Quick Hits – Prohibition never works!

Quick Hits – Prohibition never works!

When it comes to the providence of cat herding, with the current Kane County Board clearly at the bottom of the scale, the Elgin City Council generally avoids succumbing to pointless platitude politics. They’re not perfect, but the state of the City of Elgin tends to reflect the often-positive efforts of that governing body.

So, I’m more than disappointed in the Elgin City Council’s sudden nomadic approach to increasing the minimum smoking age from 18 to 21.

Smoking Ban

My first concern is this irrelevant initiative was partially prompted by a nine-year-old resident’s missive to Mayor Dave Kaptain in which she asked him to help people stop smoking. Not only does this reek of the worst kind of nanny state-ism, but when did we start turning to pre-adolescents for city policy? (Though, to tell you the truth, I’d rather listen to a nine-year-old than have to endure Councilman Terry Gavin.)

Aren’t the adults bad enough?

Then there’s this! Those fine Illinois legislators already bumped the smoking age to 21 effective January 1st. So, why is the Elgin City Council suddenly governing in circles? It’s a done deal, so why bother? Has Elgin already resolved every other issue?

But my biggest complaint with this ban BS is, when has prohibition ever worked in any corner of this vast and diverse country at any time in our history? We’ve certainly done a bang-up job with the war on drugs, haven’t we?

To wit, the aforementioned Councilman Gavin said, “This will add to educational efforts already out there about not smoking and could provide another barrier to addiction.”


All prohibition does is make a product more appealing to the group that’s prohibited from partaking. Doomed to repeat history one more time, Gavin completely ignores our thriving heroin and crystal meth epidemics.

Their illegality has absolutely no effect on consumption.

Tobacco 21, another do-gooder group determined to make any problem worse, claimed “there is data that shows” Evanston’s and Chicago’s teen smoking bans have resulted in a 35 percent decrease in teen smoking rates. To which I reply, “baloney!” (I woulda used the word “bullshit” but some of y’all would’ve objected.)

First, whenever you hear the phrase “there is data that shows” the information involved will invariably fall under the Twain-esque “lies, damn lies, and statistics” postulate. There is data showing that I have a full head of hair, but not even I’m buying it.

In addition, teen smoking rates have plummeted from 23 percent in 2005 to a scant 7.6 percent in 2017 (CDC). So, not only are the fine folks at Tobacco 21 seeking credit for an across-the-board downturn, but this is just another insipid case of a liberal solution desperately in search of a problem.

Mark my words, the second you issue a teen smoking ban, that suddenly enticing forbidden fruit will send adolescent smoking rates soaring. You know you can get cigarettes online, right? And even though it’s illegal to have out-of-state wine imported to an Illinois address, I’ve never had a problem with it.

The Chicago Tribune did a magnificent Sunday piece on how and why Cystal Meth use is skyrocketing. And the reason for that spike is, we got so good at keeping Sudafed out of chemists’ hands, production shifted to Mexico where their far more potent version is seven times cheaper than the U.S. variety.

As a result, a once working-class only drug has made inroads across all U. S. demographics. Leave it to white people to make a problem exponentially worse.

The lesson here is, prohibition never works. The only way you can ever put a dent in the supply is by reducing demand. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with teen smoking which is down a whopping 66.6 percent since 2005.

Clearly, those educational efforts are working. So, why is Elgin screwing around with a sound solution? Sometimes my liberal compatriots really do suck.

Elgin! Please put the teen cigarette ban down and walk away. This is a complete waste of the City Council’s time. Now, if you want to consider a total teenager ban, that’s something I could get behind. It would solve the smoking non-problem, too!


14 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Prohibition never works!

  1. I’m always curious to how towns can make ordinances that contradict state laws. or federal ones at that.

    But if by law, a smoker’s age needs to 18 in the state but the county or community prohibits the sale to 18 year olds..How do you enforce that? The businesses can lawyer up and tell the community that is a form of age discrimination by not allowing 18 year olds to purchase in the state they are allowed too.

    Maybe its a communities rights to regulate over a states on a smaller scale.

    Can anyone help with this?

    1. John,

      Here’s how it works. Non-home rule cities – generally those with less than 25,000 residents cannot make any law more restrictive than a state law. Geneva consistently tries, but it doesn’t work.

      Home rule cities can make their own rules, but only in certain regards. For example, home rule cities can inspect rental properties more often than state law mandates.

      But they can’t go crazy – especially in regard to criminal law. The City of Chicago can’t legalize pot because it’s not legal in Illinois.

      And you can enforce a smoking with penalties to the business that sells the cigarettes and the buyer. Most Illinois municipalities already do stings where they send underage folks out to buy booze and cigarettes. I personally believe that’s entrapment, but nobody asked me!


      1. So another person living in another town roles threw and he or she is 19 and smoking. Gets pulled over by the Elgin police.

        Now what? Said person gets a pass since he or she is from another town? What if that person is from another state?

        The list of issues goes on and on..

      2. John,

        The reality is, the burden in these cases almost always ends up on the merchant. Whether it would be booze or cigarettes, to pull a potential underage offender over require reasonable probable cause.

        And I really don’t think the EPD wants to become the cigarette police.

        Thus, these kinds of ordinances tend to fall under the purview of the code enforcement department.


      3. Jeff–I agree with you about the entrapment thing. (I once worked with, or rather against, an editor who wanted me to write an editorial praising one of those stings. He got mad when I told him I thought it was just a case of suburban cops trying to brew up some crime to keep busy.)

        As to the larger issue, meh. I have a hard time believing any kids out there will say, “Wow, the Elgin City Council doesn’t want me to smoke! I gotta get me some cigarettes now!” OTOH, if this makes it slightly more difficult for an 18-, 19- or 20-year old to buy coffin nails here in town, I don’t see that as anything but a net positive.

        I’ll leave you with these panels from a Calvin & Hobbes strip: They’re standing in front of a vending machine. Hobbes: “It says you have to be 18 to buy cigarettes.”

        Calvin (indignant): “Eighteen? By then I’ll know better!”

  2. Well they can vote at 18 maybe they can throw the rascals out
    In any event the nanny state is shooting itself in foot. Let everyone smoke at 16 drink at 17 eliminate seat belts and air bags legalize all drugs and in long run there would be more social security and pension funds available for the rest of us

  3. Jeff, you’re right on, again. This was all politics and showing off to the special interest groups. A chance for all nine of the city council Liberals to send a disingenuous message to Springfield that says, “Ha ha! We beat you to it, Governor!” In fairness, faux Conservative Toby Shaw voted against it last week but will probably succumb and flip next Wednesday at the final vote so as not to anger his eight brothers and sisters residing in Left City, three of which he will be running against in nine months.

    If the council had any interest in addiction issues, tobacco or otherwise, they would take the lead and personally submit to random but regular drug and alcohol testing 30 minutes before every council meeting. Including those early Saturday morning Hair of the Dog-needing meetings.

    You never know. There may never be a full dais of council members for years after that.

    1. John,

      I’m not quite sure how we got from a teen smoking ban to drug testing city council members, but it is an interesting thought.

      What I don’t get is, this is a problem that’s been solved. So why do we need to re-solve it?


      1. Jeff, one of the phony reasons Kaptain and others mentioned was how addictive cigarettes are. They seem more concerned with cigarettes’ addictive ingredients than that of alcohol and weed.

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