Whither Tobacco

This is the halfway point in this year’s 30 Days of Blog, and I thought I would devote at least one day responding to the man who started all of this. The Numb Trolleybus is singing Congress’s praises for finally making the move to regulate tobacco products. And I shared his surprise when I learned that the government didn’t already regulate it. I mean, the feds tell you how much water your toilet can use per flush, how is it that they aren’t already involved in this aspect of your life?

Whenever anyone casts tobacco as the bad guy, I always reflect upon the fact that our country would not exist but for tobacco. The Virginia Colony was founded to make this product more affordable (and to make its growers rich), and for the first 100 years of our history, next to cotton, tobacco was our biggest export. But for my entire life, we as Americans have had a love/hate relationship with this lowly plant.

I’m certainly not advocating smoking, and I’m no fan of sitting next to a smoker, if I can avoid it. However, I am a fan of freedom, and I recognize that person’s right to put whatever they want into their own bodies. The argument is that allowing them to use this dangerous product will “inflict enormous drains on the health care system.” That may be true, but the first question to ask yourself is, why am I paying for the health care system? Since when is it the job of goverment to provide me with health care? The answer: it isn’t. And despite the attractiveness of giving away health care to every American, it creates just as many problems as it solves. Entitlement spending always creates or exacerbates problems like this, or immigration, to use another example.

When you agree to pay for something, you should have some say in how that something is used. The logic behind that is unassailable, however, it’s based on a flawed premise: that you have the authority to pay for that something in the first place. Health concerns are certainly a valid reason for shunning tobacco, but don’t blame the plant for the problems caused by our attempts to implement socialism.

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