Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Smoking Protection

I was reading an editorial in the December 20th Toledo Blade about the debate for anti-smoking legislation under consideration in Michigan http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071220/OPINION02/712200304/-1/OPINIONand a couple of things struck me about the arguments presented in the piece. Now my opinions on smoking bans are well know from previous postings. and I won't bother to repeat information that I have already shared (though I will encourage you to go back through the archives of this blog to take a look at them). And I have to say that I am not particularly worried about the public reaction to my nasty habit. I tend to enjoy my version of this behavior like anything which society is attempting to make us feel guilty, aloone (no comments about what other nasty little habits that I might be doing alone, please). No, I have new angle on this discussion, as it pertains to this specific editorial, and it takes the form of two questions:
  1. If the smoking bans are the good thing that this editorial describes, and "patrons are relieved to visit local businesses without being forced to inhale a choking haze", why is the Restaurant and Bar Association fighting it so hard? I don't own a business, nor do I belong in any meaningful way to a business organization; but it strikes me that such organizations would not work against the best interests of their members. In this particular case, according to the editorial "lobbyists from the Michigan Restaurant Association and Michigan Licensed Beverage Association vowed to intensify their efforts against the ban in the Senate and win". Such incongruous behavior in a professional business organization simply makes no sense to me if the ban is good for these businesses. In fact, I would expect that what the anti-smoking crowd has told is true, that the flood of cutomers into bars and restaurants since the ban would tell such association to stand firm in getting such bans passed nationwide. So I am forced to believe that The Blade may not have all of their facts straight regarding the benefit to business that this ban presents and the position that this lobbying group holds.
  2. This editorial also talks about the fact that "separate smoking sections and ventilation systems simply do not fully protect nonsmokers", and that the law is necessary then in order to offer this protection to non-smokers. My question here is, is such protection actually required, and is the government obligated to provide it? Well I believe that the government is required under the Constitution to protect its citizens from physical harm, but I am not sure that second hand smoke from smoking falls under this category. If it does, that the government is required to protect us from city bus exhausts, burning leaves, fireplaces, and power plants; all of which produce smoke as well. And if smoking is the danger that is being portrayed in the study sited in the editorial, why is it legal to do so in the first place? No, the type of protection that we are talking about here is more akin to a "protection racket", something our government is becoming far too familiar with these days. This type of protection involves forced (substitute strong-armed) behavior modification, and usually extortion (in the form of taxes and egregious legislation), in order to achieve a desired goal for a vocal minority.
So my conclusions, based on the questions that I have put forward, is that:
  • The Blade must in fact be wrong on this particular issue as it relates t the interests of both the owners of bars and restaurants, and their patrons. If they are not, the these owners would have been forced into banning smoking long ago, or the states (like Ohio) that had smoking bans would be seeing an unparallelled increase in business since the ban in this state passed instead of the decrease in such business and the closing of some businesses. The Blade presents no argument to this effect, so it must no be the case.
  • Government protection against smoke of any kind is not guaranteed in the Constitution, and therefore does not exist. Government does not have the right, and should not intrude in the operation of businesses that allow behaviors like drinking and smoking that are perfectly legal. If they do, they exceed their authority and violate the very principles which created them.
  • Debates on any subject must be based on logic and facts in order to be of value in the greater scheme of things. The Blade seems to have neither on this side in this particular case and seeks to present arguments based on a unsupportable emotional position. We think that smoking is bad for you and so we want it stopped. Now I concede that this was an Editorial and not a news story, but even opinion must be based on more than feelings if we are to take it seriously. I also find it fascinating that a business that is protected by the Bill of Rights in the Constitution should choose to support government denying rights to citizens in another area. Should they not be concerned that if these rights do not exists for business owners of bars and restaurants, that newspapers might be next on the list for encroachment.
    Thanks for the attempt to sway my opinion by appealing to my compassion for my fellow man, but in this case you have failed. Perhaps you will think it is because I am a smoker myself, and therefore unwilling to accept the argument presented; but that again would simply be your opinion.

1 comment:

Quit smoking said...
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