Thursday, February 23, 2006

Korea Kicking Butts Out?

It sounds like a group of politicians in South Korea are putting together a proposal to have tobacco banned within 10 years. This would include the production, sale, and purchase of the product. Nice nice!

In essence, cigarettes would be the newest member of the 'oh my god, I'm not sure what that is, but you're going to jail for a long, long time, son' club (alongside marijuana). Of course, there's no way that the law would be upheld were it ever to be put in place. You can't send granny to jail for getting her nic-fix out on the stoop.

While many will sympathize with the 'kneejerk' nature of the idea (inspired by the desire to reign in skyrocketing healthcare costs), it seems doubtful that the government would ever want to lose control of such an enormous amount of tax revenue.

In many countries the contentious discussions involve the idea of legalizing some 'soft' drugs so that the government can regulate them, taxes can be levied, crime syndicates undermined, and profits at Taco Bell raised.

In Korea the discussion is long-sighted, and well-intentioned too, but in a different way. By criminalizing tobacco, Korea is opening itself up to a whole bunch of new crimes and problems. That said, you have to admire them for trying. Maybe it will happen some day.

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