Friday, November 16, 2012

Imprisoning tobacco users in the U.S. on the horizon?

I accidentally stumbled upon this tobacco law blog today and was quite surprised to hear about a bill being proposed in the state of Massachusetts by Rep. George Peterson Jr. (R-MA 9th Worcester District):

The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill (House Bill 1512) that would ban all tobacco products in the state.  Specifically, the bill would ban the distribution, possession or use of “any tobacco in any of its forms.”  Violations are punishable by fines, and ultimately, imprisonment

Now how is it that this story is seemingly being ignored by the mainstream media? Hello 60 Minutes, are you out there?

But, but.....: "All that we are really desire is the proliferation of non-smoking sections."

The slippery slope has done gone and slided into the dark halls of madness.

Oh, but rest assured, the government still needs our money:

Given the state’s reliance on tobacco tax revenues, the bill is not expected to progress.

"Not expected to progress." ..for now....

Massachusetts Bill Would Ban Tobacco Products — Troutman Sanders Tobacco Team


  1. On this and your previous post, J...

    The upper echelons of Tobacco Control must be tearing their hair out. These Massachusetts people and the survey people have jumped the gun. It's far, far to early for such prohibitions. Lots of surveys and studies are still needed (to keep the lolly rolling in). More people need to be sacked and lose their homes. Smoking must be banned anywhere where there are children first. We need to take years before we lose our source of income, for heaven's sake!


  2. Thanks for the news J. Prohibition here we come. (just as we predicted) Scott Ewing

  3. That about sums it up Junican. Well said.

  4. They tried this before in North Dakota some 10 years ago. It was the Tobacco Control Industry that objected most. And the law was killed.

    So don't be afraid. This will not materialize in any way...

    1. Wiel,

      "It was the Tobacco Control Industry that objected most."

      Oh, the irony.

      "This will not materialize in any way..."

      Probably not...but, then again there are some places in the U.S. with ordinances that threaten to jail someone for up to 6 months..for smoking outside. While my instinct tells me that this may merely be an attempt (on Rep. Peterson's part) to call TC's bluff, it's hard to tell what some of our lawmakers are capable of these days.

      The only thing that seems certain to continue into the foreseeable future, however, is the overwhelming opposition that appears to exist amongst varying monied interests and factions (ie., everyone except for us)when it comes to the concept of harm reduction and choice.

  5. Those tobacco prohibition laws were on the books in some 30 states back in the early 1900-1925 era.

    No pocession at all and they imprisoned you too!

  6. It won't progress because government and anti-tobacco get their funds in part from tobacco sales. That's why they fought against a proposed tobacco ban in Idaho I think.

    1. Good point Tony.

      It was North Dakota (thanks to Wiel above for informing me on this).

      A quick search on the issue turned up this:

      ..a couple of snippets:

      "Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 5:56:17 AM by SheLion

      BISMARCK - North Dakota House representatives Monday voted overwhelmingly against a bill proposing to ban tobacco sales in the state.

      The measure, which would make selling or using tobacco products except for using it for relgious purposes misdemeanors, failed by an 88-4 vote.

      The bill would have made it a crime to sell or use tobacco in North Dakota, with sellers facing a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The bill labeled smoking, chewing or using smokeless tobacco as a less severe crime, punishable by 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

      GF sponsor

      "The bill's sole sponsor, Grand Forks Republican Rep. Mike Grosz, said he was disappointed by Monday's vote."


      "Rep. Wes Belter, R-Leonard, chairman of the Finance and Taxation Committee, said he decided to vote no on the floor Monday because he believe prohibition would drive smoking underground.

      His committee heard the bill last week and recommended a "do pass" on the bill by a 9-4 vote. Six of the nine committee members who voted yes on the bill changed their vote on the floor Monday.

      Belter told the House that committee members were frustrated last week with the testimony from anti-tobacco groups that testified against the tobacco ban, including the North Dakota Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, North Dakota Public Health Association and North Dakota Nurses Association.

      There's no evidence banning tobacco would prevent and reduce tobacco use because no such approach has been implemented, the groups argued. The ban also could take away certain funding for these groups for tobacco control programs."

    2. I do believe that this largely explains why the TC industry is so opposed to harm reduction strategies, for how would they justify their paychecks if the risk from tobacco use was diminished to that of any other daily activity? ..Same goes for many in the government; they like the disposable income for their pet projects.

      Maybe prohibition is not the true aim..for now...but, I do believe that they'd rather imprison us all rather than lose the tax revenue that is generated from tobacco and harm reduction is a direct threat to their bottom line. I hope that I'm wrong, but the closer that we get to reducing risk, the closer that we get to prohibition. It's all about the money.

  7. ..From Christopher Snowdon's blog:

    "They had banished alcohol and they expected to banish tobacco. But alcohol had never been described as "indispensable" by the supreme commander of the US armed forces. Tobacco had. While the federal government busy was outlawing booze, Nebraska, Tennessee and Oklahoma were quietly repealing their bans on cigarette sales. Wisconsin and South Dakota had already done likewise. Of the thirteen states that had banned cigarettes in their entirety only four had their bans in place by the end of 1919. At least 22 other states contemplated legislation but decided against it. In 1921 alone, no fewer than 92 anti-smoking measures were being considered in 28 states but very few of them ever made it into law and those which did focused on the relatively uncontroversial issue of juvenile smoking."

  8. an added thought here;

    The 1998 master tobacco settlement had built in it losses to tobacco comapny sales. If they dropped below a certain level the states had to cough up the diference. In fact it gives Tobacco companies protection from total prohibition laws per say. We have already seen where Big tobacco has kept back MSA funds in several states already because of down sales. The weve got the fact that many of these states took cash advances against their precieved MSA payolla over the years. If the money doesnt come in,the states have to pay the Billions themselves!

    1. "The weve got the fact that many of these states took cash advances against their precieved MSA payolla over the years. "

      True, like California for example:

      "In 2007, California issued $4.4 billion in tobacco bonds -- which the state hoped to pay back to investors by 2047 -- to help balance the state budget."

      Read more:

    2. When Dave Kuneman and I did our analysis of the economic impact of smoking bans several years ago, we looked at California in particular. What we found was almost unbelievable: California's bans have cost the state over a hundred BILLION dollars!


      - MJM