Tag: Tobacco

Tobacco 21: The War on American Liberty

By Jason Bracewell | United States

It’s no secret that tobacco consumption is linked to cancer and other health issues. The question is, though, does the government have a role to play here? Activists for Tobacco 21 think so. Their goal is simple: to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21. Their movement is picking up steam recently, and six states (California, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Maine) have already raised the purchasing age. 340 plus localities have followed, including New York City and Chicago.

Tobacco 21 is a nonprofit that first started in 1996, and is officially called the “Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation”. They actively push for an age increase to 21 for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The American Heart Association, American Medical Association, and more have all endorsed the group. Despite their fairly long tenure, they’ve only recently begun to break through in their fight against tobacco legalization for the 18-20 age bracket.

In American society, young people begin legal adulthood at age 18, of course. However, politicians have been pushing more age requirements to 21 as time progresses. Alcohol purchases, for example, require individuals to be 21, as do certain firearm purchases. Moreover, the Credit Card Act of 2009 made it increasingly difficult for adults under the age of 21 to obtain credit cards.

Good intentions exist with each of these laws. But in reality, they simply encourage people under these age requirements to seek alternative methods for obtaining the prohibited items. Now, the organization is hoping to send tobacco down the same road.

Tobacco 21 is mostly pushing this agenda in Democratic states and cities but is still gaining ground. This April, the Illinois state legislature passed legislation to raise the tobacco consumption age as well.

Many legislatures are expected to bring similar bills to the table in 2019. This could eventually culminate a federal age increase in the near future.

This may not seem the most pressing issue in America, but it is a part of a much larger problem in
American politics today: the restriction of personal freedom in the name of safety. From gun bans to health regulations, the government is starting to turn Orwellian. This is just one more
battlefield for individual freedom.

As further-left social democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders gain popularity, Americans are increasingly depending on the state for protection. The DEA, SNAP benefits, and the PATRIOT Act all serve as prime examples. Most politicians, but especially social democrats, would only increase this, especially in the area of social programs.

The concept of tobacco restrictions polls high with voters. In 2016, the Texas Medical Center Health Policy institute conducted a poll of over 5,000 respondents. 80% of them viewed an age raise for tobacco purchases positively.

In this survey, Republicans viewed the ban more favorably than Democrats. However, the age restrictions still had clear bipartisan support. Even 18 to 21-year-olds olds showed a 69% support rate. While troubling, it is no secret that the two parties are more alike than different, further showing a combined effort to stifle individualism.

These numbers show an increase in Americans wishing to legislate their beliefs onto others. Worst of all, it reveals a desire for government to further restrict our natural rights as individuals. These restrictions will not stop at tobacco. As the state expands more, its grip will go beyond trivial consumer issues, eventually infringing on more civil liberties than ever before seen in American history. The time to stop this, though, is now. Tobacco 21 represents a dark step forward and rejecting it may finally set the precedent of liberty.


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“Liberty is For Everyone” – An Interview With Libertarian Party Vice Chair Candidate Joe Paschal

By Spencer Kellogg | United States

Joe Paschal is a construction manager in the heavy industrial sector where he lives in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Mr. Paschal is running for Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Party. His platform promotes local governance, free-market economics, and school choice.

 

71 Republic’s Spencer Kellogg spoke with Mr. Paschal by phone and he discussed a range of subjects from the tobacco industry and homeschooling to bitcoin and the environment:

On School Choice:

We homeschool all our kids. In the old days, a community would get together, and they would pay for school and decide who would come teach their children. It was funded by local people and it was a common agreement and they controlled it. If the teacher wasn’t doing their job, they’d get a new one. Now, the federal government mandates what we’re teaching and it’s more of an indoctrination than it is an education. If we want to make a difference in public schools, then we should stop sending our kids. The school gets money for every child enrolled. If you stop sending your kids to those schools, you’re essentially not supporting that system. If you don’t like the state in your life, then don’t give them a reason to be in your life.

On Corporate Governance:

I came up a millwright. I was a boilermaker and a welder. I worked in sawmills and paper mills in Virginia and worked my way up from there. I’ve worked hard, I’m a blue-collar man. I have no problem with free markets but when the free market controls the government it isn’t a free market. The corporations are writing the laws and they own the lawmakers. If you look at the EPA regulations big corporations want them. It keeps the startups and little guys out of business because they can’t afford to operate and compete. I’ve worked in the oil and gas sector. It’s not that I’m against big business but you won’t have a free market until the governments not involved in it.

On the Regulation & Centralization of The Virginia Tobacco Industry:

The 10-acre tobacco farms of Virginia folded because they were only allowed to grow so many pounds of tobacco per acre of property by mandate of the federal government. They could grow 50,000 pounds but if they only had poundage to grow 20,000 pounds, then they can only sell 1/2 of their potential output on the market. If you live in Virginia, you probably know of Bailey’s cigarettes. They’re made by Mac Bailey. Mac Bailey has 900 acres of tobacco in Mecklenburg & Charlotte counties. That pushed the small farmer further down and further down until it got to a point where they didn’t think it was worthwhile to raise tobacco. Those farmers end up selling their tobacco poundage to somebody like Mac Bailey and then that person buys up all the poundage for the whole county. That’s not a free market when the government is regulating it to the point where only a few people can afford to do business.

His Favorite Quote:

It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. – Sam Adams

On Liberty:

My mother was a Goldwater republican. My step dad never really liked the government. He was drafted into the army, which was something he never wanted to do but he served because he didn’t want to break the law and become a draft dodger. When he got out of the army, he refused to vote anymore. To use an old Mark Twain adage: “If voting mattered, they wouldn’t let you do it.” He never trusted the government. He always paid his taxes, but he hated it. I came from a family that believed “leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.” We’re not judgmental type people.

I was homeschooled. History was always interesting to me. At 16, I read the Magna Carta. Then I read the Constitution and I would go to places like Monticello and learn about Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry. Virginia history and early American history are one in the same. All of that formed my political beliefs. It wasn’t until I got older and started having children that I got involved in politics. I realized I could either sit on the bench and complain all the time or go out and do something myself. My biggest mission is to teach people that liberty isn’t just a choice for a few people, it’s for everybody. From the person who digs ditches all day to someone that owns a major corporation. Liberty is Liberty.

On the American Dream:

I’ve been to Saudi Arabia, Columbia, Afghanistan, Dubai, Mexico. There’s good and bad in all those countries. In South America, for example, the energy bills are nothing because it’s a state-owned utility. It’s regulated to be cheap for the people but that sets prices and that creates two classes of people; the working class and the oligarchs. If you’re at the lower level, there is no chance for you to climb up. There is no free market there. Even though we have our issues, there’s always a chance that a poor person can climb up. If you look at someone making minimal wage, they can buy a little piece of Bitcoin every week. A little bit here, a little bit there. In 10 years they could become a millionaire if they work hard to get there. In those other countries, it’s almost impossible to do.

On Cryptocurrency:

I like the premise and I know there is some opportunity there. I don’t know if I trust an online based currency like that because I’m not sure how secure it would be if something were to happen. The way the NSA controls our internet and we don’t know when we’re being spied on or if they’re listening to this very conversation. Let’s say we have another great depression, the market dropped drastically and we had a run on the banks. This happened in Greece, when the economy went bust, they began freezing their assets from private citizens, so they couldn’t get their own assets. My fear is if something were to happen, economically in the world, how would we be able to benefit from owning an online currency? I still think hard currency has a lot of value. Gold and Silver has a lot of real world value. It makes people comfortable because they can hold it in their hand.

On Montana:

I worked in Montana 20 some years ago. I went out and did a project at a power plant. Then I just fell in love with it. Everybody was nice, everybody had guns, and everybody talked hunting, fishing and doing outdoor stuff. 4 Wheelers and ATV’s were riding up and down the street, and it was totally legal. I started researching and found out it’s the 4th largest state in America and it has only a million people in the whole state. The largest city is only 100,000 people. Property taxes are very low. There are zero sales tax on anything you buy. We have a simple tier income tax. The maximum that anyone pays in Montana on state income tax is 6.9%. The way the state looks at homeschooling, you have a right to educate your kids the way you see fit. To homeschool your kids in Montana, you just have to write a letter to the super intendant of the school district in which you live and tell them you’re homeschooling your children and it’s done. There’s no state inspection or testing. On your personal property taxes, you can write off the homeschool amount on your income tax. They don’t mess with you because that’s your right. It’s got some issues but it’s one of the freest states in the country. The biggest issue I have with Montana is they carry quite a bit of federal debt but that’s not even Montana’s fault. Something like 1/5 of Montana is federal land and to maintain that property we have to borrow money from the federal government.

On Automation:

Automation is coming and with a growing population we need to face the fact that there will be less jobs. It’s coming. The first thing most people want to suggest is a Universal Basic Income, but nothing is free and who’s paying for it? We’ve got millions and millions of acres in the United States that are owned by the federal government. If we could homestead that land, then people could stake themselves a few acres of land and have a self-sustaining property and they wouldn’t need to rely on anyone but themselves.

On Monsanto:

People are not sure about the GMO’s that they’re eating. They don’t trust what they’re eating. Don’t even get me started on Monsanto because that’s no free market there. The government protects them. The federal courts protected them when their seeds blew onto a small farmer’s property and then those famers were getting sued by Monsanto for selling seeds they didn’t even plant. The government backed Monsanto in that case. We have to protect our environment and our famers. End of story.

On Big Business:

I support big business and I support the free market. But I also know that we have to protect our environment. I don’t have a problem drilling oil if it’s done responsibly because I’ve worked on oil rigs. I understand that it’s a resource we have to tap but we shouldn’t be dumping it on the ground when we can process it. We have to be stewards as well as business people. Some of the ancaps in our party don’t quite see it that way. They believe the corporations will do good if they have the freedom to good and I’m not sure if I buy into that whole philosophy. I remember about John D. Rockefeller. They didn’t care too much about people or the environment. They cared more about making money and having power.