2024 Leg Session, Gold Dome, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: The absurdity of the Senate Bill 22 nicotine ban

(You can listen to this column, read by the author, here.)

Sharing a joint before sex is a legally protected right in Colorado. Sharing a cigarette afterward is a perversion so repulsive the Colorado state legislature is going to stamp it out.

I’m so glad we hired the repressive preacher from the movie “Footloose” to play the role of our lawmakers. I quote directly from his diatribe: “If our Lord wasn’t testing us how would you account for the proliferation these days of this obscene ( well scratch rock ‘n’ roll music) smoking-reduction products with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality!”

No, seriously. They really do want to ban the stuff that helps people stop smoking, along with tobacco of course.

Coloradans voted to make this the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. So, burning that plant and inhaling the smoke is acceptable. However, when those same people burn a different plant, namely tobacco, it must be outlawed.

Does anyone else get a headache trying to find consistency here?

These are the same people who want safe injection sites for addicts using fentanyl. Yet they want to ban harm-reduction products to help folks step off tobacco.

Senate Bill 22 would empower county commissioners to ban the sale of cigarettes, tobacco and nicotine products.

So, literally, two nannies out of a three-member board of commissioners can decide no one in their fiefdom can have a cigarette after sex.

So much for their smug assertion government should stay out of people’s bedrooms.

Aren’t these the same people who stand up for trans people to legally change their gender to whatever they choose?

What if someone identifies as a smoker? A man can identify as a woman so long as he doesn’t identify as a woman who smokes, because that’s just too damn weird and perverse to accept.

People should be free to smoke if they wish. Empowering a couple of nannyists to outlaw your lifestyle is more than ugly. It’s downright hateful.

Many people are trying to break the tobacco habit. Fortunately, there are more safe options for people to reduce smoking harm. Vaping is one way. Nicotine-delivery products like patches or oral pouches give people their desired nicotine without the carcinogens of burning tobacco. So let’s make that illegal.

There’s another wild hypocrisy going on at the Capitol. Basically, the legislature loves “local control” when it pushes their command-and-control mandates and hates it when it doesn’t.

Giving localities the ability to increase gun control, but not to decrease it — they love it. Giving localities the ability to increase the minimum wage, but not decrease it — love that, too. And, of course, they gave localities the power to massively regulate tobacco and nicotine products.

But local control is a horrid thing when it comes to environmental mandates. Heaven forbid Weld County might make oil and gas extraction legal there again. And the governor’s plan to do away with local zoning rules to build additional units in backyards, well, “Did I say I liked local control?”

There is absolutely, positively, no consistency at the state Capitol except the theme of “you WILL live how we f—ing tell you to live.”

That said, a patchwork of tobacco and nicotine product bans across the state will make for fun cigarette smuggling.

For those of us old enough to remember another bad movie, “Smokey and the Bandit,” where Burt Reynolds sped Coors beer across state lines just one step ahead of the fuzz, we’ll soon have hipsters seeking nicotine patches running their Telsas in and out of Weld County like a drug cartel.

And I know no one gives a poop about small businesses in Colorado, like tobacco stores that will go bust. But you’d think they might care a bit about all the tobacco tax revenue.

Beyond the usual 20 cents per-pack tax, Amendment 35 in 2004 added 64 cents to fund health initiatives. Proposition EE in 2020 added $1.80 for Jared Polis’ universal preschool program. So light up across the street from a grade school to show your support of education.

Political minorities need protection from mob rule. Don’t the lifestyles of smokers deserve the same protection as the lifestyles of gays and lesbians?

Flying rainbow flags feels obligatory today to celebrate the gay lifestyle, while now smokers are treated like the gays of the past.

Do you feel any shame about that?

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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