Okay, so here’s an AP abstract of smoking bans the N.C. General Assembly is currently considering:
The Senate tentatively approved legislation to curb smoking further on state property, even inside state-owned or leased cars. One bill would bar people from smoking within 25 feet of entrances to state buildings on state-owned or leased property. The buffer also would surround ventilation systems and open windows to those buildings. The bill passed after an amendment approved reduced the buffer from 50 feet. Another proposal given the initial OK would prohibit smoking in all state-owned or leased vehicles. Final Senate votes could come Tuesday.
So should we free-market (freedom) fundamentalists work themselves into a tizzy over this? No, actually. Not this one, at least. You see, while bans in PUBLIC spaces may be part of an incrementalist plot to ban smoking everywhere in N.C. eventually, from the POV of property rights, it’s not that offensive to me. You see, public property is in some sense common property. The same cannot be said for a privately owned bar or restaurant. So even if we were to ban smoking on the street, which is a public thoroughfare, that would make more sense than banning it in someone’s business establishment, which people can choose either to patronize or not (and thus bear, or not, the associated risks of 2nd hand smoke, etc. etc.).
When someone blows smoke into my face on the public street, then makes me pay taxes to have government employees come ’round and tidy up the streets of cigarette butts, well that’s the imposition of both a cost and a harm onto me. So, public sector smoking bans are probably right, albeit for the wrong reasons (paternalism, nanny statism, public health fixations, and so on). That said, I’m not going to get bent out of shape seeing that smoking is banned on the sidewalk. Instead, I’m going to put my energy into fighting for people who’re trying to run an honest business that includes an environment of which smoking may be a part. That is their right.