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One Small (Flavored) Puff for Freedom

October 1, 2009
 by Ross Kenyon


Another small stop on the road to tyranny and elimination of free choice for individuals. (Feel free to top it!)

I was pretty sure I was an adult in a quasi-free society. This recent shenanigan gently nudged me back into reality. To protect the youth, adults must have their free choice ripped from them. It’s really the only way. I’ll spare you the specific details of the flavored cigarette ban that went into effect this week, eradicating the legal market for cloves, flavored cigarettes and chewing tobacco in favor of elucidating the broad philosophical trend of state solutions to social problems.

The average person on the street as well as the politicos-at-large has made public policy a normative science, a utilitarian apparatus hell-bent on coercing people into lives free of vices. Surgically removed from the idea of mandated public health is the idea that some people might realize smoking is a harmful activity, but decide to pursue it anyways, as in their subjective weighing of the costs and benefits, they have decided the pleasure they receive from smoking is better than the perceived costs. Is that so wrong?

YES! Supporters will argue that tobacco bans and taxes promote health, notably in one of our most vulnerable age groups. The younger people are when they begin smoking, the more permanent the habit becomes. I wouldn’t dare to challenge such a fact! In fact, bans and taxes probably will promote health, but in promoting health, you have used the violent means of the government to remove the choice of adults to lead their lives as they please when they are violating no one else’s person or property. Supporters are openly advocating the use of force to coerce people into lifestyles they would not freely choose. How is that moral?

<Insert vague utilitarian coercive justifications here>

What no one has the honesty to say is that everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. As a child of about nine, I told my grandfather in the Union City, California to quit smoking his pipe. I drew him an anti-smoking poster with a pipe and a big red circle with a line through. He hung it up in his den in prime viewing location from his cracked leather chair. I’m sure he would glance at it from time to time at downturns in his war films or when fixing the rabbit ears.

From a very young age, everyone learns smoking is bad for your health. It’s no secret, and even the vast internet network of conspiracy aficionados take it for granted. I am not a smoker, but every once in awhile I enjoy some tobacco. Do I realize that tobacco is detrimental to my health? Of course. I balance this concern with the amount of pleasure I’m going to receive from the act of smoking, and sometimes I decide in favor of it. It’s a pretty simple cost-benefit analysis I have voluntarily chosen.

Everyone can agree tobacco use is generally harmful to one’s health. I’m certain that everyone can also agree that preventing the younger members of society from taking up such a silly habit is a positive move. However, many of these teens are old enough to be making decisions for themselves. They know smoking is bad, but choose to do it anyway. They aren’t violating anyone else’s person or property, and therefore, the use of force by the government should not be used against them. Their parents and friends and schools should teach children to think heavily of the consequences of their actions before making potentially unwise decisions. However, this policy of removing the element of free choice from adults to save teens from decisions about their own bodies is one further mile on the road to tyranny, and any petty justifications of this use of force based on the coercive means of utilitarianism should be rejected outright in favor of voluntary and peaceful means of solving this private social matter.

Related Content:

Government Efficiency - Richard Sutton
TFS (Part 4) - Fire Departments - Nick Coons
TFS (Part 3) - Police, Courts & Prisons - Nick Coons

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