Another freedom goes up in smoke - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Another freedom goes up in smoke

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Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:33 am | Updated: 2:05 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Bradley Harrington: Just when you thought it was safe to take a break and spark up a “Bayou Blast” smoke, the federal ban on flavored cigarettes has taken effect. Far from acknowledging the free will of consumers in making such voluntary choices in regard to their smoking habits, the do-gooders at the FDA much prefer to paint such folk as hapless victims who’ve been brainwashed by Big Tobacco.

“Do not ever say that the desire to ‘do good’ by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives.” -- Ayn Rand, “Textbook of Americanism,” 1946

Just when you thought it was safe to take a break and spark up a “Bayou Blast” smoke, better think again: “The new federal ban on flavored cigarettes took effect on Tuesday, marking one of the first visible signs of the Food and Drug Administration’s new authority to regulate tobacco.” (Associated Press, Tuesday)

And the justification for this intrusion into your non-aggressive activities? “’Candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular tobacco users,’ said Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.”

Yep, the children are being threatened! Not with knives, guns or bombs, mind you -- that would merely be gang activity -- but with “Cool Fusion,” “Caribbean Chill” and “Midnight Berry” cigarettes. Sheesh. And all this time, I’ve been thinking it was the job of parents to provide that service. Meanwhile, all adult citizens, who are harming no one but themselves, get to pay the price for that “protection.” But it is the nature of the omnipotent state to treat us all like children, is it not?

The FDA, of course, has had the legal power to regulate tobacco for months, ever since President Barack Obama signed the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act” into law back in June. A bill, as it happened, that had extremely strong bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans -- a fact which should go a long way towards disabusing anyone of the silly notion that Republicans are any better than Democrats at advocating individual liberty.

Far from acknowledging the free will of consumers in making such voluntary choices in regard to their smoking habits, however, the do-gooders at the FDA much prefer to paint such folk as hapless victims who’ve been brainwashed by Big Tobacco, and hop on their white horses to save them all -- with the help of some government guns -- from those evil, greedy, profit-hungry capitalists, using the potential pollution of the windpipes of our pre-pubescent youth as the excuse.

To which I would ask: by what right? By what standard? Who gave the “officials” of the FDA the moral right to regulate the non-coercive activities of a (supposedly) free population? Sure, it’s real easy to crusade against the unpopular habits of cigarette smokers -- but what happens when those government gun start pointing in different directions, as they always do?

At this point, it would be helpful to remember that under the original American system of government, the role of the state was to protect the citizenry from aggression -- not to protect them from themselves. In a free society, the government is to use force only in retaliation, and only against those who initiate its use. The idea that the state should embody the power to tell adult human beings peacefully pursuing their own goals what to do with their choices, is a theory of government much more consistent with a totalitarian state than it is with a constitutionally-limited republic.

Having decided to establish the principle of non-self-responsibility instead, however, what will be next on the FDA’s hit list? Blow dryers that might electrocute you if submerged into a bathtub? Oops, wrong bureaucracy; that would be the Consumer Product Safety Commission. How about garbage bags that might suffocate you if you place your head inside? Hello, that would be the Department of Health and Human Services. How about carpet cleaners that might poison your innards if drank like soda-pop? Nyet, comrade, that would be the Environmental Protection Agency. Where does it end?

And that, precisely, is the point: when man’s individual rights and the integrity of law are steamrollered and replaced by bureaucratic edict, there is no end: once the objectivity of individual rights goes up in smoke, the only “protection” anyone has from anyone else is to join a pressure group -- and hope that it’s a large pressure group come election day. And we wonder why our society finds itself being atomized into warring factions, with many of our youths dropping out and joining herds?

And, in those herds, I’ll tell you this much: those kids, left to fend for themselves in the midst of our cultural, political and intellectual degradation, are being inflicted with far more damage than what they’d ever get from smoking “Twista Lime” cigarettes.

--

Bradley Harrington, a former U.S. Marine, is a free-lance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo.

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