Jim Ritter’s Health Column extolling the virtues of the “anti-tobacco smokers paradise” signed into law by the governor this week (“Kicking Some Ash …”, Chicago Sun-Times, July 24, 2007) fails to key in on the real costs that accompany the anti-tobacco nanny state: Laid-off restaurant, bar, and hospitality workers will join laid-off casino and bingo parlor workers in the parking lots of empty bowling alleys to smoke in their cars, as long as their children are not present.
The state of Illinois, which needs every dime of revenue it can get, will forfeit payroll, sales, and income taxes due to lost workers and patrons or consumers, while increasing unemployment taxes, workmen’s compensation, and insurance costs for all employers who expose employees to potential “illegal” second-hand smoke generated by violators of the state legislation on their premises.
And then–after destroying the individual civil liberties of tobacco smokers and impugning the dignities of veterans smoking cigarettes at local VFWs (old soldiers who, we so soon forget, fought WWII to free the world from this type of totalitarianism)–these bi-partisan elected losers will raise taxes on cigarettes by another buck a pack to continue their campaign to persecute smokers while making tobacco illegal in the twenty-first century.
Then the state will have seed money to start the deployment of the coming authoritarian state, as legions of citizens (the new patronage army) are deputized to write tickets against those smoking within 15 feet of buildings, in public parks, or on CTA platforms and bus stops. Soon the courts will be glutted with civil rights cases from nicotine addicts suing for equal protection under the 14th Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the potential for violence in the workplace on our streets increases exponentially.
All because the politicians care so much about our health that they will deny our basic civil liberties in order to protect us from ourselves. What was America in 1945 has evaporated into a politically correct mist in just more than 60 years. What a shame.
Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager for The Heartland Institute.