Friday, December 19, 2008

Smoking, Again

It appears that Indiana is poised to consider a statewide ban on smoking in places of public accommodation. No sir, I don't like it.

I don't smoke. Never have. I detest the smell of tobacco smoke. What I do like are property rights.

There's no doubt that smoking can kill you, and that secondhand smoke can also kill you. I'm not advocating smoking or hanging around in smoky bars. But people engage in this behavior, using a legal product, for a variety of reasons, none of which especially needs to be justified to me.

I trust business owners to set their own policies. Some restaurant owners long ago set smoke-free policies as a matter of their business plan, hoping to attract a clientele that prefers a smoke-free atmosphere. But there is clearly also a market for restaurants that permit a post-meal smoke. If the owner permits it, and you chose to walk in, who is harmed?

Some say that the people who work there are harmed. Sure they are, if they choose to work in a smoky environment. Who is taking what gun and pointing it to their heads, forcing them to be there? But, it's their job!

Well, no. It isn't their job. The job, like the building, belong to the employer. The employee is one who agrees to be there, on an agreed-to set of terms. Now, there may be some stupid employees out there, who didn't bother to discuss the terms, or who were somehow non-observant of the conditions of the workplace when they accepted the job of their own volition.

If the employer permits smoking by employees, the smoker isn't 'intervening' into the non-smoker's space. He is smoking in the space provided by the employer. The life, liberty of the property owner comes before the non-property owner who is invited into the building. It's the primacy of the property owner over the visitor that is important.

Consider your home for a minute. Would you not consider it absurd to invite guests over and then have them determine the policies of your home? So, why is a place of business any different?

America is really losing its' way with regards to freedom, and understanding freedom. When anybody but the property owner can dictate the policies affecting that property, there is no freedom, but fascism.

But, since it's clear that there are health risks associated with the use of tobacco, it seems prudent for those offering smoking policies to warn their potential guests. We have warning labels on cigarette packages. There is no reason why we can't have the smoking policy of various establishments clearly posted at all entrances so that informed choices can be made. This way, those who hate smoke, like me, can figure out if we want to enter or not. those who smoke can go where they want to as well.

Seems like a nice, King Solomon compromise solution- One that respects freedom.

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