| "What about the principles of individual freedom and liberty? Is that undermined for the sake of the general health?"|
Let's get one thing straight, smoking tobacco is a choice. There's nothing wrong with that. We know it's not healthy, despite all those Lucky Strike advertisements you might have seen, but smoking, like alcohol, is legal. No matter what regulations the government decides to throw up to prevent smokers from enjoying a cigarette, the actual act of smoking is not banned. Smoking is a choice made by the individual. It helps people relax, have fun and socialize. Unlike drugs where you go into a state that impairs your ability to function properly, smoking tobacco still leaves the person in a conscience state of mind, aware and able to function. People smoke while they work and socialize, taking smoking breaks in between work loads to get their nicotine fix. With innovation, electronic cigarettes are being produced, using a ton of different approaches that give choices to smokers. Smokers always get the boot. Kicked around left and right for "second hand smoke" and what not. But at the end of the day, tobacco lovers can always kick back, relax and enjoy a legal product sold on the free market.
Considering the forces of government regulation has such a stronghold over businesses today, smoking bans are covered in a justification of "bettering the public health" and "I don't want to smell your smoke." The debate over what government needs to do to protect the public is a never ending conservation. Yet banning smoking in private establishments begs the question: can the government tell you how to run your business?
When a business owner opens up a bar, he is opening his business to the public, but on private grounds. When a smoker lights up a cigarette in someone's establishment, that patron is using a legal product on another person's property. Tobacco is not illegal. The business owner does not force anyone to smoke, but rather allows those who choose to do so. By allowing customers to smoke indoors, smokers will likely gravitate their business there, opting to go to a place that has relaxed smoking regulations. Businesses can also be creative. By designating smoking and non-smoking sections of their establishment, selling cigarettes or investing in state of the art air purifying systems to better service non-smoking customers, businesses can now look to increase their clientele with different types of features that that specific establishment has. With business owners investing in new air cleaning systems, companies that produce these systems will see an increase in demand. Innovation kicks in, and now business owners and air purifying companies like Rabbit Air and ElectroCorp begin to do business with each other, creating wealth, jobs and new things.
Opponents say smoking in restaurants would be bad for those who don't smoke. The common argument "I don't want to smell your smoke" is always thrown around. Yet the problem with this statement is that these people, most of them left-wing health crazy liberals, do not see that the most powerful weapon to combat this argument is not legislation, but their own power of the purse. By walking away from a bar that offers smokers the option to smoke indoors, the business loses money. When the business loses money they either need to fix the reason why they're running a deficit or go out of business. If the majority of patrons would rather a smoke-free environment in some upscale bar in the East Village because they feel their health might be affected, then the business owner can make it a policy to ban smoking in his establishment. However, if a local neighborhood sports bar, which allows your average guys from the neighborhood to sit around and hang out after a tough day on the job, wants to allow smoking inside, they should. It's not about a one-size fits all policy. Non-smokers are not entitled to a smoke-free establishment. When they are, the businesses owners property rights are violated, his way of doing business is changed and he must accommodate non-smokers.
Freedom is about choices. The more choices you have, the better off you'll be. In a free market economy, business owners have the right to choose how they plan to run their business. Smoking in these establishments should not be banned by the government. No one is advocating for a policy that forces business owners to allow smoking inside, so why should we be forcing a policy that bans smoking inside? Another common argument is that "it's better for the general health," but so is banning fast food. Should we ban restaurants from making fast food because we know it's not healthy? Obesity is a major problem in the U.S., should we adopt a policy that would "better the public health" with subsidized "healthier" options? Of course not! This would be ridiculous, expensive and a overreach of government that would be profound. Opponent's will cite studies of how smoking bans help the general health. But at the expense of what? The way a business owner chooses to do business? What about the principle of individual freedom and liberty? Is that undermined for the sake of the general health? By giving business owners the choice to adopt a policy of smoking inside their establishments, people can choose where they want to go, do what they want do and run their business as they wish.