Are laws designed to curb smoking restricting liberty?

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I smoke. It’s not an addiction, and it doesn’t introduce any problems into my life. It does have health consequences, but those are my own risks to take. I simply enjoy taking a few puffs of some vanilla flavored tobacco through my pipe – a quite enjoyable hobby.

Recently, the US Congress passed a law, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, in an attempt to curb smoking amongst younger individuals. The primary intention of this bill is to allow the FDA to regulate the sale and manufacturing of tobacco. Other provisions restrict the use of terms such as “light” – to eliminate the misnomer that they may be healthier, banning of advertising in publications that are targeted towards youth, and expanded warning labels. Thus far, quite common sense, and which I subscribe to applying to my definition of liberty below. However, there is one provision which I do have a problem with – the banning of all flavorings with the exception of menthol.

First, lets take a moment to define liberty – according to, and matching closely with common usage, “freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control”. What does this mean? Liberty is the state of being free from a judging power, of being free from tyranny and absolute rule, and being free from general control. I will add a common sense rule to this liberty, however: an action taken to restrict another’s liberty, or to decieve, or otherwise to create an unfair upperhand, is not protected under the concept of liberty.

The idea behind the “Special Rule” listed under Sec. 907 of the act is that, by banning flavoring, cigarettes will become less appealing to minors and younger smokers. In restricting the use of flavorings, even when the flavorings will not decieve or harm any one person, the manufacturer has lost the ability to decide what range products to offer, and the consumer has lost the ability to decide which range of products to consume. No longer, under the hands of a government, do either party have the liberty to produce and consume flavored cigarettes.

It is interesting to note that a major supporter of this bill, especially of Sec. 907, is Philip Morris, produces only tobacco and menthol cigarettes. Could this possibly be a ploy to gain an advantage in the market? I will also add that, from my observations, the most popular cigarettes in younger individuals and adults alike are not flavored cigarrettes (with the exception of menthols) – deeming Sec. 907 ineffective and useless.

Good job anti-tobacco activists and US Congress, you just shot down another soldier, even if one with a grim face, marching under the flag of liberty.


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