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Ken Magill

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Stupid Government Watch: Oh, Leave us Alone

By Ken Magill

I just saw the most ridiculous, insulting government intrusion into advertising design I have ever witnessed.

The insult: the newly required size for the warning label on all tobacco advertising, including smokeless tobacco—20 percent of the ad.

That’s one fifth of the page to state:

“WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”

Am I the only one who is tired of being nagged about tobacco? I quit cigarettes 18 years ago. Probably the best thing I ever did before meeting my wife. I smoke cigars now (totally different habit, trust me.)

I don’t chew. And though there is evidence that smokeless tobacco raises the chances of mouth cancer and dental disease, it certainly is a far safer habit than cigarettes.

I am first generation Appalachian. My sisters and I were the only members of our extended family raised in New York State. The rest are scattered mostly throughout Pennsylvania farm-and-coal country. I also did a stint in the military with a bunch of good ole boys. As a result, I have had more than the average number of tobacco chewers among my friends and family.

Hell, my father and stepmother chewed it for years—yes, stepmother. And before anyone draws a mental picture of a couple of hog-manure shoveling, toothless hicks, both my father and stepmother were world-class mathematicians—though my father did have a full set of dentures by age 18, come to think of it.

In any case, the only one of my friends and extended family so far to get tobacco-related cancer was a cigarette-smoking aunt.

American health nags have taken their justifiable hate of the cigarette industry and expanded it to include all forms of tobacco. The nagging has become seemingly endless. It’s come to the point where my cigar smoking is as much an act of political defiance as it is an indulgence.

That the anti-tobacco folks have succeeded in inserting themselves into full fifth of a communication between me and a private company selling a legal product should be deeply offensive to any free-thinking adult.

And no, I am not endorsing the use of tobacco. I am endorsing the right to make a goddamn adult decision on my own without a bunch of nagging killjoys inserting themselves into the process to engage in unnecessary finger wagging. Just. Screw. Off.

And for those who contend the warnings are necessary for kids: I’ll warn my kid just fine, thank you. And yes, once Max turns 18, as long as he can afford them, I will have no problem with him indulging in the occasional fine, hand-rolled cigar. They are one of life’s true pleasures.

In fact, I think I’ll go have one now.

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