On the failure of the smoking ban, here’s a brief letter I wrote in response to an editorial by the Winston-Salem Journal:
The “Smoking Ban” editorialist writes: "Health and safety rights should always trump property rights." Absurd. Such would be to argue that people have no right to congregate on private property and engage in any risky activity. Indeed, wouldn’t the “health rights” rationale extend to places that serve cholesterol-rich foods? Alcohol? Or that allow break dancing or weight lifting? These activities carry risks. Why deny me my right to engage in them? Private property rights should always trump known health and safety concerns, because the former ensures free people determine and act upon their own risk calculations when they set foot in the door. That is, you can choose not to patronize a restaurant or bar if you don’t want to risk second-hand smoke. Likewise, you can walk by places that serving fatty foods or frequented by belligerent drunks. It’s time we got away from the notion that restaurants and bars are “public” places. They are not. People knowingly choose to accept risks of engaging in legal activity allowed by the owners on their premises. To think otherwise is to support a ‘tyranny of a majority’ whereby a group dictates its preferred policies to private owners.
It’s troubling that this case needs to be made at all, much less, again and again.