COLUMN: Cut, ignite, gasp, aerate, repeat

Don Norvell

This Thursday is the Great American Smoke Out, an obscure tradition among the politically correct intended to make people quit smoking.

As we all know, smokers’ lives just aren’t the same today as they were in the ’50s. In the ’50s, everyone smoked. Therefore, everyone paid reasonable cigarette taxes. Today, health concerns are used as an excuse to extort extra money from a cultural minority.

Since when is personal health the government’s business anyway? Part of living in a free country is accepting personal responsibility for your own decisions. I may very well get lung cancer when I’m 80, but I don’t care to see 90. Hell, if my grandparents are any indication, I don’t want to see 80 anyway.

While I am not certain why the anti-smoking movement has grown over recent years, I am certain that political correctness has something to do with it.

Possibility No. 1 is race.

Tobacco is a very labor-intensive crop, just like cotton. Laborƒ_”intensive crops were used to justify slavery. Therefore, according to PC theory, the continued use of these crops supports racism. Since cotton is used for clothing, the PC crowd knows it will never win that battle and focuses on tobacco.

Possibility No. 2 is corporations.

Political correctness abhors corporations. Even though tobacco companies have faithfully printed the Surgeon General’s Warning on every pack since 1965, there are still conspiracy theories that “Big Tobacco” is brain-washing people. Considering that TV and radio ads have been illegal since 1969, according to the Centers for Disease Control, I don’t think that is possible.

Possibility No. 3 is class.

We all know the stereotypes of rich, white guys around a poker table smoking cigars, or the stately, old, rich, white man sitting by the fireplace in a comfortable chair smoking a pipe. Since rich people can afford the higher quality smoke, the poor get pissed off. Enter political correctness.

Possibility No. 4 is socialism.

The Democratic Party is becoming more socialistic every day. There is even a budding debate over national health care in this country. Whenever the government starts a new program, we expect the government to keep costs low. Since health is impacted by almost everything we do, controlling health care costs gives the government license to intrude upon whatever it sees fit. Smoking bans are just the starting point. What’s next? Bacon Prohibition? Cholesterol Control Act? The Mandatory Stomach Staple Statute?

Whatever the reason may be, the fact remains that we live in a free, capitalistic country. We the people are entitled to the presumption of liberty!

This Thursday, I encourage my fellow smokers to indulge a little more than usual. Let local businesses know that our patronage is contingent upon their accommodations. Pack your pipes, cut your cigars and express the joy you receive from one of life’s little pleasures.

Splurge on a fine brandy while you’re at it.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].