If you don’t want to be around smokers, then stay out of such establishments

If you don’t want to be around smokers, then stay out of such establishments

by
Parrish Miller
June 25, 2014
Parrish Miller
June 25, 2014

According to the most recent revision of the proposed smoking ban in Garden City, Idaho, bars and other businesses catering to a 21-and-over crowd will be exempted, but that won't save the three hookah bars that currently call Garden City home. These establishments are popular with the 18-20 year-olds who are legally adults, but who are still prohibited from frequenting and enjoying traditional bars.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for July 14, but without a miracle Garden City will essentially be signing the death warrant for these local establishments and will be effectively eliminating all local entertainment options for the young adults who patronize them.

Of course, this new law will have other damaging effects as well. Smoking will be prohibited in all public buildings and businesses, which are not explicitly exempted as well as within 50 feet (not 20 as is typical in other cities) of bus stops, school entrances and city buildings. Finding a place to take a smoking break will be all but impossible.

History has shown us that government bans tend to become more intrusive over time. Today it is businesses and so-called "public" facilities, but tomorrow it might be private homes or cars, or banning e-cigarettes that don't even emit any smoke. This isn't wild conjecture, either; each of these prohibitions has been proposed or instituted in multiple American cities and towns.

The real question is not whether you smoke, or like smoking, or hate smoking. But whether some people have the right to control the voluntary behavior of others within the businesses that they own. If we are to retain any respect for property rights and for individuals being left alone to make decisions about how they live their lives and which establishments they patronize, we must oppose restrictions on voluntary behavior that occurs on private property or within private businesses.

Advocates of smoking bans will claim they are protecting your health, but they are taking away your freedom as part of the deal. You don't have to work or patronize a business that allows smoking. Doing so is a choice. Once a ban is in place, however, that choice no longer exists. Eliminating freedom and choice is never the right way to "protect" people.

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