen on American soil. Many European governments have long held a very "nanny state," pseudo-utilitarian approach to civil liberties — namely, if those civil liberties are deemed in conflict with the "greater good" (whatever that nebulous concept is supposed to mean at any given time), they are infringed upon with impunity. Part of me thinks that these guys will never succeed completely, be it in Ireland or elsewhere. But even if they do, I still can't see it happening here.

    Then again, I'm reminded of the old warning: "First they came for my neighbor, and I said nothing…"

    The sad thing is that, as far back as maybe two or three years ago, I would have called anyone who told me total smoking bans were on the horizon a paranoid or an alarmist. These days, such fears seem a lot more real. A lot more grounded in reality. It is still a bit of a stretch to think the anti-smoking activists will succeed in banning smoking outright. But it's not as much of a stretch as it once was. And that's what's scary.

  2. Chad P Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 4:02 am #

    Look at the smirk on that jackass. He thinks he knows what’s best for me? I’d like to see him or any of his bureaucratic goons try to come to my home and extinguish my cigar.

  3. Mike Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 4:59 am #

    Fortunately, Banzahf is on the fringe of the anti-smoking movement. There's no social problem he doesn't think a lawsuit can't solve.

  4. snowbird Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 4:59 am #

    The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation –

    from sea to sea- has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed

    threat of "second-hand" smoke.

    Indeed, the bans themselves are symptoms of a far more grievous threat; a

    cancer that has been spreading for decades and has now metastasized

    throughout the body politic, spreading even to the tiniest organs of local

    government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved – the cancer of

    unlimited government power.

    The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom

    menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal

    indicates. The issue is: if it were harmful, what would be the proper

    reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating

    people about the potential danger and allowing them to make

    their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force

    people to make the "right" decision?

    Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than

    attempting to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the

    tobacco bans are the unwanted intrusion.

    Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have

    actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and

    offices – places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose

    customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local

    bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is obviously

    negligible, such as outdoor public parks.

    The decision to smoke, or to avoid "second-hand" smoke, is a question to be

    answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment

    of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding

    every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend

    or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married

    or divorced, and so on.

    All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful

    consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the

    neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must

    be free, because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbours, and only

    his own judgment can guide him through it.

    Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Cigarette

    smokers are a numerical minority, practicing a habit considered annoying and

    unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the

    power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

    That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of

    inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your

    favourite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm

    at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the systematic and unlimited

    intrusion of government into our lives.

    We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behaviour.

    Thomas Laprade

    480 Rupert St.

  5. Mac and Nudo Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 5:36 am #

    Ditto.

  6. Accipeter Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 5:49 am #

    Hear, hear, Thomas! Well said.

  7. Jon N. Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 6:57 am #

    Very well said, Thomas.

  8. Marc E. Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 7:32 am #

    What the self righteous idiots who want smoking banned outright fail to realize is that they will drive a substantial industry into the eager arms of organized crime. And then the completely ineffective, wasteful and idiotic "war" on drugs will swell our prisons with underground tobacco dealers and users. If these morons educated themselves in a bit of history and sociology they might actually be educated morons…and then we would be lucky enough that they could use their brains for something they have seemed to forget existed…logic and good judgement.

  9. Jon N. Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 7:42 am #

    Marc: You'd think these guys would have learned the lessons of prohibition from the '20s and '30s. Unfortunately, those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

    What's particularly bothersome this time around is the insidious nature in which the "antis" are going about their business. They're using two very clever tactics that the alcohol prohibitionists didn't employ:

    1) They're banning the way in which tobacco can be used, rather than the substance itself. In wording it's not the same thing, but in effect it is. So they're orchestrating a "backdoor" ban on the substance without actually banning the substance altogether in writing.

    2) They're doing it in small increments. Each time an incremental restriction is passed, it's very hard to go back.

    Clever, sick bastards they are.

  10. Marc E. Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    Jon N. you are absolutely correct in your statement on how they are going about it. So it seems they may have studied history in how to implement their ultimate vision. However, they have clearly forgotten history when it comes to the ultimate effect of their campaign…the next Al Capone may be in the cigar business 🙂

  11. Jon N. Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    I'd better smoke 'em while I got 'em, then! Hopefully they don't prohibit tobacco within the next, oh, 500 or so days, or I'm S.O.L.

  12. Tony Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    The purpose of "the people" is to put politicians in check…they have no fear to take our freedoms away so they can further their political careers. But as long as we all sit back an vote for people like Hitlery Clinton, Barrack, or the old guy we will never have a true American voice. Check out Ron Paul and his constitutional approach to politics. We will only have true FREEDOM when we want it, until then keep complaining on the internet cigar blogs!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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