If you don’t want police to arrest people for selling single cigarettes, don’t make a law against it. In fact, if you don’t want to create a black market for something, don’t make the tax on it prohibitively high.
Eric Garner died in July because he resisted arrest, forcing police to take him down the way they take down thousands of suspects daily. Only Garner wasn’t an average suspect. He had allowed himself to become morbidly obese and had diabetes, heart disease and who knows what other self-imposed health problems. Still, he never should have died that summer day.
Big government killed Eric Garner. Police were just the weapon.
Garner was selling “illegal cigarettes” that day, or “loosies” – individual cigarettes from a pack. Why would anyone buy individual cigarettes? Because government, in this case New York, both city and state, have, through exorbitant taxation, made buying a whole pack too expensive for many.
Government’s heavy hand incentivized the creation of a black market for cigarettes. But government’s heavy hand also made selling cigarettes outside of its approved, and taxed, avenues a crime. Government, like the mafia, doesn’t like competition. The mafia will execute you; the government will arrest you.
In Garner’s case, he resisted that arrest and died because his body could not tolerate the force he brought on himself from police. But the police would not have been there had progressive officials and activists not made what Garner was doing into a crime.
Had reselling cigarettes, individually or in packs, not been criminalized by a government wanting its “taste of the action,” Eric Garner still would be alive.
Police have better things to do with their time, more important crimes to investigate, than selling cigarettes individually. But, unlike the newly discovered powers of the president to pick and choose which laws to enforce, when cops get a call, they have to respond—no matter how stupid they may think the “crime” is.