This is an issue that is dear to my heart. Mainly because I am a smoker, of course, but I think that it touches on a more serious issue, as well. The issue of just how far even a democratic government should be prepared to go in response to its constituents wishes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that a government can, and must, protect the health of their citizens. And there is no denying that cigarettes, and second hand smoke, cause health problems. I wouldn’t even try to deny that. But how far any ban on smoking should go is the issue.
I live in California where it is illegal to smoke in public buildings, restaurants and even bars (sick joke that). And while I do not have a problem with no smoking inside public buildings, or even restaurants, banning smoking in a bar seems to me to be going too far.
But it seems to me that the definition of public buildings needs to be refined. If I build a structure with my own money, should I not have the right to say that people can smoke inside of it, even if it’s open to the public for much of the day? Buildings built by tax payer money are another matter altogether, of course. Those buildings should be smoke free. No smoker should want to smoke inside those kinds of buildings anyway, but governments do have the right to protect its workers as well as its citizens so I have no problem with such buildings being “Smoke Free” zones.
Restaurants, as well, seem to be perfectly reasonable places where smokers should be willing to hold off on lighting up. They are there to eat, after all, and there is always the area outside the restaurant where the chain smoker can go to have a butt if he, or she, really needs to. However, should this issue not be one for the owner of the restaurant to decide? If I open a restaurant, should I not have the right to tell my patrons that I do not mind if they smoke? It is my restaurant, after all, not the governments. And wouldn’t our economy lend itself to those who would open “Non Smoking” restaurants for those who would want them?
The same must be said for bars. Actually I think it’s insane for non smokers to go to a bar and expect it to be smoke free. Bars, more than anything else, are places where people go to relax and they should be able to do so without any restrictions, besides the obvious ones, of course, like killing someone, etc. But, here again, this is an area where owners should have the right to make that choice themselves. I have no problem with an owner who decides to make his bar non smoking. I won’t frequent his establishment, of course, but there would be others who would.
But the government has overstepped its authority in banning smoking from such places. And even non smokers should be aware that this is a dangerous thing for them to let happen. Once a government entity has done so once, it becomes easier the next time. And it gives them a precedent to point to when they decide it’s time to do so again.
Every voter in America, and around the world, should take note of this issue and block it every time it arises. If only for their own peace of mind.