Well, it’s official. The US Government is going to kill off the Tobacco industry. Don’t get me wrong, I am no smoker nor would I ever support or encourage young children and teens to start smoking. But I was thinking today as I heard the news that the tobacco industry was going to be regulated that this decision has two potential negative effects.
First, like the decision to tell people what they can or can’t eat, regulating tobacco increases the power of government and assumes that we the people simply cannot make the right decision for ourselves. Like my science friend who told me that going green is not economically feasible so we should force everyone to do it or the earth will reach a state of perdition, people should be forced into good habits.
So in addition to taking away people’s freedom of choice and coeval responsibility for those choices (can you say bailout?), the second negative effect might be to create an underground market for non-government cigarettes. The AP reported that the bill “gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to ban tobacco ingredients deemed dangerous to health”. Isn’t that the whole problem with cigarettes in the first place? It’s those nasty ingredients that make up the product and the demand for it! If history is any guide, this brave new government venture into the Tobacco industry is going to eventually produce “Tab” or “Pepsi-Free” cigarettes that no one wants. This will force, yes force smokers to go elsewhere for their fix. Henry Waxman, the arch statist said about the legislation that it was “truly historic and puts us one small step away from finally acting to address the tobacco epidemic in our country.” Do you really think you are going to solve the crises? The crises that for millions of smokers is no crises at all? Will smokers simply give up the habit when “Tab” smokes are the only thing they can get? I doubt it. Most likely they will go underground for more hardcore cigarettes that they just can’t get anymore, you know those pre-2009 or whatever-the-date-may-be cigs. All this will occur while the revenue from legitimate sales of cigarettes dries up and when that happens what will governments apply the sin tax to; Ding-Dongs or Cupcakes?
So when the president signs this bill into law I can’t help but wonder if he will be thinking about where he will now get his non-government regulated cigarettes? Because there is no way that the leader of the free world would be caught dead smoking “Pepsi-Free” cigarettes.
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