Do Smoking Bans Really Do Any Good?

Recent trends have been for more and more restrictive laws concerning where and when a person can smoke. As a non-smoker, I should be applauding. As someone who loves the idea of personal freedoms, I cannot.

Washington State recently became one of the most restrictive, with Initiative 901. Not only does it ban smoking in almost all buildings, it doesn’t permit lighting up within 25 feet of doorways, windows, and vents. So no longer can the smokers seek refuge outside the office doorway, unless they move it down the street. And then of course, they could well find themselves in front of another doorway or window.

Just a bit draconian, if you ask me. I applaud the attempts to keep smoke from killing either the smoker or the person affected by second hand smoke. But we must remember, we are supposedly a land that allows for individual rights. If those rights do not trample on the rights of another, then they should not be restricted.

How do we decide what is protection for the non smoker as it opposes the rights of the smoker? By applying the standard of free choice. There would be nothing wrong with bars and taverns that allowed smokers, as long as people knew it was a smoker bar. Or perhaps had smoking areas that were ventilated separate from the main area. In Washington’s law, tribal properties are excluded. This will surely mean more business for tribal casinos and bars. So effectively there is an area where smokers can go. But not everyone is close to a tribal area.

There is talk of more restrictive legislation in states around the U.S., and in other countries. Proposals such as banning smoking in cars are out there, and are going way to far. Smokers should continue to be taxed for increased health care costs, and education should continue to focus on preventing people from starting to smoke. But don’t ostracize smokers.

All in all, it would be good if the majority of people (the non-smokers) could see the big picture, and allow those who choose to partake of tobacco products venues in which to do so. Live and let live. On the other side, smokers need to be responsible for their behavior, and take steps to ensure that they are not “blowing smoke” in the face of others.

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