Nearly Half of Americans Support Cigarette Prohibition

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A Zogby poll commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance finds that 45 percent of Americans favor cigarette prohibition. The details won't be available until tomorrow, but the Zogby press release says the poll "asked a sampling of 1,200 Americans if they would support federal legislation making cigarettes illegal in five to ten years." It calls the results "startling." I'm not so sure. Nowadays about one-fifth of Americans are cigarette smokers, while 14 percent or so report using illegal drugs. That's only slightly lower than the smoking prevalence rate in California, and actual use of illegal drugs is probably somewhat higher than the self-reported numbers. Given that the percentage of Americans who smoke is in the same ballpark as the percentage who use illegal drugs, maybe the startling thing is that there isn't more support for banning cigarettes. The discrepancy is probably due to policy inertia, a resistance to changing the status quo. Cigarettes seem less threatening because they're more familiar, while the companies that produce them, vilified as they are, still seem more legitimate than the corner crack dealer, simply because they're legal.

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  1. I propose a swap: marijuana for tobacco. Let’s switch their legal stati and see what happens, just for the hell of it.

  2. Christ. Welcome to the new War on Drugs. With this and Omaha police’s encouragement of citizens dialing 911 to report smoking ban violations, I wonder how easy it will be to get away with real crime, like vandalism, robbery, etc.

  3. I also think cigarettes benefit from the different statehood statuses (stati?) of North Carolina and Latin America.

  4. What the hell is this – Russia?

  5. Hell, would anybody be surprised if a poll showed
    45% of Americans want to repeal the outdated and old-fogey Bill of Rights? Puritan Massachusetts looks like a good model to many Americans.

  6. They need to redo the survey and include this question. Do you support the prohibition of Cigarettes if it cause your taxes to increase.

    Most probably don’t factor in how much tax revenues smoking produces. Once smoking is gone, those tax revenues from smoking will be gone too.

  7. This kinda makes me want to start smoking again, just to spite them.

  8. Let’s switch their legal stati and see what happens, just for the hell of it.

    If you’re going to show off your erudition by using Latin plurals rather than good English ones, you really need to make sure you’re using the right one. Otherwise you don’t look so much erudite as stupid. “Status” is a fourth declension noun. Its plural is therefore “status,” not “stati” (which would be the plural is “status” were a third declension noun).

  9. Cigarettes seem less threatening because they’re more familiar…

    Not sure the logic in this statement works, but either way, I think the real news is that a substantial majority in Amerika actually still think it’s ok to let people decide for themselves whether they want to smoke even in spite of all the evidence and propoganda that suggests it is not a smart choice

  10. Last weekend I visited a couple State Parks here in Washington State and found that all outhouses in WA now include a little sticker on the door stating that is a violation of state law to smoke within 25 feet of an outhouse. Apparently, an outhouse qualifies as a public accomidation.

  11. It sounds like a good idea. They are not good for us and this would save a lot of more lives. It makes no sense that all drugs are ilegal but the 2 worst, cigs and booze is legal. After banning tabacco be should also ban alcohol. The govenment should do this because it is not fair that we all pay for the health choices of others what do’nt make good choices.

  12. that is a violation of state law to smoke within 25 feet of an outhouse. Apparently, an outhouse qualifies as a public accomidation.

    Don;t you think it’s a response to the obvious explosion hazard? 😉

  13. After banning tabacco be should also ban alcohol.

    Yes, cuz it was soooo successful the first time around that we should do it again.

  14. Jim: worst. trolling. ever.

  15. Sorry to say, that even though I consider myself a fairly radical libertarian, I do enjoy the fruits of the overall reduction in public smoking in private and public places, simply because I am allergic to it, and it stinks up my clothes and hair.

    From a libertarian perspective I want smokers to keep their smoke in their lungs, not in my breathing space, or infiltrating my clothes, hair and skin etc.

    Nonetheless, politically I do not support the bans, and certainly think that in private establishments, it is up to the parties involved (restaurant owners and their customers for example) and not any city council, state legislators or the feds.

    By the way, does anyone remember that Northwest Orient Airlines (now just Northwest) banned smoking on board long before it was made illegal?

    I don’t believe it is unlibertarian to not have to wear protective gear when stepping out into public spaces because other folks like to pollute their own lungs and the air around them (regardless of whether or not there are actual long term harmful effects frpm second hand smoke).

  16. jhupp was right when he made his or her first guess as to the proper plural of “status.”

  17. After banning tabacco be should also ban alcohol.

    Yes, that’s a WONDERFUL idea!!

  18. The only cigarettes I smoke, Indonesian kreteks (usually Djarum Blacks, but any will do), are illegal in my state for some idiotic reason. (Yet are still available under-the-counter at most larger smoke shops). Can anybody explain this phenomenon? Was it part of some New Mexican anti-goth bill?

  19. “””From a libertarian perspective I want smokers to keep their smoke in their lungs, not in my breathing space,”””

    I’d like to point out you don’t own any breating space, except for your property and there you have a right to tell people not to smoke.

    As far as pollutants go, cigarette smoke (parts per millon) in the open air, is a lot less than gasses from cars, trucks. So if one is concerned with banning pollutants, one should start with banning cars and trucks.

    It is obvious that this issue boils down to likes and dislike. People who dislike smoking want it banned because they dislike smoking. Trying to use the pollution excuse is hypocrital, being that they probably drive a car.

    How about people that think we should ban smoking for clean air reasons yet are against environmental restrictions on industry that would reduce pollution.

  20. Sleaze: I found the Blacks way too sweet after a time, and switched to the regular Djarums. The Blacks are good, but they got kind of old.

  21. Seamun,

    Thanks for the public service announcement. Now we all know what the plural of “status” is. Thank God.

  22. Seamus:

    Anglicizing latin plurals does have its pitfals, however. For example, “apparatuses” is at best unwieldy, at worst unpronounceable. Also, as a polymer chemist I still tend to flinch when one of my colleagues says “latexes” instead of “latices.”

  23. Lamar

    Considering the high methane [and other noxious & flammable gas] content of the air in most of the outhouses I’ve used over the years, I think banning smoking in them (or within a 25 foot radius) is a good idea.

  24. …I’ve always said that if the tobacco companies wanted the anti-smoking crusades to come to a screeching halt tomorrow, they would call a news conference and make the following announcement: they would end ALL tobacco sales within the US, Canada, and Mexico one year from that day. Within minutes of that announcement, the most rabid anti-tobacco types would be on their knees begging them to reconsider.
    The reason is very simple and straightforward: the states and the Federal government collect billions every year from smoking, and it would be like cutting a heroin user off from his smack. The most consistent numbers I’ve seen say that the Fed alone made something like seven and a half billion dollars in FY02 alone from cigarette taxes, and the sates all seem to be bringing in money ranging from the hundreds of millions to billions.
    And quite frankly, I’d love to see it happen. I don’t smoke, nor do I have any agenda for those who do, but the utter and complete hypocrisy of the state and Federal governments on this matter is finally getting to me.

    Mike Kozlowski

  25. Mike, I’ve been saying that for a few years.

  26. This is all just scary to me. It’s not inconceivable that in 20-30 years everything fun but unhealthy will be legally banned. The end result will be a beautiful world where I’ll be miserable.

  27. Most remarkable is the failure of the ambulence chasing classes tolawfully assemble the mother of all class action suits on behalf of the millions being denied even seats at the back of the bus by neo-Segregationist civil rights deniers genocidally bent on making the whole tribe of smokers history.

  28. I know I’m not the only person that realizes this, but i have to point out that smokers do NOT cost taxpayers any more money than non-smokers. An argument could be made that smokers, by dying earlier (statistically), save taxpayers money. Think social security, federal, state and local pensions, free bus rides for senior citizens etc.

    I would also like to point out that medicare expenses for smokers and non-smokers alike are overwhelmingly incurred in the last 6 months of life. These last 6 months of medically expensive life come to everybody except accident and murder victims.

    The anti-cigarette hysteria is nothing but veiled puritanism.

  29. We reached our peak about 50 years ago. The Enlightenment is over. Welcome to the age of compassion.

  30. I agree with the poster who said he saw hope in the fact that a majority do not want to ban smoking, even though a majority do not themselves smoke.

  31. I agree with the poster who said he saw hope in the fact that a majority do not want to ban smoking, even though a majority do not themselves smoke.

    But 45% do!!

    I should probably relax. It’s just a survey, Zach. We’re alright for now.

  32. This is all just scary to me. It’s not inconceivable that in 20-30 years everything fun but unhealthy will be legally banned. The end result will be a beautiful world where I’ll be miserable.

    Too bad, society pays for everones health choices and society has a right to dictate your choices. Most things that are fun are imorral and should be ilegal.

  33. You are a clever one, aren’t you.

  34. “Most things that are fun are imorral and should be ilegal.” [sic]

    When they’re illegal, it’s so much more fun. Think of those exciting ‘no knock’ raids. You may even get a visit from Shaq. [See Jesse Walker’s post today @ 2:05 PM.]

    Side note: I see that the link is to the Agitator. ‘nother great story, Radley.

  35. Jim, I know you’re trying to make a joke but it’s really not funny.

    You see, there’s way too many people around who really, truly believe bullshit like that. And they’re willing to put people in jail over it. But it’s just because they love us so much.

  36. “””These last 6 months of medically expensive life come to everybody except accident and murder victims.””””

    Well J sub D your close, accident victims can be expensive, they can be in a comma for years. So that leaves us only with the murder victims.

  37. ‘Cigarettes seem less threatening because they’re more familiar’ – Maybe, and because illegal drugs are propped up as one of the big boogeymen of modern times. But cigarettes also seem less threatening because we all know people who enjoy them by the dozens, every single day, for years on end, with few or no ill effects – they seem less threatening because they ARE less threatening.

    As for our troll Jim – at least he’s not spamming his mesothelioma-adsense website. (But ooooooohhhhh, that spelling!)

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