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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Freedom = Risk

I just heard that in France they are trying to outlaw happy hour…. their reasoning has something to do with curbing excessive drinking. (what is excessive? is there an outbreak?) Obviously, this is completely absurd. But this is what the world health zealots and nanny governments are moving us towards. Frankly, I’m surprised that the French are even considering this: they have long been renown for their ‘joie de vivre’, revolutionary spirit, love of wine, food, and cheese, etc… I thought the next stage of nanny-state-health-zealotry would have come from America, perhaps California. Our legislators have been doing such a good job of banning smoking and demonizing smokers; and overweight people are clearly in their sites next. I thought increased alcohol control was decades away… but I was wrong.
I often say that Tobacconists are modern day FREEDOM FIGHTERS. In the tradition of our founding fathers; living their values in the hopes of defining their lives and happiness. Remember, we are supposed to have an ‘inalienable right to pursue happiness’, as defined by the individual!!! not governments, peer groups, politicians, etc…
Sadly, somewhere along the line we have forgotten that real Freedom involves Risk. Freedom is not a ’safe’ concept. Life is not ’safe’. The Freedom to drive, eat, walk, smoke, love, and even think comes wrought with Risk. America was founded by Risk-Takers! And nothing great is ever accomplished without taking a Risk.
So how has the world devolved to the point where Risk is anathema to our culture? I think the nanny state is empowered by making smokers out to be ‘dirty’ and ‘unhealthy’ people. Yet the National Cancer Institute says there are no known negative health consequences from smoking less than one cigar a day – which sums up the overwhelming majority of cigar and pipe smokers. And there are studies that show that between 1 to 3 cigars a day (consumers) live longer than non-smokers. While cigar and pipe smokers and Tobacconists have been struggling for our rights, non-smokers have been sitting back thinking they are above the fray. But, what they did not realize while basking in their sense of superiority is that smoking is the last line of defense for our civil rights. Ultimately, people choose to smoke, and employees in smoking environments choose to work there. People make choices and we do not need the government to limit them. I am accountable for my choices, and I don’t need the government to make decisions for me. I just want the government to do their job: take my tax money and build roads, protect me, and empower me to create my own life – Remember the concept that politicians work for us?
Ok, I could probably keep writing…. but i will try to wrap this up. I have been travelling the country Certifying Tobacconists and I continue to be impressed with their passion and resilience. Great Tobacconists seem indefatigable in light of current repression and taxation. Tobacconists continue to be great American FREEDOM FIGHTERS: fighting for their rights and passions. Today, I am more proud than ever to service and support them. As always, I continue to believe that the path to Freedom is through Education. And while ignorance may be bliss to some, I am willing to take the Risk… Get Educated. Be Free.

Jorge Armenteros, CMT

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