January 11, 2006


Don’t Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em

...The pro-choice movement uses the mantra “Our bodies, our choice!” They might need to alter it a bit, however, because yet another state has made the decision that lungs aren’t to be included.
...In a move to save its citizens from themselves, the all-knowing members of the New Jersey state assembly approved a law to ban smoking in private establishments such as offices, restaurants, and bars. The state’s acting governor, Richard Codey, has assured the assemblymen that he’ll sign the measure. Several other states have similar laws.
...This story has a couple of frightening aspects to it. First is the idea that several states across our nation will now have final say over whether or not a person can ingest a legal substance while visiting a privately-owned business. Second, we’re seeing a transformation of the words “public” and “private.”
...There’s no other way to state the biggest problem with laws such as this: If you don’t like the smoking (or non-smoking) policy at a particular establishment, don’t frequent that establishment. No one is forcing a patron to visit a particular bar or restaurant, and the owner should be able to make a decision on such matters, weighing the possibility of losing or gaining customers based upon that particular policy. Likewise, if you're looking to work at a bar or restaurant and you don't like their policy, don't apply there.
...If the bar or restaurant owner thinks that his/her customers will be happy and might continue to patronize the business, why intervene in a manner that will hinder the flourishing of that business? After all, if the states are more than happy to collect sales tax from the businesses in question, why on Earth would they risk forcing a policy upon the businesses that might limit income?
...Next is the problem of making it illegal to use a legal substance. Since smoking is as bad for our health as it is, shouldn’t we see an outright ban of it? Sure, it would lead to increased black market sales, but shouldn’t we see more politicians calling for a “noble” push to end all sales of a vile product? If it’s so terrible that we need to ban its use, why can’t we ban the substance itself? Shouldn’t we do it “for the children”? Oh, wait—too many politicians get money from cigarette taxes to fund their pork spending. I almost forgot about that.
...Last but not least, this issue has brought to our attention an apparent change of status—if not an actual change of definition. Privately-owned businesses, bars, and restaurants were previously known as just that: private. It used to be that only buildings which were built with and funded by tax dollars for the public to use, such as libraries and courthouses, were known as public places. Many of the news reports of this pending New Jersey ban refer to bars and restaurants as “public places” now, since they might be frequented by members of the public. The reporters who wrote these articles probably didn’t do it because they have a political agenda, but like it or not, the establishments are still owned by private citizens.
...Then again, considering last year’s Kelo v. New London case, the concept of “private” ownership doesn’t mean anything, anyway. Maybe a uterus really is the only thing privately-owned nowadays.


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