Systematic Seppuku…

-Or- 

“Here be thy sword, feel free to fall on it at your leisure.”

I’m no fan of cigarettes.  One friend is trying to quit (thus far unsucessfully), one roommate is a chain smoker when not at the house, half of my coworkers take smoke breaks about as often as they inhale, and it just seems impossible to escape them.  However, I’m also a free-market capitalist.

To be clear, smoking is not a universal issue of morality.  It’s unhealthy, it smells bad, and is just somewhat unattractive… but it isn’t a moral issue.  Public smoking is a slightly different matter, due to second-hand smoke and children… but even then I don’t think it is a serious moral issue.  What drives me nuts is the anti-smoking lobby driving the issue through the courts like a Ferrari on a Formula 1 track.

It started with making cigarette ads illegal on radio and television.  Then we start shooting tabaco taxes through the roof in an effort to make it financially impossible to smoke.  After that came the bans on smoking in public.  Then, finally, the court system ruled that Phillip Morris Tobacco Co, and the American Tobacco Industry needed to pay for websites and on-air advertisements telling everyone to not use their product.  So now, instead of using the powerful medium available (television) to advertise their product like they used to in the 40s and 50s, to using the television to put themselves out of business.  How is this fair, free-market economics?

Just yesterday, NPR made a triumphant report about how smoking amongst teenagers in the US dropped from the 1-in-2 stats in the 1980’s to a mere 1-in-5 with the biggest drops coming in the last 10 years.  However, these watchdog nuts are now focusing on the developing world.  While the numbers of smokers is falling in the USA, the numbers are skyrocketing in the poorer economies of the world.  What is the cause for this?  “Because the governments don’t have the money to put forth intentional, large-scale anti-smoking campaigns!”  So… we should have those governments, which are ruling over already-extremely poor individuals, raise taxes even more to put together their own saftey-conscious nanny-states?  I think people tend to forget that there are fully-capable, fully-functioning adults in those “developing countries”.

The problem, as I see it, is not trying to get people to not smoke.  The problem, as I see it, is making an entrepeneurs pay a federal fee to put themselves out of business… instead of just making public service announcements and government funded education campaigns.  How far will this go?  Will the court system force religions to advertise how dangerous and subversive their doctrines are?  What would that public service announcement look like?

“There is no such thing as a safe cult.  If its time for you to regain your sanity, go to http://www.weloveatheists.com…… and don’t drink the Kool-aid…”

Adam

PS: For the record… seppuku is the ritualistic suicide (note, usually by disembowelment) by Japanese Samurai as a response to a devastating loss of honor.

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~ by xristosdomini on August 11, 2008.

4 Responses to “Systematic Seppuku…”

  1. here in aus, we have ads on tv where they show doctors removing lungs full of tar… and have pictures or cancerous mouths etc on cigarette packages, above big letters that say SMOKING KILLS… and cigarette ads are illegal… yes, oh yes, australia is not a fan of smoking…

  2. I totally agree with you, Adam, and I’ll go even further:

    The US government benefits immorally from tobacco sales, which makes it complicit in any harm “caused” by cigarettes.

    The US Gvt has banned other products on very skimpy pretexts – alcohol during prohibition, medicines, insectacides, certain kinds of guns. With all of the medical evidence they have amassed, You’d think that an outright ban would be a no-brainer.

    But no.

    The Government would rather have the tax money, and when that runs low, go to court and get more via cowardly litigation. It frosts me that the government at any level proposes to spend money for any purpose that it collects by increasing taxes on cigarettes. They say its just because they hate smoking so much, and want to discourage smokers, but the truth is they want the money, and think those addicted to smoking will just pay. And smoke. And pay. Because they *have* to. They think non-smokers wil just vote for cigarette taxes because it’s easy and fun, with no personal costs.

    When the last cigarette disappears in a puff, what will they tax next? Your gasoline you evil drivers? Your meat you evil carnivores? Your gym shoes you smelly athletes?

    Here’s the bottom line: Less than 50% of voting americans are addicted smokers, and there might even be a voting majority who think that smokers somehow deserve to pay more taxes. When any majority can impose a tax on others in any minority, tyranny results. I think it’s morally equivalent to stealing.

    Equal protection under the law should mean that everyone gets deprived of their property the same. I’m not, nor have ever been a smoker, but I’ll never vote to tax smoking,

  3. Helen: Yeah… here, we are more along the lines of people yammering statistics through a bullhorn and doing some kind of “protest-y” type thing. Stuff like dumping 400 empty bodybags outside of PMUSA corporate headquarters. Apparently some people in the US have nothing better to do than sit around dreaming up clever ways to address grievances. Personally, I have better things to do.

    Brian: I think there are two very important historical reasons for the continued skyrockting taxes on tobacco. First, if they don’t get the money from tobacco, they gotta get it from somewhere… maybe the gasoline? (ack) Second, during prohibition the crime rate and alcoholic rate actually increased. I guess the thinking is that if it is perfectly legal but uber expensive, people will stop… while if it is illegal and uber expensive, people will track to it like flies to a carcass.

    It’s still BS, but I guess it makes me feel better to think that a room full of pointy-headed individuals think it makes sense.

  4. Politicians love to say they are trying to influence smokers to stop, or make it too expensive, or whatever, because they think voters will accept the lie that any politician actually cares.

    They don’t. Period.

    Look at it this way. The politician says “let’s pay for health care for uninsured children, because I love children and too many have no access to doctors – it’s really important to me.” Then they say, “We’ll pay for it by taxing smokers, because we want people to stop smoking for their own good.” Suppose the latter works? The revenue for the former dries up. So, does the politician just say, “Oh well, sorry kids, but we at least reduced the number of smokers…”

    Sorry, I’ll believe a politician really cares about something besides money when they start voting to stop taking it away. I’m not holding my breath.

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