State to force stores to post graphic signs vs. smoking (boston.com)
Massachusetts is poised to become the first state in the nation to force retailers to prominently display graphic warnings about the perils of smoking right where cigarettes are sold — at tobacco sales racks and next to cash registers.
Images of ominously darkened lungs, damaged brains, and diseased teeth could start appearing before the end of the year in more than 9,000 convenience stores, pharmacies, and gas stations, if a proposal by the state Department of Public Health is approved as expected. Other posters would direct smokers to where they can get help to stamp out their habit.
This story has been described on the blogs as another nanny-state proposal. The proposal does seek to control behavior through punishment, but that’s where the nanny analogy ends. In real life, eventually you outgrow a nanny, a nanny can be fired, or you can choose not to pay for an unwanted nanny.
Nannies don’t try to prevent children from doing things they are allowed to do, and they don’t punish children following rules. Nannies can’t force you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines for not complying with their wishes. Nannies can’t force businesses to post images in an effort to drive away customers.
“If somebody is trying to quit smoking and they go back to the store and they’re tempted — oh, just one pack — we hope this will help them make a different choice,’’ said Lois Keithly, director of the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program.
Thought police or thoughtcrime are more descriptive terms for what is taking place here. If you even think about smoking, you can be punished with unpleasant images or your crime. The “crime” being consideration of a legal action that is not governmentally approved.
Massachusetts is not alone in forcing adults to think state-approved thoughts before performing a legal activity. Oklahoma passed a law that requires women seeking an abortion to see a vaginal ultrasound of the fetus and to hear a description of the fetus.
To those who endorse using the government to force others to think the thoughts you’ve chosen for them: How would you feel about an image of big brother right next to your own on your drivers license, or how about big brother posted right on your front door?