In their campaign against tobacco, statists have directed their efforts ostensibly only at smokers but in fact their activities are aimed at the rights of every individual in this country. For statists to succeed in their war against smoking, they must use their own favorite brand of smoke—a smoke screen of obfuscation to conceal an important truth: you cannot destroy the rights of the few without destroying the rights of all.

The attacks against the tobacco industry are a frightening assault on freedom, one which, if successful (and, in 1997, it appears it is going to be), will send the cold winds of despotism sweeping throughout this country. With the likely approval by Congress of the so-called tobacco "settlement," we will see vast restrictions on freedom of speech and individual property rights further diminished. (In 1998, Congress approved this "settlement.") If statism continues its quick march through America, cigarettes will eventually be outlawed.

Once they have snuffed out your freedom in this area of your life, they will then quickly target another area. You don’t believe it will happen? Well, consider very carefully the meaning of the definition of a "drug" being used by statists. On the Today show, February 10, 1997, a spokesman for the FDA offered the following definition when he declared a drug is "…anything (emphasis mine) that affects the function or structure of the body…" and, therefore, subject to regulation and control by the state. If you accept this definition as valid, you have, in principle, totally surrendered your right to life and liberty: there is virtually nothing you physically consume which does not affect the function and structure of your body. If you accept this idea of this FDA statist, you have opened the door for statists to regulate and control practically everything in your life.

The premise of the smoking prohibitionists is: the state has the right to forbid an individual to take any action which is deemed harmful to him by statists, not just smoking, but anything which might be harmful to you—in other words, you do not have the right to follow your own judgment, to decide what is best for you, to decide what may be beneficial or harmful to you. Indeed, statists are now openly declaring this, as did the FDA spokesman on the Today show.

Statists are declaring you, the individual, as if you were some child, do not have the right to freedom in such matters. That being the premise, is there any aspect of your life that might not be subject to regulation? Not really. If one follows the prohibitionist premise to its logical conclusion, as statists always do, the state will begin moving to control and/or prohibit any product or activity that is proclaimed by the state to be harmful to your health. Indeed, the state has already made major steps in this direction and will continue to do so because that is the logic of the underlying premise accepted by those who support the prohibition of smoking.

Are you overweight? Do you drink alcohol? Do you eat fatty foods? If so, you must be controlled. What if the state decides beef is detrimental to you? Is beef to be banned from the market? Is it to become the next illegal substance? Yes, if the state decides it is injurious to you. Yes, if you accept the basic premise of the prohibitionists. If these statists succeed in the prohibition of smoking for the reason it is harmful, the statists will have all the precedent they need to "protect" you from other allegedly harmful substance.

In a free society, the protection of private property rights would take care of all of the supposed problems with smoking. The owners of property have the right to set the terms for the use of that property. If you wish to permit smoking in your home by your visitors, you have the right to do exactly that. If you wish to not allow smoking in your home, you have a right to do that. To legislate such matters is to do so by the initiation of force and is a gross violation of individual property rights.

Just as you have the right to set the rules for an individual’s activity in your home, the same is true of all property, including property owned for the purpose of conducting business. If you own a restaurant, you have the right to set the rules for the use of your property. As a restaurant owner, you may allow smoking or not allow it. If you are a non-smoker, you are free not to visit the home of an individual who permits smoking in his house. The same is true of a restaurant or an office. You are free to dine or work elsewhere if you do not wish to be around smokers. And, as a non-smoker, if you decide to be around smokers, you do not have the right, years later, to sue them for compensation for some illness which you claim to be the result of being around smokers. Your association with smokers was done freely by you. No one forced you to be around smokers. An individual would be free to file such a lawsuit, but in a society in which the government is limited to its proper function, the court would not accept it since no initiation of force was brought upon the plaintiff.

If statists had first attempted to ban smoking in private homes, there would have been such a storm of protest that their efforts would have been immediately defeated, just as they were defeated when they made an overt assault on health care, attempting to impose socialized medicine on us. Knowing this, statists began their anti-smoking efforts by first attacking smoking in "public" places which are mostly owned by businesses and statists know it is almost always safe for them to attack business owners. It is as if ordinary citizens do not recognize business owners are individuals, too, and if you violate the rights of individuals in business you violate the rights of all, including ordinary citizens. Having largely succeeded in banning smoking in "public" places, statists will soon begin to move to ban smoking in private places, homes, your home. You think I exaggerate? Read on.

Almost on a daily basis, the news media launch salvo after salvo of left-wing stories to soften up the minds of listeners, preparing the way for the next onslaught by statists. On April 9, 1996, there was a report on NBC’s Today show about the effects of secondhand smoke and children, cataloging the number of children supposedly made sick by secondhand smoke. It mentioned secondhand smoke had already been an issue in child custody cases. The report’s author was quoted as proposing cigarette smoking be banned any place there are children. It didn’t mention banning smoking in homes, but this is the logic of the premise of banning smoking any place there are children. After all, where are most children? In homes, the homes of their parents. I can guarantee this is not only setting the stage for outlawing smoking in homes but also for parents being prosecuted for smoking around their children, even having their children taken from them on the basis that smoking around children is a form of child "abuse."

The report also suggested the study about secondhand smoke and children might be the basis for a class-action lawsuit. It didn’t specify who might be the object of such a suit, but, other than tobacco companies, who else could it be? It has to be anyone who smokes or has smoked in the past. And if some tort-crazed attorney decides to file such a class-action lawsuit, just what kind of police-state activities will have to be conducted to track down all of the current and former smokers? It doesn’t take much imagination to answer this question. They would have to forcibly search any person or company that might have some record that would identify smokers and former smokers. This would include insurance companies, doctors, hospitals, supermarkets and any store that sells or has sold cigarettes in the past. What would prevent the government from setting up a toll-free hotline, just as they have for those who wish to make allegations of child "abuse," for those who could make anonymous calls to report the activities of some suspected smoker who must be included as a target in this class-action lawsuit? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Now consider the alarming extent to which property rights have been trampled upon by laws banning smoking in so-called "public" places. Statists have pulled off this coup with virtually no opposition and hardly any public outcry.

When it comes to property, either you own it or you don’t—there is nothing in between. If you own the property, such as a home or a building, then you, the owner, have the right to set the terms of its use—this right is essential to the concept of ownership. Without this right, the concept of ownership is meaningless. If you are stripped of the right to dispose of or use your property as you see fit, you have effectively lost ownership of the property even though your name still remains on the title to the property. This was the status of "private property" in Nazi Germany. Bans on smoking in "public" buildings have resulted, in effect, in the state nationalizing all such property, effectively making it the property of the state since the state now sets the terms of the use of the property, not the rightful property owners. What was formerly private property has now been converted into "public" property.

What is a "public" building and why is it any different than a private residence? In fact, there is no difference, except for the fact that a "public" building’s doors are open for anyone to enter, unlike a private residence where a person must normally knock on the door to gain admittance. But this difference is of no consequence when it comes to property rights: the owner of a "public" building always retains the right to control the property’s use and that includes refusing admittance to anyone who walks in the door. In a free society, property rights are unbreached. Today, these rights are in shambles.

There are those who will think the foregoing is an esoteric point that doesn’t affect them, but they are wrong. By snatching the rights of the owners of "public" property, statists have gained the widespread acceptance of the following premise: property rights, not just the property rights of the owners of "public" buildings, are not an absolute and may be violated and you do not have the right to use your property as you see fit. That being the case, what is to stop them from legislating what you can do in your own home? Absolutely nothing. And, in fact, you will soon see efforts to do exactly that in the name of protecting children and/or adults.

Don’t think it will happen? Consider a lawsuit filed in federal court by Richard J. Thomas of Chicago against his own wife, a smoker. According to the August 23, 1997, issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The suit contends that secondhand smoke is a toxic pollutant under the Clean Air Act and should be forbidden in homes." While Thomas later (on October 10, 1997) dropped the lawsuit, it will not be too long before someone else files a similar lawsuit—perhaps it will be some statists filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of children whose parents smoke. And if such a lawsuit is successful, it will be a watershed event in this country’s history because we will soon thereafter have the EPA issuing regulations forbidding smoking in private residences—all of which will mean: you will no longer have the right to determine what you do in the privacy of your own home—which will mean: your right of property, as well as your right to life and liberty, will have been completely trashed. And if we reach this point in American life, there will be nothing in your life statists will not seek to control, swiftly bringing an end to freedom as we have known it.

Now what about children who live in the homes of parents who smoke? Are they being forced to breathe secondhand smoke? No, they are not—at least, not in the sense statists suggest. Statists will maintain these children are being forced. For statists, who only live to rule others by force, to have the gall to maintain this, to even pretend to be concerned about such an alleged use of force, is sickeningly hypocritical. In fact, this supposed concern about children around secondhand smoke is a deception on a grand scale to enable these statists to initiate the use of more force against you.

You must remember and hold carefully in mind the exact meaning of the word force: it is physical action by an individual against the person or property of another individual—and, as already observed, that action may take form in one of two ways, either it is initiated or it is used in retaliation against those who have initiated force. There is also a popular, colloquial usage of the term "force" which has nothing to do with the actual use of force, a usage which will be discussed in short order. Statists are counting on corrupting, once more, the meaning of words and the concepts for which they stand, twisting and transforming the meaning of the term "force" into its opposite. If statists succeed in getting you to fall for this intellectual scam, you will end up supporting their initiation of force against parents who are smokers and, in the process, you will be swindled out of more of your own freedom.

When statists claim that children who live in the homes of parents who smoke are "forced" to breath secondhand smoke, they are suggesting that these parents are doing what statists do: that these parents are initiating force against their own children—this is the meaning being ascribed to the term "force." In actual fact, the exact opposite is true. Parents should and do enforce their rules for their children and, yes, it is often necessary for the parent to use force to ensure the child’s obedience to the rules. However, as noted earlier, a parent’s use of force is the retaliatory use of force, not its initiation. This retaliatory use of force by a parent is unique to the context of a child’s relationship with his parent. So, while it can be said that a child is being required to live in the home of the parents who smoke and, yes, the child has no choice but to breathe some of that secondhand smoke, he is not being forced, not in the sense of the initiation of force. And the truth of the matter is that even the retaliatory use of force by a parent is rarely needed with most children: most understand they are children and they freely and happily live with their parents, smoker or not, with no force being applied to them at all.

Now, to the colloquial use of the term "force," a usage that, in fact, has nothing to do with the actual use of physical force—and it is here where statists truly seek to corrupt the concept of force. When you say you were, for example, "forced" to take a job because you had run out of money, you are only using the word force metaphorically, meaning: you had no affordable alternative, no choice. You were not forced at the point of a gun to take the job. You simply had to take the job if you wanted the money needed to pay your bills. Every individual constantly faces a series of limited alternatives in the course of his life. For a period of time, an individual might have no choice but to take a job in some dusty, smoky, smelly factory. He has not been forced to take this job and breathe that dusty, smoky, smelly air. No one applied physical force against him requiring him to take the job. Reality simply gave him no other practical alternative. The same is true of children living in the homes of their parents.

As a child, most of us lived in our parents’ home. We ate the food they served us, wore the clothes and lived in the house provided by our parents. Were you, as a child, "forced" to eat that food, wear those clothes and live in that house? No, there was no initiation of force here. Even if, as discussed earlier, your parents had to administer an occasional spanking to enforce their rules, this use of force was the retaliatory use and it was not wrong if it was needed to make you, as a child, eat properly or attend school. A child simply has no alternative but to accept the living conditions provided by his parents, just as the individual working in that smelly factory had no alternative. A child in this regard is no different than an adult who, at any given stage of life, has no choice but to accept certain living conditions.

What about those of us who lived in some degree of poverty as a child? Was this poverty forced upon us, as statists are so fond of claiming? No, it wasn’t. It was simply the result of our respective parents not having enough money and we had no choice but to act accordingly. A child who grows up in the home of parents who smoke isn’t being forced to breath secondhand smoke any more than children of poor parents are having poverty forced upon them.

If statists succeed in gaining acceptance of the notion that secondhand smoke is forced upon a child, then all is likely lost for freedom in America. The floodgates of statism will be wide open, bringing wave after wave of new regulations and laws regarding the rearing of your child in your home. There will be nothing to stop them. They will then be able to grab your children for any alleged harm that you might be bringing to your child, whether it is the food the child eats or the ideas you, as a parent, teach your child. Parents will be subject to having their children taken away from them by the state for all sorts of reasons, not just for smoking around their children.

If you accept the notion that a child is "forced" to breathe secondhand smoke from his parents, then what about the food the child eats? Isn’t the child being "forced" to eat this food? And what if you feed them a steady diet of hamburger because that is all you can afford? Is this child abuse? Some statists will undoubtedly eventually make this argument. Some will undoubtedly eventually argue a pet living in the home of a smoker is an example of cruelty to animals. What about the ideas you teach your child? Are those to be outlawed if the state regards them as harmful to the child? If the state can forbid parents from feeding their child a diet high in fat on the grounds that it is endangering the child, what is to prevent them from forbidding you, the parent, from teaching your child ideas which the state declares are harmful to the child? In principle, nothing.

True enough, and thankfully, no statist could get away with this today. But if statists win this battle to "protect" children against secondhand smoke, it will happen just as surely as it happened in every country that has fallen to totalitarianism. Indeed, statists have already taken their first, successful steps to ban certain ideas, to make it criminal to express certain ideas—and you should know by now that those first steps are always followed by more steps, steps whose sound will resonate with the click of jack boots as they approach your front door.

Just as most parents have lost control over their child’s education, now parents are in danger of losing control of their children altogether. We are at a critical crossroads in this country: who has the right to decide how a child is going to be raised, the parent or the state? By right, it must be the parent. A parent’s right to life and liberty includes the right to raise their child as they see fit, without the forcible interference of others.

If a parent doesn’t think it is unhealthy for him to smoke, then he certainly doesn’t think secondhand smoke is injurious to his children. It is the right of the parent, not the state, to make such decisions for himself and his children. Once the children are old enough to decide for themselves, then they can make their own decision. And, if a child doesn’t like the rules set by his parents or the living conditions they afford him, then he can, at a fairly early age, leave home.

As to the alleged health concerns of tobacco, it is not the function of the state to take care of your health. In a free society, you would not be forced to pay for anyone’s medical care. If an individual suffers some illness as a result of smoking, then it is his, not your, responsibility to pay for his own medical bills. And if a parent’s child develops an illness as the result of the parent’s mistaken judgment—whether it be the parent smoking or incorrect nutrition or any other mistake—it is the parent who must take responsibility for those mistakes and pay for the medical care of the child. Now we have the grisly spectacle of you being forced, under Medicare, Medicaid and other programs, to pay for the medical bills of all sorts of individuals, smoker or not.

Statist attorneys general for over 40 states have sued tobacco companies to recover the money states have spent to pay for the medical care of those whose health was allegedly damaged by smoking (In 1998, they won and brought tobacco companies to their knees). Now, who is really responsible for all of this money that has been expended by states? Tobacco companies? Nope. Smokers? Nope. Statists and their socialized medical programs which have been funded through the forcible extraction of money from you—they are responsible for the enormous outlay of funds to pay for the medical bills of smokers, smokers who only have themselves to blame for their decision to smoke.

Now let’s get to another phony argument of those anti-smoking storm troopers and the junk scientists who support their cause of the abolition of liberty: the alleged lethality of cigarette smoke. If an individual, seeking to kill everyone in a building, injected carbon monoxide into its ventilation system, the gas would have the same effect on every individual in the building: it would kill them. But if that same individual, like some bumbling Inspector Clouseau, chose to fill the ventilation system with dense cigarette smoke, everyone would think he was a blundering idiot if his intent was to kill everyone in the building. It simply wouldn’t work. The most it would do is irritate some individuals or make some momentarily sick.

Statists will claim this isn’t a fair comparison because cigarette smoke works over a long period of time. It may be true cigarette smoke is a slow-acting agent, but, contrary to all of the propaganda spewed out by the liberal media, this has yet to be proven. And if it is true cigarette smoke takes years to take its toll on the health of an individual, then children breathing secondhand smoke for a few years, until they can leave home, are in no demonstrable danger. Unlike known lethal agents, such as carbon monoxide or mustard gas, the effects of cigarette smoke are not the same on all individuals.

If cigarette smoke has a role in the development of certain diseases, as it apparently does with some individuals, the exact mechanism by which it triggers a given disease has not yet been discovered. True enough, a significantly higher percentage of smoker’s contract, for instance, lung cancer than do non-smokers. But it is also true—and statists never mention this—that the vast majority of smokers do not contract lung cancer. Why not? Because there are obviously other factors, such as an individual’s genetic makeup, at work in the development of such diseases. If this is true, then are certain individuals with a certain genetic makeup to be controlled because they are likely to have a certain disease? Already, "trial balloons," floating such ideas have been put out in the press to see if they will receive any public support. If you are genetically predisposed to a certain disease if you eat, say, foods high in fat, are you to be prevented from eating such foods? Yes, if the statists have their way and especially if they succeed in establishing socialized medicine since you will be forced to pay for the medical bills of individuals who have bad eating habits. They will argue it isn’t fair for you to pay for the medical expenses of those irresponsible individuals who don’t have the correct eating habits.

As of this writing, the oldest living person in the world is Jeanne Calmet, a French lady over 120 years old who only quit smoking a couple of years ago and she only quit because she became too blind to light a cigarette (but she admits to cheating even to this day). (This was written in 1996. Jeanne Calmet died in August of 1997). How did she live to be so old, if smoking is so lethal? George Burns, who lived to be 100, smoked cigars, reportedly as many as a dozen or so each day, most of his adult life. Even if he didn’t inhale, he was inhaling, from his own cigars, an awful lot of that secondhand smoke which is alleged to be so dangerous. There are many other less spectacular instances of smokers who have lived long lives. Virtually all of us have known smokers who lived to a ripe old age.

It is important to carefully examine the method utilized by statist "scientists" to generate one report after another, warning about the alleged ill effects of something in your life: statistical correlation. The statistical correlation between two or more things does not establish cause and effect (an honest scientist will acknowledge this). At best, statistical studies provide a clue, a possible lead, to the discovery of the cause of a given effect, such as lung cancer (or anything else). Often such studies lead to suggestions of a causal connection between two things, which in fact doesn’t exist at all, leading scientific investigators to one dead-end after another. There are also such studies that actually lead to the eventual discovery of the cause of a given effect. To discover the cause of something is to identify that aspect (or aspects) of reality which creates a given effect—and statistical correlation does not accomplish this. Adopting the method of statist "scientists," one could observe that there is a significantly higher incidence of the use of umbrellas when it is raining than when the sun is shining, drawing the conclusion that this higher use of umbrellas is the cause of rain. Only an idiot would conclude such nonsense, but this, in principle, is the method used by statists to generate those so-called scientific studies that claim to prove some new danger to you from some product you use or consume.

The so-called tobacco "settlement" has established a horrific precedent that will soon be used against other companies and industries that have nothing to do with tobacco. Statists have now perfected a weapon, a technique, which will be a major instrument of war in their campaign to destroy freedom and the pattern of this technique is the following: file massive lawsuits for damages allegedly caused by some company’s product, damages which will bankrupt the company if they are awarded, and combine this with threats of massive regulations by the state—with the combination of these two threats bringing the company to its knees, getting it to agree to a "settlement" which effectively nationalizes the company, bringing its activities under the control of the state. In the process, statists extort billions of dollars from the victimized company, but to ensure they collect the loot they must permit the company to be successful enough—at least, for a while—to pay off the extorted sum.

In the case of tobacco, this means that tobacco companies are going to have to sell an awful lot of cigarettes to pay off the billions they are going to have to pay and they will do this with the complicity of their new "partners"—statists—who have been so loudly protesting the dangers of smoking. There are those who would accuse statists of being hypocrites in participating in this "partnership," but those who do so misunderstand statists. They could be accused of being hypocrites if they were truly concerned about the alleged health dangers of smoking, but they are not concerned about these alleged dangers. This tobacco "settlement" proves this fact: if they were so concerned about the alleged health dangers of smoking, they would not become a "stockholder," in effect, of these tobacco companies, "stockholders" who will financially benefit from the future sale of cigarettes, bringing them the billions of dollars in extorted booty, billions which will come at the price of the health and well-being of millions who statists claim are being damaged by smoking.

There are those who advise us to follow the money trail to explain the motives of statists in their attacks against tobacco, but money isn’t what they are after either. Ultimately and fundamentally, they are only interested in power, power over you. Money looted from the treasuries of such companies as tobacco manufacturers has only one interest to statists: it helps fund their efforts to gain more power. They will eventually arrive at some point in the future where they will have the political support, if our current trend continues, to shut these tobacco companies down, long before they collect all of the billions coming to them, and they will do so with great glee, cheerfully surrendering the billions, because it will mean they will have finally arrived at the point where their supremacy and power will be virtually unchallenged and unstoppable.

How far away are we from this happening? As I have indicated earlier, no one can predict the exact date and time of our final descent into totalitarianism, but, as part of the "settlement," the FDA will be empowered to ban nicotine by the year 2009. Perhaps that will be the year we will see statists make their final push for absolute power, but with the quickening pace of statism’s spread in this country it will likely be sooner than 2009.

Flush with their success in bringing the tobacco industry under its control, statists will soon set their sights on new targets. The next step will most likely be to go after companies which will be charged with contributing to what is probably the greatest health problem in the country: obesity. CEO’s of companies throughout this country had better brace themselves for a coming reign of terror as this new, statist tactic—the threat of massive lawsuits, plus the threat of new, crippling regulations—is brought to bear against them.

Several years ago, when the alleged dangers of secondhand smoke were first published, most laughed, thinking those alleged dangers were absurd. At the time, few would have dreamed the supposed dangers of secondhand smoke would ever become the sort of weapon for statists it has become today in their campaign to destroy your freedom. Food—yes, food—will most surely become their next weapon.

You may think this is far-fetched, but it is coming just as surely as it came with secondhand smoke. Indeed, it has already started. On July 31, 1997, CNN featured an interview of a statist professor from Yale University who was proposing a tax on foods high in fat. He issued some dark warnings about the "toxic food environment" and urged legislation to "do something" about this problem. And just what did this statist professor cite as his precedent for such action? What statists have done in the case of tobacco, maintaining that the same thing in the case of food, over time, will eventually become acceptable to the American public—and he is right, if America continues to make a beeline to despotism.

And then we have the case of a 61-year-old Seattle man, who describes himself as a "milk-a-holic," who filed suit, in June of 1997, against dairy farmers, seeking damages for the alleged damage (clogged arteries) to his health caused by his "addiction" to milk. Most will dismiss this lawsuit as silly, but it isn’t: it is deadly serious. The logic of this lawsuit is exactly the same as the logic of the lawsuits filed against the tobacco industry—and this logic will soon give birth to more and more lawsuits against all sorts of industries, most especially manufacturers of guns. There will be lawsuits against liquor companies, against fast food restaurants for selling those dangerous fried foods, against companies that sell any product that might bring some alleged harm to an individual’s health. When will some statists file suit against Florida tourism businesses who failed to provide adequate warnings about the dangers of sunshine and the role it plays in the development of skin cancer? (After I wrote this, Rush Limbaugh raised the very same question—and rightly so.) Too ludicrous for it to happen? Don’t bet your life and freedom on it. It will happen, if America continues to be a greenhouse for the ideas of statism.

The tobacco "settlement" contains yet another threat, one which will likely never make the headlines of our newspapers because it will take place behind closed doors in the privacy of conversation between statists and the executives of companies now vulnerable to the same kind of attack successfully made against the tobacco companies: the effort by statists to silence any opposition to them. Most CEO’s of our major corporations are very intelligent and the lesson to be learned from the public whipping of tobacco companies will not be lost on these CEO’s: be very careful who you support or oppose politically, otherwise you may become the next victim of a tobacco-like "settlement."

Statists will undoubtedly remind executives of this lesson when it comes time to "ask" for (translation: extort) political contributions or if one of these executives becomes too vocal in his opposition to statism. And those executives who refuse to listen to the "advice" from statists will be punished by lawsuits, by regulatory authorities who will sweep down on the company shutting down their operations for some alleged health or safety violation or some other alleged violation of the law. And as more executives and companies are punished by statists, we will see more and more executives remain silent, afraid to speak out against statists.

The anti-smoking statists have made a big deal about the alleged conspiracy of cigarette companies to manipulate nicotine levels in cigarettes, since nicotine is allegedly an addictive agent used to keep cigarette smokers "hooked" on the habit. Exactly what is an addiction? Is it a habit that an individual is unable, of his own volition, to break? If this is the definition of addiction, then cigarettes do not qualify as an addictive product. Millions in this country have quit smoking. Is an addiction a habit that is simply difficult to break? If so, then cigarettes would likely qualify as an addictive product for most individuals.

If this is the type of addictive product statists seek to outlaw, then think about what this means. How many other products do individuals consume or use on a habitual basis, the consumption or use of which would be difficult for them to stop? Depending on the individual, there are all sorts of habits which might be difficult to break: drinking coffee, drinking alcohol, eating chocolate, eating too much food, watching TV, surfing the Internet and the list can go on endlessly. Are these products or activities going to someday become the target of some statist? Yes, if statists have their way. They will attempt to regulate any activity in your life that might be called "addictive."

As I stated earlier, logic rules the world. It should be clear to you that once an individual accepts a basic premise, he is ruled by the logic of that premise. In the case of so-called addictive products, if one accepts the notion that products that are difficult to stop using are to be outlawed, then it will be cigarettes today and some other product tomorrow. And this is exactly what is in store for you if you accept this statist argument. Indeed, it has already started. Remember the "milk-a-holic" suing the dairy farmers for his "addiction" to milk? Just as "abuse" has spread to dozens of areas in human life and has brought us law after law further constricting freedom, the term "addiction" will multiply to cover all sorts of things and will be used by statists to gain new powers to "protect" individuals from these "addictions," bringing us new legislation which will enable statists to file lawsuits to recover "damages" for these "addictions," bringing an increasing number of companies under the control of statists, ripping away your freedom in countless areas of your life.

The state should not control, regulate or prohibit the use of tobacco nor should it promote it through subsidies to the tobacco farmers or to the tobacco industry. Tobacco farmers who demand financial subsidies from the state are, in principle, no different than the very statists who seek to outlaw the use of tobacco: both seek to use the state’s initiation of force, the former to forcibly take your money to underwrite their farming and the latter to forcibly prevent an individual from using tobacco products.

In a free society, the users of tobacco products would pay a price high enough in purchasing the products to enable tobacco farmers to remain in business and there would be no subsidies from the state. If smoking continues to decline in this country, then tobacco farmers will simply have to grow another crop if they are unable to sell their tobacco. They do not have the right to use the power of the state to forcibly take your money to support their failing business.

As I have already stressed, the function of government is to protect you against the initiation of force, not inflict it upon you. Its function is to protect your right to life and liberty—which means: protect your independence and freedom of action. This includes the right to engage in stupid, even self-destructive behavior. It is not the function of the state to provide you with the material means (food, clothing, housing and so forth) for sustaining your life, it is to protect that freedom of action you need to obtain those material means yourself.

The health of an individual is no different than any other value an individual may seek to acquire and maintain. It is not the function of the state to provide you with your health by dictating what the state regards as healthy behavior or by providing you with medical care. The state must simply guarantee an individual his independent freedom of action to obtain that value, not provide that value for him. The right to life and liberty is the affirmation of your individual freedom of action, action that may be taken without permission from anyone. This right, and nothing less, is at stake in the attempt of the anti-smoking statists to extinguish what remains of the flame of liberty in America.

The immoral and reckless indifference of so much of the American public to statists obliterating freedom in one area after another brings to mind the quote attributed to Protestant minister Martin Neimoller, who reflected upon Germany’s fall to the Nazis: "In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."

If you are like most Americans, you didn’t bother to notice that when statists came for the owners of "public buildings," violating the property rights of these owners, that, in principle, your rights were undermined, undermining what you may do in your own home. You didn’t speak out because you are not an owner of one of these "public buildings."

When statists came for the owners of tobacco companies, infringing on their right of ownership and restricting their freedom of speech, you didn’t speak out because you are not one of the owners of a tobacco company or you are not a smoker or you consider smoking to be an evil which must be wiped out at all costs, even at the cost of your freedom, your freedom to follow your own judgment.

When they persecuted and imprisoned innocent individuals for "abuse," you didn’t speak out because you were not the one being persecuted. When they imprisoned those individuals for disturbing the "wetlands," you said nothing because you thought it would never affect you, oblivious to the fact that your backyard is a "wetland."

When they searched, without warrant, the private property of business owners, you said nothing because these were only business owners and you are not a business owner. When they seized property without due process, you said nothing because it wasn’t your property being seized, even though it could be and will be tomorrow. When they imposed arbitrary fines, you said nothing because you were not the one victimized. When they kicked in the door of the home of someone suspected of drug possession and killed the innocent owner, you said nothing because your loved one was not the one killed and because you believe anything goes when it comes to fighting drug use. When they drove an innocent man to suicide in their attempt to collect taxes never owed them, you said nothing because the victim was not someone you knew and valued.

When they bullied television network executives into accepting a ratings system, you said nothing because you are not an owner of a television station. When they, in the name of children, came for the producers of children’s television programs, making it criminal to express certain ideas, you did not speak out because you believe anything can be sacrificed in the name of children, even though these children will not be free when they become adults. When they suspended the right to trial by jury for accused "deadbeat dads," you said nothing because you are not a deadbeat dad.

Even though you oppose socialized medicine, when they passed legislation further regulating doctors, you said nothing, dismissing it as only a "small step," perhaps hoping it would not affect you in your lifetime, hoping that "somehow" it would not result in socialized medicine. When they got you to accept the idea that your money is not yours, that they may forcibly take "your" money and dictate to you how much you may keep for your own needs, you said nothing because you consider taxation to be a necessary evil. When they came for the online news organizations, you said nothing because you are not a user of online services.

And when they and their evil finally come for you—and they will, if America continues down this road to hell—will there be enough left who will care about your plight, will there be anyone left to speak out for you, to defend you? You already know the answer: there won’t be, if this country continues to sink into the cesspool of statism, if most Americans continue to maintain an indifferent silence about freedom’s decline. And if you are one of those who have said nothing, then your silence and the logic of your bad premises will finally avenge themselves on you in practice…when they finally come for you.