Having apparently solved all of New Jersey's real problems, an Assembly health committee this week endorsed a plan to make menthol cigarettes illegal here. The staggering hypocrisy of this legislation is breathtaking.

Speaking of taking away your breath, about those menthols. What's the problem? Assemblyman Herb Conaway says menthol cigarettes should be banned because, "Research has shown that menthol promotes addiction to nicotine and actually, because of the cooling effects, allows people to draw more of these toxic substances into the lung, hold them there and actually the science supports the fact that it promotes cancer."

He also points out that menthol is marketed toward black men. So, is this also a civil rights issue then? Or is this just a health issue? If this ban seems crazy (and it is), know that the sale of menthol cigarettes are banned in a handful of cities, but so far no entire state has done so.

Here's the problem. The government has known for decades just how bad smoking is for us. They know it causes cancer, heart disease, emphysema, etc.. Thing is, smokers know that too. So do we need a nanny law telling us this cigarette which can kill us will be taken away but these other cigarettes which can also kill us will remain on the market? I could have a shred of respect for Conaway if he were willing to go all in and offer legislation to ban all cigarettes and tobacco products in New Jersey, period. No exceptions. But he won't. Because he know New Jersey takes in over $600 million every year in cigarette taxes. More than half a billion dollars. While about $250 million of that comes from the sale of menthol cigarettes, he knows New Jersey won't really lose that $250 million. He knows as much as menthol smokers will be outraged at this proposal, most won't quit. They will buy their menthols out of state for awhile if they live or work close enough to a border. The rest will slowly switch to regular cigarettes. Why? Because you need a very personal reason and very intimate motivation to quit smoking. That's why as much as they keep raising cigarette taxes across the country their continues to be a certain baseline of people who remain smokers. You can't legislate away this addiction.

Conaway can thump his chest all he wants and talk about saving lives when really he just wants to make a name for himself. If he really wanted to save smokers' lives, why does he only want to save the 30something percent that smoke menthols?

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