Ron Paul: Thank you, Madame Speaker. I don’t think anybody can argue at all with the intentions of the proposal of this bill. There’s no question that cigarettes are very, very harmful. The question for me here is the process and I find the process here atrocious because it assumes that authoritarianism is right and proper and works, and that volunteerism and education and self-reliance and depending on one’s self to take care of one’s self is [not] a proper approach.
We totally reject our free society and assume that if we just have tobacco police roaming the country, then all of a sudden that habits are going to be cleared up. We’re dealing with bad habits and these are bad for health.
But let me tell you, I could bring you a list here of dozens and dozens of things that bad habits lead to death. As a matter of fact, one of the things that we ought to consider is, you know, how many people die from our drug war? We have a drug war because about 3,000 people die from the use of illegal drugs, so we have a drug war going on and tens and thousands of people die.
It’s so exasperating at times because we always have two proposals here, or we have two ways of solving problems or dealing with tobacco. For decades, what did we do? We subsidized tobacco and now, we want to prohibit tobacco. Why don’t we just let the people decide?
This whole idea that you either have to subsidize something or prohibit something shows a shallowness that I think that we ought to challenge. One part of this bill that I find particularly bad, but it is pervasive in so much of what we do, about a hundred years ago, we took the First Amendment and the freedom of speech and chopped it into two pieces.
We have political speech. Of course, we like that. We’re in the business of politics, but we take commercial speech and we put it over here and we regulate the living daylights out of commercial speech. That’s not a First Amendment. That’s chopping freedom in half and that just leads to more problems, but this will lead to prohibition and it won’t work and this will just give us a lot more trouble.
You’ll say, “Well, how will these problems be handled if we just permit people to advertise?” Well, you’re not allowed to commit fraud. You’re not allowed to commit slander. You’re not allowed to commit any libel, slander or fraud, so there are prohibitions, but this approach can’t work.
It is assumed that people are total idiots, they won’t respond to education, that we have to be the nanny state. We want to expand the war on drugs, which is a total failure and look at what happened to prohibition of alcohol and you’ll say, “Well, no, this is not prohibition.”
It is going to be prohibition. It’s a form of prohibition and when you have prohibition or even approach prohibition, what do you create? You create the black market. We will see the black market come and already the taxes are opening up the doors of the black market.
All I ask for is people to reconsider, believe that freedom and self-reliance and individualism can solve these problems a lot better than a bunch of politicians and bureaucrats and tobacco police here from Washington, D.C.