New Tobacco Law Runs Naval Academy Town Shop Out of Business

You can go to war but can't buy a cigarette.

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I was until recently a part-time weekend employee at a cigar shop in Annapolis, Maryland. It served as a Sam Drucker’s General Store-like haven for middle-aged guys who liked to watch sports, smoke cigars, drink booze, and kibbitz. I am no longer an employee of that sacred haven because politicians who had never been there decided to drive it out of business.

On December 20th of last year, Congress passed and the president signed into law an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that banned tobacco sales to those under the age of 21. It goes into effect later this year. Prior bills like this at the state and federal levels included a waiver for those in the military. This one did not.

Annapolis is home to the U.S. Naval Academy and the midshipmen who attend the academy were some of the shop’s best customers. But now, with no military waiver, for the most part only the seniors could buy a cigar. That killed up to a third of the shop’s business and it closed down this week rather than die a slow death.

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The issue is not about this one shop. It is about businesses across the country that are driven to oblivion because of nanny-state regulations passed by politicians who neither understand the issues or care about the people their diktats affect.

Interesting notes? The Annapolis shop sported a large number of state legislative delegates as its customers and DC politicians make sure the tobacco tax in the nation’s capital is the lowest possible so they can smoke their own cigars at cut-rate prices.

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Nice, huh?

But the worse aspect of the law is what it tells our men and women in uniform.

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It tells those who defend this country, and many are between 18-21 (I was 19 when I joined the Army), that you may be shipped overseas to possibly give your life in pursuit of a mission but when you return you may not have a cigar, a cigarette, or for that matter, a cocktail.

Dear Lord, what has this country become? Do we prize political correctness so much we have taken complete leave of our sense of personal freedom? Do leftist lifestyle norms trump all behavior the left finds objectionable?

If it’s not that way already, this misguided and hypocritical bill brings us closer towards that state-cosseted eventuality.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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