Letter to the Editor: State does not, should not control its people; smoking, same-sex marriage, same point

OPINION – 238 years ago, the founding fathers signed the Constitution which has since governed our country, and by doing so created the union of the United States. This union, according to the constitution, was founded to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to us and our posterity. Nowhere in the documents which guide our country is it stated or even implied that the purpose of the state is to legislate morality or be a big brother to the people. Why then do we let our legislators do exactly that?

During my time living in Utah I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena. Many of the people here call for “more liberty” and “less government intrusion” in their lives, up until the point when it includes something they personally don’t like. Then they are quick to call upon lawmakers to restrict and stamp out whatever behavior it is they disagree with. This is characterized by Utah’s restrictive alcohol and tobacco laws, and the doomed to fail fight against gay marriage. Whereas the Pledge of Allegiance calls for “liberty… for all”, Utah seems to stand for “liberty for those who agree with me.”

The most recent event in Utah’s long line of legislating morality and curbing the individual freedoms of its people is the introduction of SB 12. This bill, which on Thursday passed a committee vote of 4-1, aims to raise the already ridiculous age of purchasing and using tobacco from 19 to 21. Before moving on, I first wish to question why a small group of only five people should be able to select which laws go to ballot for a state of nearly three million residents?

I want to start by pointing out that these preventative laws simply do not work as well as their supporters believe and claim them to. According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, around 9 out of every 10 smokers start smoking before the age of 18. Their studies also show that 23 percent of high school students currently use some form of tobacco. Being in high school myself, I can attest to the fact that many of my fellow students acquire and use tobacco products on a regular basis. What would raising the current age of use do? For one, it would increase the profits Nevada and specifically Mesquite makes from Utah residents wishing to be treated like adults. Other than that, I don’t believe the percentage of smokers or the use of tobacco in Utah would be affected very much.

This isn’t to say that we should abolish age-restrictive laws altogether. I myself don’t think minors should drink or smoke because of the negative health impacts, and I believe if these laws were removed we would see a large increase in the rate of alcohol and tobacco use by minors. However I also believe protecting minors is as far as these laws should go.

When you support restricting what personal choices a legal adult can and cannot make, you indirectly attempt to make their personal decisions for them and dictate what they can and cannot do with their bodies. This is in direct opposition to the ideas of personal freedom and liberty guaranteed to us in the constitution, as each individual’s body is their own and nobody but themselves have the right to claim ownership over it.

When a person becomes an adult at the age of 18, we give them more larger responsibilities and more liberty in the decisions they are able to make. They can purchase property, vote for a law or person which affects many more people than just themselves, or choose to join the military and possibly die fighting for their country. Why then should they not be allowed to make such personal basic decisions such as who they marry or what they put in their body? When a stranger chooses, for example, to smoke marijuana in the privacy of their own home, how does this have any effect on you personally? Some would attest that these “immoral” behaviors lead to crimes such as theft or murder, to which I would remind them we already have laws against theft and murder. These laws are perfectly valid and acceptable, as they protect individuals from each other, rather than attempting to protect individuals from themselves.

Allen Christensen, Luz Robles, Brian Shiozawa, Daniel Thatcher, and people of Utah; my morals and personal choices are not the same as yours. Even amongst yourselves I’m sure there are differences in opinions, beliefs, and choices. However what I choose to do in my personal life and the choices I make concerning my body have no effect on you and should not be your concern, just as your personal choices do not affect me. I can assure you I have absolutely no interest in them either. This is why I ask the legislators and people of Utah to quit their attempts to control the decisions of grown adults and to not force their personal beliefs on others. If you truly believe in freedom and liberty for all, you will not try to restrict and legislate other people’s personal choices and liberties.

Submitted by Alex Ellis

Ed. note: Letters to the Editor are published “as is” without edit. The opinions stated are those of the writer and may not be representative of St. George News.

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Letters to the Editor are not the product of St. George News, its editors, staff or news contributors. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them. They do not reflect the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting.


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  • Propaganda February 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Seems like guns have caused more crimes and deaths in St George than cigarettes. It seems everywhere you go in St George, you find “No Smoking” signs. Yet, I wonder how many people are carrying guns into these facilities or onto trails? Imagine the harm one hand gun could cause in a theater, in a store, in a bank (many of which have been robbed by persons with guns), whereas, someone smoking outside within 50 feet of the facility causes only imaginary harm to others? Those big, monster diesel trucks that emit plumes of black smoke cause more harm than someone smoking. St George is a strange place with its restrictions, prohibitions and even unwritten laws enforced by an extremely harsh police government. People seem to enjoy this extremely restrictive and selective police government. They would be happy living in countries such as Iran, N. Korea, Cuba, Uganda, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places with harsh authoritarian control governments.

    • Bender February 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Even so, your cigarette smoke still stinks dude. Stay away from me while you smoke them little sumbitches.

      • snakeone February 24, 2014 at 6:34 pm

        so if its a free country it works both ways u stay away from me while i smoke, and i dont even smoke.

        • Bender February 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm

          “I don’t even smoke”
          Then we’re cool man. Xbox at my place?

    • Brian February 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Or they could live in Hitler’s Germany, or Mao’s China, or Stalin’s Russia, or Lenin’s Russia, and similar 20th century nations where the absence of guns cost 130 million lives (a matter of historical record) of innocent citizens slaughtered by their own governments. There were 11,419 people killed by guns in 2013 (including suicides, murders, accidents, and shootings by police). To match the 130 million lives taken by governments with guns would take 11,384 years. The 2nd Amendment exists to protect of from our own government, NOT to give us the right to hunt or sport shoot.

      • Propaganda February 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        The state government you enjoy here is very similar in nature to the oppressive governments enjoyed by the people in those countries. BTW, the nation with the highest rate of violent crime with guns is the US. You mentioned suicides, Utah ranks near the top in rate of suicides in the US, most self-afflicted with guns.

      • Bender February 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm

        Hilter, Mao, Stalin/Lenin comparison — apples to oranges gun fetishist fantasy. Guns don’t keep us safe from our government. An educated and engaged populace focused on good, and appropriate, governance will keep our American miracle on track. You bomb-throwing Libertarian nuts smell to me just like the Confederacy likely did in the mid 1800s.

        • Priests February 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

          Mormon temples and mormon government interference doesn’t keep us safe from imposing religions that threaten our very freedoms.

    • Praetorian February 25, 2014 at 4:44 am

      When I’m having a bad day because I’m pissed that Obama is such a knucklehead, I make sure to stop by this news site forum and have a spoonful of happiness when I read the braying of jackasses and their fear of everything.

      That’s when I’m reminded that im so glad I’m not a Libtard.

      And then like magic….KABLAMM! I’m having such a great day!

    • Ed Dantes March 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      You are clueless. I have lived in several of the countries that you mention and you are out of your mind if you equate the culture, laws, mindset of Utah/St. George to these third world sociallly/morally/legally/economically undeveloped wasterlands.

      Second, if you knew anything about the history of the U.S.,, you would know that the founders argued and debated the 2nd amendment and it was a consensus that past history revealed that tyrannical governments like a disarmed populace. Further they declared that men and women have a god-given right to self-preservation. By the way, several of the countries you mention have a largely disarmed populace. Look at the mass shootings from Colombine to the Newtown school maniac. All left leaning or from left leaning families with no clue of love of their country or how to responsibly handle weapons. I am confident that the people of St. George who own weapons and keep them at home or carry them with a CCW are law-abiding…..don’t you realize that the incidents of the average law-abiding gun owner committing a crime is very rare……John Lott wrote a book on it MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME.

      Please try to exptess an opinion based on facts….if you choose not to, then so be it.

  • JJ February 24, 2014 at 9:07 am

    There’s a desire to create a sort of “religious utopia” where everyone in the community has the same values and same morals and everything is perfect. Problem is, it’s human nature to conform to that degree and the idea of a community utopia is a fantasy- and the pursuit of it just causes problems. Life would be so much better if these people (who have good intentions), could still accept the idea of achieving a utopia, but in their own homes (which they can control), instead of the larger community. Morals are personal, not societal, and you can abide by your own moral code without needing others to abide by it too.

    • JJ February 24, 2014 at 9:08 am

      *NOT human nature..

    • Propaganda February 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Those militant islamic nations where people are jailed and executed for not following the authoritative governments consider themselves as religious utopias. I see the resemblance between Utah, especially StG, and those militant islamic nations.

  • Steve February 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

    “State does not, should not control its people”

    Glad to see that Alex supports a person’s right to be free from government forced health care, to own any firearm they choose, the right to choose with whom they do business, and the right to not pay more taxes than the next guy.

    Or does Alex only agree with “Liberty for those who agree with me(Alex).”

    • Alex February 24, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Actually I do support those things. Like I said, you can’t pick and choose which liberties you do and do not support; it’s all or nothing.

      • SmallGovernment MyAntiDrug February 25, 2014 at 5:20 am

        You still incorrectly implied that states are not protected from over arching federal government scope of power creep.

        The framers created this ‘democratic republic’ and the vision to foresee the need for the right for states to challenge and protect themselves from Federal Government legislative abuses, if the 3 branch checks and balances model had the propensity for failure, just like it does today.

        States have a right to create its own laws within its own borders to govern its own citizenry with a representative government at the state level with a high degree of sovereignty, excluding encompassing state ratified constitutional amendments. States have a responsibility to do what it feels is best for the citizens in that state, evern to the point of using its militia against a tyrannical federal government…if that were ever to happen.

        But the biggest failure in your argument, is your complete lack of cognizance of the cost of the health care the STATE OF UTAH foots the bill for, because some genius decided to use cigarettes to commit suicide using the 50 year plan, and then going to the hospital for treatments they can’t afford, drugs they can’t afford, medical devices and supplies THEY CANNOT AFFORD, so Utah does its best to comfort them in their dismal last few years of life, because they smoked, and the TAXPAYER foots the bill.

        I couldn’t care less if you smoke. Just die on your dime, not mine.

        You want to be an ‘adult’ and smoke thinking it doesn’t affect anyone else?

        Then continue to be an adult when you die, and make the cost of the last years of your slow death doesn’t effect peoples tax burden to the state.

        Until then, Utah state legislators will continue to explore ways to mitigate rising healthcare costs of prolonging the pathetic lives of smokers using money taken from someone who would use it for his own family, and not some joker who ‘leave me and my cigarettes alone Utah!’….until he couldn’t afford the hospital bills…then it’s ‘Please help me Utah!’

        • truth February 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

          Often the Federal Government has to step in against the tyrannical state governments and agencies protected by those states. In 1978, the Federal Govt stepped in against a tyrannical religious agency located in Utah and told it to cease its discriminatory practices.

        • Bub February 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm

          Typical right-wing drivel. In other words your against big govt unless it benefits YOU directly…

  • Chad February 24, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Well said, Alex.

  • Jason Chavez February 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

    This story is well written, but passionately misses the point of the proposed policies. This isn’t a moral issue, though you can insist on turning it into one. This is a health issue, and unfortunately, what the author thinks does not stand up to the mounds of research on this topic, that in fact show that an increase in legal age to purchase and use tobacco directly decrease tobacco use rates, especially for minors, doesn’t result in an economic loss, and in fact boosts states economic standing. The research is plain, look it up.

    • Bender February 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Spoken like a true conservative hypocrite congressman. “Keep the government out of people’s personal lives unless it’s a matter I deem important.”

  • Barry Short February 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Very happy to see this letter from a high school student. The generation that’s in high school and college now gives me hope that liberty actually can survive.

  • Bub February 24, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Although I think this is way to libertarian leaning and I don’t agree with a lot of it, it is well written for a high school kid.

  • Brian February 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Nicely done, Alex. It’s nice to see students thinking and acting for themselves. But your premise relies on 18 being some magical age at which you qualify for all rights and responsibilities. Constitutionally, that isn’t the case. You can’t be a senator until you’re 30, or president until you’re 35, for instance. I also disagree with using tax revenue as a pro or con for our decision-making. Many states will soon legalize pot for the same reason (the disastrous consequences of which we won’t see right away, but will see without a doubt). I agree with you that SB 12 is misguided, but mostly because it won’t be effective. As you point out, the current law isn’t effective (so why expand it?), and by the time this change would affect them (18+), they’re already hooked.

    • Priests February 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Meanwhile, Mormon boys can acquire priesthood status at age 12. How is it mormon boys can be so mature at age 12 to achieve such a lofty, responsible status, yet, Utah says nobody is mature and old enough to smoke til 21?

    • nite owl February 26, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      But you can die for your country!

  • Young-uns February 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Teenagers can get married before age 18 in Utah. You mean, teenagers younger than 18 are mature enough and adult enough to get married and handle the responsibility of household costs, medical costs and kids whereas 18 to 21 year olds aren’t old enough to make a personal decision about smoking? I don’t think so. Maybe these young kids in Utah having kids is the reason why Utah is an extremely socialistic and welfare dependent state.

    • Bub February 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Utah is socialistic??? what in the … kool-aid have you been drinking?
      Ed. ellipsis

      • YOUNG-UNS February 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

        Very socialistic. St George is a prime example with the city government making decisions and expenditures without public input and without first weighing the private venture option. When your city government and its small, select few dictate and control most elements, then you have a socialist or dictatorship, not a democracy nor capitalistic society.

        • Bub February 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm

          I’ve heard them called tyrannical, but I’m just not sure ‘socialist’ is what they are… dictatorship might work 😀

          • Bender February 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

            YOUNG-UNS learned a new word listening to Hannity. He’s just trying to use it in a sentence. He doesn’t know what it means. Cut him some slack.

        • Bub February 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm

          Also keep in mind Utah provides no welfare. It is all federal money. I believe the Utah govt would try to starve out the poor if given the chance.

  • Ralph George February 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Alex, you wrote a good article there. But what you are fighting is simply the belief by certain individuals that they know what is best for everyone. And they are control freaks who are not going to sleep well at night, until they have forced their own beliefs down everyone else’s throats.
    I don’t think anyone would disagree that tobacco use is not good for the body. Just as so many other things are not good for a person. But the elitist self-righteous crowd that demands to control our lives, doesn’t really care about what is good for you. They care about one thing. CONTROL.
    These same people who would force their own policies down everyone’s throats about tobacco, alcohol, drugs etc, also force their own policies down everyone’s throats about other dangerous, stupid acts. Such as riding their bicycles on a busy highway, ignoring the bike paths.
    You see, it isn’t what is dangerous that they are concerned about. It is CONTROL. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Yak February 24, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Everyone’s pissing and moaning over the “conservatives” in Utah making legislation to increase the age of a known cancer causing, life expectancy shortening substance and yet you leftists turn a blind eye to your wack-job liberal gods in New York that want to ban large sodas and salty fried foods? Bunch of &$%#! hypocrites!

    • YOUNG-UNS February 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      So you are saying cigarettes are responsible for the high rate of cancer in Utah? Nothing about those Uranium mines and tailings left in the open and next to valuable water sources have any impact on cancer causing agents? Note that Uranium waste had been laid out in the open for decades, something neither your predominant Republican state government nor your Republican Senators will address. Yet, they allowed those mining companies to operate and leave this radioactive waste in the open. So why does Utah have such a high rate of Cancer? Who do you want to blame?

      • Bub February 24, 2014 at 8:15 pm

        When we were kids we used to play in the old piles of uranium ore. Good times 😀

        • Craig February 25, 2014 at 7:09 am

          That explains a lot, Bub.

    • Simone February 25, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Maybe you should stop turning blind eye to your conservative Gods in Salt Lake City who seem to think that what goes on in Hildale is ok but do everything they can to stop two consenting adults from enjoying all the legal benefits of marriage simply because they happen to be gay or lesbian. Maybe you should stop turning a blind eye to your conservative Gods in Salt lake City who are making it easier for psychos to get guns. But hey I’m just sayin’

    • JJ February 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Why would I be equally concerned about NYC laws and Utah laws?

  • miahshodan February 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    This article ignores something very important. The constitution defines what the federal government controls and leaves the rest up to state and other local governments. This allows states to have different laws while ensuring things that are required to happen uniformly (like interstate commerce, frequency regulation, and defense) are covered uniformly. In other words this is the system working as designed. This also means that to some extend people with certain views will be happier in one state than another.

    • Bub February 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      “This also means that to some extend people with certain views will be happier in one state than another.”

      At the time Utah’s population becomes significantly larger we will have to adopt more policies like California’s. This is a fact. The larger the population the more regulation and ‘socialistic’ policies will be put into effect. So you folks that wanna have “unlimited liberty” and also 13 kids, keep that in mind.

      • miahshodan February 26, 2014 at 7:38 am

        population growth doesn’t trigger this, population changes do. The local laws will ultimately reflect the feelings of the population. For instance Texas has a huge population, but it had much more conservative laws than a state like Main. I’m not saying one is better than the other, I am just saying that even with the same population there will be differences based on local feelings. This was what the founding fathers intended.

        • Bub February 26, 2014 at 11:50 am

          Pretty much all huge cities have to adopt what right-wingers call ‘liberal policies’. The more people there are, the more resources will have to be managed with ‘liberal policies’. This is why the right-wing libertarian ideology is more at home in rural or smaller cities. I don’t find huge ‘liberal’ cities pleasant to live in, but with growth will come necessary policy changes which will likely irk the ‘libertarian’ crowd. That’s a fact.

  • John February 25, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    The only question I have is why so many people that hate Mormons, Conservatives, and St. George/Utah Government and laws continue to live in such a community and state. There was this fabulous idea brain stormed and created call the interstate. In fact we have one that runs through St. George known as I-15. It leads to places such as Salt Lake City, Canada, and California. There are even other highways connected to it that lead to Colorado and the entire east coast. With it being so easy to leave and live in places where the liberal agenda is free flowing why is it you people continue to live here? This is an honest question considering you hate everything about this state and community. Or is you love the quality of life that exist’s in this lovely state and community that has been ran by Conservatives? Interesting.

    • Bender February 25, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      “liberal agenda” being shorthand for any thought that does not conform to your narrow view of the world?

    • Bub February 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I like living here and I’m from Utah. I also enjoy calling out right-wing nutbags on their hypocritical bs. Heck, folks don’t even have to be right-wing or religious, I’m gonna call anyone out if they’re idiots or have stupid ideas, period. 😀

    • JJ February 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      Why do you want people who think and believe differently to move? I already know your answer, see my comment above…

  • Cody Ham February 25, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I loved your article Aled and I agree with you 100%. Reading the comments on tbe other hand was a depressing experience. Welcome to Southern Utah, where if you believe one thing you are stereotyped away into a “liberal”, or “anti-conservative”. I know you are neither, which I respect. If only this wasn’t such a polarizing and depressing city. Sigh.

  • Simone February 25, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Ive been here for 8 years and I’ll be honest, I like it. The weather is good, the crime is low and the men are gorgeous but the people are awful. I want to be clear, this is not about Mormons and Non-Mormons. I am from a Nevada town that was 80% Mormon and the people there were as nice and as caring and as non-judgemental as can be. Many of the people who live here are, lets face it, the exact opposite of that. Beofe i moved here, i was rarely asked what religion I was, I referred to Mormons as Mormons just as all the other Mormons I knew did. Those that did ask, didn’t automatically look down on me or treat me like an idiot when they found out that I’m not Mormon. Now, as I said, I grew up in a community that was 80% Mormon so I know that religion is not the reason. The simple fact of the matter is that many of the people here, Mormon or not, have been raised since childhood in a community and culture that resists any sort of change until such a time as they have no choice. That’s why we had the same Mayor for 20 years and why Tara Dunn didn’t get the council seat like she should have. Mormons only take the blame primarily because that religion is the one a majority of people here subscribe here but it’s unfairly applied because not all Mormons behave the way people do down here. BOTTOM LINE: It’s the people here, not the religion.

    • Bub February 26, 2014 at 11:56 am

      It’s a fact that mormons from Utah behave differently than mormons in other areas. It’s a strange dynamic that goes on in Utah. It’s a cliquishness, arrogance and sense of entitlement you won’t find with the LDS living elsewhere. A big part of it is their religion…

  • makkie March 13, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    How about this-
    The age at which they can draft you into the military to go die on some foreign shore is the same age at which you can vote,smoke,or drink.
    If you can go die for your country at age 17 or 18,you sure as hell should be able to smoke or drink.

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