Do Unbranded Cigarette Packages Rob You of Your Autonomy?

Beware the nanny state! Australia is going to force cigarette manufacturers to use "unbranded," and very graphic, packaging.

Australia plans to ban cigarette manufacturers from showing logos, branding, colors, and promotional text on tobacco packaging starting in January 2012. Instead, cigarette packs will be a drab olive color that research has shown is unattractive to smokers and will feature graphic images of the physical damage cigarettes wreak, along with blunt text warnings. These are some of the proposed designs for the new packs.

They're going to be the strictest restrictions on cigarette marketing in the world. If they happen. Philip Morris has already threatened to sue if the regulations go into effect. But the war is also being waged on the battlefield of public opinion. Another cigarette company, Imperial Tobacco, has set up a website to campaign against the "nanny state" legislation, warning that "the government doesn't believe you can make your own decisions."

Invoking the "nanny state" boogeyman (or perhaps, boogeywoman) is more a scare tactic than an argument. We already have regulations about alcohol advertising, warning labels on cigarettes, and disclosure requirements for pharmaceuticals. Tweaking the way cigarettes are packaged is just that—a tweak. It certainly doesn't represent a sudden lurch toward paternalism.

But on the point of who's making decisions here, the Imperial Tobacco campaign is just wrong. You can still make the decision to buy cigarettes, if that's what you want to do. They aren't going to be illegal. They're just going to be packaged in an unattractive way that's designed to get you to think twice about it. If that counts as robbing you of decision-making autonomy then so does the carefully designed packaging and advertising that cigarette companies have long used to get you to want to buy them.

When you hear someone complain that the government is trying to influence your decision about smoking, remember that Philip Morris is, too. It is hell-bent on getting you to smoke because it cares more about taking your money than preserving your good health—and it's got plenty of marketing money to help you along.

via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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