Friday, April 27, 2012

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

Anyone who has served in the U.S. Army in days past heard the command, “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” numerous times. It was acknowledgement from Squad Leaders or Platoon Sergeants that it was time for a break, take a rest from whatever the Troops were doing and if you were a smoker, like most were way back when, enjoy a smoke.

I don’t know whether or not the Army still uses the phrase, but the phrase and smoking of a cigarette or cigar is definitely out of favor around the country, given that we now know the dangers of tobacco use.

We saw it not too long ago as the Vancouver, Washington city council unanimously approved a smoking ban in all city parks, after chasing smokers out of nearly every building in existence in the state when Initiative 901 passed in 2005.

In the meantime, taxes were added to a pack of cigarettes amounting to $3.025 a pack, placing Washington State in the top 5 states for high tobacco taxes.

The taxes were sold as needed to fund certain health programs, predominately “for the children” and to encourage smokers to quit smoking, which means the state would receive less revenue “for the children.” Currently, the state is looking into adding the same exorbitant taxes on “roll your own” cigarettes.

It’s apparent the act of lighting up and smoking, even outdoors now is strongly frowned upon while the revenue from their sale is looked for.

I don’t know of anybody that questions the harmful effects of tobacco use, but these bans are not directed at forcing smokers to quit. No, they are intended to protect non-smokers from the evils of “second-hand smoke” which much like global warming, the anti-smoking crowd declares the “debate is over,” regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

Let me state here that I do not condone a smoker lighting up in the presence of a non-smoker. They do stink to high heaven and are very offensive to others.

But this notion of totally banning smoking inside and outside while still expecting sufficient revenue from the sale of the product to fund programs “for the children” makes no sense to me.

There is also the matter of enforcing tobacco bans in parks at a time we hear elected officials saying they cannot fund parks maintenance and have had to lay off city and county employees. If there is not some official present, what can be done if someone does light up in a remote park?

While the Clark County Board of Commissioners recently tightened up smoking restrictions in county parks, adding “tobacco free zones” in some, they stopped short of following the Vancouver City Council’s move of a “total ban” in all of the county’s parks, drawing the ire of the Columbian’s Editorial Board who says, In Our View: Ban Smoking in County Parks.

That tobacco remains a 100% legal product and is sold with punitive taxes attached to every pack that the state depends upon receiving in these dark economic times seem to escape those who demonize tobacco and those who use it.

Commissioner Tom Mielke, a conservative Republican said, “We’re unable to protect everyone from everything. So how far do we go,” indicating too that these bans amount to an incremental encroachment on people’s personal freedoms.

Liberal Democrat Commissioner Steve Stuart questioned how long it takes for smoke to dissipate outside, receiving the answer of “The surgeon general says no secondhand smoke is safe,” from Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer who also replied that the time for smoke to dissipate varies, depending upon factors such as wind and how many people are smoking.

Stuart commented that “without data to show when one’s right to smoke infringes on anothers right to smoke-free air, he couldn’t support banning a legal substance from parks.”

Commissioner Marc Boldt, supposedly also a Republican was the lone supporter of a full, outright ban said, “Unless there’s an outright ban in neighborhood and community parks, I can’t see going any further,” adding, “the commissioners are tasked with protecting the public’s health.”

I need not bother go into so many other acts in public that are offensive, pose a risk to health or could result in injury, they are well known and not subject to such bans, yet.

Just about everyone I know who still smokes makes every effort to avoid non-smokers when they light up. Even in parks, I See them walk away from people to keep their smoke away from them. Most won’t even smoke in their own homes, stepping outside to smoke and keep the stink from accumulating inside that visitors would find offensive.

But many are getting tired of being pushed further and further away and forced to pay punitive taxes for their habit while being scorned by ‘Smoke-Nazi’s’ who feel they have a right to determine others conduct. Many non-smokers, realizing that these smokers are cognizant of how offensive it is and the strides they take to avoid non-smokers when smoking, as well as seeing the incremental step taken to impede personal freedoms, support the smokers and oppose these totalitarian smoking bans.

While not in our state, they have begun pushing back in other regions. Studies on second-hand smoke are being questioned, while others label the secondhand smoke scare a scam.

Although no statewide ban has yet to be overturned, court challenges on their constitutionality continue.
Some courts are reviewing the legality of such broad based bans on a legal product.

Limited success had been seen in some localities Golf Courses, Bars & Nightclubs both in American States and in Europe.

Efforts to urge outdoor bans continue at the same time.

Some wonder why, given that anti-smoking groups label tobacco and second-hand smoke so detrimental, it isn’t just outright banned from being sold or used. North Dakota tried such a ban in 2003. It would have banned tobacco sales and use throughout the state. Someone caught smoking could face up to a month in jail.

Opposition that caused the ban to be defeated by an 84 to 4 vote in their legislature was from the North Dakota Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, North Dakota Public Health Association and North Dakota Nurses Association.

Their reason? “There's no evidence banning tobacco would prevent and reduce tobacco use because no such approach has been implemented.”

Such a total ban would also deny those same groups the money they operate on.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, if you can find a place allowing it.

2 comments:

Storm'n Norm'n said...

"Smoke 'em if you got 'em" was also used in the Air Force... I recall my first days in basic training and the TI (same as DI) would allow smoking in the barracks only when he stated the 'smoke-em' line...but then only when the conveniently located butt cans (#10 cans about 1/4 filled with water) were used to put out the butts. The only problem with using those butt cans was the TI would come back un-announced and do a barracks inspection and everybody got gigged for having cigarette butts in the can...whether you smoked or not. We learned fast...we made up a rule that nobody would smoke whenever the smoke-em line was called out.

Lew Waters said...

I well remember those butt cans hung on posts inside the old barracks at Ft. Jackson during Basic.

They were emptied numerous times each day for the same reasons.

We also learned to field strip them outdoors as well as pick up tons of butts others didn't strip.

Remember Police Call? "I only want to see assholes and elbows!"