Skip to comments.Can I Buy You a Drink and Light Your Cigarette? (Cathryn Crawford)
Posted on 01/02/2004 8:44:44 AM PST by Scenic Sounds
It seems that everyone has an opinion on the smoking bans that have been put into place in the last year. From Dallas to New York City to California, smokers are no longer allowed to smoke inside bars and restaurants. These bans have been met with great resistance, not only from smokers, but from the owners of the bars and restaurants, who say that the restriction is harming their business and causing profit loss. The opponents of such a ban also say that the bans are unconstitutional, because they prohibit legal behavior in privately owned places of business.
Most people rightly characterize this issue as having two sides - those on the side of property rights and liberty, and those who are on the side of public health. (I am without the scientific qualifications to resolve that issue, but I am comfortable assuming that cigarette smoke doesn't become safer just because one person has inhaled it before it gets to me.) Granting that assumption, which deserves priority the right of a proprietor to control what legal activities happen in his bar, or the right of a member of the public to live and work in the safest environment possible?
Those who endorse the public health side of this issue contend that health issues outweigh every argument. They believe that people have the right to always be in the safest environment possible (whether they want to be or not), and that legislation is the proper vehicle by which to ensure public health. Their basic belief is that nothing is more important than health and safety for everyone, not even the idea of personal choice. They are willing to have their personal liberties curbed because they believe that it will improve the quality of their lives.
However, I believe that it really comes down to personal choice and responsibility. When someone makes a decision (any decision), they must decide for themselves what risks are involved, and weigh them rationally against the benefits. This applies to the decision to eat, drink, or work in a certain bar or restaurant, just as it does when someone makes the decision to drive a car, eat junky foods, or drink alcohol all activities which are potentially dangerous but very legal. A ban on smoking takes away the choices of all three parties involved smokers, nonsmokers, and owners. It also assumes that people are not sufficiently reasonable or rational enough to make their own decisions regarding their health.
Are there are ways to allow both sides to have a say in public smoking? Of course there are. Why not just require restaurants and bars that permit smoking to post a notice advising prospective customers of the hazard?
Until smoking is banned altogether, the decisions regarding the right to smoke in privately owned businesses should be left up to the individual discretion of the owner. Otherwise, choice is removed and replaced with full control by the government, which invalidates the entire idea of private ownership.
Cathryn Crawford is a student at the University of Texas. She can be reached at CathrynCrawford@WashingtonDispatch.com.
You sure can.....
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
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Hmmmm. What is your disagreement?
It's called Control! The Government did not buy the business. But they sure go in and tell the owner how they are to run it! This should be left up to the owner of the business and not the government. I shudder to think what else the "Government" has in store for us. They got their foot in with the smoking bans...........what ELSE is on their agenda? WHO else are on their agenda. Think about it.
And there are plenty of places for non-smokers to go where they don't have to be around people who do.
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