Comment history

De Soto bar managers, customers give smoking ban a thumbs down

Government gone wild

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling from sea to sea
has nothing to do with protecting people from the "threat of second-hand
smoke" but are themselves symptoms of a far more grievous threat: a
cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic,
reaching even the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the
only real hazard involved - the cancer of unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom
menace but rather, if it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction?
Should anti-smoking activists satisfy themselves with educating people
about the potential danger and allow them to make their own decisions,
or should they seize the power of government and force people to make
the “right” decision?

It seems they've made their choice. Loudly billed as measures that only
affect “public places,” they have actually targeted private places: restaurants,
bars, nightclubs, shops, and offices - places whose owners are free to set
anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't
like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers outdoors.

The decision to smoke or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, should be made by
each individual according to his own values and assessment of the risks.
This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of
their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or love, whether
to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

All these decisions involve risks; some may have harmful consequences or
invite disapproval from others. But the individual must be free to make these
decisions because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own
judgment can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are
a minority, practicing a habit often considered annoying and unpleasant to
the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of
government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

That is why these bans are far more threatening than few stray whiffs of
tobacco smoke while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The
anti-smoking crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those tiny wisps while
they unleash the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.

March 18, 2010 at 1:12 p.m. ( | suggest removal )