Smoking tobacco is the New Taboo, the habit whose name is not to be spoken. It's as if a tobacco user were hoisting a child over a spit, slopping it in BBQ sauce and savory herbs, using the flag for kindling the cooking fire, and singing songs of the Wehrmacht.
Bolstering criminal investigators, our state has enacted scores of officers to eye those who buy smokes in another state and attempt to come back into Tennessee. Such folk are smugglers now in the eyes of the law. One state official, Rep. Jason Mumpower says this enforcement was prompted by the reality that much-sought tax revenues are falling short of expectations:
"(The Department of Revenue) contends they are going to clamp down on this because we’ve had two consecutive months of cigarette tax revenues being in the tank,” said Mumpower."
Odd too, the Dept. of Health will define smoking lawbreakers and fine them for smoking, while another part of the same agency is pushing residents to quit and receive state aid to do so:
"Tobacco users who live in Tennessee can call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine to be paired with a personal quit coach and receive additional materials to help put down the tobacco for good. When a tobacco user calls the QuitLine, he or she is assigned a dedicated quit coach who works with the individual over the telephone to help develop personalized plans for tobacco use cessation that meet the caller’s particular needs. To ensure consistency, individuals participating in the program work with the same quit coach over a 12-month period."
Costs of this program to the state? I do not know, but to use the hyperbole of the moment - "This is about saving lives!!"
Are these bans anti-freedom? Yes, according to presidential hopeful Fred Thomspon, who says, smoking bans pushed Iraqis to abandon Al Qaeda!!
Curiouser and curiouser, I say.
On this well-intentioned roadway, it is worth noting how so many in our nation today see bans, preventions, and prohibitions of all manner of lifestyles as vital. A slow but sure and steady pace of behavior modification is now linked to governmental responsibility. The Rise of the Nanny Government. It is the Day of the Twinkie Fascist, says Denver Post writer David Harsanyi in his new book:
"In his new book Nanny State, Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi documents in appalling and encyclopedic detail exactly "how food fascists, teetotaling do-gooders, priggish moralists, and other boneheaded bureaucrats are turning America into a nation of children." If there's a smoking ban, a mandatory exercise program, or censorious city government out there, it's pilloried in Nanny State.
In wide-ranging and engagingly written chapters, the 37-year-old Harsanyi argues that preserving life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means giving individuals more choices in how to live, not fewer. "We've built the freest and most dynamic society the world has ever seen," writes Harsanyi. "To let these lightweight babysitters take over would be absurd, self-destructive, and categorically un-American."
I suppose it was all a downhill slide once we allowed for the creation a 'suggested daily allowance' of food and vitamins. (A brief timeline of official food and drug laws here.)
So if you'll just dress right, drive right, talk right, eat right, sleep right, don't talk with your mouth full, never say a discouraging word, put down the scissors and walk slowly to your designated and safety-secured play areas, work to raise productivity, use the proper cleaners and brush your teeth three times a day, and just follow your leaders, you too may be a Winner.
UPDATE: See this post featured at Volunteer Voters.