I can't stand cigarette smoke.
I've never lit up even as an act of curiosity.
But there is one thing I definitely abhor more than cigarette smoking - gutting of free-will by the government.
It's an act that leads to a much more vicious and destructive death via cancer of the soul.
New York City, an early benefactor of the don't-tread-on-me-movement that tore the colonies away from the micro-governing of King George III, now wants to raise the legal age to buy smokes from 18 to 21.
If you find cigarette smoking disgusting and deadly, your first inclination might be to applaud the proposal. But if you value the ability to make your own decisions and not be viewed as a human widget by government types that see themselves as masters of the world, you should man the barricades. Or, at the very least, take to the streets shouting, "1984 is coming, 1984 is coming."
Limits on human behavior are a necessity for a civilized society. No right can be absolute given we interact with others. But it is a long way from laws against speeding, murder and even health and safety concerns such as rubbish and weeds piling up in one's yard to dictating personal habits that impact primarily you.
New York City's overreach on the size of sodas sold to raising the age to buy cigarettes to 21 is being justified on how the consumption of such items "may" lead to expensive health costs that are likely to impact others.
"May" is the operative word.
New York's "do good" justification is a classic example of foisting majority will on the minority which goes counter to why blood was shed on Lexington Green. Statistics may show that the odds are greater for smokers to develop cancer and guzzlers of Big Gulps to contract a repertoire of obesity related diseases. But what about the smoker - including those Wall Street types into expensive cigars - that don't develop cancer?
And putting free will aside, the New York City proposal on cigarette sales is patently lame. It doesn't prohibit those under 21 from possessing or using tobacco, just the purchase of them.
The road to hell, as they say, is lined with good intentions.
One doesn't wish anyone to develop habits that could compromise their health. Outside of the fact it really shouldn't be my choice to make for you, we each have potentially deadly personal habits whether it is base jumping, bicycling, high-risk pregnancies, or simply trying to cross a street in Ceres.
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and those who see government as our collective personal savior aim to make us all Stepford Citizens. They should just cut to the chase and make frontal lobotomies mandatory.
The path they are shoving everyone along doesn't lead to utopia. Instead of a re-incarnation of the Garden of Eden it will take us to a place where government is able to control the masses in ways that would make Joseph Stalin green with envy.
While we may applaud the short-term goal especially if we can't personally stand cigarettes, it is the end-game that we should fear.
If you want a world where government can dictate your behavior, be prepared to have your taste in everything from food to music to what you read regulated by a faceless Ministry of Truth manned by loyalists to the all-powerful Party.
And of course, those running the Party are the all-powerful such as the Bloombergs of the world and their hordes of bureaucrats at their beck and call.
Long live King George III.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.