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Butt out

As we charge into our 238th year of Independence as a free United States, one must be concerned with the slow erosion of our freedoms. I doubt this opinion will make many new friends but I think it is true. For example, the freedom to smoke a cigarette is gone and I think that is wrong.

While I have never smoked a single cigarette in my life nor do I want to start, some really interesting information came to light last weekend thanks to Ronald Bayer, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Bayer appeared on PBS NewsHour to share the results of research studies. Something incredibly interesting led him to conduct this study in the first place.

Bayer stated, “I noticed when my students of public health talked about illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine or marijuana, they adopted a libertarian point of view—emphasizing how the government has no business intruding on people’s choices and all those negative consequences. But when I raised the issue of tobacco, they all became in a way, authoritarian. ‘We have to limit smoking, we have to limit where people smoke, we have to protect people from themselves, we have to protect their children.’”

So right off you need to know that we have banned smoking in 843 parks and 150 beaches in recent years. Bayer went to work studying the cause and effects of banned smoking in public outdoor locations. Here is what he learned.

The No. 1 reason always given for banning smoking in public places is to protect the non-smokers from secondhand smoke. His research learned that secondhand smoke is not a factor at all in public outdoor locations.

The second reason cited is that cigarette butts littering the beaches are dangerous to the health and wellbeing of the wildlife and sea creatures. However, Bayer’s study says the evidence that fish and birds are dying because of cigarette butts is virtually non-existent.

Third, we are told that we should ban smoking in public outdoor places because “kids like parks and beaches and the sight of a smoker could plant a seed of acceptance by the next generation.” As you may suspect, Bayer documents that the evidence supporting that theory is also extremely weak.

So ultimately, we have banned smoking in public outdoor places because our choice to light a cigarette is being determined for us not by us. If you think this is only about smoking, I ask you to think again. The government is now attempting to tell you what is best for you to eat as well.

I clearly see this as a predecessor for being told how much, if any, meat, milk and eggs we can consume. If you take it one step further, the science is clearly on our side that the consumption of meat, milk and eggs improves human lives. Consequently, we are getting less of the message “don’t eat meat because it isn’t healthy.” Instead they are playing the guilt card and we hear “save the planet by eating less meat.”

The one fact that I believe largely goes unnoticed, even though I have used it on hundreds of vegetarian zealots, is that the smallest impact a person can make while living on earth is eating meat. The greatest degree of satiety comes from protein consumption and eating 3 ounces of protein in a meal will give you the most essential nutrients that you can get from any food substance on the planet.

So while I still celebrate that fact that we live in the best nation in the world because of our freedoms, I also caution you that they are disappearing. We must get more involved in the process and stand up for what is right based on science. If smoking in public outdoor places is banned because we the masses are duped into believing it is best for the public interest, what will they decide should be next? Tell the government to butt out of our business!

Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at trentloos@gmail.com.

Date: 7/15/2013



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