Monday, March 15, 2010

Smoking Bans

Freedom. It has so many meanings that sometimes it is hard to pin down what exactly it means. Often times, people arguing contradictory sides of an issue can both invoke this word and use it without making either argument untrue.

I know this essay started out with a high idea that’s really hard to get one’s head around, but I only brought it up because I have actually used it to argue both sides of the issue of a smoking ban. I originally felt that it should not be up to any government to control how I can operate my own property and place of business. I should have the freedom to own and operate on my business without interference from any other entity telling me how.

Then, I grew up. I realized that first of all the government tells businesses and individuals a hundred times a day what they can and cannot do. If I owned a bar, I cannot open and close whenever I want. I can’t even serve alcohol without the government issuing me a license. So, the government has more control over my hypothetical bar than anyone even realizes. Why should it be out of line for the government to control smoking in bars?

Secondly, and much more importantly I think, is the fact that second hand smoke is terrible for everyone around. Hell, second-hand smoke is listed as a Group A carcinogen. I can guarantee that if I tried to defend my right to keeping other Group A carcinogens in any business my argument quickly falls apart. Could you imagine someone actually trying to keep asbestos or radon in their place of business? That is what we are dealing with here…second-hand smoke is in the same category as asbestos and people are really trying to defend it!!! Banning smoking in bars is not an attack of a smoker’s right to smoke.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said it right when he said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.” You have every right in the world to smoke…but that right ends when you put my life in danger every time you light up.

It is and very definitely should be within the council’s ability and actually in their best interest to pass a ban on smoking.