Big Government Strikes Again

I sit this evening puffing on a new blend I found in a new pipe store my wife found. Smoking is not a new phenomenon. People have rolled or shredded tobacco leaves and burned them for hundreds of years. The widespread use happened after Christopher Columbus brought tobacco leaves and processes back to Europe from the Americas in the 1500s, but Native Americans had been cultivating tobacco for generations before that. The Indians used it for medicinal and ceremonial purposes and made elaborate pipes to smoke it. Of course, with anything good, human nature will find a way to make it bad—which is how the cigarette came into being as well as tobacco taxes.

As tobacco use increased, a huge industry grew out of what had been local farm-based businesses. Taxation soon followed and municipal revenues were soon dependant on the business. If taxation were still used only as a revenue stream, there would be no problems, but in today’s market it is no longer about money.

No one since the 1800s could reasonably believe tobacco held any true medicinal uses, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that the true health concerns came to light. Since then, there has been an active effort to force people to quit smoking. First it was public service announcements, then it was package labeling requirements, then they forced tobacco companies to stop TV advertising and then forcing them to use only text with no graphics in print ads. The results have been an unmitigated success. Cigarette sales have dropped by double-digit percentages since the new requirements. The antismoking lobby has even gotten Hollywood to stop putting product placements in movies and TV shows and cut down on the use of tobacco by the characters. Stars who smoke are regularly ridiculed by the media for setting a bad example for kids.

If cigarette smokers were the only people affected by these efforts, they would be the only people worrying about it. There are, however, other uses of tobacco that are affected by the antismoking lobby. The Indians created beautiful artistic pipes to smoke which is still a popular method of smoking. While cigarettes are the most common tobacco product, pipe tobacco is a distant cousin. The curing and manufacturing processes are quite different, as is the taste. Congress understood these differences for years and while they taxes cigarettes to near extinction, pipe tobacco was relatively ignored. Now, several liberal senators and congressmen have set their sights on all forms of tobacco with the Tobacco Tax Parity Act of 2010, known as HR 4439. Enacting this tax would raise taxes on pipe tobacco 775 percent.

Now, to be fair, I do not smoke cigarettes and I would shed no tears if they banned cigarettes altogether. But I do enjoy my pipes. I have several and I enjoy different blends of pipe tobacco. I am not at all happy about the prospect of paying $2 more for an ounce of tobacco. I would, however, gladly pay it if it was anything other than a liberal ploy to interject government into my private life. We do not need “Big Brother” telling us what to do in our homes, especially when it is something that has existed legally and was supported by the government for more than 200 years.

If we do not reign in big government, they will regulate every aspect they can. The liberals believe they know what is best for the people and will legislate our freedoms away if we let them. Even if you do not smoke, even if you rightfully believe you should not be subjected to second-hand smoke, it does not mean that smokers should not be able to smoke in their homes and in appropriate public places where smoking is limited. This matter should be left up to local city councils or at the most, state governments—not federal laws and not the IRS. Contact your congressman and tell them to vote No on HR-4439.

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