You know, this no longer surprises me:
The Boston Public Health Commission has just banned the sale of all tobacco products at colleges. Not high schools. Colleges.
Anti-smoking activists are ecstatic. "Boston has taken another step that puts it in the forefront in the United States in protecting people against secondhand smoke," says the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. But the Boston regulations don't just restrict smoking. They forbid the sale of "any substance containing tobacco leaf, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe, tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco and dipping tobacco." Last I heard, there's no secondhand smoke from chewing tobacco. And the tobacco industry is constantly developing new products that confound the equation of tobacco with smoking. That's not because tobacco companies care deeply about public health. It's because secondhand smoke has become a political problem for them—and because, while addicting customers is good business, killing them isn't.
In a press release, the executive director of the Boston commission says the new regulations "will help reduce young people's exposure to tobacco products." Young people? That phrase used to mean minors. Now, apparently, it includes the targets of the new rule: students at "any public or private college, normal school, professional school, scientific or technical institution, university or other institution furnishing a program of higher education."
On what grounds do college students—not to mention students at professional schools—deserve the kind of paternalism previously reserved for minors? The commission offers two reasons. First, "educational institutions in the City of Boston also sell tobacco products to the younger population, which is particularly at risk for becoming smokers." Second, "the sale of tobacco products is also incompatible with the mission of educational institutions which educate the younger population about social, environmental and health risks and harms."
In other words, college students (henceforth known as "the younger population") are so vulnerable to smoking and to deception about the harms of smoking that their access to any tobacco products on campus must be legally forbidden.
People who know me know that I don't smoke cigarettes or for that matter chew Tobacco- which is gross btw- , but I firmly believe in the smokers right to smoke, even if it harmful for them. It's their right to decide what they do to their bodies, and being an anti-smoking nazi about it, to the point you are restricting its sale to college freakin students, that's just crossing the line. But it's ok to cross the line in the name of "the greater good" and "public welfare"', isn't it? After all, people just don't know whats good for them, right? Well, with all due respect to whatever personal tragedy you will throw in my face to guilt my ass into believing that taking away some people's freedom is really in their best interest, fuck that shit!
You know, in 10 years or so I can totally see this world divided up into two very different worlds: One, where the citizens of the so called advanced and civilized nations get to have their full political rights and freedom (freedom pf speech, democracy, blah blah), but won't have the right or freedom to do much else, because "it's bad for them"; and the other, made up of "less advanced nations", where you won't really have your full- or any- political rights, but you could do whatever you damn well please otherwise. It's happening as we speak, although less subtle-y, and when it finally takes shape, we will suddenly have a really fucked up debate over Liberty: which of the two worlds is more free? Which would you, average joe or Moe, rather live in? Suddenly the merits of political rights will be challenged ,for the first time ever, by the merits of personal liberties. What is the point of being politically free if you live in a sterile society where people keep putting limitations on your life in the name of what's best for you? How many times are you going to challenge the political establishment anyway? How many of you would rather give that up, to live in a society that doesn't allow you to shape the country's policies, but let's do whatever you damn well please otherwise? This is the road we are all heading towards, and it sucks, because you shouldn't have to choose between the two. Don't you think so?