Hawaii, cigarettes, and social engineering

Hawaii’s state legislature is considering a bill that would ban cigarette sales to anyone under the age of 100–almost everyone, in other words.

I’m no fan of smoking. My paternal grandmother died from lung cancer in 1996. Another relative of mine died from lung cancer in 1992. (They were both smokers.)

I don’t miss the days when smoking was tolerated in restaurants and bars, either. Even when they had separate smoking and non-smoking sections, cigarette smokers had a way of sitting near the non-smoking section.

That said, I’m also concerned about allowing government bureaucrats to regulate our personal conduct. Smokers should have to pay for their habit–in the form of higher insurance premiums (that’s only fair)–but an outright ban on cigarettes is a bridge too far. Once you give the government the power to ban personal choices, it becomes a habit. The bureaucratic appetite for power is insatiable.

In my lifetime, I’ve watched cigarette smoking go from an activity that was more or less accepted everywhere and by everyone, to a practice that makes one a virtual pariah.

All fine and good. But how do we square that with the present enthusiasm for legalizing marijuana, and turning marijuana into an industry?

Marijuana cigarettes aren’t very good for you, either.

What could possibly go wrong?

Legalize recreational marijuana! they said. It’s not addictive! they said.

Uh, maybe they spoke too soon:

Twelve percent of frequent marijuana users experienced withdrawal symptoms after the effects wore off or they attempted to kick the habit, researchers report in a new study.

As marijuana is increasingly legalized and used across the United States, the potential for its use and misuse, as well as effects of both, has grown.

Personally, I would agree that the zero-tolerance marijuana laws of the 1980s and 1990s (the “just say no” era) were a bit too harsh. No reasonable person wants to see someone do a long jail sentence over a small amount of marijuana kept for personal use.

But now we have the opposite extreme, whereby recreational marijuana has become an industry.

Having grown up in the “just say no” era, I never thought I’d see the day when being a pothead is suddenly the new cool.

Live long enough, and you’ll witness all manner of absurdities.