Another crackdown on smokers?
…from my cold, dead fingers
Sometimes, Nanny knows best
After the 2006 General Assembly made it illegal to light up in virtually any indoor space open to the public in Colorado, I felt a sort of liberation.
Yes, I’m an unrepentant smoker, and sure, the new law struck me as unfair and kind of silly—protecting the likes of bar employees, most of whom smoked, from others’ smoke. Yet, I also had grown weary of being told I was jeopardizing the health of children, oldsters and assorted others each time I lit up, even in a separate smoking section. So, when the law exiled me to the great outdoors, I found a strange comfort in knowing I at last was undermining the health of only one consenting adult: myself.
My peace of mind turned out to be short-lived. In a few weeks, the once-sensible Denver suburb of Lakewood will weigh a proposal to shoo us smokers further away from buildings and, according to the Denver Post, to ban smoking in “gathering places” in city parks. So now, even my solitary treks down sidewalks through parks and along trails, accompanied only by a swirl of smoke, are a public menace.
Which makes me wonder: Do the common scolds of the anti-smoking movement, like Smoke-Free Colorado, really believe a trace of secondhand smoke in a park imperils every jogger’s health? Or, are they now simply trying to justify their existence (and funding)—having succeeded long ago in hounding smokers out of polite society?
Either way, just let them try to take my Kool 100s from me.
Mal, maybe it’s neither. Consider yet another motive: Maybe those “common scolds” who have the audacity to worry about the billions of dollars spent annually on treating smoking-related illness really care about your health. As a supporter of tighter restrictions on smoking in general, allow me to validate one of your worst fears: Big government really does want to save you from yourself—and from all the other yourselves out there who are costing us all a bundle in tax dollars and insurance premiums.
So, you’re right, public-health advocates aren’t worried that smoking at a jazz concert in City Park is going to induce emphysema or lung cancer in the rest of the audience any more than it’s going to contribute to global warming. Despite your foul demeanor and breath, it is you they want to save. Not because they value your contributions to journalism but because they don’t want to squander hundreds of thousands of additional Medicare dollars on you as you hack up your lung in a hospice.
Does that mean the latest attempt to kick-start a new round of anti-smoking regs, theoretically aimed at curbing secondhand smoke, are disingenuous? Well, how else are we going to get you self-absorbed, don’t-tread-on-me freeloaders to do the right thing and quit your costly habit? Higher tobacco taxes don’t seem to do the trick with hardcore addicts like you.
Yes, we’re trying to force you to quit, even if we have to enact more laws. Not to control you—but to control your cost to everyone else.
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