Smoking and political realignment

Thanks for the AT Blog item "Nanny State Nevada"  It's all so true.

The jihad against smoking, and increasingly against smokers themselves (not unintentional)--has been, more than any other single issue, the cause of my own re-examination and gradual political reorientation over a number of years. (I don't say it's the only issue, but  one that is a perfect example of something happening in so many other areas of life as well, and one which had the benefit of waking me up.) When I realized that this assault on the use of a legal product, and one that has been part of Western culture for 500 years, was coming almost exclusively from the left, I realized that the left was no longer what I had formerly identified with. I always used to think that "liberal" was intimately related to liberty. Silly me!

The phenomenon has also had a dramatic effect on my social life.

I don't smoke much at all, but when I do, I enjoy it. I am not trying to quit, but will do so if I want to, not because government, or others, are twisting my arm to do so.

When the State of California took away the right of bar and restaurant owners to set their own policy regarding smoking, I predicted that it would make a big change for me, and I was right.

One of the times I most want to have a smoke, whether cigarette, cigar, or pipe, is when I go out and socialize. If I can't enjoy a smoke along with my drink in a bar, or with my after dinner coffee, I'm not enjoying myself. (In fact, it's more important to me than alcohol. If we went back to alcohol prohibition it personally would affect me hardly at all, although I would be fervently against it on principle.)

I am not going to spend my very modest disposable income where I cannot get the product or service I want. Isn't that how markets work? Therefore, when restaurant and bar owners were forced to ban smoking in their establishments, despite what their own wishes might have been, I quit going to bars and and restaurants. I would never object to a bar or restaurant that banned smoking because it was the owner's wish. Not that I would go there, but if the market was still allowed to operate, I'd probably be able to find another place still interested in having me as a customer.

I don't deny I miss it. I still go occasionally, perhaps 5% as often as in the past, but only when I can't avoid it, due to personal or professional obligations. I don't stay away from bars and restaurants because I HAVE to smoke. (Nicotine addiction is highly overrated.) I avoid them both because I otherwise don't enjoy myself, and because I deeply resent government reaching that much into my personal life, and attempting to, as my father used to say, "save me from myself."

My father, incidentally, was not only a nonsmoker, but a way-before-his-time antismoker, but who would never have dreamed of telling someone else that they couldn't smoke. His dislike of smoking was trumped by his libertarian instincts. He died in 2002, and in the last years of his life thought that the antismoking "movement" had, in his words, "gone too far."

Can't close without mentioning once again how much I appreciate American Thinker.

Mark Behrens
San Francisco

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