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March 30, 2011 / Candice

…Then they came for the smokers…

Liberty: Doing what you want with your life as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

Put simply, you want to drink daily? Good luck with that, hope your liver survives and you’re not dumb enough to drive. You want to gamble your savings away? Hope you hit it big. But your kids better still have an active parent, a roof over their heads and food on the table. You want to smoke? Haaaaave at it. Just don’t be an asshole and blow the smoke in the face of the elderly woman walking down the street and for Pete’s sake, if you see a baby, put the damn thing out.

I think I also need to get this in, I don’t hate smoking bans. I feel it’s fine, even fair, to ban smoking inside hospitals, court rooms and at the DMV. All places where people are required to be. It’s OK only because my choice to smoke would impact those people who are REQUIRED to be near me.

My argument on smoking bans is this: if I own a bar/restaurant/store and want to ban smoking because I have many loyal customers who suffer from asthma or allergies, it may be in my best interest to ban it in my building or outside of my door. If my customers are happy my bank account will be too.

Unfortunately, the government doesn’t give us a choice. In fact, I’ll take it even further; they’re splitting the herd between smokers and non-smokers and picking one over the other. (The same with splitting between rich & poor, white & black, etc…) If the free market had seen a demand for non-smoking bars, electric cars and mercury laced light bulbs, they would have existed years before a government handed down a mandate. But I digress…

Now, take this thing in Hennepin county (Minneapolis), the county has effectively banned smoking on county owned property. EVEN IN YOUR OWN CAR! If you’re at a Hennepin county park and want to have a cigarette, too bad. Sure, you’re outside, in the fresh air, you may have even found a spot away from all other human beings, you’re still not allowed to smoke. I’ll give the county a pass on the smoking in parks, parking ramps, outside of buildings, whatever. Cigarette butts are a pain to pick up, I get it.

But for the government to say, “You’re not allowed to smoke in your car (property).” Is enough to make my blood boil!! It’s my car I will smoke if I want, you overbearing jackasses!!

The kicker here is the price tag for this new policy. It’s as much as $120,000. Do you know how many f—ing pot holes you can fix with much money?

The thing that REALLY gets me, for all the whining done by the government about smoking they sure don’t seem to mind the MILLIONS in tax revenue it generates every year. (Over $300 million a year, to be exact.) When the pool of smokers decreases due to limited rights and skyrocketing taxes, the revenue will go down. Since most of Minnesota’s cigarette tax goes to provide health care for over half a million citizens, the state will have to get the money from somewhere else. You know, because you can’t cut funding for the poor-minority-children. (Exaggerated eyeroll)

The thing is, my beef isn’t with smoking bans, per se, it’s where the bans cross the line from public property to personal property (I’ll do whatever I want in my car, thank you very much!!). But Minneapolis has no problem funding the right to kill yourself with booze. As long as they’re out of the way and we don’t have to pick up after them.

If the government really wanted to effectively ban smoking due to health risks, they’d tax the shit out of cigarettes. $200 a pack tax will get anyone to quit. But you see, it’s not a “public health” issue, it’s a control issue. If they control the money, they control the rights.

What next? Telling us what we can eat? Oh wait…

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