Don’t Tell Me What to Do

Like so many before them, my employer recently launched an anti-tobacco policy. The far-reaching mandate bans cigarettes, cigars, ‘smokeless tobacco,’ and any other so-called “tobacco-related paraphernalia,” such as lighters, rolling papers, etc. Employees won’t be able to smoke anywhere on company property, including the parking lot. In the end, the mandate won’t accomplish a damn thing.

As with any policy enacted in this great, free nation of ours, it’s unlikely you will be physically prevented from ‘doing’ anything.  Most people refrain from ‘restricted’ activities, due to the threat of being caught and — perhaps more specifically — the threat of the punishment that might follow. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

While that old cliché still rings true, there is something to be said for the law of averages. Any gambler — no matter how ‘bad’ — will attest that Lady Luck has to smile your way at least some of the time.

So, we consistently drive faster than the speed limit, knowing full well there is always the risk of an officer hiding behind the bushes, or tracking highway speeds from a radar plane above. But even if we get ‘caught,’ the odds that we’ll be pulled over again the same day, the same week, sometimes even the same year are small enough that the fine typically won’t prevent us from again owning a ‘lead-foot’ in the (sometimes very near!) future.

If there was anything for lawmakers to learn from Prohibition it should have been that sweeping bans only encourage those who desire ‘taboo’ items to take drastic measures to obtain them. It seems more and more, though, that no one learned a thing from that turbulent time. Sadly, that ignorance may force us to relive it.

In this case, the employer has only banned smoking on their property. Those who object about their freedoms being infringed upon could easily (and legally!) find themselves in the unemployment line.

But I can already surmise how a handful of ‘patriots’ will push this ban to its very limits: smoking on the sidewalk just outside the building, arriving to work reeking of tobacco, saving their cigarette butts to dump on the front stoop.

While I certainly won’t be joining these folks in their passive-aggressive behaviors, I will likely show my ‘solidarity’ from inside with a knowing smile, perhaps a thumbs-up.

Some would call demonstrations such as these childish, and they would be correct to an extent. However, when lawmakers, employers, and others insist on treating adults as children, they shouldn’t be surprised when that is exactly the type of behavior their mindless edicts receive.

by Paula Postolpokij | Residential Life Magazine 

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