E_CigaretteFrequent and prolonged use of cigarettes has been conclusively linked to significantly increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and a host of other dangerous and unseemly health problems. Governments have seized on this fact as a license to tax, regulate, and slowly criminalize tobacco.

Some argue that government is justified in criminalizing the substance because it is so dangerous to people’s health. This argument does not hold water, but in light of recent developments, it is instructive to grant the premise momentarily.

If the government’s motivation in taxing and regulating cigarettes is people’s health, what explains its response to the rapidly growing popularity of e-cigarettes, the tobacco-less alternative that harmlessly delivers nicotine through water vapor instead of smoke?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Bills in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Utah would extend smoking bans in public areas to include e-cigarettes, and politicians in other states have proposed special taxes and halting Internet sales….

Senators in Utah are weighing a House-approved bill that would extend bans on smoking in public areas to e-cigarettes. New Jersey already has such a law in place, as do some cities, including Boston and Seattle.

Clearly these governments and politicians are not concerned primarily with steering people toward better health. This turn of events makes it glaringly obvious that they simply want to control people’s lives and seize their money—and that they will do so by any means possible.

The government’s proper role is not to protect people from possible harmful effects of their own decisions about what they choose to consume. And its proper role is certainly not to control people’s lives and take their money just to satisfy power-lusting politicians.

Rather, the government’s proper role is to protect citizens’ rights to use their minds, bodies, and property as they see fit—even if doing so harms them. Laws regulating tobacco use have always violated this principle, and now the move to regulate a harmless product simply because it looks like a cigarette only underscores the fact that government has no place legislating behavior, healthy or otherwise.

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Image: Wikipedia Commons

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