Pennsylvania’s senate has proposed making it a crime for a person under 18 to purchase cigarettes. At this date, it is just a crime for the vendor to sell cigarettes to under-age customers. It is not a crime anywhere, yet, to make and sell smoking products that are packed with untested, often known toxic and cancer-causing non-tobacco substances…with no warning to, or informed consent from, the consumer.
State legislators know that the public generally has been taught to dislike disobedient, inconsiderate, rebellious and dirty smokers. So, using the old tactic of dumping the worst laws on people that few mainstreamers would care to defend, kids with cigarettes will now be criminals. The brats deserve it, right?
It’s a step-by-step, nickel and dime process, of course. The news said nothing about likelihood of police now being freed to stop, check and search any smoker they “reasonably” believe to be under-age. Liquor stores post notices about how they have the right to check the ID of anyone under 30 years old. Police can do the same. You want to smoke, and you’re under about 30 or 35 years old, now you’ll have to carry your ID or risk being held for lengthy periods while ID can be confirmed. This is a lot of people who police can play with.
If a person is driving, maybe not with a cigarette but a lollypop that may appear, from a distance, to be a cig, a cop could enact a stop. On some Pennsylvania highways, police are reportedly required to do a full check of all local, state and federal records…to make sure they don’t have a terrorist on their hands. Cops can ask to search the car. Refusal can mean further waits as sniffing dogs are procured to do a “non-intrusive” search. One with a cig, or a lollypop, can be held up for a minimum of about 45 minutes. Got a joint in the ashtray, or no proof of having patronized the private insurance industry?…say good-bye to freedom and car.
There’s been no word yet of “tobacco-sniffing” dogs at high-schools. Far off? Who would object and risk being painted as supporting addiction and illness in kids?
There are significant problems with all of this, besides the affront to civil rights.
For starters, “concerned” state legislators haven’t done one solitary thing to address the matter of untested, often known toxic and carcinogenic non-tobacco adulterants of typical cigarettes. Cig manufacturers could dump nuclear waste into Marlboros and Newports and find absolutely zero prohibitions against it. Nor are there any laws to even reveal such deadly ingredients to Public Health officials or consumers. Amazing but true: it’s illegal, by Federal Law, for anyone to reveal the still Top Secret cig ingredients! This insult to the idea of Informed Consent is so great that it is, apparently, too big for most to see or believe. Maybe folks are simply afraid of angering the complicit industries or their well-funded friends and supporters in government…the ones who still allow this massive consumer endangerment.
Speaking of nukes…it so happens that there is radiation in typical industrial cigarettes. Some is natural, it’s in many soils, but the rest is from Still Legal phosphate fertilizers. No less than former Surgeon General Koop once warned that this radiation is cause of most upper respiratory cancers. Nothing happened. There’s no rad symbol on cig warning labels. It’s still legal as pie…no doubt, to protect the “good name” of the various radiation/nuke industries and to protect the cigarette makers, the fertilizer firms and their insurers from massive liability obligations. To remove it would be to admit it was unsafe; if unsafe, liability city. Can’t allow that. Better to put the blame and burden of law onto the uninformed, unprotected and insufficiently-warned victims…and the also unwitting, uninformed vendors in stores, restaurants and elsewhere.
How bad are these highly-processed, multi-ingredient products? Very. There’s an astonishing 450 tobacco pesticides that are still legal. Residues of roughly two dozen may be in a typical cig. About a third of these are chlorinated, thus bringing known, <U.S.-acknowledged> carcinogen, dioxin, to consumers…who are still being persuaded that the products are just tobacco, no different that what native Americans used for 10,000 years. Not by a mile. According to U.S. Patents, some from Philip Morris, a cig may not necessarily contain any tobacco at all but, instead, be all or part Fake Tobacco made from various kinks of industrial waste cellulose, including Municipal Paper Waste, Food Processing Waste, Timber Products Waste and so forth. It’s no mystery why this, or info about radiation, is not on the “warning label”. It would be tantamount to saying “Sue Us” and, also, “don’t buy this product.” Bad for business. The vague, uninformative, essentially meaningless “warnings” don’t dissuade anyone from smoking…and they even offer the weak “we warned you” excuse used by industry.
As for protecting the kids…this may be the most despicable part of the matter. The dioxin, which is a by-product of man-made chlorine, is in the typical (non-organic) products at high levels. It’s from not only pesticide residues but from the bleached paper, any number of the many hundreds of non-tobacco additives, and from just about all of the industrial cellulose used for the Faux Tobacco. It is particularly harmful to young, growing people…and to pregnant mothers and fetuses. The officials who now pompously propose to “protect the kids” by making them criminals have access to this information. The Environmental Protection Agency has it, as does the Dept. of Health and Human Services and so forth. Officials choose to ALLOW this secret poisoning of kids, and everyone; to protect the cigarette manufacturers and the chlorine interests from negative publicity and prosecution, and to protect the insurers from deservedly heavy liabilities. Of course, officials revealed to have facilitated or ignored all this may worry about being elected again. They prefer to bust people, never even the worst corporate criminal.
These officials have available the info about the many hundreds of non-tobacco cigarette additives. Cig makers themselves revealed about 600 of them. A great many are sweet, flavorful and aromatic…to better attract young smokers. Some additives are there to increase addiction…but all additives increase the withdrawal effects in any case. Other additives smooth the roughness of the smoke to, despicably, short-circuit one’s natural defenses against irritation. “Burn accelerants” are still allowed in cigarettes despite the number of kids killed, injured and made homeless every year by fires. This is all legal and of no concern in state or federal legislatures. People are tricked by deceptive (but also legal) advertising into smoking what they are told is tobacco, tricked into consuming untold numbers of non-tobacco toxins and carcinogens, tricked into blaming the as-yet unstudied tobacco plant for all resultant illnesses…and then turned into heavily restricted, legislated-against, fined, and tax-swamped pariahs. To add great insult to great injury, people buy health insurance from often the very insurers that have multi-million dollar holdings in the cigarette cartel that is making them sick. This vile protection racket is still sanctioned by law. But who knows this stuff? It’s not on TV.
If anyone has concerns about industrial toxins and carcinogens in the environment, this is the area of most, even global, health concern in which to show the danger and effects of dioxins. It doesn’t matter how one feels about smokers…it’s about how one feels about the chlorine cartel, big oil/pesticides, big insurance, massive liability evasions, equally massive denial of compensation to victims, denial of consumers’ Right To Know, Guinea-pigging of consumers by untested chemicals and novel product elements, the threat of yet another natural plant prohibition…and corruption of public governing by some very harmful private industries.
John Jonik lives in Philadelphia.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org