Free Markets, Free People

cigarette industry


Why limiting the power of government should be every citizen’s first priority

Here’s why I fear government.  It is a small, seemingly insignificant story in the big scheme of things, but in reality it points to a power that should simply not be allowed for government to possess.

Tweak of a regulation, stroke of a pen and a small industry is “snuffed out”:

A tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill to be signed today by President Barack Obama will put operators of roll-your-own cigarette operations in Las Vegas and nationwide out of business at midnight.

Robert Weissen, with his brothers and other partners, own nine Sin City Cigarette Factory locations in Southern Nevada, including six in Las Vegas, and one in Hawaii. He said when the bill is signed their only choice is to turn off their 20 RYO Filling Station machines and lay off more than 40 employees.

[…]

The machines are used by customers who buy loose tobacco and paper tubes from the shop and then turn out a carton of finished cigarettes in as little as 10 minutes, often varying the blend to suit their taste. Savings are substantial – at $23 per carton, half the cost of a name-brand smoke – in part because loose tobacco is taxed at a lower rate.

"These cigarettes are different because there are benefits in saving money and in how they make you feel," said Amy Hinds, a partner who operates the Sin City Cigarette Factory at Craig and Decatur.

"These cigarettes don’t have any of the chemicals in them, and the papers are chemical-free, unlike the cartons people buy from Philip Morris."

But a few paragraphs added to the transportation bill changed the definition of a cigarette manufacturer to cover thousands of roll-your-own operations nationwide. The move, backed by major tobacco companies, is aimed at boosting tax revenues.

Faced with regulation costs that could run to hundreds of thousands of dollars, RYO machine owners nationwide are shutting down more than 1,000 of the $36,000 machines.

And who offered this “tiny amendment”?

"The man who pushed for this bill is Sen. (Max) Baucus from Montana, and he received donations from Altria, a parent company of Philip Morris. Interestingly enough, there are also no RYO machines in the state of Montana. It really makes me question the morals and values of our elected speakers."

Or “what freaking business is it of Max Baucus?  How does it effect him or his state? 

More freedom, more choice up in smoke.  The problem, of course, is the cigarette industry is an unpopular industry.   But it begs the question, if it can do this to a business we don’t particularly care for, there’s absolutely no reason it can’t do the same thing to one we do care for.  As it has been said many times, “a government strong enough to give you things is also strong enough to take them away”.  And here it is taking away a choice for consumers because it disapproves of the product.

And there’s also a very big hint of crony capitalism (Max Baucus, who has none of the businesses in his state but receives donations from Altria?  Yeah, nothing suspicious there).

This reminds me of the arguments for the 1st Amendment.  The test isn’t with speech with which you agree, it is instead protecting speech with which you completely and utterly disagree.  It is with speech so vile you’d prefer to shut them up but know if you do, then you’ve given others permission to shut you up.

I don’t smoke but I’ll defend to the death your right to smoke, as long as you don’t violate any of my rights by doing so.

But Big Government – yeah, no way.

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO