I’m a smoker, so I’m an idiot.
The same way you’re an idiot for guzzling two-liter bottles of soda all day or swallowing Big Macs whole every night for dinner.
We’re not being too bright when we poison our bodies with such garbage, but I don’t mind your stupidity and you shouldn’t be bothered by mine.
I figure, as long as I’m not blowing smoke in your face and you’re not hurling chunks of hamburger at mine, what we do to our bodies shouldn’t matter to anyone.
Unless we are talking about Mayor Michael Nutter.
This guy would creep his hand into my pocket and crush my USA Golds, then dump the Pepsi out of my fridge, if he had the chance.
Make no mistake: Your ever-widening gut and smoker’s cough are on the mayor’s mind right now.
We already know Nutter is 0-for-2 in trying to levy a tax on soda purchases in the city, and might be gearing up for yet another attempt to make bottles of Coke too expensive to enjoy.
Nutter also is technically the head of Get Healthy Philly, which is part of the federally funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work Initiative (basically a health and wellness awareness program) and controlled by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
One of the stated goals of Get Healthy Philly — listed right there on its Web site — is to increase the price of cigarettes in an effort to keep people from smoking.
Nutter and his nannies want to make smokes and Cokes too expensive to indulge in. Basically, they want to raise prices on our stupidity. The thought is that increasing the price of cigarettes would cut down on the number of smokers in Philly.
It sure worked in New York, where you need to refinance your mortgage and get a second job to buy a carton of Marlboros.
Now, I have no problem with the government — city, state or federal — trying to promote good health. I get angry only when politicians and bureaucrats decide they’re going to play nanny, especially when the nanny penalizes me for enjoying a bad habit that doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Your body is your property and you should be able to do what you want with it, even if you’re doing something stupid.
I mean, if you’re going to go after people for doing stupid things, why stop there?
I believe watching reality television and reading juvenile, cheap fiction makes people dull and less intelligent and is thus a blight on our society, but I’m not about to support a government effort to raise prices on the Twilight novels.
Let’s say government nannies like the mayor get their way on a smokes-and-Cokes price hike. What’s next? Most fast-food restaurants are unhealthful places to get your lunch. If you’re a regular, chances are good they’ll give you five extra chins and possibly a heart attack.
Will the mayor and the Department of Public Health then decide the city would be healthier if they jacked up the price of french fries?
You can also just as easily side with critics who tie childhood obesity to sitting and playing video games, so why not double the price of a Playstation?
And what if they set their sights on — God help us all — alcohol?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a libertarian or Tea Party activist. The government has a valuable role in providing good information on bad products.
But we all have a responsibility to take care of our own bodies. No one else can do it for us.
It’s one thing for Nutter and his nannies to promote good health via public awareness campaigns, but deciding what kind of bad habits people are allowed to have is something else completely.
Having citizens as stupid as me, who put unhealthful things into their bodies, is bad.
But having a government nanny to force us out of our stupidity is worse. ••
Riverward Rant reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the riverwards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com