"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Friday, October 21, 2005

Smoking Bans

In our comments section, Connie Deady asked,

One other thing, where are the conservatives on smoking bans? I can't think of any greater restrictions of freedom. If I own a restaurant and I want to let people smoke in it, why shouldn't I be able? Why should cities be able to tell every restaurant they can't have smoking.

This is one case I'd let free market work. If people want non-smoking restaurants, people will operate them and patrons will go.

I am not a conservative (I am a liberal of the right, also known as a classical liberal or English Whig liberal), nor have I ever smoked (in fact, I detest the smell of tobacco smoke), but I'll answer:

I am absolutely against government bans on smoking in private establishments.

I acknowledge that cities and states have the authority to impose such bans, but I think that they should not do so.

People should take a little responsibility for themselves. If you are bothered by other people's cigarette smoke but wish to drink in a particular tavern or eat in a particular restaurant, decide for yourself which you'd rather miss: the company and provender in that place, or fresh air. It's up to you.

To stay away from a restaurant because you think it disgusting that the owners allow people to smoke on the premises is a perfectly reasonable and honorable thing. And if enough people do so, the restaurateur will most likely get the point and find a way to accommodate both kinds of customer. On the other hand, to get the police to stop everybody else from smoking somewhere just that that the royal You can eat your vegetarian pasta dish without the risk that you might vaguely smell the smoke of someone's cancer stick—that is the height of swinishness.

The government's only role in this should be to ensure that private establishments are allowed and enabled to enforce whatever smoking policy they think best.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh man---a locked and loaded SWAT team over my shoulder enforcing my right to smoke.

That would make this a really great country.

James Elliott said...

Don't you live in LA? The police there openly said they had better things to do than enforce the smoking ban.

I gotta say, I agree with Mr. Karnick here.

The Liberal Anonymous said...

Here's a question: At what level of toxicity to others should an activity be prohibited in public?

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

"Here's a question: At what level of toxicity to others should an activity be prohibited in public?"

First you must define "public"; in fact I would suggest that how "public" is defined is at the root of the differences over this issue.

LA ... what, exactly, do you mean by "public"?

connie deady said...

I'm an ex-smoker married to a smoker, so I'm sensitive to this issue because he gets annoyed every time a new city adopts a smoking ban. When we took our daughter down to Atlanta for college this fall we found out that Atlanta adopted one. Now it appears that Philly will as well.

To me it's a classic case of big brother. Because its been decided that cigarettes and second hand smoke are bad, then people shouldn't have to be exposed to it in public.

Now I can see that for courthouses, City Hall, etc. places that are public in the sense of no choice. But restaurants have always been the ultimate in free market, free choice. We go because of food tastes, quality, atmosphere, etc. all items of personal choice. So if clean air is an important part of the dining experience to a lot of people, then restaurants that ban smoking will open and thrive. If I don't care about the second hand smoke issue, why should the government care for me?