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Monday, November 21, 2011

Close your eyes and think of the Marlboro Man

The Australian government is attempting to reduce smoking by forcing cigarette companies to adopt packaging containing off-putting design features and repugnant images of cancer caused by cigarette consumption. I guess they figure that you won't want to smoke if, in the act of drawing a cigarette out of the pack, you are fighting throwing up in your mouth.

Predictably, this has resulted in a massive lawsuit. In the United States, there would be a decent chance that these kinds of regulations would violate the First Amendment.

I love free speech issues, but I think the more interesting question here is this: If the Australian government, and by extension the Australian people, are so bothered by the negative effects of smoking, why don't they just outlaw cigarettes? The libertarian in me wants the government to either do what they so clearly want to do-- criminalize smoking-- and take the heat, or let people smoke and suffer the consequences.

What do you think?


  1. How much is too much? If the courts rule in favor of the government in this case, what prevents the Australian government from requiring tobacco companies to package cigarettes in disposable MP3 players that turn on and yell at the consumer for smoking every time they decide to light up (I would suggest using my Mother for this role)? It's one thing for the government to be an advocate for the health and welfare of its citizens, but is there a point where paternalism crosses the line?

  2. I'm having a hard time drawing a line here, but, like you, I have a concern that a line has been crossed.

  3. It’s very hard to say. It sounds to me like Australian politicians are trying to get the good Karma vote without violating what the Australian people believe to be “too much government reach”. I also don’t believe that anti-smoking laws has ever been a crusade for politicians, but merely a tool to get votes.