Put Out The Cigarette Ban

by Mike on March 3, 2006

in Politics

There has been ongoing debate across America recently regarding smoking in public places. Some states have banned smoking in public areas such as bars and restaurants. I happen to oppose these laws although, as a non-smoker, I relish the comfort which results from these bans. New South Wales Australia appears to be on the verge of extending this concept by proposing a ban on smoking in cars. Let’s hope that idea never makes it to America.

Limited government is a bedrock principle of conservatism. People should generally be free to make their own decisions and deal with both the positive and negative consequences of those decisions without the government acting as a parent. For example, if you’re concerned about a smoky bar, don’t go there. That said, at least a strong argument exists for banning smoking in public places where many people are exposed to unwanted smoke. Extending these bans to private automobiles seems to be taking it a bit too far.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

rightonoz March 3, 2006 at 6:43 pm

I heartily support the ban on smoking in public places, however have been in two minds about the private vehicle issue.

The issues from my point of view are, constantly seeing lit cigarette buts flicked from cars in a country where bush fires kill each year. Over 50% of litter in Australia is cigarette related. over 2500 scrub/bush fires caused each year through cigarette buts from cars/trucks. Is it manslaughter if a discarded but causes the death of a firefighter?

All too often I see parents smoking in cars with children in the back suffering. We are just now seeing reports of childhood lung problems due to passive smoking (guess it wasn’t researched in the past).

I’m all for parents rights/individual freedoms, but do parents have the right to increase their childrens chances of an early death due to forced passive smoking during their early years. I don’t like government intervention but equally don’t believe there is any parent’s right to inflict harm on their own children.

Like you I love being able to go to a restaurant or bar and relax with my family over a meal without being put off by cigarette smoke. It’s only this year with the ban on smoking that I have started going to a local club for a quiet evening drink on the seaside deck with my wife every week or two, after years of not being able to stand the smell.

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Matt March 4, 2006 at 8:26 am

I have no problem with a ban on smoking on public property. However, the government has no right to tell people that they can’t engage in perfectly legal activity on private property. The last time I checked, tobacco wasn’t a banned substance.

If I own a business (restaurant, bar, etc), I should be able to allow or prohibit any legal activity that I choose. If I allow smoking and people don’t like it, they can choose not to spend money at my establishment. If I think I’m losing money by not accommodating non-smokers, I’ll change my policy.
At the same time, I should be able to prohibit legal activity as well. For example, there is nothing wrong with walking down the street barefoot, but I have every right to turn you away from my restaurant if you aren’t wearing shoes.

I also have a problem banning smoking in cars. A car is a privately owned space, and otherwise legal activities should not be banned if they don’t infringe on the rights or safety of others. As far as the bush fires go, it sounds like you need stronger penalties against pollution, not laws against smoking in cars. Why punish the guy who puts out his cigarette in his ash tray every time? Should we ban knives because some people use them to harm others?

I agree that smoking in a car with children is irresponsible, but I don’t see how we can legislate against it without government overstepping its bounds. It’s probably just as harmful to a child (if not more harmful) to feed them nothing but Ring-Dings and Twinkies, but should we start imposing penalties against parents who do this? Before you know it, you’ll have laws against taking a child to McDonalds more than once a month and bans on restaurants serving desserts that contain more than 300 calories.

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Ryan March 4, 2006 at 6:35 pm

Well, the Kilo case should go to show that private property is not our own anymore. I’m sure that Locke and Jefferson are sighing sadly yet again around these calls to regulate our behavior.

I get frustrated sometimes on this issue for the following reason: if smoking really is THAT bad, then why not ban it outright?

All this incrementalism is a bit shady. If the government is going to have SO much control over my vehicle and my personal behavior in that vehicle, then they should pay my car insurance as well, and give me grants or special loans to buy a new car. The more liablility that they usurp from my own freedoms in that vehicle, the more I want them to pay for its maintenance.

I’m obviously kidding about that, but the point remains that they are definitely overstepping incrementally on a lot of issues; this smoking issue being just the latest.

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Sal March 7, 2006 at 7:20 am

This is one issue that I am somewhat hypocritical on and conflicted about. I agree with Matt’s point in principle, but the selfish side of me is happy that there are smoking bans in restaurants and bars in RI and NY. It’s nice to go out and not come back with your clothes smelling like nicotine.

On the other hand, the government should not have the right to legislate a legal substance on private property.

I think if I were a legislator, I’d abstain from voting on the restaurant issue. If I were governor, I’d let the bill pass without a signature.

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Chris March 7, 2006 at 10:50 am

With the Kelo decision, I agree that it has been detrimental to the idea of private jurisdiction over private property. Personally I am not a smoker, but if someone at a bar wants to light up, I’m not going to make a stink about it. NJ may face economic repercussions from this smoking ban (remember, tourism is the #1 industry in NJ)…New Yorkers won’t have a reason to go to Hoboken anymore.

On the Kelo front, check out the recent news out of Long Branch where an 89 year old veteran may lose his house to Phase II of Pier Village . A few weeks ago, Hannity interviewed the mayor of Long Branch on his radio show and cleaned his clock. Interesting to see what happens here…go Mr. Anzeleone…and thanks for your sevice to our country as well.

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