Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prohibitionist pipedream: Part 2

If it weren’t so serious, it would be laughable; Canada’s Minister of Public Safety reprimanding smokers as if they were misbehaving children.

A recent article in the National Post says Stockwell Day was appealing to Canadians to “please, please drive past smoke shacks selling 200 cigarettes in clear, plastic resealable bags for as little as $6 and instead fork over $75-$90 for legal cartons”.

Yes, Minister. I understand, Minister. I’ll be a good little Canadian. Yes, Minister, Nanny knows best. Should I lower my trousers and bend over for the caning? Thank you so much, Minister.

The Post article then goes on to put the blame on Native Americans: “90% of the contraband seized thus far in Canada originated from factories on the U. S. side of the Akwesasne reserve”. The Reserve, divided by the St. Lawrence River, straddles the US/Canada border.

But, it’s not the natives who have created the problem. The problem was created by governments who chose to shake down smokers through punitive levels of taxation on a perfectly legal product. It is not the natives who are demanding $75 to $90 for a product that can be grown, processed and distributed for under $10. Sin taxes are one thing; government sponsored extortion is quite another. Don’t blame the aboriginal population for a problem created by misguided politicians who choose to ignore the lessons learned from the prohibition of alcohol three quarters of a century ago.

Remember that quote from John D. Rockefeller in my last post: “a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened.”

The prohibition of alcohol in the twenties and early thirties created that “vast army of lawbreakers”. And, that vast army of lawbreakers, in turn, created the climate that led to prohibition being repealed. And, that vast army is mobilizing once again; this time to fight the piecemeal prohibition of tobacco.

And, if respect for the law has lessened, it’s because smokers had no input into the draconian, discriminatory laws being passed by their governments. Only one side has been permitted to speak in the debate on the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Therefore only one conclusion can be reached by a public which remains largely ignorant of the junk science and suspect statistics permeating the tobacco control movement.

The governments of Canada and its provinces have excluded smokers from the debate. How can they now expect smokers to have any respect for those discriminatory, prohibitionist laws?

I have my own appeal to make to Canadians, especially the over 5 million who continue to smoke: Don’t docilely pay the extortion demanded by your governments, part of which will be distributed to the anti smoker brigade to vilify smokers; to relegate them to the status of secondhand citizens. Refuse to accept the burden of guilt they wish to lay on your shoulders; you don’t deserve it.

You’ve done nothing wrong. You’ve done nothing for which you should be ashamed. Quit when, and if, you choose to, not because they force you to bend to their will. No man or woman deserves to spend his or her life on their knees.

Don’t let them brand you a criminal because you make a sound economic decision to acquire and consume “contraband” tobacco. Extortion is also a criminal activity and your governments have been engaging in outright extortion for decades.

I smoke because I choose to; I smoke contraband because my governments have left me no economically viable option.

Unless there is a large scale public backlash, the anti-smoker brigade will continue their march to outright prohibition.

To be continued

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