Smoke’em While You Got ‘em

Recently the General Assembly passed a bill (SB 1105) that “prohibits smoking in all indoor restaurants, bar and lounge areas, and restrooms in restaurants in the Commonwealth, with certain exceptions where smoking may be permitted.  Requires the posting of ‘No Smoking’ signs and provides for a $25 civil penalty for a violation of these provisions” (official summary from the G.A.’s website) as of December 1 of 2009 unless those places of business create portions of their establishments with alternate ventilation systems.  This law, as is done in the case of both gun control and abortion, is another incremental step toward outlawing the practice of smoking altogether.  Rather than pushing for an outright ban (which would met with tremendous resistance), opponents of smoking have slowly pushed their agenda.  For the longest time, we have had a “sin tax” on tobacco products which was much higher than just about any tax on any other good and much greater than the typical sales tax in most states.  Over time the tax would increase, thus although the good itself was not illegal, the inflated price would discourage citizens from either continuing their habit or trying the item for the first time.  Today I read in the DNR that the FDA and the federal government are looking into the regulation of tobacco. I should note that I have not nor do I ever plan to use any tobacco product and personally I strongly discourage the use of any tobacco products be they smoked, chewed, snuffed, or dipped.  I find all of these practices both disgusting and harmful to one’s health and I greatly look forward to the day in which no person uses these products.  So then, I must be a big fan of this new law?  No…not at all.  Business owners, not politicians in Richmond or Washington, should be able to decide for themselves if they wish to allow smoking in their places of business.  Now I prefer to frequent businesses that do not allow smoking as I don’t like being around the smoke, but that is my decision as a consumer.  If a business chooses to allow smoking, either for personal or financial reasons, that preference should be their option.  Like many nonsmokers, I’ll be less likely to come in, but, on the other hand, smokers will likely appreciate the opportunity to light up.  Given the massive crusade against smoking, I find it hard to believe that any customer or employee is not aware of the potential risks of either smoking or of second hand smoke.  If you enter such an environment then I say caveat emptor.  As a parent, if you don’t want your kids to be around second hand smoke, then don’t take your kids to a place that permits smoking. Don’t instead go to an establishment that allows smoking and then complain to the manager when the person beside you lights up.  It’s not the manager’s fault…it’s not the smoker’s fault…it’s not the government’s fault…it’s your fault for not being a responsible parent.  Your choices at that point are to sit there or leave.  I’d advise leaving.  Simple enough.

Besides tobacco usage, people engage in all sorts of activities that are potentially dangerous to their health.  So does that concern give the government the right to be the health police?  These days obesity is a major issue.  I believe that the mass consumption of fast food is a major contributor to the health decline of many Americans.  If they were to greatly reduce or, even better, eliminate patronage at these establishments, I sincerely believe that the average health of citizens would improve dramatically.  So then should I advocate government regulation for the betterment of my fellow citizens?  Again, the answer is no.  First of all, the ends do not justify the means.  Should we look to the government to solve all of society’s problems?  Obviously, like tobacco, many citizens freely choose to engage in these behaviors we consider risky.  Must their freedoms be curtailed because we know (or supposedly know) better?  I’m sure that I myself partake in behaviors that shorten my life expectancy.  For example, I know that I should exercise more frequently, but due to various reasons, I do not do so.  Should the government (local, state, or federal) mandate exercise requirements for me?  Heaven forbid.  Such a policy, although expected from a fascist police state, is unreasonable for a supposedly free republic like our own.

What about seat belt laws?  Although I think we can all agree about the importance of wearing a seat belt while either driving or riding in a vehicle, is it really the prerogative of the state to decide for us whether or not we should engage in protecting ourselves?  Fortunately the government has wisely restrained itself from being our nanny in our own autos, and therefore…oh no…wait a minute…that’s not right.  My mistake.  For some reason we’ve come to believe it is reasonable for the government to be our co-pilot for the sake of our own safety.  Gee, as we surrendered our choices and personal responsibility to the government on this issue, it should come as no surprise that the government seeks to extend its influence further into the public health and safety debate.

Now I think that the public should not turn a blind eye when companies attempt to mislead people concerning the dangers or potential dangers of using or consuming their products, but if we know what the risks are, then each person should be able to decide for him or herself if he or she chooses to use such products or engage in those behaviors.  When it comes to smoking in private businesses it is time to get the government out!  Nevertheless, I expect that the crusade against tobacco products will intensify in the coming years.  Prices will continue to rise and one day you won’t be able to smoke at all in public, and then not even in your own home.  Although I ask that you continue to show the courtesy of refraining from smoking in confined areas (especially around me), to all my friends who enjoy a the liberty of a good smoke I say, “smoke ‘em while you got ‘em”.

3 Replies to “Smoke’em While You Got ‘em”

  1. The smug grin you my surmise I feel as I write this is due in no small part to my glee at noting the financial hell the great State of California, where I reside, has dug itself into. California the nanniest of nanny states, the liberal autopia, so taunted by the Clintons as how to a state should be run, finds itself now the victim of its own spendthrift do-goodness.

    It is against state law in California, to ride a bicycle without an approved helmet, smoke anywhere but outside, even in your own home, use a cell phone while driving, sell hot coffee with out warning your customer that its hot, in some communities you cant wash your car in your own driveway, you may not opt to keep your child out of sex education or interfere with your teenage daughters right to an abortion. These are just a few of the laws that made it, past the governors desk, or some municiple councils. Last year, the bill banning leaded ammunition, a side door attempt at gun control, was sidetracked only because of the budget morass.

    Now I dont wish financial disaster on anyone, but in the case of a state government that cant seem to control their glee at running the lives of their taxpayers, I cant wait til the may primary to vote against the tax increases they propose we bail them out of the mess they are in.

  2. I’m trying to follow the Virginia Conservative’s line of reasoning, but I keep getting bogged down with inconsistencies.

    “…I think we can all agree about the importance of wearing a seat belt while either driving or riding in a vehicle…”

    – Virginia Conservative, from Smoke’em While You Got’em

    “The simple fact is that laws are merely an extension of the morality of the society, or person who created them. Certain actions are acceptable and should be allowed, other actions are forbidden and should be punished. Is that not the principle that intertwines both law and morality?”

    – Virginia Conservative, from You Can’t Legislate Morality?

    “Voting is a chance for the voter to express his or her opinions and principles through the selection of a like-minded candidate.”

    – Virginia Conservative, from The Uninformed Voter

    Apparently, we vote for like-minded candidates, and laws are intertwined with morality, and we can agree on the importance of seat belt wearing. So why should we get upset if the legislature that we elected acts on the beliefs we all share and writes legislation accordingly?

    I understand that seat belt wearing will not meet the definition of a moral choice for a good amount of people, so what about any of the other hot topics that have been addressed in this blog, or even this post? Would prohibiting abortion meet the criteria for government involvement? What about other issues such as homosexuality or the relationship between religion and the state? How does a conservative draw the moral line in legislation?

    I am also confused by the Virginia Conservative’s repeated desire to have states gain more autonomy and his distaste for the VA legislature’s actions. If the people of Virginia have elected people who represent their interests, and those interests are respected by the representatives through legislative acts, isn’t this what is supposed to happen? Should the Virginia Conservative find a state that has a population that is more in line with his rather than complaining when the state’s legislature faithfully represents the majority of the state’s residents?

    I believe that the Virginia Conservative is really trying to make a cogent argument for the conservative cause. I would appreciate seeing that argument made more clearly.

  3. How clear do you want it? Is it immoral or unethical to use a cell phone while your driving, or just unsafe? Are you risking eternal hell fire for smoking at an indoor restaurant?

    What happens to the right to make mistakes, take risks, and accept the consequences of our actions, and live your life as you please within broad limits of personal responsibility?

    Is it immoral to buy a 800,000 house on a school us drivers pay, and then expect, the government to bail me out at your expense?

    I dont think any of us object to a government regulating public safety, or banking laws, except when it gets to the nit picking degree we see happening because some public authority thinks they need to give in to a noisey minority, or political correctnesss, or worse yet “do something” just for the sake of doing something. While there may not be a great loss if personal liberty in each of these nanny laws, taken collectively there is.

    I guess what bothers me is the depricating attitude government seems to be taking in all this that we are too stupid to think for ourselves anymore, so we, the great and wonderful government are going to tell you, when and where you can smoke, ride a bicycle, use a cell phone, what kind of car you can drive, light bulb you can use, etc. etc. etc. Maybe Im misjudging the public mindset, but I dont think the majority of us expect the government to be that over bearing by the people we elect, yet its happening ever so more year by year.

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