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There Might Here Be Both Bootleggers and Baptists

Paging the great Bruce Yandle.

The FDA today imposed tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes.  Of course, the officious know-it-alls at that agency crow about their concern for the American people.  They insist that they are saving us and our children from all manner of problems and pains.  (Where oh where would we be without our shepherds?)

I’ve no doubt that some of these officious intruders into the affairs of others believe themselves to be noble and good, deserving of our thanks.  These people are public-policy ‘Baptists’; they intrude into our affairs not because they stand to gain materially but, rather, because they get a psychological high from ordering other people about for what they – the intruders – fancy to be the betterment of those whom they order about.  These intruders, in short, are arrogant parasites on other people’s freedoms.

But there might also be some bootleggers behind this latest do-gooding spasm in Uncle Sam’s long and sorry history of nannying his subjects.  As Georgetown University Medical Center’s David Levy said:

While e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to smoking, much of the evidence indicates that e-cigarette use encourages cessation from cigarettes by those people who would have otherwise smoked with or without e-cigarettes.

Indeed.  So if you own lots of shares of Altria or if you are a tobacco farmer or if you’re an oncologist specializing in treating lung cancer, sit back and light up a celebratory cigar.  Whether or not you played any active role in this latest nannying of the American people, the FDA likely has just boosted your net present value.


Of course, the ultimate point is that it’s no one’s business what I ingest.  If I choose to run the risk of getting cancer or heart disease in exchange for the enjoyment I get from puffing tobacco, that’s my business and no one else’s.  And I extend to you the same courtesy.  As explained by the late, great Hank Williams, Sr.:

If I want to honky-tonk around ’til two or three,
Brother, that’s my headache
Don’t you worry ’bout me,
Just mind your own business.

For the record, I do not smoke; I’ve never smoked; I do not vape; I’ve never vaped.  And I don’t plan to take up either activity.  But one very real part of me is tempted to start puffing simultaneously on an e-cigarette and a tobacco cigarette just to defy the pretensions of the damnable bureaucrats.