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We continue to get email about our agreement with a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban of the sale of flavored cigarettes, a move that some believe could help prevent at least some young people from smoking. I think that’s a good idea and simple common sense, but a lot of people think that this could lead to a new Prohibition and I was accused of being an idiot, a moron, and it was implied that I was akin to Nazi enablers.

MNB user Steven Barry wrote:

You cannot use reasons of common sense as it can only be applied here if every one agrees, which in this case we all do not so by definition, this can not be common sense. Nice try though. It’s actually offensive to suggest that it is common sense because it completely disregards my opinion along with others all together as if we never counted to begin with. So when you’re attacking other people’s liberties, please stop using the typical liberal excuse of “common sense”. It really is offensive.

Common sense says that if you are a coal miner all of your life, you will most likely have breathing issues your entire life. Not always, but we all agree most likely.

Common sense says that chances are that if you sleep around with out wearing protection, you will most likely catch something that you probably do not want and subsequently may die from it.

Common sense says that there are about 3 Million extra curricular activities and occupations that pose a very high risk of long term disablement or death and the longer and more often that you do these things, chances are (again we all would agree commonly), these things will kill you eventually if something else does not do so first including natural death.

Please stop using “common sense” to impose your will or ideology on others.

And by the way, I quit two years ago on my own and still believe that business owners, have the constitutionally protected right to allow smoking or any other “legal” behavior in their places of business. But, that’s for another day!!

Well, now I stand accused of being a “typical liberal.” Is that worse that being a Nazi enabler? (These days, they might as well by synonyms.)

I disagree with your premise. There are a lot of common sense notions that not everybody agrees with…in my humble opinion. (You, of course, have the right to disagree.) But if it makes you feel better, let me suggest that banning these cigarettes is a matter of uncommon sense. Which is why so many people disagree with it.

And by the way, banning smoking from so many bars and restaurants around the world is one of the smartest things that has happened in terms of health over the past few years. Perhaps it would best be called uncommon sense made common.

In my opinion.

Another MNB user wrote:

I just finished reading all of the e-mails you posted as a follow up to your commentary on the banning of flavored cigarettes. I have followed MNB for about 6 months now and always enjoy your colorful commentary whether I agree or disagree.

On this particular topic, I tend to disagree with your stance. I am 26, and in my youth (middle school/high school years) I was an occasional cigarette smoker. It was never a real habit for me and thankfully I was able to stop easily once it was no longer accepted in my social circles, but many of my close friends were then and are now addicted to cigarettes. None of us started smoking cigarettes for the flavor. The way I saw it, and this is just one suburban kid's experience, was that young people started smoking cigarettes either as a rebellious act (began at 6th through 8th grade), as a means to gain social acceptance or prowess greater than one's peers (began at 6th grade until alcohol came on the scene) or to fit in with those around them who were acting out (enter peer pressure, 6th grade through infinity). Regardless of the way young people around me started, cigarette smoking was usually facilitated by a smoking family member (think older brother/sister or cousin) who was also a smoker. Smoking became a common bond for those who used and more people started smoking to be accepted by certain groups, a rites of passage sort of thing.

My point is this: in my experience flavored cigarettes have not played a role in convincing young people to smoke (neither did Camel Joe). It is my belief that passing this legislation is a (relatively) meaningless step towards preventing young people from wanting to smoke and preventing cigarettes from getting in the hands of young people. As many other MNB users commented, I more so see this as the government flexing its muscles and as a step towards future legislation banning other things perceived as "unhealthy". I think that if the legislators who worked so hard to pass this ban on flavored cigarettes were serious about getting people to stop smoking they would have spent the time and money educating young people on the consequences of smoking and not so young people the consequences of buying cigarettes for minors. I think this legislation is an inefficient means of achieving its goal, which is an admirable one.

Okay, so that all being said, I could be wrong on the overall significance and influence of flavored cigarettes. Like I said, this was just my experience, and I haven’t done any research aside from just living it out.

One other thought, I think that people who want to smoke should be able to smoke. However, I think that they need to be of a certain age, or, at least, educated on the consequences of smoking before making that decision.

Your experience growing up seems fairly typical…though I cannot relate. I am the oldest of seven (a real Irish Catholic family), and none of us ever smoked…in part because we were all so disgusted by my mother’s addiction.

Another MNB user wrote:

Government hands off! Crossing a busy street is dangerous too, but the government hasn't put up walls along every street preventing people from taking a chance and crossing a street.

If the FDA wants to outlaw flavored cigarettes, why have they ignored menthol? That's, by far the greatest selling flavored cigarette--probably about 20 or 25% of total cigarettes sales. The answer is that the government is in a convenient partnership with the tobacco industry to drive public revenue collection through gross over-taxing of those who can least afford it and they do not want to give up 20% or 25% of that revenue stream. It's a huge regressive tax that politicians love because the can collect it without the hassle of passing a bill and without fear of being voted out. Smokers never have to tally it up annually on their 1040 and see just how much the government is bilking from them for the right to smoke. Fact: Smokers skew toward less education and lower socio-economic demographics. Just the group of people the government is purportedly helping the most and giving all the tax breaks to.

The whole stinking (no pun intended) situation is nothing more than hypocrisy on many levels!

Re: crossing the street. Last time I checked, there are such things as cross walks. In a lot of cities, you cross in the middle of the street, or against the light, and you get a ticket.

But maybe that’s just another example of government run amok?

Still another MNB user wrote:

Keep posting both sides. I agree with you on the issue, but I also agree with your opposition to a certain extent.

I know the following goes too far if taken literally, but I always say that these kinds of legislation aren't necessary. Don't make seatbelt or helmet laws, because if people are stupid enough not to wear them then they deserve to die before they reproduce and pollute the gene pool with more stupid people. I know, I know, a little over the top, but the statement sure gets peoples' attention.

I don't think the same argument can be made for the tobacco issue, since it takes so long to affect peoples' health. But there are still enough facts out there that tobacco is bad for you that anyone who uses it is pressing their luck and shouldn't be coddled by the rest of us. They need to reap what they sow, it is just too bad that healthcare costs go up because of it.

And, from MNB user Lewis Campbell:

While I normally hold the opinion that government intervention in the lives of Americans should be minimized, I couldn't agree with you more on the issue of the ban on flavored tobacco. Your comments were spot on and again illustrate why your column is a must read each and every day. Keep up the good work.

Thanks. I needed that.
KC's View: