It's unhealthy. It's disgusting. It's also hard to quit once you start. No, we're not talking about being a Dallas Cowboys fan...instead, it's that age-old issue of smoking.  Most studies agree, and most rational people will also acknowledge that smoking is incredibly unhealthy in any form, including weed (don't @ me, stoners).

Each year, billions of dollars are spent on messaging to convince people to kick the habit, and an enormous amount is also spent on medical costs resulting form smoking related issues. Ultimately, smoking killed both of my parents, and caused their children (including myself) to diminished lung capacity. However, there is still a portion of the population that cannot help themselves, and smoke regularly...regardless of the negative impacts. Admittedly, cigar lounges and smoke shops do big business, and add to our local economy. However, it doesn't change the fact smoking is a fast track to a shorter life, and that the industry needs younger smokers to continue with their business model.

Photo by Luka Malic on Unsplash
Photo by Luka Malic on Unsplash

One nation is now working to change that and make it impossible for anyone to purchase smokes, now and in the future. From Fox 40 in Sacramento and Nexstar:

New Zealand to ban everyone under age 14 from ever buying cigarettes in their lifetimes

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In an effort to eliminate smoking in the island nation, New Zealand has placed one of the strictest anti-smoking laws on the books, stating that anyone who is born after a certain date (or 14 and under today) will NEVER be allowed to purchase tobacco products. For example, in 65 years, only 80 year old's would be allowed by by cigarettes. However, if you currently smoke, the law would not affect you, just future generations. In addition, the law would not ban vaping...which (in my opinion) is just as bad, if not worse.

Of course, there are those who are taking issue with the proposal. From Fox 40:

Sunny Kaushal said some stores could be put out of business. Kaushal chairs the Dairy and Business Owners Group, which represents nearly 5,000 corner stores — often called dairies in New Zealand — and gas stations.

“We all want a smoke-free New Zealand,” he said. “But this is going to hugely impact small businesses. It should not be done so it is destroying dairies, lives and families in the process. It’s not the way.”

Kaushal said the tax increases on tobacco had already created a black market that was being exploited by gangs, and the problem would only get worse. He said smoking was already in its twilight in New Zealand and would die away of its own accord.

The issue is sure to create tons of debate, and begs the question: Is it time for such a law here in Lubbock?

The capitalist-libertarian in me says, "No", but the guy in me who likes to breathe freely says "bring it on".  I have a simple philosophy: "Do what you want, Don't tell me what to do, and don't make me pay for it." That means I'm all kinds of conflicted. I'd LOVE to live in a smoke-free world, even though I know that ultimately, you'll die before me if you do smoke. But, increased medical costs and the inability to walk out of a building without inhaling your second-hand cancer cloud are making me lean a little draconian here. But, not on all issues, necessarily.

Of course, there are those who will make the comparison to other issues. "Maybe you should wear a mask if you are so paranoid?" Or, "if you want to force people to quit smoking, why aren't you for Covid-mandates, too"? It's apples and oranges. But yes, I can see you calling me out on my hypocrisy. Can we regulate one, and not the other?  It's a tough question...

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