Freedom at Risk

Proposition 86 Failed but freedom is still at risk.

Smokers have been relegated to smoking in the great outdoors and in their own homes, if they are lucky enough to own it, yet there are factions in our society, who won’t be satisfied until smoking is outlawed – everywhere.

At our local all night party store, where we stop each night to purchase a huge iced soda, we had the opportunity to talk with a young man, who to be honest, I wanted to slap silly. But of course, I resisted.

I fantasize at times that I live in the olden days, when an offended woman could slap a man, hard across the face and not be jailed for the infraction, just like in the movies.

At any rate… We were purchasing a carton of cigarettes, my first since the election. Since this particular store had been handing out information to smokers in opposition to the proposed $2.60 per pack tax increase, I commented, that thankfully
Proposition 86 had failed and I could still afford to purchase them.

My comment was met with an uncharacteristically vehement response from the clerk on duty. He promptly informed me that he had voted for it and that he would be happy if they outlawed smoking all together. Gee, this has a familiar ring to it. Anyone remember prohibition and its demise?

Well, being the outspoken smoker that I am, I promptly called him and idiot, which in hindsight was probably not one of my finer moments. I asked him what he would do if they took away his right to drink. He lied straight to my face and told me if drinking were made illegal, he would quit.

Yeah, right, and I’m the queen of France! I think my husband and I are the only two non-drinkers in the county – a gross exaggeration I’m sure, but it often feels that way.

Personal Freedom

What many people fail to realize, is that once they (the government, special interest groups, etc.), succeed in taking away one individuals right, they will proceed to infringe upon your rights and mine.

The American Lung Association is determined to take away your right to choose whether or not to smoke. In a recent mailing they had this to say:

Unfortunately, voters in California and Missouri did not approve increases in cigarette excise taxes. Despite the tobacco companies pouring millions of dollars into negative campaign ads to defeat this initiative, the California initiative failed to pass by less than 5 percent, while the Missouri initiative lost by just 3.4 percent. We will continue to work in both California and Missouri to pass strong and effective tobacco control measures, which include tobacco tax increases and strong tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

The problem is bigger than you may think because they are in the pocket of large pharmaceutical companies as evidenced by a September 19, 2006 press release, taunting, “American Lung Association Launches National Influenza Education Initiative to Encourage Americans to See Themselves Among the ‘Faces of Influenza’“:

Celebrities, public health officials and everyday people have joined the “Faces of Influenza” initiative, sharing their personal stories about their experiences with the disease and encouraging influenza vaccination among target groups.

These groups include people 50 years of age and older, young children, everyone in close contact with people who have high-risk conditions, health care providers and anyone else who wants to prevent this serious respiratory illness that, along with its complications, kills an average of 36,000 people and hospitalizes about 226,000 people in the US every year.

“Despite serious health risks associated with influenza, many people, including people with chronic health problems, young children and those 50 years and older, are not getting immunized,” says Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. “Two out of three Americans should be vaccinated every year, which means it’s likely each one of us knows someone whose well-being, good health or life depends on getting an influenza immunization each and every year.”

Major pharmaceutical companies have been telling us for years that 36,000 American’s die each and every year from the flu and the facts simply don’t support this myth. Anyone who understands anything about statistics can view the data stored on the CDC’s own website and see that this is false information being disseminated. Yet, no one has called them on it.

While you may find smoking to be a terrible habit, drinking, gambling and drug use are just as bad, if not worse. Drinking has been legal since the years of prohibition, gambling is a popular pastime that I find totally out of sync with American family life, yet our citizens are free to take part. The war on drugs is a money laundering scam that should have been dumped years ago; yet these programs remain alive and well – and fully funded by the federal government.

If we value our freedoms, we must have freedom for everyone, not only the elite and powerful but for one and all. If we continue to erode the freedoms of the few, the freedoms of the many will disappear too, leaving us a sorry lot of slaves to government regulation and repression.

I refuse to be marginalized and treated like a second-class citizen. I have the same rights as all you boozers out there and I refuse to relinquish them to you or anyone else for that matter. We must work together to protect our rights against special interest groups, who wish to run our lives and steal our money. It’s not only my freedom that’s at stake but yours as well.

My name is Annette and I am a smoker.

Related Articles

Smoking is Legal!

Smoking is not a crime – yet, but if the American Lung Association has their way, it soon will be.

The American Lung Association has been on the rampage against what they deem, “Big Tobacco,” for several years now and show no signs of letting up any time soon. Unfortunately, it’s not “Big Tobacco” that they are going after this time, it’s the little guy – that’s you and me.

In their current campaign, they are trying to convince California Legislators to pass Assembly Bill 379, in order to “protect children.”

According to their website:

Help Reduce Smoking in Cars with Children

Assembly Bill 379 (Koretz, D-West Hollywood) will prohibit smoking in vehicles when young children are present, defined by those that are required to ride in child safety seats (six years of age or sixty pounds, whichever is first). Secondhand smoke has been determined to cause cancer, respiratory illness and trigger asthma attacks, to name just a few of the significant health impacts. AB 379 is important because the lungs of young children are at higher risk by secondhand smoke because their lungs are still developing physically, they have higher breathing rates than adults, and they have little control over their indoor environments, in this case, cars.

In January 2006, the California Air Resources Control Board declared secondhand smoke a toxic air contaminant, the first such designation by a state in the nation. Not only did CARB affirm the mountainous scientific evidence supporting the ill effects of secondhand smoke, the scientific findings quantified smoke concentrations in automobiles. One such finding indicated that average particulate concentrations in vehicles are up to 10 times higher than the average particulate concentrations found in the homes of smokers.

A Field Research Corporation Poll (“Field Poll”) commissioned the American Lung Association of California found that 65 percent of California voters support enacting a law that would prohibit smoking in cars with young children present. Thirty percent opposed and five percent had no opinion.

There are several things wrong with this campaign.

First and most importantly, passing this bill is not their goal, it’s a means to an end. The ultimate goal is to make smoking any where, for any reason – illegal. If you remember your history books, you’ll recall that prohibition didn’t work against alcohol and making smoking illegal isn’t going to work either. It only serves to increase the governments coffers and steal more money from the middle class.

Second, most people no longer smoke in their cars because it decreases the resale value of the vehicle. Those who do choose to smoke in their vehicles hold the cigarette near the window or smoke with the windows all the way down, making the smoke reaching the backseat negligible. Instead of banning cigarette smoking in vehicles, shouldn’t we simply ban children from riding in them? After all vehicle emmissions are far worse for children than secondhand smoke.

This bill is a blatant attempt to increase funding for the state of California and has nothing to do with protecting children.

There are plenty of unbiased studies, which prove that quoted industry studies are fabricated and weighted on the side of the anti-smoking crowd, but of course, if you say something long enough, people tend to believe it.

Don’t be fooled by this, this is just another freedom anti-smokers are trying to take away. Next, they will be taking children away from mothers and father because they smoke. Oh, wait, they are already doing that in California.

If this is supposed to be the land of the FREE, I’d just like to have one question answered. Exactly, What are we FREE to do?

Encourage your legislators to Vote NO on AB 379.

Second-hand Smoke Facts

Freedom Under Attack By Bay Area Liberals

San Francisco, California

Citizens of San Francisco can rest easy tonight knowing that The Board of Supervisors has voted to make the city a safer place.

In an 8-3 vote Tuesday, city officials effectively outlawed smoking outdoors in all recreational areas under city control with the exception of golf courses. Parks, squares, gardens and playing fields are all included in the ban, but not federally controlled parcels such as the Presidio or Ocean Beach.

Dr. Mitch Katz, Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, was thrilled with the vote. “People are under the misconception that if they are outside, they are not being exposed,” he said. “If you can smell the smoke, your body is inhaling the toxic chemicals in the smoke.”

Yet, the smog and emissions from congested traffic continues to grow unabated in the city. Would the citizens be better served with improvements in a mass transit system, which encourages drivers to curb their driving habits, in favor of better air quality?

State Finances Impacted

In a move which smacks of elitism, golf courses have been exempted out of a purported fear that the ban could cut into the city’s revenue stream.

Yet, bar and restaurant owners throughout the state have been forced to deal with diminishing incomes due to smoking bans for several years now. It’s plausible that the smoking bans forced upon business owners have already had an impact on state finances because of the reduction in collected taxes.

Okemos, Michigan

In Okemos, Michigan things take an even more bizarre twist. The owner of Weyco Inc., forced his employees to either quit smoking or quit their jobs. He said on Wednesday he also wants to tell fat workers to lose weight or else.

Last year, the owner went so far as to ban smoking during office hours, then demanded smokers pay a monthly $50 “assessment,” and finally he has instituted mandatory testing.

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against people because of race, religion, gender and even weight, however, no one sees smoking as a civil right, although smoking is a perfectly legal activity.

“There is no law that prevents Weyco from doing this, but I think there’s a problem when people can’t do what they want to do in the privacy of their home,” says Wendy Wagenhaim of the ACLU.

Because Michigan is an at-will employment state, employers can fire you for any reason. In Michigan, smoking is not the only reason you can be fired. Things like wishing someone a “Merry Christmas”, sporting tattoos or body piercings, engaging in risky behavior such as downhill skiing or race care driving can be reason for termination of employment.

Being a homosexual can also get you fired, because there are no state or federal laws protecting gay workers.

Michigan is the only state, which makes it illegal to fire someone for being overweight.

Some are viewing the Weyco firings as the start of what’s to come.

Mandatory Drug Testing

It’s been many years now since employers began implementing random drug-testing policies, a move many believed infringed on an employees right to do as wish on their own time.

Measures not to hire or to fire employees engaging in illegal acts; such as taking drugs, or drinking alcohol, would be understandable if it were impairing an employees’ ability to do their job. However, if an employee is not smoking in the workplace and smoking is not impairing their performance, employers should not be allowed to make smoking a barrier to employment.

“It must be obvious that liberty necessarily means freedom to choose foolishly as well as wisely; freedom to choose evil as well as good; freedom to suffer the rewards of good judgment, and freedom to suffer the penalties of bad judgment. If this is not true, the word ~freedom~ has no meaning.”

— Ben Moreell

We as a society have taken a bad turn as far as public standards are concerned and what the meaning of privacy is. We have surely hit bottom when we allow one class of citizen to infringe upon the rights of another. This argument is not about right and wrong as the framers might suggest. It is about freedom.

freedom (free-dom) n.

  1. The condition of being free of restraints.
  2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.

Yes, every smoker knows that it’s an unhealthy habit. Just how unhealthy is still a matter of debate, with health officials spouting little more than anecdotal evidence. No one knows why one smoker falls victim to lung cancer and other lives to a ripe old age, or for that matter why one person ends up with skin cancer, while someone else is seemingly unaffected. To be certain there are many unequal facts to be taken into account such as; diet, heredity, environmental factors and immune response.

If smokers are indeed more costly healthcare consumers, then by all means charge them more in premiums. It’s only fair that they should take responsibility for their bad habits but to threaten a person with their livelihood is an attrocity.

You might counter that smokers without insurance are costing taxpayers more in healthcare services. What about them? Well what about them. Didn’t the states just sue tobacco companies for the healthcare costs they had incured by smokers? States are on a wild spending spree, using that money for everything from education to paving roads.

If the money was indeed for the healthcare costs of smokers, then it should be spent for those services. We all know that that was not the case. It amounted to a sin tax on tobacco manufacturers.

Free or Slave?

Either we are a free nation or not. We can’t have it both ways. Anytime a law is passed to protect one citizen, that same law works as a double-edged sword, removing the rights of another equally deserving citizen. Those who are cheering the passage of these non-smoking laws may one day find they are on the wrong end of the law, when they make life choices, which go against the flow of the politically correct.

A little perspective is in order. Isn’t it ironic that a woman can legally kill her own child prior to birth but she won’t be allowed to smoke a cigarette, if some have their way. What kind of twisted country are we living in, where smoking is against the law and abortion is legal?

Over 40 million children have been brutally torn from their mothers womb. Talk about a health risk. Where are the government sponsored advertisments? Where are the concerned citizens?

The next time someone tells you that smoking is bad for your health and they try to tell you that these new laws are for the good of society, think about all the smog you are still breathing and the innocent blood that has been shed. See if you can still believe the lies they are selling.

Reader Responses

Freedom to Breathe

What about the freedom to breathe air that is not contaminated by smokers? Where is that freedom?

Isn’t it ironic that the only way to keep from having to breathe smoke filled air is to hold your breath as you walk through the wall of smokers and then enter a smoke free bar or restaurant? Indoors is the only safe place from smoke.

It is disgusting to know that if I want to eat on an outdoor patio at a restaurant I will have to battle the smoke and the stale smell of cigarettes in the ashtrays all around. Smokers are the only ones who think that it is OK to expose everyone else to their carcinogens.

Can you imagine if people who like to be tan walked around with UV lamps and exposed everyone around them? Would that be accepted? Habits that harm innocent people should be able to be limited without those with those habits claiming that they are loosing their freedoms. Almost all freedom we have is limited. Study up and you will see that every right we enjoy has limitations, and those limitations are made so that your rights don’t harm those around you.

Are smokers harmed by my right to not be exposed to their smoke? No. Am I harmed by being forced to be exposed to their smoke? Yes. There is an obvious difference here.

-Concerned reader

Dear Concerned reader,

What about the business owners, who have invested their time and their money into  trying to make a living? What about their loss of livelihood because they do not  have the choice in the state of California to decide to serve either smoking or non-smoking patrons?

Smokers are harmed because they are forced to brave the elements and the bitter cold risking illness and bodily harm but does that bother you? No.

While I can appreciate your position, having quit for 5-years and having the smell  of cigarettes make me physically sick. I believe this issue is one that goes far beyond smoking.

This is an issue of government trampling on the rights of individuals. While you are obviously a non-smoker, what if your UV lamp was outlawed because of exposure  to others? UV rays are harmful to the environment and I have a right to be protected  from their use.

Do you have the right to harm your own body? Does that right supercede my right to live in a clean environment? What about that car you drive? It should be banned from the road because I am forced to breathe the exhaust fumes and after all, I have a right to clean air. Why should your trip to the grocery store, be allowed to cause me physical harm?

This list could go on forever. Your rights are no more constitutional or important  to protect than mine are.

Freedom to Wave Ends

On Family First Forum, one writer proclaims…

Libertarians believe that people should have lots of freedom, but the freedom to wave your arm ends where your arm ends and someone else’s nose begins.

Smoking negatively effects other people, so it’s different than say reading a book on a park bench.

-Name Withheld

Dear List Member,

True, but the ‘arm’ is a metaphor that isn’t always easily defined.

Nearly every libertarian I know would rather minimize the ‘arm’ as much as possible, in that, all else being equal, they’d rather have more freedom and less government imposition, and let people choose for themselves how to behave and what they do with their lives.

This particular issue is one of defining the ‘arm’. Can you prove that the smoke  from *my* cigarette caused your health to degrade?

Absolutely not – one’s health is generally the result of millions of variables and singling out any single individual cause is nothing more than social voodoo. In absence of that proof, “from my cold, dead hands…” (I don’t smoke, but value the rights of those that do.)

From a previous post…

Smoking negatively effects other people, so it’s different than say  reading a book on a park bench.

Unless they’re reading “Mein Kampf“,  “The Anarchist Cookbook” or something else that the government determines is unhealthy for society-at-large, right? The position of the government in this is that of a nanny state. It can only be meddlesome to inhibit what people do with their own bodies.

Why not outlaw alcohol in the great city of San Francisco? It causes far more deaths than smoking ever could, and the second-hand victims of alcohol are entirely  ‘non-treatable’, as those deaths are usually sudden and complete.

Likewise, why allow those airplanes to land in and around SF? The equally-poisonous exhaust from a single plane takeoff is far more than every smoker combined in SF could hope to expel in a week.

People that choose to side with government on the abolition or ban of anything – even – perhaps /especially/ – socially unaccepted and illegal drugs – are misunderstanding the cause of libertarians. The goal of libertarianism is abolition of government intervention in our lives and in our homes. Giving government the ability to prohibit us from anything we choose to do that cannot be explicitly identified as the sole cause of harm to another is wrong. Government is our servant, not our master.