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Burned by the City

by on June 24, 2010

There’s bad news if you cope with the endless hassles of living in Buffalo via tobacco use: tobacco use may soon entail more hassles.  Lit leaf enthusiasts face additional headaches for indulging in the coolest of hobbies.

Specifically, Brian Meyer of The Buffalo News notes that the municipality’s aldermen want to prevent you from buying what you like or learning your options when it comes to smoking. Too busy and important to address the area’s quasi-depression status, this most uncommon of councils is spending their oh so valuable time attempting to check your vices:

One of the nation’s toughest sets of laws regulating the sale and advertisement of tobacco products will go to the Buffalo Common Council for review this week, and a majority of lawmakers look favorably on new rules that would crack down on vendors irresponsibly marketing tobacco products.

These are the people who are deciding what’s irresponsible?  The guys running Buffalo’s government?  The Buffalo in New York?  Super.  Don’t be rude and ask councilmen where the city’s jobs or residents are, please, as they have more important tasks than fixing the economy or anything like that.

As for how they’ll specifically make winded smokers cruelly jump through hoops, you can forget puffing if there are kids possibly within about one-fifth of a mile:

Banning some new businesses from selling tobacco products, including pharmacies, restaurants, bars, businesses that primarily serve minors, or businesses that are within 1,000 feet of schools.

Of bigger concern than where you could smoke would be where you could buy smokes:

Beginning in 2014, no tobacco products could be sold at any drugstores, bars, restaurants, game rooms, or on school or college properties.

The city wants to not only prevent you from obtaining Big Tobacco’s delicious products but also from learning about them:

Advertising for tobacco products would be strictly regulated. For example, no large outdoor tobacco product ads could be displayed at retail outlets near schools. In-store ads would have to displayed in black and white, and no images or cartoons could be used in large display ads. Warning signs would have to be posted where tobacco products are sold. And the amount of space that tobacco ads occupy could not exceed the square footage of ads for all other products.

“We want to clean up some of the outrageous advertising,” said K. Michael Cummings, chairman of the department of health behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Well, at least the placards in question aren’t so “outrageous” that they violate the First Amendment like certain suggested bands would.  If so, the tobacco advertisers be elbowing in on shady territory currently held by astoundingly overbearing Institute do-gooders enabled by pushy city councils.  Cigarette conglomerates can have their say, but only if they whisper in the corner.

As for Cummings, he could get a second job as a condescending nanny if he needs extra cash:

“Right now, some stores are just littered with tobacco advertising,” he continued, adding that some of the most pervasive ads are in Buffalo’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

Maybe poor people like to smoke to cope with being poor.  But who cares?  Tobacco companies have ample nerve trying to attract customers who get enjoyment from, regardless of one’s take on addiction, voluntarily purchases, especially since DNC researchers have conclusively proven that the impoverished aren’t responsible for their decisions or actions.  Why else would we be redistributing income in their honor?

There’s precedent for the notion that it’s impossible to resist the lure of influence.  After all, the bullying local government in question can claim that it is swayed by the wallet-stomping actions of higher-level thugs down the Thruway.

To wit, the city is out to restrict both commerce and free speech while the state is raising cigarette taxes by a buck freaking 60 per pack (h/t SooperMexican).  In New York, Crystal meth is officially a cheaper extravagance than tobacco.  This reeks of another Albany victory by the powerful meth lobby.  It smells like iodine.

But maybe the capital’s overlords are restricting your choices and taking your money because they’re genuinely concerned for your well-being.  They merely want you to kick a habit that causes instant death.  Why else do we elect representatives if not to make our decisions, you inferno-scented ingrates?

At the same time, don’t really quit.  Of course, the state despots want you to keep smoking in order to fund a monstrous state government through a 7.2 million percent levy on every Marlboro carton.  The meddling bureaucracy can’t decide in which direction to yank you.

But the resolution is easy: if you really care about New York, you’ll buy cigarettes and dispose of them.  Think of it as a way to stimulate the state without stimulating yourself.  The problem will be finding tobacco for sale in Buffalo first.

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