BIDLACK | Risky freedom? | Opinion







Hal Bidlack


My regular reader (hi Jeff!) Will recall that I have often recalled the idea that freedom in the United States can be summed up well in the idea that your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins. And as any alumnus of mine who took my course on U.S. Government and National Security at the U.S. Air Force Academy will hopefully remember all government is about balancing freedom and order.

I thought about these ideas when I read a recent Colorado Politics story. Ironically and, frankly, refreshingly, it was not The COVID story of two anonymous healthcare professionals suing for the right not to get vaccinated because of, you know, religion.

Here’s a tip: If your religion requires you to avoid taking a drug that will not only protect you from a potentially life-threatening illness, but also protect your patients from getting infected and possibly dying because of you, it may be. be time to rethink your career choices.

What you need is not a job where you try to keep people healthy, but rather a job where you can freely deny science and reality without infecting others. You need a job where you never see other people. May I suggest becoming one of those rangers who sit alone in these tall towers watching forest fires, or maybe become an ethics counselor for the current GOP. Both professions will keep you from seeing too many people.

But I digress …

No, the story I want to talk about has to do with Denver City Council again pushing back a vote on how far to go in regulating and even banning the sale of certain flavored tobacco products. Now I have to say up front that I am a rabid anti-tobacco. My late mother, who never smoked and died of cancer in 1993, had serious lung problems. As a result, she couldn’t go anywhere where people could smoke. And at that time, that meant a lot of places were off-limits, including air travel, where people were smoking in the back rows of planes and the smoke was still drifting forward. So, I’m zealous enough to smoke.

The bill, if passed by Council, would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. As stated in the article, the ban would include “flavored hookah, menthol cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars and vaping products could not be sold – the latter being the main objective of the ban to attempt to reduce tobacco consumption among young people ”.

The intent of the proposed ban is clear and, frankly, noble. Flavored tobacco products prompted more than 80% of children aged 12 to 17 to start smoking, and most said they keep using because they love the flavor. Since the tobacco industry has a real problem retaining customers, as it tends to kill a good chunk of its dedicated customer base, tobacco companies need to hang on. New people on their products. And flavored smoke has proven to be very effective in getting young people into this vile and deadly habit.

The courts and, frankly, all reasonable people have long recognized that children are less capable of making informed and wise decisions than adults because they are, well, kids. Teenage brains are not fully developed, especially when it comes to making important decisions. It is therefore vital that children are protected from terrible decisions that have lifelong implications.

I would be surprised if there are too many people who think, for example, that the voting age should be lowered to 13, nor that the drinking age should be lowered in the same way. I suspect only the craziest gun fan would argue for universal covert porterage for middle school kids. Why? Because kids don’t always make the right decisions.

But is the Denver ordinance project a good idea? As I noted above, I am biased. But the evidence shows that most children who get into tobacco do so through flavored tobacco. Eliminating flavored products would not prevent all children from using tobacco, but evidence suggests that the impact of the ban could be dramatic and very useful.

Just as I don’t understand why a healthcare professional would want to become a threat to public health by not getting vaccinated, I don’t understand how the people who run the flavored tobacco industry sleep at night. I urge Denver City Council to move forward with banning flavor sales as an important step forward in protecting children (and if you’re a Simpson fan, yes, I’m playing the card. “Will anyone think of children”).

In balancing freedom and order, we must always be careful of government excesses. And good-hearted people will disagree on how much government is too little or too much. But when it comes to protecting our young people from advances in an industry that will cause them physical injury, it seems to me that we have to be proactive.

Get down to the details, City Council, and let’s move on to the ban on flavored tobacco products.

Hal Bidlack is a retired political science professor and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who taught for over 17 years at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

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