Smoke Police

Published November 16, 2005

Dear Editor:

Do we need the smoke police?

Once upon a time, America was the land of the free and the home of the brave. Gallant cowboys rode tall on weathered horses with saddlebags filled with tobacco, self-rolled cigarettes dangling from strong lips.

There was no welfare state to mother you, and no charities around to preach the evils of our western habits.

Today we have the nanny state, which nags and scolds us about cleaning up our room from environmental tobacco smoke. The airways and newspapers are filled with warnings from politically correct bureaucrats at city, county, and state health departments and their missionary smoke police working for nonprofit advocacy organizations funded by taxes and by smokers via the Master Settlement Agreement.

So fierce is the rhetoric that the possibility that ventilation systems might be used to minimize exposure to second-hand smoke is rejected out of hand. Even one molecule of “deadly” second-hand smoke is too much for these nannies.

Chicago is well along the road to erasing individual liberties for smokers, and with them nonsmokers too. It won’t be long before the church ladies of city hall (aldermen) use the full coercive power of the city to persecute smokers. Then the jails will be filled with irreverent cigarette smokers, led perhaps by hookah smokers chanting prayers for the liberation of our nation from the creeping fascism disguised as health concerns.

Will Americans continue to let their liberty be curtailed by the new smoke police? I think I can hear the tobacco-growing founders of this great nation quietly rolling in their Virginia graves.

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is public affairs director for The Heartland Institute.