Monday, July 8, 2013

New Jersey's Proposed Law Banning Smoking Until age 21 is Anti-Freedom

A proposed New Jersey Law would ban anyone from buying cigarettes until age 21. The NJ Star-Ledger editorialized in support of this law. I left the following comments, opening with a quote from the editors:

"Die-hard smokers cry 'freedom' when new restrictions are proposed. But ask the middle-aged smoker who just paid $9 to feed his pack-a-day nicotine addiction: How free do you feel?"

One wonders if the editors can even define freedom. What does the "free" in freedom mean?

Freedom is the moral right of an adult to act on his own judgement without forcible interference from other people, including people in their capacity as government officials, so long as his actions don't violate the same rights of others. Freedom is the state of being free from the initiation of physical force.

Banning smoking for adults 18-21 is an attack on their freedom, and by extension freedom generally. It is the initiation of physical force by government officials on defenseless private citizens. This proposed law is therefor immoral and wrong and contrary to American ideals.

As to that sloppy reference to the middle-aged smoker: Yes, he is free, because he voluntarily chooses to buy that pack of cigarettes, addiction or no. He is unfree in one sense, though; the taxes imposed on the sale of that pack, which is money extorted from him by force as a price of exercising his freedom to act on his own judgement.

Related Reading:

Rights are Inalienable, not an Electoral Privilege

Ayn Rand's Theory of Rights: The Moral Foundation of a Free Society by Craig Biddle 

Individual Rights the Ayn Rand Center

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