A new bill proposed in Oregon would make cigarettes a schedule III controlled substance, requiring a doctor’s prescription to obtain. Of course, since doctors swear to do no harm, and because they could lose their license to practice medicine if they do, it would be highly unlikely that doctors would write prescriptions for cigarettes. Unlike marijuana, tobacco is provably dangerous to one’s health.
Should this bill pass, offenders would face maximum punishments of one year in prison, a $6,250 fine or both. According to the CDC, there are around 476,000 smokers in Oregon who would become criminals under this law if they continued to smoke. As a person who is addicted to nicotine, I can tell you that I would most likely violate this law due to my addiction. Heroin is arguably less addictive than nicotine. It is an incredibly difficult habit to break, and as such, the use of violence to stop addictive behavior will not work.
What will happen, should this law pass, is a mass migration of west coast criminal gangs to Oregon. The profits from an illegal cigarette trade would too good for them to pass up. By looking at prisons, we can see just how much value a cigarette is worth to a person who is prohibited from obtaining them. An inmate in this article says cartons of cigarettes were worth $500 each in 2011, which is roughly the same value per weight as marijuana. However, cigarette smokers generally consume far more tobacco in a far shorter period of time than marijuana smokers. There is little doubt in my mind that such a law would turn Oregon into a combat zone.
A ban on cigarettes would also cost the state some tax revenue. Presently the state of Oregon has a cigarette tax of $1.18 per pack, 2009 data says that 47.9 packs per citizen were sold, which works out to roughly $214,783,600 in tax revenue for the state for that year assuming the tax rate didn’t change. Now an argument could be made that the state will save more in terms of healthcare costs than it would lose in tax revenue, but that’s only if you fail to include the cost of enforcing this law and assume everyone would stop smoking. As every other drug that has been banned shows us, people will not stop smoking and the criminal activity involving cigarettes would be enormous. Locking up a single person for a year costs the state around $40,000 to $50,000.
I don’t expect this law to actually get passed, but if it does, I suppose it will be fun to watch an entire state implode from violent warfare brought about by the sociopathy of its politicians. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual describes Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy) as being characterized by “…a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood.” That pretty much sums up the entire state in a nutshell.