Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Legislating A New Low

The Feel-Good laws have reached a new height of absurdity here in New Jersey. One of the latest bills to be submitted to the legislature attempts to make flavored tobacco products illegal. The revised version limits the new law to cigarettes, for now.

The so-called "logic" behind this bill is that delicious flavorings like chocolate and fruits make tobacco products attractive to children. The super-geniuses in our legislature have decided that they must pass a law making flavored tobacco illegal. Of course it is illegal to sell tobacco products to children, so this ridiculous law makes no sense; unless you are "just blowing smoke" and pretending to actually care about 'public health', children, or whatever else may get you re-elected. Is alcohol next?

Professional Disclaimer: Professional Tobacconists and moral professionals go to great lengths to protect children and abide by legal age limits. The NJ legal tobacco smoking age is 19.

Personal Disclaimer: I personally do not favor tobacco with any additives or flavorings. But I fully support any adult who does.

Why would you pass a law restricting choice, commerce, freedom, and taste to protect a class of people that are already protected? Is that American? Is that reasonable? Does it make any sense?

The sponsors of this bill and any legislator voting to support it have reached a new low. I hope that they stop wasting our time and money on these empty, politically self-serving laws. The only thing worse than wasting our time and money is what they might have accomplished if they actually focused on something substantive. History will not judge them or their hysterical compulsions favorably. Where are the great thinkers, minds, and statesmen of our time? Certainly not in New Jersey.

And ohhhhh , the hypocrisy!!! They will allow menthol and mint flavored cigarettes. Why? you may ask. Probably because if they don't, the full force of the cigarette tobacco lobby will come down upon them. By limiting this new law to 'other' flavorings, NJ legislators are avoiding infringing on a massive profit vehicle for the major cigarette companies. Ultimately, only the smaller companies will be effected. Sadly, the most moderate and healthy consumers will be the ones hurt: The majority of people who smoke cherry, chocolate, vanilla, rose, or other specialty cigarettes are usually infrequent, once a month, or once a week smokers. People who occasionally want to have a premium cigarette ( healthy smokers), are having their rights usurped. And, as usual, the the little guy, with the little voice suffers. Bit by bit, this is the erosion of freedom and democracy.

Check it out: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillView.asp?BillNumber=S1400

"The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee reports favorably and with amendments Senate Bill No. 1400.
As amended, this bill prohibits the sale of certain flavored cigarettes in New Jersey.
The bill prohibits selling or furnishing to a person a cigarette made of tobacco, or any component thereof, which contains a natural or artificial constituent or additive that causes the cigarette or any smoke emanating from the cigarette to have a characterizing flavor that is attractive to youth.
Specifically, the prohibition applies to cigarettes with characterizing flavors other than tobacco or menthol, such that the cigarette or any smoke emanating from that product imparts a distinguishable flavor, taste or aroma prior to or during consumption, including, but not limited to, any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice flavoring; ...."

"According to public health experts, the existence of these products increases the incidence of tobacco use among children;
c The earlier a person begins using tobacco, the more likely the person will become addicted to tobacco products and continue to smoke throughout that person's life;
d. As a result, flavored 1[tobacco products] cigarettes1 lead to increased tobacco use and addiction, higher health care costs, and a greater incidence of smoking-related illness and death; and
e. Therefore, flavored cigarettes 1[and other tobacco products]1 pose a significant threat to the health of the general public..."

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