December 20, 2009

Smoking or Non? A Revisit

I recently had a client tell me how happy they were about smoking being banned in restaurants in their state. Not being paid to engage in political discussions at work, I refrained from the opportunity. However, it has been on my mind since. In 2006, the state of Ohio had a smoking ban issue on the ballot. When I was at UC, this is what I wrote (portions may be modified for current accuracies). The content still rings true.

Could someone answer my question? Why is the crowd that is pro-choice and so tolerant of alternate lifestyles so adamantly intolerant of a person’s choice to use tobacco? It has become vogue to smoke in public places. Let me say firstly, I do not smoke and will never smoke. However, being one that enjoys personal freedoms, I think it is my duty to fight for the smokers on this cause—because the issue is not grounded in smoking, but in freedom. This issue carries two major themes: personal health and personal comfort.

Concerning personal health, I think it is important that we understand what cigarette smoke is capable of. Smoke of any kind, if inhaled, is putting a substance into the body that the body isn’t designed to handle, at least in large quantities. Cigarette smoke from tobacco contains tar that can clog the lungs, thus rendering the smoker breathless. Ok, great. We all learned this in D.A.R.E. But, what the Life-style Police are trying to push on us is the idea that 1st and 2nd hand smoke is causing a death epidemic. Firstly, can someone site me the statistics of how many people died last year of 2nd hand smoke? Secondly, let’s be medically correct. People die of cancer, etc. not smoking, unless you smoke enough at once to asphyxiate yourself. I’m not trying to split hairs here. Yes, smoking may give rise to greater risk of health issues or even death, but so does red meat, alcohol, sun bathing, and so on. Just ban them all! The lack of logical consistency with this position proves a political agenda is being advanced.

Turning our attention to personal comfort let me set up a scenario. I walk into a restaurant that is privately owned. The restaurant caters to smokers and non-smokers. Not being a smoker, I opt for non-smoking. The experience is going great until I have to use a miner’s helmet with a lamp to see through the smoke just to see what I’m eating. Naturally, I become very annoyed and my attitude rapidly gravitates southward. Now, those that want smoking bans would expect me to sign petitions and vote for issues providing such a ban. However, I understand that the restaurant is privately owned, and I voluntarily entered. The owners should continue to have the freedom to cater to smokers and/or non-smokers. I may not like to eat pancakes with a dusting of cigarette ash, so the solution is simple, find a new pancake shop (Capitalism, it works every time it’s tried). This may be a shock to you, but there is no right to eat at a restaurant, nor is it written down that I must eat out. If I don’t like smoke, then I find some non-smoking diner or I stay home and eat. Even if I think smoking is wrong, I have no Constitutional authority to tell someone else it is wrong, nor to pass legislation regarding the same. It’s that simple. People have this idea that if they, as an individual, are offended then your choice should not be tolerated. Essentially, a smoking-ban is an attack on the freedom of private property. If a private establishment wishes to operate in a non-smoking environment, then fine! I'm happy with that as a non-smoker. However, the establishment has set that rule -- not forced into it by the government. What's the government going to force businesses into next? Furthermore, what will be the point of private property if the government is controlling all of it? --to which our Liberal friends would say, "Amen, brother!" "That's what we are trying to achieve. No private property; no freedom; no liberty-just the big daddy of government ruling over all." Well, if they were honest, that's what they'd say.

But, to show I am a reasonable person, I am willing to strike a happy medium. If the smoking police will abandon their push for legislation to ban choice, I’ll abandon my push for legislation that everyone must attend church with me 3-times a week.

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