Many believe the government is encroaching more and more on the choices we make. Official warnings are posted everywhere. Often these are in the form of information such as the nutritional data on food labels or restaurant menus. Other times we are told what to do to avoid danger, such as when pumping gas. A dramatic example of government intervention is the new cigarette graphics program designed to discourage smoking.
Back in the ‘60s, the federal government decided it was in our best interest to have cigarette packages carry a warning that smoking could be a health hazard. It appeared on the side of every package. Soon it appeared in all ads as well. The next move was the banning of all cigarette advertising on both radio and television. Then, there were more and harsher warnings along with educational campaigns that spread the woes of second-hand smoke. This led to smoking bans in restaurants and virtually anyplace outside of ones home or car. Now, even these once safe havens are also under attack.
Continued pounding away at the dangers of cigarettes achieved the desired result of reducing the number of Americans who smoked. However, with this came reduced revenues, since tobacco products were an important source of tax dollars. So, the government did what it does best and raised taxes on tobacco products, particularly cigarettes. All the while, subsidies were still being paid to tobacco farmers.
Less than half the percentage of US adults smoke today compared to a half-century ago. However, what seems to be a never ending quest to control the electorate, politicians and their bureaucratic colleagues are pushing harder to reduce cigarette usage. This seems like a strange way to treat a legal product that generates considerable tax dollars. But the decision has been made to scare people to stop or never start smoking in the name of better health for everyone.
Have you seen the illustrations that will be adorning the cigarette packages? There’s a clean lung next to a smoker’s lung. Another has a smoker sporting a tracheotomy. And, of course, there is one that features a corpse, with the body obviously being that of a smoker. There are others, but you get the idea.
Only the die-hard smoker in denial, a cigarette company executive or a politician from a tobacco growing state will extol the benefits of smoking. Therefore, we will probably see tobacco usage decline further. Taxes will be increased so the cash cow can continue to fund the projects aimed at shrinking the size of the market in this game of round robin.
What non-smokers have to worry about is if the government will use the same heavy-handed tactics to stop us from eating the foods we enjoy. This, then, becomes an attack on our freedom. Are we willing to allow Big Brother to usurp individual choices and personal responsibilities in order to conform with what someone else says is good for us? Isn’t it time to let the elected representatives know, as Americans, we still claim the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?