Prohibition all over again

Greg has a quick post covering a recent bill proposed in the DC city council. The councilwoman proposed a ban on public alcohol consumption using the same lines of reasoning as public smoking bans. Greg picked out a couple of good quotes:

Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, R-At Large, introduced her bill in response to a proposed ban on smoking in those same establishments. Her proposal imitates the arguments for a smoking ban, citing health concerns, worker safety and the nuisance of drinkers.

“I never thought I could ban drinking just because I didn’t like it, but now I know I can,” Schwartz said. “The impending smoking ban has empowered me.”

Several hours later, Schwartz pulled the bill, saying she had made her point. She hoped the incident would serve as a “wake-up call that once you start toying with people’s liberties, you never know where it might end.” …

“Let’s be honest, people are dying,” Schwartz said, mocking arguments from other council members on the smoking ban. “Pure and simple, drinking kills.”

Fellow council members Kathy Patterson and Jim Graham rolled their eyes and shook their heads.

and

“People are still free to drink at home – for now,” Schwartz said. But she said beverages at bars and restaurants should be limited to “tea, sodas and milk.

“And if the drinkers insist on drinking alcohol – and they will – they can just step outside on sidewalks with their flasks and drink.”

As I have mentioned before, I’m not a fan of the public smoking bans for a variety of reasons, but as long as it’s just states and and cities doing it I’m not going to get my boxers too much in a bunch over it.

8 thoughts on “Prohibition all over again”

  1. Why don’t we just ban everything in public?

    You like drinking soda? We don’t lets ban it. Like carrying your laptop? We don’t. Lets ban it.

    This is getting kind of pathetic 😐

  2. It’s time for patriotic Americans to return to the civil disobedience of their ancestors and grandparents, and light up and clink glasses against the moral and medical prudes!

  3. if only you guys could see what i’ve seen. soooooooooo many smokers and alcoholics having their lives cut short, many with kids still in the home, because of their addiction to tobacco and/or alchohol. they are both very addicting. tobacco is THE most addicting substance. more so than any street drug. because of the addicting power, people cannot stop when they know they should and they really want to. they don’t really realize this power when they start, and unless you’ve worked with the end result, you will not understand the destruction it does to individuals, FAMILIES, and SOCIETY. cancer is extremely expensive to treat.

    tobacco, in my opinion should be banned outright. it would NEVER have been allowed if we knew then what we know now. and you can’t accuse me of being “Holier than though”. i just had a cigar 30 minutes ago.

    in my opinion, the lives of these people are people important than my personal liberty to indulge in a destructive behavior, even if it brings enjoyment and satisfaction.

  4. So you’re lumping in all users of tobacco and alcohol with the relatively small percentage that really cause problems for others with their habit? As long as you acknowledge that your proposals are not “narrowly tailored,” as the Supreme Court would say, and possibly unconstitutional for that reason. You should also acknowledge that you’re trying to protect people from themselves, even if it’s couched in terms warning against the effects of their behavior on others. You might as well say cars should be banned outright for public health.

  5. with tobacco, it’s a large percentage of users that cause problems. i’m sure it’s well over half that die early, expensive, depressing deaths.

    with alchohol, it’s a smaller percentage, but the consequences more commonly effect others (drunk drivers, destroyed families)

    people need to be protected from themselves when they do not realize the consequences of their choices. such as a rope in front of a cliff at a ski resort. for many, it’s obvious not to ski off the cliff, but on a foggy day, people could easily not see the consequences. almost all tobacco addicts start as kids (foggy minds, excuse the pun), which are known to throw precaution in the air. but to generalize to all ages, i think every mind is fogged until you meet at least a couple of people on their deathbed at 45 years old because of their smoking addiction.

    cars serve a purpose in life. life in america is quite unimaginable without cars. life in america without smoking (and possibly drinking) would appear more ideal (to most people at least).

    And if you’re going to argue against making tobacco illegal, i think you would also have to argue against the FDA (which i wouldn’t be surprised if you’re against it too). it’s obvious that the only reason tobacco is legal is because it was grandfathered in.

  6. You may be sure well over half of tobacco users die early, but I’d appreciate stats – that don’t originate from thetruth.com, by the way. I’m not arguing with your point about when most people start smoking. But that’s really not the point. You prefer an authoritarian solution for human nature, just like attorneys general from Reno to Ashcroft, and I try to avoid that.

    Your cliff analogy is faulty because cliffs, packs of cigarettes and alcohol containers all have warnings. You wouldn’t shut down a ski resort because there’s a cliff nearby that’s hard to see in fog.

    Regarding cars – they are certainly built into American society, but you’ve made a wholly subjective statement and one that fails to take into account scientific progress. It may be most Americans can telecommute in a decade and cars get programmed to drive themselves (not powered by Windows, of course). I have trouble believing that you really think most people would prefer an America without drinking, or even smoking for that matter. How popular do you think Prohibition II would be?

    I wouldn’t argue against the FDA – frankly I have no idea why nicotine is still legal. Probably no way to wean everyone off it without creating a massive new government program that would likely eclipse health spending on the effects of smoking. Furthermore it’s not always easy to separate the effects of smoking from other bad habits.

    The point is, we all have bad habits, often because they’re enjoyable for one reason or another. You prefer infantilizing adults; I prefer responsibility for one’s actions.

  7. Most would consider a country without smoking (and maybe without alcohol) as closer to “ideal”, but that doesn’t mean they would prefer it that way. what people recognize as ideal is often different from what they prefer.

    for this reason (and many others), i believe human nature is a mess. but i think laws that we create as a collective can help curb the destructiveness of our nature. a law against smoking will help people make a better descision. of course, you are giving up the right to decide for yourself, but i consider this right very small in the grand scheme of things. you are just roping off one cliff in the million acre ski resort, not shutting down the resort.

    at the same time, i think this should be decided on a state by state basis.

    i also believe people should take responsibility for their actions, but denying these people medical care is a nearly impossible issue to address (but i would vote for it!). plus, being such an addictive substance, most smokers don’t have much of a choice. it would be like asking a clinically depressed person to take responsibility for their mood.

    alcohol of course is less addictive, and moderate amounts are not destructive. but at the same time, in excess, alcohol is much more dangerous to one’s self and others. i personally would prefer to live in a state where alcohol wasn’t sold (although this is a small preference). or even better, if we could selectively take away the right to drink alcohol (like we take away the right to drive a car), i would be all for it.

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