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Tobacco and the Law

The use of tobacco has never been eliminated from any country or major culture into which it was introduced. This is noteworthy since efforts to control the use of tobacco were equal to those used to control other forms of behaviour such as crime and religious sin. Opposition to tobacco use took a variety of forms. Surprisingly, severe and immediate punishment proved no more effective in halting smoking than current fears of long-term health consequences.

Rulers came and went, but tobacco remained. Later, governments underwent a conversion of sorts, prompted primarily by the realization that tobacco was an excellent source of revenue – derived either from customs dues (such as those introduced by Cardinal Richelieu in France in 1629) or from the sale of monopolies to deal in tobacco goods. Bohemia was fortified in 1668 with money derived from the tobacco trade, and the Emperor Leopold of Austria used tobacco revenue to finance elaborate hunting expeditions. The scale of tobacco revenue is regarded by many as under-lying many governments’ half-hearted endorsement of the anti-tobacco cause.

Smoking Prohibiting

In the early 1800s Berlin came to regard tobacco use as dangerous and contrary to the character of an orderly and civilized city. As a result, smoking was strictly forbidden, and anyone breaking the law could be arrested and punished by fine, imprisonment, or physical punishment. The prohibition was lifted briefly during a cholera outbreak in the 1830s but was restored and remained in force “because nonsmokers have a clear right not to be annoyed” until 1848. The reference to the rights of nonsmokers is echoed in the recent campaign to have greater restrictions placed on public areas in which smoking may take place.

Pope Urban VIII issued a formal decree against tobacco in 1642 and Pope Innocent X issued another in 1650, but clergy as well as laymen continued to smoke. Bavaria prohibited tobacco in 1652, Saxony in 1653, Zurich in 1667, and across Europe. The states, like the Church, proved powerless, however, to stem the drug’s use.

In Constantinople in 1633 the Sultan Mural IV decreed the death penalty for smoking tobacco. Wherever the Sultan went on his travels or military expeditions, his stopping places were frequently marked by executions of tobacco smokers. Even on the battlefield he was fond of surprising men in the act of smoking: he would punish his own soldiers by beheading, hanging, quartering, or crushing their hands and feet and leaving them helpless between the lines. In spite of the horrors and insane cruelties inflicted by the Sultan, whose blood-lust seemed to increase with age, the passion for smoking persisted in-his domain.

The first of the Romanov Czars, Mikhail Feodorovich, also prohibited smoking, under dire penalties, in 1634. “Offenders are usually sentenced to slitting of the nostrils, beatings, or whippings,” a visitor to Moscow noted. Yet, in1698 smokers in Moscow would pay far more for tobacco than English smokers, “and if they lack money, they will sell their clothes for it, to the very shirt.”

By 1603 the use of tobacco was well established in Japan and an edict prohibiting smoking was pronounced. As no notice was taken of the edict, more severe measures were taken in 1607 and 1609, by which the cultivation of tobacco was made a criminal offence. Finally, in 1612 it was decreed that the property of any man detected selling tobacco should be handed over to his accuser, and anyone arresting a man conveying tobacco on a pack-horse might take both horse and tobacco for his own. Yet in spite of all attempts at repression smoking became so general that in 1615 even the officers in attendance on the Shogun used tobacco. The result was an even sterner measure, to the effect that anyone in the army caught smoking was liable to have his property confiscated.

It was all to no avail. The custom spread rapidly in every direction, until many smokers were to be found even in the Mikado’s palace. Finally, even the princes who were responsible for the prohibition took to smoking. Tobacco had won again. In 1625 permission was given to cultivate and plant tobacco. By 1639 tobacco had taken its place as an accompaniment to the ceremonial cup of tea offered to a guest.

By 1725 even the pope was forced to capitulate. One historian has written on the subject: “Benedict XIII, who himself liked to take snuff, annulled all edicts in order to avoid the scandalous spectacle of dignitaries of the Church hastening out in order to take a few clandestine whiffs in some corner away from spying eyes.”

Legislation and Taxation

More recent attempts at control by legislation and taxation have had some documented effects. The average number of cigarettes sold per person, in various countries, is directly affected by price. Scandinavian countries, which have the highest tobacco taxes, have the lowest per capita use of cigarettes. Since much of the price reflects the tax on tobacco, it can be seen that heavy taxation does reduce the use of tobacco. This finding is comforting to economists and psychologists alike since it shows that in some ways tobacco is much like any other traded goods. It is an “elastic” commodity, like sugar, the use of which is persistent but will vary to some degree with price.

More recently, “clean air” or “public smoking” legislation has been passed which restricts the use of tobacco in many public places. Most of these laws require certain kinds of places, such as restaurants, to maintain separate smoking and non-smoking areas for their patrons. While such legislation has been passed to protect nonsmokers from involuntary intake of tobacco smoke, it is also seen by some as a restriction on the freedom of smokers to smoke where and when they please. The proponents of clean air ordinances argue that exposure to tobacco smoke endangers health and well-being. They claim that the right to smoke has neither amoral nor constitutional basis.

The opponents of such legislation argue that the evidence is not great enough to permit such widespread regulation of behavior. The controversy is probably a healthy one even if smoking is not. Certainly, freedom should be protected. But the freedom of nonsmokers not to be exposed against their will to known carcinogens should be given at least equal weight with the freedom of smokers to pollute the environment. As was shown earlier, the evidence that smoking is a specific cause of death and disease is strong, much stronger than the data accepted as sufficient to eliminate lead from petrol, asbestos from building materials, and PCB’s from water supplies. Although the danger to nonsmokers of breathing other people’s smoke is less clear, there is an increasing amount of evidence that it can have serious adverse consequences for the health of both children and adults.

Facing Federal Drug Crimes

A federal drug crime is a violation of a law which prohibits or regulates the possession, distribution, use, or manufacturing of illegal drugs. Drug crimes can vary from simple drug possession to large scale, international manufacturing importation and distribution operations and conspiracy. Anytime an individual uses or possesses any substance considered an illegal drug, they are committing a federal drug crime. Drug manufacturing crimes are commonly seen in marijuana cultivation or methamphetamine production. These are drug defined offenses and can carry stiff penalties under the federal government when charged with this crime. Drug defined offenses are just one type of federal drug charge that a citizen can be indicted for.

Another type of federal drug offense is a drug related offense. Drug related offenses happen when the effect of using the drug leads an individual to commit further offenses. Drug-related offenses occur when a drug user exhibits violent behavior due to drug use or steals in order to acquire money to purchase drugs. Often times, drug use leads a person to make choices that they would not normally make. Because of this, it is easy to find yourself committing a crime the one might never consider when under the influence of illegal drugs. Federal drug crime charges can be very frightening and it is important to have a dedicated criminal defense attorney familiar with federal criminal law who will answer any questions you may have quickly and in an easy to understand manner.

A federal drug charge may carry a severe minimum mandatory sentence and can significantly affect all aspects of your personal and professional life. For example, in many cases, minimum sentence for first offense drug trafficking will be not less than five years and if death or serious injury are involved, not less than twenty years. Monetary penalties can reach into the millions of dollars. Once second and more offense have occurred, an individual can end up sentenced to life imprisonment. This includes marijuana as well as any other controlled substance used illegally. It is important to understand the severity of the charges and ensure that you are represented by a federal criminal lawyer who has the knowledge to defend this type of charge.

Drug cases can involve a search and seizure of your home or vehicle, as well as being taken into police custody. The Constitution of the United States of America prohibits unreasonable search and seizure of an individual’s property. This is your right as a citizen, but this right is somewhat limited. Sometimes, police take liberties in stopping people without probable cause, and arresting people based on illegal foundations which lead to an unreasonable search and/or seizure. The experience that the attorney offers can be crucial in determining if drug charges were made due to an improper search and seizure.

Don’t make the mistake of hiring just any defense attorney. In the case of federal drug charges, it is crucial to find an attorney with experience in this specific area of law. You don’t want to leave your defense to the first lawyer you find on Google. Take your time, do some research and find a criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with this type of charge who will do their best to defend your rights in court.

The Legitimacy Of Drug Checkpoints

As illegal drugs continue to be a major problem in the United States, law enforcement agents continue to try new ways to catch the criminals. One way that has sparked some controversy lately is with drug checkpoints. A drug checkpoint is when a police officer puts up signs warning drivers of an up-coming drug checkpoint. This means that police will have drug-sniffing dogs with them and search your car for any illegal drugs. Many are saying that officers have taken the use of this method too far. Police officers have been setting up yellow signs that say “Drug Checkpoint Ahead” when there is actually no such thing. Instead, the police officers are observing the drivers’ reactions and then pulling over the ones who “react suspiciously.” While this method of drug investigation has caught several criminals, is it legal?

The Fourth Amendment

One of the main complaints about these fake drug checkpoints is that it violates the Fourth Amendment. According to Legal-Dictionary, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause… particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Upon first glance, it would seem like these fake drug checkpoints are blatantly going against the Fourth Amendment. However, officers are sure to not violate the Fourth Amendment by stating that fake checkpoint signs can’t stop a driver unless they have “specific and articulable” facts supporting a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. This can be anything from a driver pulling over right after the drug checkpoint sign, to a driver making a U-turn right after seeing the sign. According to as long as the police officer is sure to have some kind of reason to believe that there is a probable cause to search that car, he may do so and not violate the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court states that there are only two legitimate purposes for any checkpoints. The first is to check for impaired driving, and the second is to check for contraband near the country’s border. For drug checkpoints specifically, the Supreme Court confirmed that these searches are legal without a warrant as long as the driver has been pulled over for a legitimate traffic violation.2 However, says that the Supreme Court has ruled that random checkpoints with the intention to find illegal drugs are unconstitutional.

Citizen’s Rights

There have been some drivers who were pulled over by police officers near these fake drug points for, according to them, unjust reasons. For example, one driver who was pulled over claimed that he was trying to “pull over to the side of the road and check directions.” However, he still allowed the officers to search his vehicle. As a citizen, you do have the right to refuse to allow a police officer to search your vehicle if he doesn’t have more evidence. If a police officer doesn’t have a search warrant or tangible evidence, he is not allowed to search the vehicle. Once (and if) a driver gives consent to a search, then and only then, a police officer may do as he pleases.

What This Means for You

Fox News says that despite the controversies these fake drug checkpoints have sparked, they have been able to catch some people with illegal drugs. The police officers are definitely walking a fine line with these fake drug checkpoints to ensure that they are not violating the Fourth Amendment. If you, as a citizen, do disagree with these checkpoints and not want to participate, remember that you always have the right to not allow a police officer to search your car. At the end of the day, the intention behind these checkpoints is to catch illegal drug activity (something that is a very positive thing). As long as you are sure to follow the laws, these drug checkpoints (real or not) are of no threat to you.

Drug Rehab Not A Big Enough Part Of The War On Drugs

Thirty-five-thousand NATO troops and the international “war on drugs” have done nothing to reduce Afghanistan’s massively successful opium industry. In fact it’s achieved just the opposite heroin is flooding our streets and in some countries it’s cheaper than ever. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that Afghan opium production in 2006 was a whopping 57 percent above 2005, and it’s expected to rise another 15 percent this year.

Afghanistan now accounts for 93 percent of the world’s poppy crop – the source of heroin, morphine and other addictive opiates. If a decent portion of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the last 30 years’ war on drugs had been used instead to radically expand anti-drug education and successful drug rehab programs, the world would be a far better place.

It has been 36 years since President Richard M. Nixon launched the war on drugs, and the overall result is apparently more criminals making more money than ever – some estimates placing the illicit drug trade at $400 billion to $500 billion annually. But critics of the methods employed in the war on drugs contend that interrupting drug shipments at home or abroad, called “drug interdiction” by the cops, actually expands the drug trade by reducing the supply, thereby raising prices and profits and attracting more traffickers than ever. And more addicts are created too, adding to that most tragic segment of society who, without drug rehab treatment, have no place to go but down.

In Drug War Politics, the authors explain why drug interdiction does not disrupt the drug industry, but instead results in “a guaranteed market, with profits kept artificially high by the U.S. government.” The drug market succeeds because it has the ability to self-reproduce: every time a government attempts to eliminate drug production or smuggling, the traffickers “tap alternative sources of supply.” So even when the US government is successful against one drug cartel, a different group of traffickers open new smuggling routes and gain even more market share. This analysis from over 10 years ago is still true today after a decade of a war on drugs that has left drug education and drug rehab on the short side of support.

But let’s remember that it’s a market, and all markets are based on supply and demand. Spending more of the huge budget for the war on drugs on education and drug rehab would certainly reduce the demand for drugs – and that’s the real source of the drug problem. Someone realized this when the National Drug Control Strategy was issued by the White House several years ago. The Strategy’s three major components are: Stopping Drug Use Before It Starts, Healing America’s Drug Users, and Disrupting Drug Markets. These headings are obviously aimed at education and treatment as well as interdiction. We hear about interdiction endlessly in the news, in television dramas and in movies. So why don’t we ever hear about the other two? Federal funds allocated for drug abuse education and drug rehab cannot compare to what’s spent on law enforcement. Yet some experts say the methods used by law enforcement apparently make things worse.

By really beefing up education programs about the consequences of drug use, Stopping Drug Use Before It Starts would have more effect. And by implementing more drug testing in the workplace and providing plenty of treatment centers with plenty of options for drug users, Healing America’s Drug Users would actually make the difference we need. America’s drug abusers and addicts are in the worst predicament possible. They will only be helped through a vastly expanded, improved and available-to-all network of centers that offers a successful drug rehab program.