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Hawaii considers ban on cigarette sales (abc30.com)
34 points by squirrelicus 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments

Serious question: when has banning any drug worked in the past? I watched quite a few TED Talks claiming there is data suggesting legalizing all drugs -- even those that are "objectively harmful" like meth or heroin -- has merits.

[Disclaimer: I smoked tobacco in the past (~10 years ago for a few months in HS due to social reasons) but I wouldn't care the slightest if they're banned.]

I don't think cigs are more harmful than meth or heroin. If countries like Portugal had success legalizing these hardcore drugs and using other sorts of policies to limit their harmful effects, why go backwards and ban them? I'm all for limiting harms of cigs, especially to children who are more susceptible, but is this really the right approach to solve this problem?

Again this is a legitimate question; not being sarcastic.

What's unique about this is that they don't seem to be considering banning other forms of nicotine. This means that (unlike most substance bans) this could have the effect of pushing smokers toward safer alternatives like transdermal patches and gum.

To my knowledge, a ban of only a single delivery system is unprecedented. I'd be interested if anyone has another example, to see how that turned out.

What about the bans on alcohol inhalation? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_inhalation

From this data point, it appears that it may work.

Ooh, good catch. I hadn't heard of those.

I'd also say that being on little islands probably matters to enforcement.

Maybe? It's tropical and moist, plants tend to grow well without too much care. They have a notorious problem with people planting "invasive species" (marijuana) in state parks. If they just banned tobacco, I expect people would just grow it.

The key takeaway here is herion and meth dont travel further than the person doing the dugs. Smoking anything brings everyone around you into it, and for those who dont smoke it really sucks.

But yeah, people will get something if they really want it.

Smoking is a popular intake method for both heroin and meth, FYI.

But even if heroin were legalised, I probably wouldn't see too many heroin smokers popping up at the bus stop, just because of cultural pressure.

I suppose one useful role is in denormalising smoking. Current smokers probably started when smoking was 'normal', criminalising may give people cause to stop and reevaluate. Other drugs havent been legal in living history so aren't seen I the same light?

Theres also in the case of passive smoking, so smoking is demonstratively damaging to innocent people. Which leads to.

There's probably a question as to what the states responsibility is. If little Timmy goes out and buys (legal) heroin and dies, how culpable is state in that situation? What about if Timmy just gets addicted and goes around breaking into peoples houses?

How culpable is the state when Timmy dies from legal alcohol?

>>banning any drug worked in the past?

It a part of the spectrum of control. When smoking is banned in bars and restaurants or heavily taxed like in Australia ($40 AUD!), prevalence of smoking declines.

Is there any evidence of that? A lot of anti-smoking efforts seem to just take credit for the natural long term decline, at best the nudge it along 1 or 2 percent.

Smoking declined from 20% of the US population to 15% from 2005 to 2015 so the efforts are making an impact.

It's been declining for decades, that this trend continued isn't proof of any specific measures like bar/restaurant bans and price hikes.

Why do you assume the long-term decline is natural and not a consequence of the various policies? Where is proof for that assumption?

There's a bunch of studies on scholar.google about the effects of anti-smoking regulation for the interested.

> Why do you assume the long-term decline is natural and not a consequence of the various policies?

Because the long term decline predates many of the policies, I assume no causality violations.

> Where is proof for that assumption?

You're asking me to prove a negative.

Take a look at the charts here (https://www.tobaccoinaustralia.org.au/chapter-1-prevalence/1...), in the time periods covered they've banned smoking in nightclubs, shopping centers, parks, beaches, cafes, the cost of cigarettes has gone up astronomically (creating a huge black market BTW), the legal age went up, advertising was banned, plain packaging was introduced etc. During all those initiatives the decline remains pretty constant, if they were having an effect then I'd expect the decline to plateau before their introduction.

I read the link: "Hill and colleagues have suggested that the pattern of decline in smoking prevalence correlates with the level of tobacco control activities occurring at the time.11,12 The drop in male smoking rates seen in the early 1980s coincided with a period of new, well-funded media-led Quit campaigns"

AFAIR Portugal did not legalize drugs, it decriminalised them.

Expanding on this a bit, there's a huge difference between not punishing drug users and allowing commercial sales.

The latter opens up a Pandora's box of regulatory capture, since problem users account for the vast majority of profits in recreational drug industries.

Meanwhile coming up with a defensible reason to criminalize possession in amounts for personal use is a bit of a stretch. You either care about drug users as people (in which case alienating them from law enforcement is bad) or you don't (in which case there is no reason to regulate drugs at all). There's a bit of a gray area around discouraging initiation of new users, I suppose, but mostly it comes down to punishing people for getting high in ways you don't approve of.

I don't care if a person uses a drug, as it doesn't affect my health. But tobacco smokers directly effect me. I'm a very slow CYP1A1 metabolizer, which means that my lungs are not able to detoxificate smoke / air pollution like most people, and it effects me probably much more than you.

Also if smoking is generally prohibited somewhere, I can go there to speak with the person to stop smoking, and that's enough for me, I wouldn't care if people did it _inside_ their own home.

This is proposed by a single legislator; they may not have considered the implications especially deeply. The text in particular bans cigarettes, but not loose leaf tobacco. It's unclear if any black market for pre-rolled cigarettes is viable enough to be worth the costs of a black market business.

Drugs that require manufacturing infrastructure to be to a massive scale to meet demand are really easy to target. Cigarettes aren't really something you can make yourself to the quality that people expect from automated processes at the capacity they demand them.

Isn't that just a result of the current (legal) industry?

150+ years ago people were smoking tobacco from pipes. Cigarettes aren't required for a tobacco habit. In an alternate universe some one could be making the same point about single use auto heroin injectors.

> 150+ years ago people were smoking tobacco from pipes. Cigarettes aren't required for a tobacco habit.

They really help. Machine-made cigarettes dramatically increased the ease and popularity of smoking (beginning in the late 1800s).

> The widespread smoking of cigarettes in the Western world is largely a 20th-century phenomenon. At the start of the 20th century, the per capita annual consumption in the U.S. was 54 cigarettes (with less than 0.5% of the population smoking more than 100 cigarettes per year), and consumption there peaked at 4,259 per capita in 1965


Perhaps, it's hard to disentangle all that from increasing wealth, industrialisation and globalisation though.

My house and garden are in what were fields until the 1950s. I'm digging up huge amounts of pipe remains. I don't make any claims to the size of the industry from that, but it certainly wasn't niche.

> I don't make any claims to the size of the industry from that, but it certainly wasn't niche.

FWIW, the second part of the sentence is a direct contradiction of the first part.

Yes I could have worded it better :)

How about:

I don't want to make any claims about the upper bounds of smoking in the mid 19th century and earlier, but the lower bound is at least above what a layman would describe as 'niche'.

Or is that too wordy?

Quite. :) The initial wording is alright, but I couldn't help but notice the ironic internal contradiction.

Early cigarette rollers were hand operated by a single person. It may not be practical from a labor perspective vs just smuggling in legal cigs from out of state, but it's easily something that could be done in small scale.

I can see why some would be upset but, I just ain't seeing the problem here. The only reasons tobacco exploded in the late 19th and early 20th century were based on junk science, lies, and deception. Some patent medicine hucksters targeted tobacco distributors in hopes of getting their poisons into the cigarettes themselves.

Now we're down to "habit" and "it's always been here", which isn't convincing enough for me.

Cigarettes are actually enjoyable to a lot of folk. I socially smoke about 20 cigarettes a year and get enjoyment from it.

It seems it should be one’s own choice to smoke in private.

As much as it is to use prescription medication in private.

Sounds like vitamins in ecig juice

Do you think the government should ban all harmful activities?

Of course not, because "harmful" in your question isn't the same meaning as what the government uses.

PS: Does that strawman smoke menthols?

> Of course not, because "harmful" in your question isn't the same meaning as what the government uses.

What's the definition "the government uses"? And why is it different from the one in the comment you're replying to?

> PS: Does that strawman smoke menthols?


Harmful isn't really binary, it's a spectrum.

So I suppose

A. Should govt ban any harmful activities? Yes some activities impose a wider cost on society, and are best dealt with at a societal level.

B. Should govt ban all harmful activities? Probably not no. Everything is harmful in some way, shape or form. So unless you ban everything.....

The issue with "harm" here is that there is an objective definition, but that question is being framed as a subjective definition being made objective in an attempt at a gotcha.

(Assuming you're disagreeing with the parents framing rather than me)

Perhaps, but as the guidelines state

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

Fool me once, and all that, and at the end of the day I expect reasonable answers to my imperfect questions, its unfair not to offer the same to others.

Unfortunately some people argue in bad faith without even knowing they do it.

Like you did when you replied to my question.

What's the "objective definition" you're referring to? And why do you claim my question is "being framed as a subjective definition being made objective"?

Objective harm is visible damage backed by reality. Subjective harm is mostly puritan nonsense.

Unless you make distinctions, I don't think this argument can continue.

> Objective harm is visible damage backed by reality.

What makes you think I was referring to anything else?

Hawaii considers the benefits of creating a black market for tobacco

Not exactly:

> If approved, the restrictions would only apply to cigarettes—not e-cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco.

Just cigarettes. Oddly, cigars are excepted. Probably just get a lot of oddly thin and long cigar sales.

When clove cigarettes were banned, clove cigarillos became quite popular. Ironically, they're probably even less healthy than the cigarettes were.

I'm curious if the ban may have to do more with littering and pollution as opposed to simply the health issues.

I think if that were the case they'd be pushing for bio-degradable butts and also coming up with some solution to throw-away vape cartridges like Juul pods which I see on the ground outside every gas station.

It's already there, because of taxes, but yeah, it would just get bigger.

Probably? But then what's the alternative (assuming you agree with the decision to start with).

People are always going to murder, evade taxes, do illegal drugs. The fact that some people won't follow laws isn't a reason not to implement them.

I'm guessing that due to geography, Hawaii has the most chance in the US of making this work though.

Assuming you agree with the decision to start with, aren't you de facto say all those other things don't matter relative to your decision? I think you may of meant something a bit different: perhaps, that if you believe that government has a role in dictating certain health related choices, then what options do you have to achieve that other than something like this?

If so, then you're just debating implementation details which I think is less important and less interesting than the real discussion about what personal autonomy, and personal responsibility, you should have to live your life as you see fit.

Yes that what I meant.

I was intending it as an rhetorical question.

Agreed personal autonomy, and personal responsibility are the interesting questions, not really where the comment I was responding was leading though.

The proposed bill doesn't ban tobacco, just cigarettes in particular. Oddly, cigars are not banned.

I don't know if it's the reason, but USPS at https://www.usps.com/ship/shipping-restrictions.htm (expand 'Cigarettes & Tobacco') says "Most cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products may not be mailed domestically" while "Cigars may be mailed domestically."

Ban cigar sales and many people will get deliveries by domestic mail. That doesn't hold for cigarettes.

That's an interesting point, thanks for raising it.

> Ban cigar sales and many people will get deliveries by domestic mail. That doesn't hold for cigarettes.

I bet you're right for people who currently seek out cigars (more or less). But I suspect there will be some substitution effect of cigars for cigarettes, if a bill like this is passed, and cigars can still be sold locally. I expect the effect would be smaller in magnitude if cigars could only be purchased from mainland sellers and shipped via USPS. But I am just speculating.

I’m guessing the percentage of people smoking cigars, and those who get started smoking via cigars, is pretty small.

I agree, but unless it's some protected classification, what prevents Philip Morris from slapping some cigar branding on the packaging for cigarettes in Hawaii?

"The ban would go into effect progressively, starting next year, by raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 21 to 30.

Two years later, no one under 100 would be allowed to buy cigarettes. "

This is the most wacky way to ban it I can think of. This can possibly pass a challenge in court.

Too fast for good drama. Another approach would be to start by banning anyone born in 2000 or after, and then remove a year from that cut line, every year. This way if you are an old addict you have more time to prepare, and every one has a clear deadline coming their way. By 2030 nobody under the age of 40 is allowed. By 2040 nobody under 60, by 2050 nobody under 80.

> This can possibly pass a challenge in court.

Why not? Sure, it's discriminatory, but it's not a suspect or quasi-suspect class, so the standard of review is rational basis, which is a very low standard, and which is satisfied essentially when there is any legitimate government interest being served and any rational relationship between the basis of discrimination and any such legitimate purpose, even an indirect one which could be more specifically targeted (more narrow targeting is required when intermediate or strict scrutiny is involved.)

Or are you imagining some other basis for legal challenge?

Ive been a huge advocate of this for a long time now, and I love that people have started considering it.

Here’s the deal - it’s not a rights thing. It’s the fact that smoking cigarettes, no matter what, is a group act. You bring everyone within eyesight of you into your bad habit. There are plenty of other ways to get your nicotine fix, and we can still tax the shit out of it.

Nice going, Hawaii. I hope it actually happens.

Btw, Hawaii is one of the boldest states to consider this. I have a condo on the water there and I have to ask people to not smoke cigarettes under my deck on a daily basis. I wouldnt be surprised if there were a huge backlash to this suggestion.

I don’t like the government banning anything really, rather I would prefer that they just keep raising the price. Once cigarettes become $100 a pack people will stop. Those that really want a cigarette, they can buy them if they want, but at some point when you’re paying five dollars per cigarette even the most addicted (or stupid) person will quit.

No, because cigarettes will still be available on the black market for cheap.

Seems like this would have an unintended affect on the significant amount of Japanese tourism there. While on the decline, about 30% of Japanese men and 10% of Japanese women smoke [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_in_Japan

As long as the US cigarette makers can export to other countries, with less stringent regulations on how addictive or deadly their product is, it will all be profitable . . . er, I mean . . . okay.

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