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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How long will PA's smoking ban last?

Of course, Pennsylvania's criminalization of smoking in private establishments hasn't even gone into effect yet, but Jeremy Richards writes in the Heartland Institutes's Budget & Tax News that "History Shows Smoking Bans Likely to Be Repealed". Cutting to the punchline, he concludes:

Placed in historical context, today's anti-smoking restrictions appear to be neither progressive nor permanent. Like past bans, they are based on prejudices and conventional wisdom that are likely to be falsified by new scientific and health discoveries or, if you like, new prejudices and conventional wisdoms.

Also like past bans, today's prohibitions are leading to civil disobedience, black markets, and heavy social and economic costs.

With the anti-smoking message backed by billions of dollars from government, foundations, and drug companies, it is easy to overlook the backlash that is already occurring and has been growing stronger. Business owners have been fighting back against smoking restrictions, and prohibitions are being more widely flouted in places such as Italy, Spain, Turkey, and, yes, to some degree even in California.

In addition, governments need the revenue that smokers provide in taxes and in revenue to hospitality establishments that cater to a smoking clientele.

Though the anti-smoking movement looks formidable, if history is any indication we will not have to wait long for current smoking bans to unravel.


herefreeman said...

Great article. The anti smoker zealots are no different than former tyrannical regimes. The problem is they have infiltrated a government whose duty is to protect liberty. They and their minions in government must be exposed as radicals of social engineering.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Jeremy Richards' analysis is excellent, but there's one element in the current Prohibition movement that makes it significantly different from those before it: money. The New Smoking Prohibitionists have managed to grab a mountain of gold so far beyond the dreams of Carrie Nation et al that it beggars the imagination.

According to the 2001 AMA report on "Tobacco Control," over 880 million dollars per year is pouring into the hands of the zealots with which to force their dictates upon the rest of us. Now that figure was from several years ago and has probably gone down, but it was also only a partial figure: the AMA only counted money flowing directly from the Master Settlement Agreement. When the advertising budgets of the various Lung/Cancer/Heart charities are thrown into the mix (after all, what better way to get contributions for your group than a big splashy ad claiming you're "protecting little children's lungs"?), and when those funds are added to from the bulging coffers of the friendly NicoGummyPatchyPeople the figure today may well surpass the mere hundreds of millions and head into the billions.

Will that money be there eternally? Not all of it: just ask Ohio's Antismoker group that just had their entire budget yanked when they tried to squirrel a couple hundred million out of state - they not only got their budget yanked, they got outright dissolved by an almost instant and heavily lopsided vote in both the Ohio House and Senate.

Still, the current crop of Prohibitionists have the money to employ thousands of full-time activists at well-paying jobs attacking smokers and smoking in a multitude of ways - something that past generations of nutsos never had. The Great Smoking Prohibition Experiment *WILL* fail... but it'll kick and scream and claw all the way to the end.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"