Sunday, June 25, 2006

Smoking bans


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.

6 comments:

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ordinarily, I don't like government telling me what to do. I'd like to be able to drink, gamble, smoke, get stoned and get laid wherever and wherever I want.
I don't like laws that interfere with those pursuits.

But laws get adopted to protect us from ourselves. In the case of smoking, it's really rough because
second hand smoke has been established as a real killer. Ever ask someone to put out a cigarette? Ever sit in a non-smoking area and still get pounded by fumes? I think a law that bans smoking in all businesses (no exceptions) is long overdue. That can only save lives.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but that's how I feel. Second hand smoke is an immediate and costly health risk. If government really cares about the "public health and welfare," it should ban smoking in both public establishments and within any business, unless it's a joint.

A Big Fat Slob said...

The problem aith the anti-smoking ban arguments is that they ignore the fact that it isn't simply a matter of inconvience or discomfor to those who don't smoke -- it's killing them.

pope george ringo said...

This entire issue only enhances the hypocricy of government; smoking can kill you we are told (it can), smoking is irritating to those who do NOT smoke (agreed). MY one question: Why not outlaw it? Is it moral for the govt. to collect enormous fees by way of taxation on a product that is at the very least landing many of our citizens in hospitals and eventually in a coffin? Answer: So what? Drunken driving kills thousands of people every year--but do we see availability of public transportation in small towns to encourage Jeff the Drunk to ride the bus home? NO--despite the high fees the govt. collects from the poor schmuck who has a glass of wine with his dinner on Saturday night. Bottom line: It is evil to smoke and disturb the public--but we are going to collect millions in taxes for you to have the privelige. Why not just make it illegal? Why not make drinking illegal? Because my children, in the end it is not about giving a damn about your health of His Holiness'--its all about the $$$$.

pissed off patricia said...

I think we inhale more poison walking down the street beside traffic than from the second hand smoke of a smoker. Or maybe the insect spray people have sprayed all over their yards each month.

mean old man said...

I'm angrier than Brittany Spears at a talent convention over the way the liberal commies are trying to take away my God given right to smoke!!
In my day smoking wasn't something to be ashamed of, if a man smoked it made him respected! Think of all the great actors who puffed on their Lucky's: Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper and John Wayne to name a few--and don't give me that Commie Hippy bull about them all dying of cancer--if the cancer didn't get them something else would have!! I had my first cigarette when I was 6--I swiped a pack at Ol Sam's corner store--I smoked the whole pack by late afternoon and spent the whole night puking my guts out--and I loved it (!!) because it made a man out of me. But now all the little prissy flower children say smoking is bad for you--well, Ive been around a lot of years and I'm healthy as a damned horse--I just finished making a new poker table for Thelma Jean and her girlfriends to sit at and bash all you commie panty wastes!! And all you hippy potheads have no problem telling me that I can't light up a Lucky but its okay for you to light up your pot---well, just bring your commie butts over to my house and I'll blow some good ol' Lucky Strike smoke right in your bolshevik faces while Thelma Jean breaks your skull with her brand new pie roller--made by an OLD MAN Who SMOKES!! Damn all you liberals!!!!!!!!

Tomslick said...

lol Ed Anger strikes again.

What is next, being fined for not eating your vegetables?

When it comes to making laws about common courtesy and common sense, don't be so quick to jump on the bandwagon. Be aware, the fat ass may soon be without his doughnuts.