So it’s election day in my fair city (Springfield, Missouri), and the big ticket item this election is whether or not to ban smoking in ALL businesses – both public and private.
My initial reaction was YEAH, LET’S DO IT! Smoking is BAD for you. Smoking is BAD for non-smokers. Who wants to smell like smoke? Who wants to breathe in someone else’s lung gunk?
It sounds like the humane thing to do, right? Protect the innocent. Protect people who have lung issues. And of course, I agree. I’m not a smoker myself, and I too get pretty annoyed whenever a smoker is around and I have no choice but to breathe their fumes. I would LOVE to live in a smoke-free environment. I would LOVE it if people would stop smoking altogether – think of how healthy people would be! Think how that would reduce our health care demands. How many people would live longer lives if they just stopped the nasty habit?
BUT THEN …
I read the proposal:
Shall the City of Springfield, Missouri, prohibit smoking in enclosed public places, places of employment, private clubs, within five (5) feet of outdoor playgrounds and within five (5) feet of outside entrances, operable windows and ventilation systems of enclosed areas where smoking is prohibited, and exempt the following places from the smoking prohibition: a) private residences, unless such resident is used as a child care, adult day care, or healthcare facility; b) not more than 25% of the hotel or motel rooms rented to guests as smoking rooms; and c) outdoor areas of places of employment; providing for the imposition of a fine of $50 per violation for any person violating said ordinance by smoking, upon a finding or admission of guilt; providing for fines ranging from $100 – $500 per day against the owner, operator, manager, or any agent who controls a public place or place of employment or any business, and allows smoking to occur on the premises, providing for revocation of any license or permit issued to the business or public place that permits such violations; requiring that business and public places place a signage advising of the prohibition on smoking?
The citizens of Springfield are being allowed to make decisions for private business owners? Are we saying that the citizens of Springfield know what’s best for private businesses?
Public arenas, sure, I get that. It’s a PUBLIC venue. If the majority of people want to ban smokers from PUBLIC venues, then the PUBLIC has spoken.
But what gives citizens the right to tell PRIVATE business owners what to do with their business? Okay sure. Someone allows smoking and that sucks. But if it really bothers an individual that much, then that individual doesn’t have to frequent that business anymore. If the business owner is willing to lose customers because he/she is not willing to ban smoking from his/her premises, then that is his/her choice. Who are the citizens to make that decision for a private business owner?
It’s private property. It doesn’t belong to the people. It belongs to the individual(s) who purchased the entity. The business caters to the public, provides the public with a service, but it certainly doesn’t, nor should it, allow the public to write the policies that provide that service.
Do you see my point? It’s yet ANOTHER right that is being taken away. And at the risk of sounding all conspiracy theorist on you guys, that’s how it begins. The government begins chipping away at these “small” rights all in the name of “humanity” (or something that APPEARS to be humane) and before long, we are no longer free to make choices because those choices have been taken away from us.
And by that time? The damage has been done. We’re no longer a free nation, we’re answerable to our government, we can’t take a step without asking the government if it’s okay.
Do we really want to live that way?
Now put yourselves in those business owners shoes – would YOU want someone stomping into your business and telling YOU how to run it? Seriously?
So though the no-smoking ban sounds great on the surface, this is not the way to go about achieving that goal. Taking freedoms away is NEVER the answer to any problem.
So yeah. Even though I’m not a smoker, even though I can’t stand the smell of smoke, even though I think our nation would be better off without smoking, that’s not my call. It’s not up to me to decide how someone lives their life or to censor someone else’s choices. It’s not our right to tell private business owners how to run their business.
UPDATE: The proposal passed, like I knew it would. I would have been shocked if it hadn’t. That’s the thing about ban wagons, they sure are fun to climb aboard until the excitement dies off and we’re left facing the long-term repercussions of our actions. I know people think they’re doing the right thing by banning smoking on PRIVATE property, but if we don’t wake up to the fact that we’re voting our rights away, bit by bit, our country will no longer be the “Land of the Free.” Think about it.