Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Don’t tell me what to do: Smoking and governmental right

Last Wednesday, the New York City Council voted by overwhelming majority to increase the smoking age in the city to 21. This was done as part of an initiative to stop the smoking epidemic and to increase health among the citizens of New York.

But the problem of tobacco use cannot be stopped by something as crude as a ban. All one needs to do to see the falsity of such a statement is to look at current levels of underage drinking. That Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, can think that such heavy-handed action is a good idea is a troubling testament to the current political mindset. To put it bluntly, it is very hard to force people to do anything, especially if the enforcer is the American government.

When playing the game of public opinion, image is everything. Large companies understand this. It’s why they use celebrities and carefully crafted ad campaigns to sell their products. Their manipulation of the system is far more subtle than the government’s, and it is far more effective. Goods are presented as “the right choice,” the best option to pick. Instead of telling consumers what to buy, they suggest it. This keeps individuals from realizing that they are being manipulated and has the added advantage of making the products seem preferable.

Furthermore, banning a substance is a tricky area on many levels since it implies that people are not capable of understanding the effects that the substance would have on them. This raises tricky constitutional questions as well. After all, it is not necessarily the responsibility of the government to determine what its citizens can and cannot do to themselves. Now, there are limits on such freedoms, and a large part of being a leader or politician is knowing when to set such limits. Children should not be allowed to consume alcohol because they cannot understand the full consequences of such actions. Even so, when someone has the full mental capacity to think like an adult, it is a pretty tricky question in and of itself. So what is the answer?

The answer is that we already have set a point after which an individual is considered a full adult in the law. Once a citizen turns 18, he is granted the ability to vote and be drafted. And if someone is old enough to die for his country, shouldn’t he be old enough to choose for himself if he wants to consume tobacco? Or for that matter, whether or not he chooses to drink?

Setting the legal smoking age to 21 is not the solution. In fact, it will exacerbate the problem. Instead of alarming people by thinking that the government is trying to take their freedom to smoke away, citizens should come to understand fully the consequences of smoking, and what it might do to them. That is the government’s responsibility in this situation: to make sure that its citizens are as well-educated as they can possibly be. Once the information is presented, it is no longer the government’s concern if the citizen wishes to smoke. It is the responsibility of the citizens to make their own choices. Our government can show us the door, but it cannot force us to walk through.

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  • chirs says:

    Why don’t more people your age fight for your right to be treated as adults?

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  • harleyrider1978 says:

    This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke:

    http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/28/16741714-lungs-from-pack-a-day-smokers-safe-for-transplant-study-finds?lite

    Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds.

    By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News.

    Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe.

    What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none.

    “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study………………………

    Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it!

    The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered:

    Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year.

    146,000 CIGARETTES SMOKED IN 20 YEARS AT 1 PACK A DAY.

    A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose.

    Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh!

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  • harleyrider1978 says:

    Schuman’s Expert Witnesses Testify in Secondhand Smoke Trial

    The plaintiff’s expert witnesses spoke up on day three of David Schuman’s case against his housing cooperative, Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI), for its failure to prohibit the nuisance created by his townhome neighbors, the Popovics’, secondhand smoke.

    Courtroom and Plaintiff’s Townhome Register Similar Carcinogen Levels

    But, an incident from Repace’s testimony Thursday came back into play Friday during cross examination. Goecke pointed out that on Thursday, while demonstrating the carcinogen monitor, Repace had measured the concentration of carcinogens in the court room — which is in a smoke-free building — and the amount he recorded there was similar to what Repace had reported recording in Schuman’s townhome in July of 2011.

    greenbelt.patch.com/articles/schumans-expert-witnesses-testify-in-secondhand-smoke-trial

    As you can see even in a smokefree courtroom the same so called levels were read in Schumans own Kitchen in his house! The so called scientist was none other than a fellow prohibitionist and JUNK SCIENTIST,Tornado Repace!

    Talk about being laughed out of court……………….btw these prohibitionists create whats called ”risk assesment studies” Purely fictional and nothing more than statistical magic to create fear and bigotry against smokers!

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878