Smoking bans are metastasizing around the country. North Carolina, tobacco road, may be next to go smokeless. This article (pdf) by Chris Hayes ended up in the Charlotte Observer. He reminds us that such bans endanger what most consider to be a basic right to property (i.e. that one may permit any sort of legal conduct on her private property she chooses). So why the ban?
North Carolina’s recent effort to curb your smoking habit for you is probably more of bandwagon mentality than anything. ‘Them other big fancy states is doing it, so we should too’ (or be perceived as being behind the times). The legal justifications that have been given for such bans have centered on "public health" arguments; they claim to want to protect employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke. But this argument holds no water: Any time someone takes a job, they must weigh the relative risks associated with the job. For example, some of the most dangerous jobs are garbage collector, fisherman and roofer. Employees understand the risks of this work going in. Such is their choice. Likewise for employees in bars and restaurants — particularly since we’ve known something about the dangers of second-hand smoke for a while. If you don’t want to work in such conditions, you might seek out employment in a restaurant or bar that caters to non-smokers. There are plenty.
People who claim to support the ban usually do because they are non-smokers. They feel they have some inalienable right to patronize any restaurant or bar, and that said bar should suit their chosen atmospheric conditions. But they should be reminded that its not their property and not their choice–that they are simply using the force of government to bend others’ property to their preferences. And that is wrong. We often refer to restaurants and bars as "public places", but they are actually private. And yet we allow smokers to exhale and litter butts on the real public thoroughfares of our streets. Isn’t this somehow backwards? Not for nanny-statists. But for people who care about the primacy of property, smoking bans offend the deepest principles upon which the Republic was founded.
(*Update: found this post from the Progressive Pulse, which we dissected, ex ante, above.)