A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jim Doyle's Nanny State

Our governor wants to ban smoking in all public places throughout the state. Hee haw. Gotta protect us from ourselves, eh, Jimmy Boy? Funny, though, that we haven't banned any other vices that are bad for the user and those around him or her-- alcohol, gambling, over-eating, watching too much TV, wearing ugly clothes.

We should ban all of those, too, don't you think? I mean, alcohol has a lot of bad health effects, and I'm pretty sure that it's easier to verify the number of people injured or killed by drunk drivers than it is the number of people injured or killed by second-hand smoke. Let's ban alcohol in all public places. Oh wait, the Tavern League of Wisconsin is pretty tight with the state legislature, huh? And they already don't like the ban on smoking proposal, so banning alcohol probably won't fly. Okay, well lets skip that one, then.

But gambling! Hoooo Nelly, that's a bad 'un. People gambling away welfare checks and mortgage payments. Students robbing people to get money for their gambling addiction. Let's ban that, too. Oh, wait. The casino interests in Wisconsin donated a lot of money to you, didn't they Jimbo? Nearly a million schamolians it seems. Okay, well, let's not ban that vice, then.

Over-eating! Ban all fast food establishments in Wisconsin except Subway! Fast food is bad for us, and the health care costs for overweight people is skyrocketing-- nearly as great as the costs from smoking. Fix this problem, Jim my man, by making Wisconsin a model of health consciousness. Never mind the billions of dollars of revenue you'll suck out of our state-- we need to set a precedent!

And TV! Zoinks. Ban TV, ban all video games. Save the children for God's Sake why aren't we doing something to save the children! Ban it, ban it, ban it! Stop the insanity-- make those children be active. State law, all children must be active for three hours every day. 15 jumping jacks each morning. Ten push ups before bed. SET THE F*ING STANDARDS HIGH JIM!

And please, please, while your out there doing the age old job of governments to protect people from themselves, PLEASE ban all the ugly clothes out there these days.

We're gonna be a model state, baybee!

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Comments:
First, you *must* be one of the last human beings on the face of the planet who *doesn't* want smoking banned just about everywhere. Strike that, you must be one of the last AMERICANS.

Second, your logic is faulty. It's not about banning vices. Smoking is not just a vice. It's a public health nuisance. Drinking? Well, yeah, if you're getting ripped and driving, could be bad for public health, but it's not like someone else sitting next to you drinking ONE beer is killing YOUR brain cells or increasing your chances of cancer. Ditto for the rest of your list of vices... in moderation, all OK.

Just because you don't like old Jimmy D. doesn't mean you need to get your panties in a twist about something sensible that he's doing.

Unless, of course, that's your sort of thing. In which case, rant on...
 
There are carcinogen sources in our day-to-day life other than cigarettes, but we are not talking about banning them (yet).

Aflatoxins can be generated from the Aspergillus fungus growing on stored cereals, grains, seeds, spices, and nuts. Cows fed on such grains can produce milk with an aflatoxin content. Children tend to be more susceptable to aflatoxins. Should General Mills or Kemps be forced to start providing home aflatoxin kits with their products, just to make sure that we are actually getting a healthy breakfast?

Broiling or grilling foods that are high in protein can generate benzopyrene, a carcinogen also found in cigarette smoke. Smoked meats and burnt toast can also contain benzopyrene. When will grilling become a carcinogenic hazard, due to both the end product and the smoke that the process produces?

Acrylamide can be generated by frying or applying high heat to foods high in carbohydrates, such as chips or fries. McDonald's is already changing its oil to remove trans-fats; how long until we must also be protected from the inherent danger of acrylamide in the fries that we are buying for ourselves and our children?

All of that aside, why is the plan to only ban smoking in public places? If smoking is truly hurting our kids, cutting thousands of lives short, and costing society billions in health-care, then why are we not banning the product altogether?

People who smoke in their homes or cars will be exposing their non-smoking friends and families to secondhand smoke, certainly cutting those lives short. Those same people will be sending the wrong message to their children (and possibly their children's friends), not to mention the fact that those cancer sticks could easily be swiped by the kids. The health-care costs for those who continue to smoke, and for those around those who continue to smoke, will continue to burden society.

So why aren't we banning tobacco products? I think that the answer was in paragraph two of the first article that Nick referenced.

"Doyle also wants to increase the tax on cigarettes by a-dollar-and-a-quarter per pack, up from 77-cents now charged. And, he's proposing a significant increase in funding, directed toward expanding anti-smoking programs."

Doyle knows that banning the product would only drive it underground, and then the state couldn't collect any money off of it. Take action against public exposure to smoking through a broad ban on the use of the product, a ban that may include some exceptions such as bars and casinos, and you have it on the record that you are protecting the bystanders from a product that costs the state billions.

With that health-care cost figure thrown out there, an additional tax can be suggested for the product. After all, if the smokers are going to engage in such risky behavior, it seems perfectly reasonable to ask them to carry a larger portion of the burden.

It's nothing more than a nanny-state tactic that has the side benefit of putting more money in the general fund.
 
First, I don't think I am one of the last human beings that d/n want smoking banned. Or one of the last Americans. I do think I'm one of the few that will actually say so-- possibly because I don't actually smoke, so I don't feel guilty about it.

I think-- strike that, I know-- a lot of smokers don't like it at all. They just are afraid to say so because they've been vilified so badly in today's society. I know most bar owners, and many restaurant owners, don't like it because it will almost certainly hurt their business. And I think, but don't know for sure, that there are a LOT of people who find this kind of government overreach disturbing and offensive, but are afraid to say anything because smokers are the Lepers of society today. Unwashed, unclean, cast them out.

I'm only exaggerating a little.

Second, my logic is not faulty-- just taken to perposterous lengths to make a point. Is smoking a greater risk than drinking or over-eating? Probably, but it's a matter of degree, not a matter of completely different realms of perception. They are ALL public health nuisances, but smokers are the only ones who feel like their vice deserves to be picked on.

Mojo also makes a good point-- if smoking is so terrible, why don't we just outlaw it? Because states have become dependent on the tax revenue is why.

And, really, my two main points in this post are simply this: It is not government's job to protect people from they're own stupidity. Everyone KNOWS smoking is bad for you-- if you still choose to do so, your bad. Everyone also knows secondhand smoke is stinky and likely bad for you-- if you don't like it, go to places that don't allow smoking. Lord knows there are no shortage of those around. There is no need or reason for government to be involved except to ban smoking in government buildings-- which they have already done.

Second main point. I despise the fact that Jim Doyle claims to be doing this for the good of the state when the simple fact is, he's doing it for political gain and he picked tobacco because there will be no backlash. Alcohol? Tavern League-- and most of Wisconsin's population-- would go through the roof. Over-eating? Business sector-- and most of Wisconsin's population-- would go through the roof. Gambling? The Indian interests, who have to fight with the teachers' union to see who owns a bigger part of Jim Doyle's soul-- and a good chunk of Wisconsin's population-- would go through the roof.

It is not the government's job to protect people from their own bad choices. Nor to claim to be heroes when they do. The fact that most people aren't bothered when government does precisely that is very depressing to me.
 
You still don't get my point. Smoking is really the only "vice" you listed that directly endangers those around you. (Ditto to you, USMC). Someone else eating cereal next to you isn't going to endanger you (except if it's peanuts and most daycares and schools have sensibly banned them because of that very point).

Now, I think you can sensibly argue whether such a wide-ranging ban is enforceable. But I think to argue that there should be no ban because you bristle against government regulation in general is misplaced in this interest. It is NOT in the interest of you and your children to be against banning smoking for that reason.
 
I say again: Why is the plan to only ban smoking in public places? If smoking is truly hurting our kids, cutting thousands of lives short, and costing society billions in health-care, then why are we not banning the product altogether?

While someone eating cereal next to me isn't going to endanger me, someone grilling or burning a fire near me may endanger me if I passively inhale some of the smoke that is the byproduct of those activities. Also, while peanuts and other such allergens may be banned from daycares and schools in order to prevent an allergic child from being exposed, those items are not the same as cigarette smoke because they are not considered carcinogenic or toxic to all individuals exposed.

The key question here is, if exposure to secondhand smoke is such a hazard to everyone, why is the state only going to ban its use in some places as opposed to banning its use entirely?
 
That's fatuous logic at its best, USMC. The difference is that people don't grill steaks on subways, at work, at school, in bars, and the hundreds of other places at which people (previously) smoke. People grill steaks in their own backyards - OUTSIDE - on their own property, where the only people could they possibly harm (although even that logic is poor) is themselves and anyone who wants to be next to them.

Smoking is one of the few vices mentioned that harms people who really have no choice. Either they stay in the public place and be harmed, or they leave. But that's not a very fair choice, because the very definition of "public place" means that it should be available for everyone to enjoy, not just those who smoke.

I'm usually against government interference of any kind in the lives of people. I would be quite against a government ban or restrictions on fatty foods, for instance. But smoking is different because when you smoke, it interferes with my personal freedoms.
 
Mama H said: Smoking is not just a vice. It's a public health nuisance.
and
Smoking is really the only "vice" you listed that directly endangers those around you.

Corribus said: Smoking is one of the few vices mentioned that harms people who really have no choice. Either they stay in the public place and be harmed, or they leave. But that's not a very fair choice, because the very definition of "public place" means that it should be available for everyone to enjoy, not just those who smoke.

I'll stipulate that, as both Mama H and Corribus have stated, smoking is a public health nuisance, it directly endangers those around the smoker, and it harms people who really have no choice.

I'm sure that both Mama H and Corribus would also stipulate that most indoor public places other than bars and restaurants (e.g. workplaces, schools, subways, buses, sports venues, churches, stores, hospitals, government buildings) already prohibit smoking within their confines.

That given, why is the state looking at a smoking ban only in all public places, as opposed to a total ban on smoking and tobacco products? Governor Doyle says himself that, "Too many of our kids are still lighting up, too many lives are being cut short, and the cost of treating tobacco-related illnesses, in Wisconsin alone, has swelled into the billions." Since nearly all public places already prohibit smoking, and the problems related to smoking aparently have the enormity suggested by the Governor, then why would the state-wide ban only be on the few remaining public places?

I say again: Why is the plan to only ban smoking in public places? If smoking is truly hurting our kids, cutting thousands of lives short, and costing society billions in health-care, then why are we not banning the product altogether?

People who smoke in their homes or cars will be exposing their non-smoking friends and families to secondhand smoke, certainly cutting those lives short. Those same people will be sending the wrong message to their children (and possibly their children's friends), not to mention the fact that those cancer sticks could easily be swiped by the kids. The health-care costs for those who continue to smoke, and for those around those who continue to smoke, will continue to burden society.


My answer for why the state is looking only at a ban on smoking in public places vs. a total tobacco ban is simply that it is a political move against an unpopular vice. That move permits the state to charge a higher tax on tobacco products that, if the products were banned in their entirety, would no longer exist to provide a revenue stream for the government.

So, again, why is the State of Wisconsin looking at banning an activity in all public places (most of which already prohibit the activity), when that activity allegedly is being picked-up by our youth, cutting many lives short, and costing the state billions in health-care costs? Why not ban smoking completely, rather than just banning it in the few remaining public places where it is allowed?
 
Obviously because a total ban on all tobacco products is untenable and unenforceable... so why not do the next best thing?

Also, why not enact laws like the one recently in Maine where it is illegal for a parent to smoke in an automobile with a child present?
 
A ban on all tobacco products wouldn't be unenforceable, just more difficult to enforce. The state could ban the sale and possession of tobacco products, and the use of those products, much as it does with illegal drugs. That move would remove a tax revenue stream, though, and I still believe that is why the state won't go that route.

As far as a total ban being untenable, I'd say that if a ban on a product that is so costly to society and dangerous to users and bystanders is indefensible, then how can a ban on that product in the few remaining public places where it is permissible be sound? After all, most of the public places that would be affected would be privately owned property that is open to the public for business purposes. If the public places ban is being done for the safety of bystanders and to reduce health-care costs, how can we allow the use of that product to go unchecked, especially when many of those non-smokers who would be exposed due to use of tobacco products on private property would also have no real choice but to be exposed (e.g. children, spouses)?

You then ask why the state shouldn't ban the use in a private vehicle when a child is present; now a primary traffic offense in Maine. That's a jump from only banning in all public places to including some private property as well. If that would occur, it could possibly lead to a de facto ban on all tobacco products.

I think that if Wisconsin wanted to compromise, they could always consider allowing smoking and/or the sale of tobacco at private clubs, such as occurs with alcoholic beverages in some semi-dry counties.

Honestly, I think that tobacco will go the way of other formerly legal drugs sooner or later.
 
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