Tobacco license debate misses the basic issue

To the editor:

Many years ago, General Electric tried hard to force everyone to take its two-week vacation at a particular time called "shutdown". Such a policy might have made sense for a manufacturing facility where the production line needs to be fully staffed to function efficiently. But it made no sense for the engineering work we did.

There were many complaints about the policy. People were greatly upset. Lots of time was wasted talking about it. But my boss gave me some insight into what was going on.

By enforcing this unpopular shutdown policy, GE gave the employees something to get all worked up about, so that they would never notice that the two-week vacation period itself was less than the three-week period that was becoming common at the time in the industry.

So now we have a big argument about the number of tobacco sales licenses to be issued in Pittsfield. I think the argument ought to be about why anyone needs a license to sell tobacco. If the stated reason is to discourage smoking tobacco that makes no sense in a society that is on the way to legalizing marijuana.

Perhaps a license should be required to sell chewing gum: a real nuisance. Fees and taxes could be imposed. (Don't tell the politicians).

Ed Dartford, Stockbridge