10 hours ago
Sunday, June 25, 2006
The Philadelphia City Council recently passed a smoking ban in bars and restaurants with some exceptions. That's what is great about laws like this there are always exceptions. I think it's bullshit. Many restaurants and bars have already instituted a smoke free policy and that is their choice. If you smoke and can't take an hour off from your habit go somewhere else. We go to Delaware every year and they have a smoking ban but if you sit outside and you can smoke. An exception. I traveled to Manhattan recently and a place we ate at had a room you could light up for a membership fee. An exception. Leave it up to business owners to decide what is right for their establishment. There is a bill in the state legislature to outlaw smoking in what they call public places. They can't pass a budget, gave us a sham of property tax reform and are busy outlawing gay marriage-like that's a problem. But they are worried about this.
The best analysis of this so called problem I've read comes from Russ Diamond:
Like nearly every other question or issue government faces, whether to ban smoking or not is actually a question of property rights. At any given time, ask yourself one simple question: Whose property am I on? If you're at the Capitol building in Harrisburg, your county courthouse or the local elementary school, you are clearly on public property. That property is owned by the public at large and administered by some governmental body for the common good. As a member of the public at large, you can claim some right to be on that property. If you're in a bar, restaurant, tavern or any other business establishment, you are on private property. You are there at the invitation of the owner. Patronizing any given business is not a right, but a privilege - the owner can un-invite you just as easily as he or she invited you. The ability of smoking ban proponents to blur the distinction between public and private property baffles me......
In light of these realities, is banning smoking inside public places a good idea? Yes. Given the litigious nature of society today and the potential liabilities associated with second-hand smoke, banning smoking in public (government) buildings makes sense. In addition to the duty of government to provide for the use of that property in some way benefiting the public good, it also has a duty to protect the public from any negative effects of that property's use. But banning smoking on private property makes about as much sense as passing a law preventing businesses from going smoke-free. The best solution - as always - is to let the free market decide. In my hometown, there are three different taverns/eateries. Two allow smoking; one doesn't. All three do their fair share of business. Those who prefer a smoke-free atmosphere patronize the smoke-free establishment. Those who don't, don't. And of course, there are those who do not make their decision based on this particular issue and patronize all three. If at some point, the respective owners of the two smoking establishments perceive they are losing business to the smoke-free establishment, they will consider changing their policy. Conversely, if the smoke-free establishment loses business to the smoking-allowed establishments up the street, they will consider changing their policy as well. Either way, it will be a matter of business survival. The decision rightfully belongs to those business owners.
h/t to The Centrist for pointing this out.