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March 20, 2009


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Government power the real health hazard

Government power real health hazard

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed threat of "second-hand" smoke.

Indeed, the bans are symptoms of a far more grievous threat, a cancer that has been spreading for decades and has now metastasized throughout the body politic, spreading even to the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved – the cancer of unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or is in fact just a phantom menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal indicates. The issue is: If it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating people about the potential danger and allowing them to make their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force people to make the "right" decision?

Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than trying to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the bans are the unwanted intrusion.

Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and offices – places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is negligible, such as outdoor public parks.

The decision to smoke, or to avoid "second-hand" smoke, is a question to be answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must be free because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbours, and only his own judgment can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are a numerical minority, practising a habit considered annoying and unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the unlimited intrusion of government into our lives. We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behaviour.

You drivers are not a pollution problem at all. It's only cigaret smokers who pollute the earth.

Wow, it looks like smoking will be banned just about everywhere pretty soon! Fortunately for me, though, smoking bans (and ridiculously high tobacco taxes) don't affect me (even though I smoke a pack a day) ever since I switched to electronic cigarettes. If this smoking band happens eventually, you should too. Hell, even if it doesn't, you still should. E-cigarettes are much safer than regular cigarettes, and you can smoke them anywhere cigarettes are banned! I found this blog that helped me figure out which brand of e-cigarette I should buy. If you're considering switching over, I hope this page helps you like it helped me:


And here are some videos with information about how e-cigs work:


This is a public health issue; nothing more nothing less. For 20 years the U.S. Surgeon General has said secondhand smokes causes heart disease, stroke and respiratory ailments. That’s not in dispute. Now, new studies come out everyday linking it to dementia and depression. The 34 other states and countless other countries that have banned smoking in bars and restaurants report a drop in heart disease after the ban.

If we had a product, like peanut butter, that was making customers sick it would be pulled off the shelf so quick it would make your head swim. Yet, we fight so hard to keep it on the shelves. Why?

Why do we allow a small minority, less than 25 percent, to endanger the health of the majority? If they want to damage their lungs, that’s their right, - I wish they wouldn’t - but they do not have the right to endanger the health of other people.

I certainly agree that second hand smoke is potentially dangerous. That is why I don't smoke around my son. However, I am increasingly annoyed when people try to justify a smoking ban.

The anti-smoking lobby often tries to justify their actions by pointing out the terrible cost that tobbaco places on our health care system. They repeatedly forget just how obcenly taxed ciggarettes and smokless tobacco are. They often say that people who go to bars and restaurants shouldn't be bothered or put at risk by second hand smoke.

I aggree. If they don't like the smoke, go somewhere else. This is a free country. Restaurant owners can choose to be smoking on non-smoking. They can have seperate seating if they choose. And if restaurants can not make it without a smoking sections, then how is a ban on smoking going to do anything but drive away some of their customers and perhaps put them out of business.

If their truly is a market for smoke free restaurants and bars, let the markets work. It's the American way.

Secondhand smoke is beyond is “potentially dangerous.” That threshold was surpassed 20 years ago with the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke. Why should people who don’t want their lungs damaged go somewhere else? They are not endangering anyone’s health; smokers are.

If it’s such a free country then does that mean we can ignore all those silly health department rules and regulations? Why should we have to keep a kitchen clean, cook meat at a proper temperature or have required smoke detectors?

Separate seating? Will the smoke stop when it reaches the non-smoking section? How is less then 25 percent of the population going to put anyone out of business? They are spending at least $5 for a pack of cancer sticks already, so why how does that small segment of the population carry so much economic weight?

No, the American way is to protect the innocent.

If smoking bans are so popular, so sensible, and so easy to accomplish, then why don't we see all bars and restaurants electively undertaking their own total non-smoking policies? They could do that, on their own. Many have. Without need of a law that restricts the rights of people who want to go to a bar where smoking is allowed, at an establishment where the bar-owner wants the business of those patrons.

Jack Lessenberry posits two societal problems with smoking that he'd like to address, via a total public smoking ban:

First, he observes that we all pay for a larger national health care bill thanks to the dangers of smoking. Okay -- does anyone recall a Lessenberry suggestion that we attack the privacy of sexual relations between homosexual men or urban prostitutes in order to reduce the contribution of AIDS to the national health care bill? I didn't think so. If we cared only about health care costs, and nothing about freedom, we could outlaw sky diving, motorcycle riding, and perhaps Popeye's Fried Chicken.

The second of Jack Lessenberry's posited social issues is the notion that some non-smokers found themselves being 'forced' by economic conditions to work in proximity to second-hand smoke. Hmmm. That's a very interesting notion, when taken to its illogical conclusion. Let's see if Jack will support worker freedom when the abominably-titled "Employee Free Choice Act" comes up for a vote later this year. (That's the national card-check legislation that says that with a minimal amount of union organizing support, a union can be certified without a secret ballot of the workers. Instead of a secret ballot, workers can check off a card that identifies them as a union supporter. That "identification" is thereby known to the very large union "organizers" in the parking lot, driving very dark vehicles.) Is Jack going to protect the liberties of those workers? The labor market is just as tight for them. But instead of the freakishly small group of statistical outliers whom Jack thinks are being forced to work in smoky bars and restaurants, the "Employee Free Choice Act" ("EFCA" - it should gag you every time you say those words together) will impact millions of American workers almost immediately.

So how about it Jack? Shall we get government in on the forcible prevention of any spread of the AIDS virus through sexual transmission? And shall we make a stand to protect workers by killing the EFCA?

Fortunately, we don't need an answer from Mr. Lessenberry, insofar as he has already given us a glimpse of his more serious motivation for supporting a smoking ban. It is a cultural prejudice. What he wants is punishment, for people like the "arrogant young stockbrokers" he derides above. My guess is that Jack Lessenberry has forgotten that we know an arrogant young lawyer, a smoker, who may well have exposed his two grade-school daughters to second-hand smoke at one time or another. His name: Barack Obama.

We can be assured that the luantics really are running the asylum of Michigan politics when a total public smoking ban is proposed almost simulataneiously with a state law legalizing "medical marijuana." Is there no adult supervision to be found anywhere in Michigan?

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