Here is your Morning Brief for November 18, 2014.

Cole Shooter,
Cole Shooter,

The Fight Against Tobacco Bans Are About More Than Tobacco

By now you have heard of the town in Massachusetts that could become the first in the nation to prohibit the sale of all tobacco and nicotine products. Nationally, it has become ground zero in the fight against big government and private property rights. Lubbock has seen a similar battle between a liberal group known as the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition led by activist Matthew Harris.

While Harris and his group want to ban smoking and e-cigs in all workplaces, bars, and in some cases your car and home and not ban the sale of tobacco (though I'm sure that is next), the reaction from Lubbock residents has been much of the same as those in Westminster. Take a look at this report from the New York Times.

The outrage is aimed at a proposal by the local Board of Health that could make Westminster the first town in the country where no one could buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

The uproar stems not from a desire by people here to smoke — only 17 percent do (a smidge higher than the statewide average). Many say they have never touched tobacco and find the habit disgusting. Rather, they perceive the ban as a frontal assault on their individual liberties. And they say it would cripple the eight retailers in town who sell tobacco products.

Many of the quotes in the story are quotes you would hear right here in Lubbock from people who are tired of big government.

“They’re just taking away everyday freedoms, little by little,” said Nate Johnson, 32, an egg farmer who also works in an auto body shop, as he stood outside the store last week. “This isn’t about tobacco, it’s about control,” he said.

“It’s un-American,” put in Rick Sparrow, 48, a house painter.

As Wayne and Deborah Hancock grabbed a shopping cart, they joined in. All quickly agreed that the next freedoms at risk would be guns and religion, prompting Mrs. Hancock, 52, a homemaker, to say that she was afraid to wear her cross.

Over 500 people attended a meeting but the liberal health board decided the crowd was too much and left. Here in Lubbock, our liberal City Council members voted to postpone the vote. Hoping to bring it back up when you aren't paying attention. Sources have told me that it could be brought back for a vote in December.

Nearly 500 people packed a hearing at a local elementary school on Wednesday night held by the three members of the Board of Health. Passions ran high, and the hearing became so unruly that the board chairwoman could not maintain order; she shut down the hearing 20 minutes after it began.

The crowd started singing “God Bless America” in protest as the board members left under police protection. Angry residents circulated petitions demanding a recall election for the board members.

And like all liberal groups, in Westminster they are wanting to stop selling tobacco for the children.

Andrea Crete, chairwoman of the Board of Health, quoting a report from the surgeon general, said that youth who shop at least twice a week in stores that sell tobacco are 64 percent more likely to start smoking than those who do not.

“The Board of Health permitting these establishments to sell these dangerous products that, when used as directed, kill 50 percent of its users, ethically goes against our public health mission,” Ms. Crete said.

The crowd listened, but once the hearing was opened for public comment, people began to hoot and holler.

“You people make me sick,” one man growled at the board as the audience cheered.

Wayne R. Walker, a town selectman, said that the selectmen had voted unanimously to oppose the ban. “I detest smoking and tobacco in all its forms,” he told the health board, but such a “unilateral and radical approach” as banning all sales would “create a significant economic hardship.”

A resident named Kevin West said that smoking was “one of the most disgusting habits anybody could possibly do,” but added: “I find this proposal to be even more of a disgusting thing.” The shouts after his statement prompted Ms. Crete, who had issued several warnings, to declare the hearing over.

As the people in Lubbock and Westminster have showed, these debates aren't really about smoking for most of us. It's about fighting for private property rights and freedom. Values that many of us still believe in. Sadly, there are those like the Board of Health in West Minster and Matthew Harris' West Texas Smoke Free Coalition who don't share those same values. They believe anything is fine as long as is "protects the children". They believe government is here to protect you from making bad decisions. They are all alike. Just look at this one quote from the story:

Among the hundreds of protesters at the hearing, at least two people — doctors — supported the ban. Dr. Corey Saltin and Dr. Payam Aghassi, lung specialists who have a private practice nearby, said that they understood concerns about free choice but that people who are subjected to secondhand smoke have rights, too.

That same quote has been used here in Lubbock.

This is not a fight about being able to smoke in bar or being able to buy a cigar in one town in Massachusetts. This is a fight for freedom and stopping government from growing and invading your lives more than it already has. All of us should be concerned and should be just as mad as those in Westminster. Where will it stop? When will it stop? That answer is up to you, the citizens.

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