Thursday, June 5, 2008

Strong and free; but not smoke-free

I used to work for a living.

I had to earn the money it takes to raise a family; to keep a roof over their heads, and mine; to put food on the table and keep clothes on their back. And, I had to provide for those intangibles that make life worth living. Simple pleasures, like an annual outing to the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition), a picnic at High Park or just taking the kids out for burgers and fries at MacDonalds.

And, I had to provide for my own simple pleasures, to maintain my sanity in a world that often seemed mad and out of control. Among other things, I drank beer and I smoked cigarettes. I still like a cold beer now and then, with family and old friends, and I still smoke a pack a day.

I don’t work for a living anymore.

Oh, I still work; but it’s unpaid volunteer work. I don’t do it for any altruistic reasons, my motives are purely selfish. One of the things I learned on retiring was that I actually needed to work. Not for the money, although a little extra cash would be more than welcome, but for the personal satisfaction that comes from a job well done. It keeps the mind and soul intact; and, more than anything, it makes you feel useful.

Over the years, I’ve paid my share of taxes; income taxes, sales taxes, UIC, CPP, property taxes and a host of other, hidden taxes levied by money hungry governments at all levels.

Being both a drinker and smoker, I’ve also paid my fair share of sin taxes; extortion demanded by moralist do-gooders who profess to know what’s best for me and who insist I conform to their standards of morality and conduct. I ignore them . . . paying their sin taxes with only a mild grumbling. My dues have been paid up to date.

Over the past few decades, I’ve watched my tax dollars being handed out to organizations whose policies I oppose: the Non-Smokers Rights Association, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, etc. I listened to their empty-headed rhetoric and dismissed it. I believe in freedom of choice.

Now, these same organizations, funded in whole or in part by my tax dollars, have launched a campaign to de-normalize smokers. On the basis of corrupt science and suspect statistics, smokers are being vilified, ostracized from polite society and openly discriminated against. Anti-smoker campaigns have become nothing less than state funded propaganda; de-normalization nothing less than state sanctioned bigotry.

I suspect that many non-smokers recognize the lies. How can they possibly believe that a society which could put a man on the moon is incapable of designing a ventilation system to clear cigarette smoke from a bar or legion hall? How can they possibly accept the lunacy of denying an individual a job because he/she smokes in the privacy of their own home? Do they honestly believe their parents were child abusers because they may have smoked in their presence as children?

Many people appreciate that the secondhand smoke scare is largely a hoax generated by petty dictators to force smokers to quit. Many more understand the dangers of allowing a vocal minority to impose their moral standards on society. Most recognize that freedom includes the right to make one’s own life style choices; their own decisions, good or bad.

When will they cry: “Enough”?

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