Burn, baby, burn: Oh, what a feelin'

by Brian Keith Giovannini

Smoking is an immensely pleasurable activity. The intense euphoria derived from a satisfying blend of cigarette tobacco is rivaled only by the delightful taste of a fine cigar.

The tobacco industry did not force me to start smoking. Not once did a carload of RJR thugs appear at my doorstep in pinstripe suits with the intent of menacing me into adopting the habit.

Philip Morris never coerced me into lighting up. Instead, the choice I made to start smoking was mine and mine alone. And, unlike the rest of society, which seems so eager to place blame on the nearest scapegoat, I accept full responsibility for my actions.

The masses continue to persecute the tobacco industry with claims of force, fraud and coercion. The ill effects of second-hand smoke are their primary claim.

Strangely enough, though, outdoor grill manufacturers have not been subjected to the same rigorous scrutiny as tobacco execs. But if anyone should have a claim to damages from second-hand smoke, it should be the neighbors of incompetent Hibachi owners who choose to burn meat on the windiest days of the year.

Why the double standard? Because smoking has become unfashionable. The paternalistic leaders of the anti-smoking drive have determined that their duty in life is to impose their value structure upon other individuals through a stringent code of moral conduct -- a code to which even the most devoted Puritan would have trouble adhering.

The tobacco industry currently stands accused of marketing to children, adding nicotine, and, in general, doing whatever it can to make its product more addictive and more appealing.

And for this, I must admit I am outraged. How dare the businessmen in charge of tobacco firms try to market their product? By what right do they believe they can advertise their goods in a free economy? It is not good enough that the federal bureaucracy has already placed restrictions on which advertising media tobacco producers may employ, but they should ban the advertising of tobacco altogether. Then they should levy $5-a-pack taxes on cigarettes, because, as we know, the ultimate goal of any government should be to stifle the creation of wealth and redistribute income.

As the large tobacco companies go bankrupt, the government could confiscate their assets and give them to cancer patients who chose to ignore the risks involved when they began smoking.

And what about the ill effects of tobacco smoke in the work place? I do not recall any airline stewardesses having been bound and gagged by various airlines and forced to work in smoke-filled airplanes. From what I have heard, they voluntarily accepted their line of work. I believe the same could be said for any industry in the United States.

But enough about the tobacco industry. It's time for me to enjoy a smoke.

Giovannini is a senior

Italian studies major who has left the building.

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