I heard it again the other day. Someone upset at smoking bans referred angrily to the “liberals” who want to impose them.
It's a common perception — or, I should say, misperception — that those who favor smoking restrictions are "liberals." Sure, some of them are. But the truth is that the issue, like most, is not so simple.
Name a group that's been officially opposed to tobacco for decades. How about the Southern Baptist Convention, which, according to its Web site, adopted a measure in 1984 that calls for, among numerous other actions, taking “leadership in encouraging our people, pastors, and SBC leaders to refrain from using tobacco in any form …”
Or look at the states with fairly extensive bans. Sure, you'll find Massachusetts and New York. But you'll also find Utah and Idaho. And Florida, where voters have chosen Republicans for nearly every statewide office for quite a while – including George W. Bush's brother as governor twice – approved an extremely restrictive smoking restriction.
Which governor said the overwhelming majority of residents in his state “don't want to have someone else impose their habit upon them, whether it's spitting or whether it's vomiting or whether it's smoking”? And also said he'd support a ban on all cigarette sales in his state? Arkansas Republican Mike Huckabee, according to news reports. He's also known for this quote: “The country was better off with Leave it to Beaver than Beavis and Butthead. We were better off when the Gideons gave Bibles to the fifth graders than when school nurses gave condoms to the sixth graders. We thought it was better for fathers to take their sons hunting than sons in urban areas hunting for their fathers.”
Even in California, often associated with liberal nanny-staters eager to take away smoking rights, it isn't as black and white as that. Among the first communities that moved to ban smoking on beaches and piers were those in Orange County, where, I believe, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority was FDR — before
Of course, political labels tend to be pretty meaningless, anyway. That's probably why politicians are so fond of tossing them around. The truth is that there are lots of people who want to stop others from smoking, for whatever reason. Some see themselves as liberals, some as conservatives, some as centrists, some who knows. Perhaps we can just call them what they are: anti-smokers.
Background: How did smoking bans fare on Election Day 2006?Powered by Sidelines