Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 523, June 14, 2009

Clearly, no nation with a Bill of Rights that includes
freedom of expression has any place anywhere for
anything even remotely like the FCC.

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The Smoking Goons
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

I haven't smoked a cigarette since 1993, when I had two mild heart attacks and had to quit. Before then, I had smoked two packs a day for thirty years, having started back when I was a freshman in college.

I had enjoyed smoking and was sorry I had to quit. In my time, starting in 1964, I'd happily consumed Winstons, Salems, Camels, Luckies, Pall Malls, English Ovals, Half & Half, Parliaments, Kools, Malboros, Gaulois, and Gitanes. Mostly it was Marlboros. I was smoking Nate Shermans in an attempt to cut down (because they're extremely good but very expensive even then), when I experienced the first of my infarctions. I may be the last individual alive ever to smoke Sweet Caporals.

When I first came to CSU in 1964, a pack of Winstons cost 35 cents and there was a little store near campus where you could buy Mexican cigarettes (not that kind of Mexican cigarettes) in pinstriped brown paper for 20 cents. I hadn't paid attention to prices for a while, so you can imagine my surprise and horror when I was in a liquor store the other day and discovered that the price of a pack of smokes is now $4.76!

Now we hear that the Obama Administration, thanks largely to a round-heeled congress greedily spreading its legs to the proposition, and like the sanctimonious, hypocritical, power-hungry, dogwhistles that they truly are, will call upon the federal Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products as if they were narcotics, when the fact is that the FDA shouldn't be regulating narcotics—and shouldn't really exist at all, under the United States Constitution as written.

So much for the Democrats' sympathy for the working poor who do most of the smoking in this culture. You union guys, remember this day.

Another day will come, sooner than you believe, when you will have to go to a government store, stand in a line, and when you finally reach the window, surrender your money, signature, and Social Security number to some slovenly-dressed bureaucrat smelling of sour, unwashed clothing, in exchange for a ten-pack of horrible-tasting generic cigarettes manufactured under the close supervision of the federal government.

As time goes on, they'll want your fingerprints, DNA, and retinal scans, as well. As the filtered part of your cigarette grows longer, the part with tobacco will grow shorter. Ever see what they smoke in Russia?

It says here 21 percent of the American public smokes cigarettes. (I'd bet almost anything that the real number is higher; I've seen the same pollster lie about guns and the Vietnam war.) There being about 300,000,000 Americans, that means at least 63,000,000 of them smoke, a number comparable to that of gun owners, and half again the number of blacks or Hispanics, two minorities politicians pay close attention to.

The same pollsters say smokers are "too diffuse" a group to be useful to any party or individual candidate, and besides, most smokers say they want to quit. (That much is true; I spent most of my thirty smoking years saying I wanted to quit, and occasionally trying to, but it took the poleaxe of a heart attack to make me do it for once and always.)

Another reason it's hard to organize smokers is that government, media, and the schools have been making them feel guilty about their habit for three generations and now the Gang of Three has them by the nads. Guilt is a solitary affliction and keeps people apart from one another.

What smokers need is a smokers' union—I'd join up in a minute, as a "smoker emeritus"—to identify their common interests , provide certain benefits, and put a finger on the disgusting politicians who prey on them. It might begin as a smokers' caucus of the Libertarian Party.

However that turns out, if you smoke—if you ever smoked—I want you to pledge with me, right now, that you will never vote for another Democrat again, for as long as you live. They are the ones who did this to you—FDA regulation, $4.76 a pack, no smoking even in restaurants that would prefer to allow it, huddling in the broiling sun or freezing rain outside your office building trying to get a nicotine break—and they are the ones who must be forced to pay for it.

Vote for any Republicans or Libertarians who will treat you with respect. I'd be interested to see where Dr. Ron Paul stands on all this.

In the end, there can be only one resolution: abolish the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well. Both have murdered more individuals than they claim to have saved. Neither is sanctioned by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which makes them nothing but gangs of outlaws, bent on stealing our money and destroying the last tattered vestiges of our freedom.

Now if you're gonna write to tell me smoking's bad, or that people who do it—especially near kids and pets—should be castrated with a rusty chainsaw and baked in clay over a slow fire, save it. Better yet, stuff it. Having never been permitted to hear half of all the facts about tobacco, you are operating out of ignorance. Check out the connections it has historically with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and asthma. Whatever the truth may be, my life is none of the government's business.

How about it, smokers? You can get it started in our letters column.

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on What Libertarians Believe with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels.


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