The War on Bad Habits

In his latest column, Ron Paul argues that bad habits (such as smoking) should be countered with education rather than force. Despite last century’s failed Prohibition as well as the more recent policy disaster known as the “War on Drugs”, many legislators still believe that they can regulate away our vices and force us – under the penalty of law – to be good to ourselves. In reality, a tobacco prohibition would simply create yet another black market and fill our prisons with non-violent cigarette smokers.

Moving Towards Tobacco Prohibition

by Ron Paul

Last week, another bill was passed and signed into law that takes more of our freedoms and violates the Constitution of the United States. It was, of course, done for the sake of the children, and in the name of the health of the citizenry. It’s always the case that when your liberty is seized, it is seized for your own good. Such is the condescension of Washington.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act will give sweeping new powers over tobacco to the FDA. It will require everyone engaged in manufacturing, preparing, compounding, or processing tobacco to register with the FDA and be subjected to FDA inspections, which is yet another violation of the Fourth Amendment. It violates the First Amendment by allowing the FDA to restrict tobacco advertising in multiple ways, as well as an outright ban on advertising any cigarettes as light, mild or low-tar. The FDA will have the power of pre-market reviews of all new tobacco products, and will impose new user fees, meaning taxes, on manufacturers and importers of tobacco products. It will even regulate the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.

My objections to the bill are not an endorsement of tobacco. As a physician I understand the adverse health effects of this bad habit. And that is exactly how smoking should be treated – as a bad habit and a personal choice. The way to combat poor choices is through education and information. Other than ensuring that tobacco companies do not engage in force or fraud to market their products, the federal government needs to stay out of the health habits of free people. Regulations for children should be at the state level. Unfortunately, government is using its already overly intrusive financial and regulatory roles in healthcare to establish a justifiable interest in intervening in your personal lifestyle choices as well. We all need to anticipate the level of health freedom that will remain once government manages all health care in this country.

Actions in Congress such as this tobacco bill are especially disconcerting after we thought we were beginning to see some progress in drawing down the wrong-headed and failed war on drugs. A majority of Americans now think marijuana should be legal, taxed and regulated, according to a recent Zogby poll and over 70 percent are in favor of allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Bills like this take us down exactly the wrong path. Instead of gaining more freedom with marijuana, we are moving closer to prohibiting tobacco. Our prisons are already bursting with non-violent drug offenders. How long will it be before a black market in tobacco fills the prisons with non-violent cigarette smokers?

Hemp and tobacco were staple crops for our founding fathers when our country was new. It is baffling to see how far removed from real freedom this country has become since then. Hemp, even for industrial uses, of which there are many, is illegal to grow at all. Now tobacco will have more layers of bureaucracy and interference piled on top of it. In this economy it is extremely upsetting to see this additional squeeze put on an entire industry. One has to wonder how many smaller farmers will be forced out of business because of this bill.


  • You are generally wrong , nor presume to understand me!

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  • person

    i like stuff

  • longshotlouie

    Yepper, we wouldn’t want a ‘free’ people to take their own decisions about what to put in their own bodies.
    We need our nanny state to watch over us, and toss us in prison if we dare decide for ourselves.


  • anthony

    I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore but am strongly considering taking up the habit again just so I can blow smoke in the collective bastard face of this congress. I suggest we make the people who signed this crooked legislation pay a heavy political toll for their arrogance – particularly the Republicans who signed this piece of shit. Did the Neocons learn nothing after the last presidential election? Can they not realize they were being punished for their lapses in conservatism – rather than their adherence to liberalism? They will not be happy till the whole of congress is stocked with progressive scum.

    • Matt

      Interesting response, so did you take a whole crapload of Ecstasy and go cuddle with a Congressman after it was made illegal in 1985?

      • longshotlouie

        Your lame arguments were bad enough.
        Now you want to try condescencion?

        Get a new hobby.

        • Matt

          That is not random condecension, there is a point and I guess i have to spell it out. By the way, this is not a hobby, i am paid by the Bildeburg group to keep you distracted while the others infiltrate and gain your trust.

          So my point is, why would you even insinuate you would pick up a deadly habit (one that you WILLFULLY QUIT ALREADY, which would have been your free market principles) just to ‘protect your freedom to do whatever you want’. Why don’t you drop a bunch of Ecstasy and run around the streets naked to prove your constitutional rights? Have you ever lived in a state that banned smoking in bars? It’s fantastic, even the smokers like it. And i can GUARANTEE you this action would be fought tooth and nail as being ‘unconstitutional’, but you know what? It’s a wonderful piece of legislation, and so is this.

          Wasn’t making Ecstasy illegal infringing upon your constitutional rights too? Why don’t you care about that? Why is cocaine illegal and marijuana being proffered as something that should be legalized?

          • Sean

            I think all drugs should be legal to sell but illegal to own out in public. You should be able to use them at your house but not in public. I think there is a big difference between the freedom in your own home and intruding in other people’s freedom by wreckless drug habbits.. This is similar to alcohal laws but without bars and wreckless driving.

          • Sean

            alcohal is legal until it endagers other people’s lives. I feel all drugs should be the same.

          • Sean

            Holland legalized heroin and the number of users dropped. They even have government ran “dope houses” where people can do the drug properly.

          • longshotlouie

            No need to re-convince me that you love social engineering through the nanny state. It is the anti-theist Marxist way.

            How many converts do you have here?

  • I felt so strongly about this that I linked to your page from a Fourth Amendment post I wrote. Thanks for posting this.