Everyone thought it was a wonderful idea when they came after smokers with a vengeance. Quit, quit now! It is harmful to your health and the health of everyone around you. You will be punished by paying more and more taxes on your smokes. You will be ostracized and driven outside into the weather to indulge your filthy habit. You will pay higher premiums for insurance, health and life. You will not be allowed to stay in most motels, you will search far and wide for an apartment that will rent to you, or you won’t be allowed to smoke inside your home if you do find a rental.

Smokers have dealt with all the flack thrown their way. They stand outside in all kinds of weather, well away from passersby. They get sick more than non-smokers because they have been exposed to the elements and driven out into the cold.

Now, they are going after other members of society. According to a Washington Post article posted on MSNBC’s web site :

Get in shape or pay a price.

That’s a message more Americans could hear if the health care reform bills passed by the Senate Finance and Health committees become law.

By more than doubling the maximum rewards and penalties that companies can apply to employees who flunk medical evaluations, the bills could put workers under intense financial pressure to lose weight, stop smoking or even lower their cholesterol.

We all know that smoking, being overweight, not getting enough exercise, having high cholesterol, etc. are bad for us. We all know that. Knowing it and being able to do something about it is not the same thing.

The powers-that-be are now going to punish more members of society. We will pay additional taxes on soda’s, sweet treats and unhealthy foods like burgers and fries. We will pay higher premiums on insurance if we do not meet the proper body mass index, smoke, or have any number of “lifestyle” issues. They are going after other not-so-healthy members of society now. The smokers knew they would, that it was just a matter of time.

President Obama and members of Congress have declared that they are trying to create a system in which no one can be denied coverage or charged higher premiums based on their health status. The health insurance lobby has said it shares that goal. However, so-called wellness incentives could introduce a colossal loophole. In effect, they would permit insurers and employers to make coverage less affordable for people exhibiting risk factors for problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

“Everybody said that we’re going to be ending discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But this is in effect discrimination again based on preexisting conditions,” said Ann Kempski of the Service Employees International Union.

Stopping smoking is hard enough. But fighting the battle of the bulge is even harder. A smoker who is quitting can stay away from temptation. We have to eat. The overweight have the battle of temptation to fight every day with no recourse. Our busy lifestyles make it simpler to grab a burger or other fast food and eat on the run. The economy makes it necessary to cut food budgets and buy more starchy foods which in turn contribute to overweight.

Our daily exercise diminishes as we spend more time at a desk or computer to do our jobs. Not everyone can afford a gym membership or would have time or inclination to go if they could. Not everyone lives in an area where they feel safe jogging or walking in their neighborhoods to get exercise.

We can now add the “fat police” to the “smoking police.” I can’t help but wonder what or who they will go after next.

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