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A modest proposal


Eric J. Groves April 3rd, 2008

Introduced in the Legislature this session was Senate Bill 1875, which, if enacted, would go where no smoking ban has gone before: everywhere!   Under present law, smoking is still allowed in ...

Introduced in the Legislature this session was Senate Bill 1875, which, if enacted, would go where no smoking ban has gone before: everywhere!

 

Under present law, smoking is still allowed in taverns, retail tobacco stores, cigar bars, bingo parlors, restaurant smoking rooms vented to the outside, private workplaces where only the owner and immediate family operate, private workplaces occupied exclusively by one or more smokers and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls.

 

SB 1875 would finally snuff out these exemptions. And not a moment too soon for those veterans. Smoke 'em if you got 'em? Not anymore, soldier! The smoking lamp is out for you, sailor " permanently!

 

The problem with this legislation is it doesn't go far enough. For example, if the state is to protect children from secondhand smoke, it must outlaw smoking in homes where kids are present. First offense: a stiff fine and some time in the pokey. Second offense? Child abuse! Relinquishment of parental rights. Turn those kids over to the Department of Health and Human Services where we know they'll be safe.

 

How to enforce this law? Teachers will be required to instruct kids to snitch on their parents the very first time they light up at home. Mad at Mommy? Rat her out! Daddy too strict? Drop the dime on the old man!

 

Of course, we hear the usual whining about infringement of individual rights, authoritarian enforcement, the Ninth Amendment, invasion of privacy, etc. Give me a break. We gave up those kinds of rights long ago. We weren't using them, anyway.

 

Some will say if government should not interfere in a woman's right to choose, it should not dictate personal health choices for smokers. This is misguided. Government must do whatever it takes to protect smokers from themselves, and after all, the end justifies the means, doesn't it? Of course it does!

 

Even after the new law would take effect, noncompliant smokers will puff away in whatever havens may be left to them. Smokers are roughly a 20 percent minority, but they are sassy. The Oklahoma State Department of Health needs to round them up and place them in what I like to call "fresh-air camps" " maybe out in the panhandle or in barracks at closed Army installations where they can learn some respect for authority. Even then, a few will smuggle in Marlboro Lights or that nasty Skoal. For those smokers, only the final solution remains: I call it "Operation Soylent Green." We simply grind 'em up into hamburger, filter out the nicotine and feed 'em to the other inmates " er " residents. (Sometimes you have to destroy smokers in order to save them.)

 

I know what you're thinking: Obesity kills more people than smoking. Well, if the state can stop all those fools from smoking, it can stop all those fatties from eating. How? Every fast-food store will have a scale and require each customer to "weigh in" before ordering. Too heavy? No Quarter Pounder for you, Porky! Same thing at grocery store checkouts. Put those Cheez-Its back on the shelf, Fatso! The government is calling the shots now, Bubba. Yes, sir! Yes, sir, that's my baby; no, sir, don't mean maybe; yes, sir, that's my baby now! Ta-dum!

 

Groves is an Oklahoma City attorney and part-time curmudgeon for hire.

 
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