SMOKE GETS IN YOUR ETHICS: Robert W. Tracinski writes on “The Hazards of a Smoke-Free Environment“:
Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than attempting to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the tobacco bans are the unwanted intrusion.
Loudly billed as measures that only affect “public places,” they have actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and offices – places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don’t like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is obviously negligible, such as outdoor public parks.
The decision to smoke, or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, is a question to be answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.
All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the neighbors. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must be free, because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbors, and only his own judgment can guide him through it.
Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Cigarette smokers are a numerical minority, practicing a habit considered annoying and unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of government and used it to dictate their behavior.
That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.
Read the whole thing.