The Bottom of Tobacco Slope?


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I defer to no one in my loathing of cigarettes but I think banning them is idiotic and several steps too far. We’ve determined, several times, that prohibition doesn’t work and just makes the product more toxic. Education and advocacy works far better than brute force bans.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      I wonder how many of the people clamoring for the removal of the town councillors for so much as suggesting banning sale (but not cultivation, possession, or consumption) of tobacco in the town limits, are in favor of keeping the entire business of other drugs illegal from farming/manufacture straight through to consumption…Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been a TV sitcom set in a convenience store; perfect place for an ensemble cast. There’s the gate-keeper clerk, the tobacco/alcohol customers, the dreamers purchasing lottery tickets, the long-haul truckers, the potato-chip salesman. . . the hr person and put-upon store manager.

    Of course, this varies by state law; some states allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine, some liquor, some don’t.

    But the real problem is the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables.Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg said a ban seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.

    This is what I call the candy machine theory of government. Put in our money, push button E5 for our desired public policy, and we get exactly what we wanted.

    There’s a weird, although surely unintentional, dehumanization involved in this kind of thinking. People are not understood to be individuals with their own sets of values, preferences and capacities for creatively responding to directives, but just homogeneously mechanical passive-response units.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    The convenience stores will suffer, as mentioned, but the smuggling of cigs into the city, will boom.

    Drug dealers may open up new lines. Hey buddy, you want crack, pot, or tobacco? Or maybe non criminals will get into the act…like former convenience story employees.

    Like it will stop people from getting their drugs..whatever they might be…..Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      i think this town is small enough that it wouldn’t be an issue. One you start taking about counties, that can change, though.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        It really depends upon the size. I worked at a factory downtown building mini vans for a few years. There were a few hundred employees on each shift.

        There was one guy who ran numbers and would cash your check-for a %
        There was one guy who sold pens, office supplies, aspirin, etc.
        There was one guy who sold smuggled cigs and tobacco he brought up from North Carolina.

        All in one plant.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      The convenience stores would lose some business, certainly, but the business wouldn’t vanish into neighbouring counties / the black market – the overall amount of economic activity would be about the same. In a jurisdiction where tobacco sales were only allowed at specialized tobacco shops, allowing their sales in convenience stores would likewise cause tobbaconnists to lose business.

      As I understand it, in some US states, regular convenience and grocery stores are allowed to sell booze, and in others it’s only in specialize liquor stores. Switching from one model to the other would move the overall amount of investment in liquor sales from one kind of business to another, and cause some hardship as the formerly privileged businesses lose the income associated with the privilege of selling booze.

      I’m not sure that’s a good argument for one model over the other – just an argument against switching back and forth every few years.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        It would all depend upon how much tobacco contributed to the convenience store’s bottom line. It might be small. It might be major. And that would vary, likely, by store. People might got to specialty tobacco stores…or they just may go outside the banned area. Local ordinances, zoning, etc. would also be a factor.

        What isn’t in dispute is: folks gonna find a way to get their fix.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Oops, sorry – I responded as though you were talking about restricting sales to tobacco shops rather than banning them altogether, but that’s only referenced in the OP…Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        There would likely be some of both – if you worked and lived near the edge of town, it might be easier to go to a gas station outside town limits, if you worked downtown it would probably be most convenient to go to the tobacconist down the block.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @dragonfrog The mistake is understandable. I shifted from one to the other over the course of the post. (What the township is doing, vs what I think might be worthwhile.)

        There are circumstances where a township would actually lose business even if tobacco shops were allowed to remain open:

        1) If the town is too small to offer a competitive tobacco shop. It’s much more of a niche thing than convenience stores, which are everywhere. There’d be a drift towards getting cartons at Tobacco Emporium rather than small, more local enterprises.

        2) Overall local commerce could actually go down, because as I mention in the OP, people who buy cigarettes buy other things. When I was a smoker, every two dollars not spent on convenience store food would likely be spent somewhere else. Possibly something on the Internet, far away.

        Neither of these things is end-of-the-world type stuff, but if you’re a small town that relies heavily on sales tax receipts, it could matter. And if you run a convenience store, that could matter to. It could also matter if you frequent convenience stores for other items, because some might go out of business.

        The other big thing, which I mention but don’t go into very much, is that it could entirely backfire by encouraging people to smoke more. If cigarettes are less convenient to buy, people will buy by the carton and ultimately consume more, making it even harder to quit. This is a pretty big deal. On the other hand, anti-smoking advocates seem less concerned about actual smokers than preventing future smokers. Which is not actually an unreasonable position, within limits.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “Restricting sales is likely to be much more difficult than restricting smoking.”

    Just the opposite. Dry counties have no liquor sales, but (I imagine) plenty of drinking for anyone that wants to. Since the taxman cometh for each and every tobacco sale (and it’s a lot harder to make one’s own moonshine equivalent (unless that equivalent becomes pot). So compared to say, restricting speeding, it’s pretty easy to restrict tobacco sales.

    (unless you mean restricting smoking *in public places* than I concur)Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      Restricting time and place. Not just public places, however, though it started with that.

      You may be right that it would be logistically easier, though I was taking politically.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      (and it’s a lot harder to make one’s own moonshine equivalent (unless that equivalent becomes pot)

      Sorry, I’m missing what thing you’re saying is harder to DIY than what.

      Homebrew beer or wine from kits is quite easy. Home distillation is a bit more involved, but not tremendously difficult if you’re just after a basic vodka.

      Growing one’s own pot or tobacco I know nothing about, except that tobacco has one significant advantage of ease of cultivation over pot, in that there’s no need to hide it – you could just plant the stuff in the garden, assuming you have suitable soil and sunlight.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Yes, there’s a missing than there.

        Alcohol is easier to make than growing tobacco. Cannabis is also easier to grow than Tobacco. Tobacco plants are needy things, and are much more prone to disease. And you really can’t shortcut the post-cultivation processing (i.e. drying).

        ” that there’s no need to hide it ”

        *Currently* there’s no reason to hide it. (which of course, does give it an advantage now) I was speaking to a hypothetical where sale and production are restricted and/or prohibited by law.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        An acquaintance here in Colorado tells me that growing your own marijuana is straightforward but time-consuming and somewhat expensive. She recommends indoor growing for several reasons, which means setting aside space, putting in grow lights, ventilation, etc. Like all gardening, regular attention is required to catch bugs and diseases before they become serious problems. She doesn’t think there are very many people who will consistently put in the effort to be successful.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Growing one’s own pot plants is something that, I suspect, will be done by the same folks who brew their own beer today.

        There will be a bunch of people who say “I want to do that!”, buy a kit, quickly realize what a pain in the tuchus it is, enjoy what they’ve made anyway and then say “never again” and only grow a plant on the windowsill after that.

        There will be a handful of people who discover a previously unknown love for the craft itself and they’ll turn the garage/basement into a hydroponic laboratory and work on creating their own new and interesting strains and they’ll be able to talk your ear off about them in the same way that homebrewers can talk about the different kinds of hops that they’ve been experimenting with and these people will give away more plants than they use.

        And most people will shrug and go to and pick up an eighth for less than the price of a case of Guinness.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        It can’t be all THAT hard. At my old apartment, my upstairs neighbor had six enormous plants in his tiny place. And that dude was a total stoner.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        It depends on how much you want to grow. My folks had a single grow light & a big pot that handled most of their needs.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        He had a C02 tank in the bathroom too, that he was periodically using to “feed” them, I guess?

        I should have realized something was up when one day on the stairs he asked me “Hey, have you noticed any smell?” I said no, and asked why. He gave me some story about having dropped a bottle of cologne on the tile floor, and it got under the baseboards and had been driving him crazy, so he was happy it wasn’t bothering us.

        A few weeks later I saw his setup and it all became clear.

        That didn’t really bother us, but when one of his buddies started keeping a plant in a pot outside our window/behind our place, we told them to move it – not due to any moral objection; our fear was simply that if it was discovered, the po-po might assume it was ours, and we didn’t want the hassle.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I remember they were selling individual cigarettes in convenience stores at one point. Whatever happened to that? It seemed like a good way for people to wean themselves down, since buying a whole pack means smoking a whole pack.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      There was a law passed to prevent the sale of loosies.

      A million years ago, when drunk, I wrote RJR Reynolds and asked “why don’t you sell packs of 4? Sometimes all I want is 4 cigarettes?” They explained to me that the laws in a whole lotta states state that cigarettes must be sold in packs containing no fewer than 20 cigarettes.

      I also wrote the sweet tarts people and asked why in the sam hill “green apple” replaced lime.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I wrote Jolt once to see if they would send me some.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I wrote the Cheesecake Factory saying “Why don’t you serve samplers of tiny portions of several different cheesecakes so I don’t have to choose just one.” And not long after they started, though giving me no credit for the idea.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hmmm…shouting into the uncaring void, about pointless crap?

        Yep, born to blog, all right.

        (I wrote Krispy Kreme after a particularly bad late-night drunk doughnut experience once).Report