The busybodies are at it again.
The Food and Drug Administration's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee released a statement Friday concluding that removing menthol cigarettes from the market would benefit public health. The panel was quick to point out that it was not actually recommending the legal removal of menthol cigarettes from the market, but why else release such a statement? Did that really require a year-long study? Is there anyone who does not already know that not smoking would improve health, public or otherwise? This is nothing more than floating a trial balloon to determine what the public reaction might be to such a ban.
The FDA knows that they are on shaky ground with this. The logic is abysmal. Menthol cigarettes account for only about 30% of smokers in America and there is no evidence that the availability of menthol cigarettes increases the likelihood of youth smoking (that favorite bogeyman that is used to justify so much regulation). From a logical standpoint, there is no justification for banning only a particular type of cigarette, which accounts for such a small percentage of overall smokers. This is how it works, though. You start with the small groups who have less defenders. Once you remove their freedoms, it becomes easier to move on to the next group and, as you progress, more and more people have lost freedoms and they did not even realize they were at risk.
Full disclosure: I smoke, and it just so happens that I smoke menthol cigarettes. I know that this is a bad decision, but it is my decision to make. Your decision is whether or not you smoke.
"But I have a right to clean air!" No, you don't. If you do, explain to me those factories, automobiles, processing plants, and so many other commonplace components of modern life that each have a much greater impact on your air quality than cigarette smoke. Unless you are standing in a smoker's hip pocket, or are in an enclosed space with many smokers, cigarette smoke has no measurable impact on your air quality. If every smoker on the planet stepped outside and lit up at once, the overall air quality would not even notice. Contrary to the claims of the Whiny Police, cigarette smoke just does not have that great an impact.
"But I have to pay for your additional health care." Generally speaking, the people who make this claim are the same idiots who insist that we all have to pay for everyone else's health care in the first place. You created the problem. Live with it. Otherwise, I have to pay for your extra health care every time one of you Back to Nature panzies gets hurt on a hike because you don't actually know anything about nature, so we're going to ban wilderness hiking. I have to pay for your additional health care every time one of your "good for the environment" toy cars gets turned into modern art on the highway, so we're going to ban subcompact cars. Stop and consider how the logic can be applied before you attempt to apply it. It doesn't just ban things you don't like.
"But it's bad for you and smoking kills." So? Skydiving is not exactly the best way to improve your life expectancy, but it is still legal. Drinking alcohol leads to far more deaths every year than cigarette smoking, and we all know how well Prohibition worked out.
That, of course, is the point. Prohibition was an abject failure that turned a common past time into a criminal enterprise and created such memorable characters as Al Capone. The so called War on Drugs has done no better (though politicians of the early 20th Century were apparently better able to admit their mistakes). The outright banning of a commonly used product that has otherwise been legal forever has never had positive results, and the Powers That Be have possibly figured that out. So, instead of an outright ban, they want to sneak their way through incremental bans, get the frog used to the hot water before it boils so that the silly creature doesn't just jump out of the pot.
The idea, however, is not logically tenable. If smoking is legal, which it is, then you have no business using the government bully stick to encourage people to quit. If smoking is legal, which it is, then you have no business targeting one aspect of that industry, which is no more dangerous and no closer to illegal than any other. Logically, you have two choices: ban smoking outright (and create yet another criminal era of prohibition) or butt out and mind your own business.
You people who support such a ban, who can't seem to figure out that the same power can be used against you once one of your habits is deemed sufficiently unpopular, are definitely a big part of the problem in modern America. If we all stick together and defend all of our freedoms then we cannot be defeated. Allow this divide and conquer idea to continue, however, and you will eventually achieve the America you deserve.