Prohibition 2.0: Oregon Bill Bans Cigarettes Without Prescription

January 25th, 2013

Metaphorically speaking, this is the moment in the horror movie when hands burst forth from the earth near prohibition’s grave. One can imagine the trailer for this imaginary film featuring a little girl’s voice saying, “He’s baaaaack.”

Set in Oregon, prohibition’s sequel begins with a new bill in the state legislature that would classify cigarettes as a Class III controlled substance, alongside such War on Drugs heavyweights as hydrocodone, anabolic steroids, and “Special K” AKA ketamine. Classifying them as such would require a doctor’s prescription, and sale and use without a prescription would be criminalized much like the benzodiazepines Xanax and Valium. Is Al Capone-era prohibition, long considered by nearly everyone to be a total failure, on its way back?

Cigarettes By Prescription

A cigarette prescription bill is actually an outright ban. What doctor is going to risk his or her license by prescribing cigarettes for a patient? They have no appreciable health benefits. People enjoy them much in the same way that they enjoy a chili dog; it’s something that certain people enjoy despite the known risks.

A doctor, however, cannot just write prescriptions for risky activities of that nature. It goes against the doctor’s mission. Should doctors also write prescriptions for race car driving, promiscuous sex, high fat foods, and other risky activities that large percentages of mainstream people participate in? Obviously, they would not.

Oregon’s House Bill 2077 Effectively Bans Cigarettes

Feel free to check out the language to Oregon’s House Bill 2077 at this link. It makes cigarette possession a crime carrying a $6,250 fine and a year in jail. Doctors will not prescribe cigarettes for patients. All current cigarette addicts in Oregon could be turned into criminals overnight.

Rather than visiting the neighborhood 7-11 to get their fix, Oregon smokers may soon have to drive over the border or make friends with a crystal meth dealer to continue acquiring cigarettes. Picture late-night meetings in bad neighborhoods in which cigarette smokers are frisked by gangsters at gunpoint before they buy a pack of Camel Lights. It’s Al Capone all over again.

Oregon was on the right track when it attempted to pass a ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use. It’s time to conclusively end prohibition by peeling back the War on Drugs. Instead, Oregon looks ready to throw the proverbial car in reverse to the failed policies of the early 20th century progressive movement.

Prohibition was a total failure. It did not reduce nicotine abuse. Mainstream business owners will not sell cigarettes to children. Drug dealers will push them onto children on purpose. In this way, criminalization hurts kids.

Let’s hope Oregon doesn’t provide gangs, terrorists, and drug cartels with the exclusive license to sell cigarettes to addicts by scheduling them as a Class III controlled substance.

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.