Smoking Ban: We Will Like The Air Quality; We Should Fear The Loss Of Freedom

Today, being the second day of February, is also the second day of the statewide smoking ban for all indoor locations, including bars. Yesterday, I received the following email from a loyal reader and former college roommate of mine. The emailer, who I will refer to as “Dan” because that is his real name, is also a fraternity member of mine, which is to say that we spent a lot of time helping old ladies cross the street, cleaning up litter, and Christmas caroling. Dan had this to say:

Dear AP,

As your blog continues to grow in popularity, I think you should do a
weekly section where you field a question/comment from one of your loyal
readers. That being said, I would like to know AP’s opinion/comments on
the recent no smoking ban. I just had a little tiff with a co-worker about
the subject. She wants to go out tonight and celebrate in a smoke free
bar. While I share her enthusiasm for a smoke free bar, I reminded her
that there were already plenty of non-smoking joints in the city. I also
told her it should be the owner’s choice, not the gov’ts. She then replied
“it’s not fair for me to have to breathe in smoke at bars”. Good

My question to AP is, where does it stop? They took away
my trans fat (not exactly sure what that was, but i’m sure it makes food more
delicious) and making it illegal to smoke pretty much anywhere. Are they
going to make smoking illegal altogether? (Don’t post that, I don’t want
to give O’Gov any ideas). Is there going to be a study that shows people
who drink liquor are more likely to die quicker than those who drink beer, and
then the gov’t will ban bars from serving liquor? When will the gov’t realize
that people should be able to make their own decision on what’s bad for them,
and let them be responsible for their actions?

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After reprimanding Dan for talking about me in the abstract 3rd person, I decided that he makes a good suggestion. If anyone wants to have me answer a question, you can email me. If your internet goes down, you can receive the same advice by going to the library and checking out “Blogging For Dummies”. For Democrats, a Cliff Notes version is available.

Read below the fold for a humorous and accurate analysis of the topic. (Crossposted)

Let’s move to the issue at hand. The first thing to consider is whether or not bars have a unique status when it comes to smoking–i.e., why smoking was not banned in bars when it was in other workplaces. The implication is that it’s acceptable to smoke in bars, or perhaps that since bars provide leisure services, that people’s lives are not adversely affected if they choose not to go to bars. If that distinction still exists, than the smoking ban is inappropriate.

The second thing to consider is the patrons. Is it too much of a hardship to ask them to go outside to smoke? Answer: no. Send them and their nasty habit to suffer in the brutal cold while I sip on a Hot Toddie. In the winter months, give them Al Gore’s phone number so they can buy some global warming from him and it won’t be so terrible.

The third thing to consider is the employees. Is it fair to force non-smoking employees to tolerate second hand smoke while they are working at restaurants? Answer: they are not being forced to do anything. Non smoking bar employees work in smoking establishments because they like some combination of the money and the lifestyle. If the negative effect of the smoking outweighs that, they can quit and work at a non-smoking bar. If there aren’t any non-smoking bars, they can work somewhere else. If enough good employees quit because of smoke, an enterprising capitalist will open a smoke-free bar and hire the good employees. Then, he can charge more money because he provides a smoke free establishment with the best service. The industry might endure some shake-ups along the way, but this is how the free market works.

The final thing to consider, and the thing that wins the argument, is the loss of freedom. Does the government have a right to tell businesses what to do in cases where public safety can be adequately protected with normal means? Absolutely not! As a business owner, I can assure you that the number of things the government says you can’t do is appalling–especially the things you can do only if you give the government money. “Where does it stop” is the absolute correct question to ask. Here is a very partial list of things the government controls with respect to bars:

-closing times
-type of alcohol sold
-if alcohol is sold
-cooking temperature requirements
-dry good storage requirements
-chemical storage requirements
-use of ingredients!! (including trans fats)

Here is my prediction for the next 5 things that will be banned by government:

1. Little League Baseball. Because the kids on the losing team will be too emotionally traumatized, and we don’t want to send the message that there always has to be a winner and a loser. Plus steroids aren’t really appropriate until high school.

2. Making a profit. Because corporations are evil, and a person’s hard work ethic and ingenuity should be used to subsidize society rather than reward the person who took a risk or worked hard. All profits will be transferred to the government, which will recycle the bills into breast implants (females) and pec’ implants (males). Parents will suffer, as when their kids ask them for a higher allowance, they can no longer respond “What, do you think I’m made of money?”.

3. Forks. Because they are way too dangerous. The Chinese use chopsticks, and who wouldn’t want to be like them?

4. Turbochargers. Because fast cars create more pollution. Now, the previous 3 things were jokes, but I’m serious about this one. If at any time while I am still writing this blog the government imposes a speed limit under 65 mph or a horsepower limit below 300 bhp, everyone reading right now owes me a nickel. Don’t worry; I’ll turn it all over to the government.

5. Cell Phones. Another legitimate possibility. Because they cause cancer, bad driving, and bad walking. Plus they facilitate text messaging, which is like the new MTV.

The ‘nanny’ attitude extends all throughout government. In several states, the government wants to control the temperature of the thermostat in your house. In Virginia, they are trying to ban payday loans because they think people are too irresponsible to manage them properly. Government takes your money and gives it to charities, because apparently we are too inconsiderate to do it ourselves. THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT PROTECT PEOPLE FROM THEIR OWN STUPIDITY, AND IT SHOULD NOT MAKE CHOICES FOR US.

It is for the above reason that the smoking ban is inappropriate, which is not a popular position to take, as Dan found out. Most of my political friends and most of my bar friends supported the ban. I think the reason is that smoking, and the lack thereof, is an immediate and tangible result. In contrast, the erosion of our freedom continues to be a gradual process.

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