Jeff Pearlman

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Make cigarettes illegal

I can’t believe I just typed that headline, but I did.

Cigarettes should be illegal.

This might surprise some of my Republican readers … the idea that I’m conflicted about government involvement (In other words, I’m a typical Democrat). But, truth be told, I’m not thrilled by the idea of the federal government issuing sweeping laws and regulations that impact personal lives. Hell, I was initially against the New York City ban on cigarettes in bars and restaurants, because I felt—at the time—that establishments should have the right to determine their own policy (I’ve changed since then … and I also love not smelling like a friggin’ Camel when I leave a pub). However, here we are, in 2011, and there’s just no good reason for the cigarette industry to exist.

1. It kills: Literally, it kills people. Hundreds of thousands of people every year. With zero redeeming benefits. I mean, too much sun causes cancer—but the sun also keeps the earth sustainable. Cars kill, but they get us around. Cigarettes destroy your lungs, your durability, your looks, your scent, they damage those around you.

• Croppers: I know, in North Carolina, Dems and Repubs fight for the tobacco industry, because it keeps the state afloat. But, well, tough shit. It’s the same as anti-clean air bozos bemoaning how regulations to keep X and Y chemicals out of the environment will damage job growth. When it comes to the health and happiness of people, well, fuck job growth. Look toward new industry.

• Teens: Teens are the people who start smoking. They somehow think it’s cool, rebelious, sexy, etc. The cigarette companies know this; prey on them. It’s criminal.

Anyhow, I’m babbling. The above photo depicts images that will soon be placed on packs of cigarettes. I’m thrilled—and the industry is livid. But to hell with them—they’re the devil.

  • http://andrewnorcross.com Norcross

    Well, I’m a liberal, and I’m also a smoker, and I disagree. I have no issue with the graphic labels, or taxing the living hell out of it. But an all-out ban just goes against personal freedoms. Alcohol kills, but no one is rushing to ban that.

    • debbie

      Theres no such thing as second-hand drinking. Drinking won’t kill your kids, smoking will.

    • Brian

      Is that a Ignorant liberal or just a liberal. Well, your liberal ideals will kill you and slowly when it comes to smoking. No one has the right, NO ONE, to subject anyone to harmful toxins. You, our government or yes the money hungry corporations that have chemically altered an already addictive drug, Nicotine, into a super addictive consumer product that will kill you and others. Find out what you are talking about before you post some ignorant comment to a blog.

    • Bobby B

      Your smoking won’t just kill you. It raises everyone’s healthcare costs.

  • http://www.amazinavenue.com James K.

    I think smoking is disgusting but no government has the right to tell people what they can and can’t do with their bodies. If I want to smoke, I should be able to smoke. People don’t need the government to save them from themselves.

  • Dan

    I’m a liberal and a non-smoker and completely disagree. First of all, legislating what are ultimately personal decisions is a slipperu slope. Second, doing so on behalf of people too stupid to quit themselves is just dumb.

  • barry

    Not sure where to put this comment. Jeff, Amazon has your new book and cover up. You going to announce the subject of the book on the blog? I still can’t believe its not about Al Toon.

  • Michael

    I’m a liberal and a non-smoker, but I disagree. I think making cigarettes illegal would solve nothing. I know that when I was a kid it was easier to get marijuana than cigarettes or alcohol specifically because marijuana was illegal. Because cigarettes and alcohol were legal, the people selling them had to check for IDs or face heavy fines or even arrest.

    • Brian

      Again, another ignorant post. You have no idea what you as a consumer are consuming. This problem of allowing companies to produce products that kill people in the name of Capitolism is the issue. Cigarette smoking just happens to be there right in your or my FACE !!! We are all guilty of promoting companies just like tobacco makers. We are all CONSUMERS, willing to stand in a line in freezing weather overnight just to get the latest whatever. Wake up people…. Cigarettes are just one piece of a very big problem. We MUST remove cigarettes from the equation because they kill the user, their children and have much farther reaching negative effects on our society.

  • Kyle

    If you ban cigarettes, then don’t you have to ban alcohol, too? I mean, booze not only can cause cancer and cirrhosis, but it leads to DUIs and all sorts of other awful things.

  • Bobby Fetter

    Jeff knows I lean right. Banning tobacco will be just like prohibition of alcohol…it will create more problems. Organized crime will thrive, more police and FBI will have to be hired and jails will be filled with tobacco growers. It doesn’t make sense. In NYC, a pack of smokes goes for $11-$12 dollars. That will keep alot of teens from starting the habit. High taxes and the anti-smoking stigma will prevent alot of future smokers in this country, but tobacco fields are still abundant. Big Tobacco has already focused on more overseas marketing. It will never be outlawed and there will always be smokers in the USA. High taxes and laws about where you can smoke will chip away at the problem but it will always come down to personal choice and that is what freedom is all about.

    • Jeff Pearlman

      whoa, good response, bobby.

  • Dr. K

    I also disagree. But just as an observation, I have found it interesting in the last few years that calls for the ban of cigarettes have increased at the same time that calls for the repeal of marijuana laws have reached an all time high.

  • Gregry

    Good point doctor K. Look, I am a smoker and I understand that it’s a nasty habit and all, but as people are saying it’s all about personal freedom. You raise the price on it to God awful levels, drive us out of bars/restaurants (which even as a smoker I agree, that is a pretty good call) most public places and they are even trying to outlaw it while driving. Where else are we supposed to go??

    People are going to do what they want so keeping it legal while a disgusting habit, at least it’s regulated to a point and taxed. You can slap a Coors Light ad on anything but yet Joe Camel is an outlaw. I’ve seen alcohol kill and destroy lives just as much.

    And as far as marijuana laws are concerned?? Even though I do NOT smoke pot it should be just as legal than ciggs. Hell, legalize that and get rid of smokes and you would convert me. I would rather pay for a Weed 100 that was government regulated and got something more out it. At least it won’t kill me and could be used for many more useful purposes.

  • http://90spreservationsociety.com Bobo

    I wish I had never picked up a pack and I’m sort of half-heartedly trying to quit since I’m currently the only one in my group who smokes, but I don’t think making it illegal is going to help people. It will only criminalize addiction, which is hardly what we want.

  • Danny

    Wait, why wouldn’t every single box choose the image of the bald dude with the goatee?

  • Ted

    Am I the only semi-regular commenter who would like to acknowledge and commend Bobby Fetter for his sensible, calm, and reasonable comment? I agree with him 100%. As a former smoker who quit too late (my lungs are shot to hell) don’t outlaw it. Tax the shit out of it and then tax it some more.

  • Philip

    Libertarian, here… have a tendancy to disagree with JEff on a lot of subjects. But, can’t say that it should be illegial. It is well within someone’s personal rights and freedoms to do so.

    However, I will say that those pics are a normal aspect of the packaging in asia (Taipei, KL and HK)… and the pictures are less attractive that they use there.

    Taxing so heavily that it prices people out, would be the easiest thing to do.

    Big tobacco is waiting for the legalization of dope, they have already purchased a s-load of land here in nor cal. Writing is on the wall that cigs will not be their new rev model.

  • Desmond

    Cigarettes supply nicotine, which is an effective anti-depressant, having harmful side effects just as prescription anti-depressants do (except cigarettes are much cheaper and, yes, cooler).

  • muhammed goldstein

    STRONGLY disagree! I live in Japan where a large percentage of the population smoke. Japanese people also have the world’s longest life expectancy. The film director Kon Ichikawa smoked 2 packs a day until he died at 92 years of age. He also never once ate a fast-food hamburger or drank a soda.

    No one denies that tobacco is bad for your health or that smoking causes cancer. But to ban it and still allow people to eat poison like McDonalds and drink Coke?

    You are off base here Jeff. Let people smoke (in controlled environments) if they want.

  • jmw

    I just think it should be taxed an astronomical amount.
    Like gas prices, when it gets expensive enough people cut back.
    Use the tax money toward medical care. Tobacco costs all of us too much in health $$$.
    Establish a fund for future medical costs, in addition to helping reduce costs today.

  • jmw

    MG
    Some people aren’t affected by tobacco. My next door neighbor just died. Smoked all the time, 83 years old. It was lung cancer, but it took awhile.
    My grandpa smoked a pipe, my grandma cigarettes. He was 96 she was 87. They ate their meat marbled, dumped salt and pepper over everything. Lots of fried food. Everything wrong.
    My parents both died at approx 70. They did everything right. Salmon on a regular basis, exercise, both smoked when they were younger. They cited cigarettes for my mothers death, but we think the lung cancer might have been caused by the radiation she received in the 60′s for breast cancer.
    Point is, individual success stories don’t actually carry much weight.

  • Kevin

    I say tax the hell out of it too, but that’s because I don’t smoke.

    Just don’t tax my Coke Zero. :)

  • muhammed goldstein

    [18] jmw,

    Yes of course it’s a small sample size. I do firmly believe that years spent as a smoker will likely lead to cancer. It’s just that my Japanese friends who smoke but eat healthily and don’t drink soda..they will likely live longer than the average obese American.

    Seeing someone carrying a bag from McDonalds and then rail against smoking, that is beyond absurd.

  • Steve702

    Anyone who passed a 4th grade health class is aware cigarettes will kill you. There has been no attempt to hide this fact for over a generation. The proliferation of public smoking bans has made great strides in protecting non-smokers from health risks. If we need the government to tell us not to knowingly poison ourselves with tobacco, then personal accountability is dead in this country. Enjoy alcohol, soft drinks and fast food while you can. They’ll be the next to go when we seek a new scapegoat for our lack of responsibility and judgment.

  • Dan

    Anyone who smokes nowadays is DUMB! I have read all the comments from the pro-smokers and “smokers rights” side, and it is full of idiots spewing lies and false information. Cigarette smoke is 1000x more concentrated than car exhaust. And you cannot compare it to anything else, such as drinking alcohol. If you drink alcohol it is NOT going into my body also, only yours. BUT when you smoke it is going into the bodies of not only stupid you, but every living being near you! Not only should it be banned indoors AND outdoors, but cigarettes should be illegal! Educate yourselves on what is in cigarette smoke and the harm it does to smokers and EVERYONE forced to breathe in the smoke against their will! Are all you smokers gonna pay for my medical costs when I get sick as a result of being forced to breathe in your cigarette smoke??!!! Just breathing it in for a few seconds gives me a headache and a stomachache! What do you think it’s doing to everyone’s health long-term?? I have NO choice and NO right to not breathe in cigarette smoke, I breathe it in outside when I want to get fresh clean air but some idiots are outside smoking and polluting my breathing air, I breathe it in when I am driving in my car and some idiot next to me is smoking out their window, cigarette smoke is even in my house when the next door neighbors are all outside smoking in their driveway and it drifts onto MY property and comes into my house through the windows, etc., etc. YES we do need to BAN CIGARETTES! BAN SMOKING!! I fully support an outdoor smoking ban! And just so the “smokers rights” people don’t get too crazy and upset, let’s set up designated “smoking boxes”, like giant airtight port-a-pottys, as the only place people are allowed to smoke. Then we’ll see how much they really love their cigarette smoke! We HAVE to do this because smokers are selfish, arrogant, ignorant jerks who will never stop smoking around non-smokers otherwise!

    • robert

      dude, quit being such a bitch, its not illegal and it wont be anytime soon, its way to big of an industry. learn to live with it, smoking is already illegal in bars and places like that, and you cant smell it outside unless your right next to it and no one forces you to be there. grow the fuck up you pansy.

  • TX

    I think they absolutely should be banned. As you say there is a direct correlation between cigarettes and physical harm. The primary motivation to ban cigarettes should be that smoking is not just a personal affair, the smoke gets around and hurts people around the smokers as well. At least the drinker physical damage of alcohol is contained within the drinker.

  • Amanda

    I agree. I lost my mother, a smoker, to lung cancer 12 years ago. She was 45 and I was 19. Yesterday I found out that my father, a smoker since he was 12-even after seeing my mother die from lung cancer- was told a chest X-ray revealed lung disease and spots on his lungs more than likely lung cancer. Now in the process of getting prognosis. So, here I am, 31 and looking at losing both parents to the same damn disease caused by the same damn vice.

  • jen

    It isn’t a personal decision when it affects people around you. I, like millions of people, have lung problems and because of smokers in public places I can’t do things I want to do. If I wait on a bus or train, almost always there will be someone who smokes, and I have to walk far away to avoid it, and so many times I have missed a bus because of this!! Second hand smoke KILLS people who are sensitive like me. I support making it illegal to sell tobacco, but I don’t think we should put people in jail for using(that would be a waste of jail space)since they are primarily victims of addiction themselves. We need to target the industry. Making it difficult to find and purchase would definitely stop people from smoking after a decade or so. If it goes underground, far fewer people would be smoking a pack a day as few could afford it and the supply would be far less. I am tired of seeing people I love die from smoking. BAN IT!

  • lees

    Ban the living hell out of cigarettes.. sick of all of you self centered, stuck up, pieces of CRAP blowing your smoke in peoples faces and leaving your disgusting cigarette butts all over the ground, blowing the smoke around kids.. I hope this passes so that every single damn one of you gets penalized for it…

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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