What next will be banned? Assembly Bill 935, introduced by Assemblyman Damon Connolly, D-San Rafael, seeks to open a new front on the war on drugs — against tobacco.
According to the text of the bill itself, the proposal “would implement a phased tobacco ban by prohibiting a tobacco retailer … as defined, from selling tobacco product … to any person born on or after January 1, 2007.”
That is, AB 935 would ban tobacco sales to anyone 16 or younger today. Ever.
As defined by the bill, tobacco products include “cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, vaping liquid, or snuff.”
Of course, the state already bans such sales to anyone under 21, tobacco use in the workplace and flavored tobacco. But the goal is gradual prohibition entirely.
This is ironic given the overall direction of the state on drug policy and criminal justice matters.
“A state that has recognized the injustice and folly of banning marijuana should not make the mistake of banning another psychoactive plant that people like to smoke,” Jacob Sullum told us. He’s a senior editor at the Los Angeles-based Reason magazine and the author of “For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health.”
Californians sensibly legalized medical marijuana in 1996 with Proposition 215 and legalized recreational use with Proposition 64 in 2016.
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Sullum adds, “Like marijuana prohibition, tobacco prohibition would be a direct assault on bodily autonomy and property rights. And it would have similar practical consequences, undermining privacy, promoting corruption and law enforcement abuses, and exposing consumers to the hazards of the black market while punishing conduct that violates no one’s rights.”
Reasonable people understand there are things adults can do that children can’t. The state already imposes stiff punishments for selling or giving cigarettes and marijuana to those under 21. But adults are given discretion on using these things, because, in a free society, adults are assumed capable of making their own decisions. This is as it should be.
Damon Connolly, evidently, doesn’t respect the ability of Californians to decide things for themselves.
AB 935 should be ground out like a butt in an ashtray.