Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, who announced this week that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, attacked alcohol vendors, called for mandatory financial disclosures of campaign donations, favored banning cigarettes, and attacked libertarianism while he was a Harvard student.
In a twice-weekly column for the Harvard Crimson, Cotton — who has been called a “Republican’s dream” by National Review and an “extraordinary figure” by the Weekly Standard — criticized politicians for not doing enough to oppose tobacco and wrote a laudatory 1996 piece praising Bill and Hillary Clinton.
In 1997, Cotton wrote a scolding op-ed on alcohol and underage drinking in which he called for more laws restricting the sale of alcohol, specifically zoning laws lest vendors “pray on the most vulnerable elements of society, the poor and the young.”
“[T]he problem is not with existing laws or their enforcement, but with the lack of laws,” Cotton wrote. “Very few cities have zoning laws that specifically affect liquor stores. Most zoning laws simply define an area as commercial, thereby allowing any type of commercial store to open in the area.”
As long as zoning wasn’t done, Cotton argued, ”vendors will turn their profits by selling their wares to those who are least likely to understand the consequences of drinking and therefore to moderate their drinking.”
Cotton rejected appeals to lower the drinking age. “If we changed the age limit, we would not get a libertarian paradise,” he wrote. “We would only get countless teenage alcoholics, even more than we have now.”
Cotton was even more reproachful in an article calling for a ban on smoking at Harvard’s campus. “The Freshman Dean’s Office knows it, the staff knows it and you know it: smoking is addictive, harmful and annoying,” he wrote. “Quit equivocating on our smoking policy and take the hard line. Harvard should not allow smoking anywhere on its property.”
“[Harvard's staff is] simply afraid to take the next step and say smoking is wrong because it enslaves and destroys the body,” Cotton wrote. Harvard “should forbid smoking by all individuals on Harvard property, for their own sake and for the sake of those around them. If students or employees want to smoke, they can go to public property. If this is too inconvenient, maybe they will break a destructive habit.” (Related: Tom Cotton demanded Harvard ban cigarettes in 1997)