Minor offenses too often escalate into dangerous, and even deadly, incidents
Earlier this month, a disturbing incident of over-policing on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland was caught on video. Police tasered a Black teenager and arrested at least two others for vaping in violation of a city public smoking ban. Regardless of what one thinks of the law’s merit, the cops’ draconian enforcement points to a larger problem with modern policing: Minor offenses too often escalate into dangerous, and even deadly, incidents.
Sadly, the D.C. City Council is opening the door for such ruthless tactics in our very city with a proposed ban on all flavored tobacco products, including vapes and menthol cigarettes. The bill, which is set for a second reading on June 29, will reduce the city’s tax revenues and will lead to smokers having further interactions with police — with potentially long-term consequences for minority communities.
First, on the fiscal side, the District’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer estimates that the ban will result in a $3 million loss, or 13.5 percent of cigarette tax revenue over the first year, and an additional decline of $8.6 million over the subsequent three years. However, as the nonpartisan Tax Foundation points out, these numbers are wildly optimistic given the paths of other states like Massachusetts who have a similar ban in place.
Casey Given – Washington Times – 2021-06-24.