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You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Smoke

You’ve got to fight for your right to paaaaahhhhteh! The Beastie Boys song goes through my head as I think about how "You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party" isn’t just about youth rebellion. It’s about living your life the way you want to without someone else telling you what to do. It’s about personal freedoms. Any business owners in the audience raise your hands. Ok, home owners raise your hands. Apartment dwellers ? Now let’s pretend I’m going to come into your house or apartment and go through the pantry and refrigerator and confiscate your potato chips, cookies, sugary cereals, I am going to block the naughty channels on your TV remote, and we have a new earlier bedtime for you.

What’s wrong? You don’t like that? But it’s for your own good. These things are all bad for you. Oh, and by the way, you business owners out there. We didn’t forget about you. Since you don’t know any better, we’re going to decide for you if you should allow smoking in your establishments. This is what the tobacco dealer’s trade organization is arguing against in Topeka Kansas right now.

Even though retail tobacco stores will be exempted from the proposed smoking ban, this is not good enough.

Topeka city council members plan to act on the ordinance September 29. They will hear public comment about it at forums on September 21 and 28.

"We want to go on record opposing this ordinance for many reasons, not the least of which is that the statistics and so-called studies being cited by the pro-smoking ban forces need to be thoroughly vetted for accuracy. People tend to ccept these generally false or misleading claims without challenging them. For every claim against smoking, secondhand smoke or the positive economic impact of smoking bans, there is at least one survey or scientific study that says otherwise," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR. "For example, even the Federal Reserve Bank says smoking bans can hurt businesses."

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McCalla cited obesity as the nation’s number one health problem, including many of those generally attributed to smoking. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, medical costs associated with obesity have increased from $78 billion in 1998 to $147 billion in 2006. Two-thirds of adults and some 20 percent of children in the United States are now overweight or obese.

"Does that mean government should prevent fat people from overeating or consuming high calorie foods? Of course not. It is not government’s place to tell us how to live or how to run our businesses. A business owner, not the government, has the right to decide if smoking will be allowed on his premises. When government interferes with that right, it begins sliding down the slippery slope of constitutional compromise which leads to the continued and growing loss of rights across the board," said McCalla. "Just look around you to see growing erosion of our rights as United States citizens."

In addition to proposing to tax food items such as sugary soft drinks, the CDC suggests banning television sets from children’s bedrooms.

"That’s just as intrusive, ridiculous and dangerous as legislative smoking bans. If you don’t want to be exposed to smoke, don’t go places where you might expect it. Patronize businesses that don’t permit smoking. That’s their right… and that’s your right. But government does not have the right to tell a business that it should or should not ban smoking. The constitution is on our side on this one," McCalla said.

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