Looks like we're going to have another fight this session on a statewide smoking ban. The Charlotte-O has a new article looking at its eventual revival.
When it was defeated in 2007, it was key that the argument was not about smoking — smoking is disgusting and unhealthy, but the argument is about property rights. The rights of private business owners to decide for themselves what their policy regarding smoking will be.
More and more restaurants are going smoke-free without a law. You need look no further that the newly-opened (and ironically named) Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in swanky Glenwood South of Raleigh. Brand new sports bar, and totally non-smoking. The Bar's owners didn't need a bunch of lawmakers to tell them how best to run their business — they decided the policy best for them, their customers and their bottom line. They obviously feel they can be profitable as a sports bar that is non-smoking. Good for them.
It is disappointing to read the House Republican Leader Skip Stam's comments — a supposed free-market advocate who seems to have missed the point on this issue — say that he would support the ban in bars and restaurants.
thinks the state shouldn't make all workplaces off-limits for lighting
up. But he says he would consider a smoking ban for restaurants and
Stam somehow thinks there is a difference between "private" workplaces and "public" bars and restaurants. Fortunately, there isn't. They are both private enterprises open to the public, but are first and foremost private institutions that should be able to operate their businesses without the interference of government.
So we'll have the same argument we had two years ago — advocates for the ban will play the emotional card with heartwrenching stories of cancer and the harmful effects of smoking. Claiming that "public health" is at stake.
Nobody is debating that smoking is a health risk. Where we are drawing a line though, as we did before, is who gets to decide who takes that risk. Goverment or individual consumers making market decisions about which establishments they frequent? I say let the market decide smoking policy — as it already is at Tobacco Road Sports Bar and many, many other restaurants, bars and workplaces that are going smoke-free without government edict.