Following the first successful lawsuit against the tobacco companies, we have seen a flood of anti-smoking efforts arise. These started out as well-intentioned efforts to protect people from the hazards of smoking, including second-hand smoke. But as time passed, the anti-smoking efforts appear to have turned into a crusade. A crusade which has attracted more than it's share of wild-eyed zealots who have predictably driven the common sense out of the cause. The thing that concerns me about the anti-smoking movement is that in their enthusiasm for banning any and all tobacco products, the anti-smoking groups are trampling the property rights and individual rights of Americans. Before anyone jumps to conclusions - no, I DON'T smoke. I smoked my last cigarette in 1978. I don't allow people to smoke in my house or my car. My office is not an issue since it is located on federal property and the DoD bans smoking inside any building. But recently a trend has begun to emerge which causes me concern. Cities are beginning to ban smoking in areas where they should have no authority whatever: ======================================================== http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/ma...=1&ArticleID=8016&SectionID=3&SubSectionID=83 Smoking laws discussed Wednesday, February 04, 2004 By BETTY RANDALL The Dickinson Press Dickinson city commissioners heard strong support for a proposed ordinance banning smoking in public places at their meeting on Tuesday evening. The proposed ordinance would prohibit smoking in any public or private business except freestanding bars. This would include common work areas and all areas within 25 feet of the building. Exceptions to the smoking ban would include private residences, except when used for day care or health facilities and apartment buildings. Hotels and motels would be allowed to designate up to 25 percent of their rooms as smoking rooms. A perfect world would be completely smoke-free, said Frank Hurt, co-chairman of the Southwest Alliance against Tobacco (SWAAT). However, we are looking for a reasonable compromise, he said. One area businessman who spoke against the proposed ordinance said business owners should be allowed to decide for themselves whether or not their facilities are smoke-free. I dont see where legislation has any right to tell a business owner what they can or cant do with their own property, Scott Martin said. Dr. Amy Oksa responded by outlining existing rules businesses must already follow. We have cleanliness rules and hand-washing rules, she said. Why not have (clean) air standards? ========================================================== http://www.jointogether.org/sa/news/reader/0,1030,263123,00.html Philadelphia Considers Banning Smoking in Restaurants 5/18/2000 A Philadelphia, Pa., city councilman has introduced a measure that would prohibit smoking in restaurants and public buildings, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported May 11. The bill sponsored by City Councilman Michael Nutter would make Philadelphia's smoking laws among the more restrictive in the United States. Under the measure, smoking would be banned in all enclosed public places, including restaurants, bowling alleys, buildings and lobbies. In addition, hotels would have to designate 75 percent of their rooms as nonsmoking. The bill would exempt private clubs and union halls, tobacco stores, and bars and taverns that derive 60 percent or more of their gross sales from alcoholic beverages. City Council members predict that passage of the measure will be difficult. "It's going to be a problem," said Councilman Richard Mariano, a nonsmoker. "I think Michael is a smart person and overall it's a good thing, but it's going to negatively affect a lot of people." Already voicing their opposition are restaurateurs and trade groups, who claimed their businesses would suffer. Others argued the bill would violate the rights of patrons. A scheduled hearing on the bill is expected soon. ===================================================== I do not dispute that second hand smoke is harmful. I have no issue with banning smoking. I do have a problem with governmental interference in the rights of individual property owners. Government at all levels has refused to attack the smoking problem head-on. They have refused to make cigarettes illegal and they have refused to make smoking an illegal activity. Instead, they are approaching the problem from the back door. Government recognizes that banning cigarettes would be about as successful as prohibition. People who want to smoke are going to find the means to do so. Not only that, governments at all levels currently enjoy a huge tax income from the sale of tobacco products and they are loath to kill the golden goose. But government seems to have no such compunction about watering down our civil liberties. In their efforts to control smoking, government has begun to encroach on the rights of property owning Americans including businesses. Business owners are being beset by ambitious city and state officials who seek to regulate smoking in private businesses. So what's so bad about that? The dangerous aspect is that government has trodden upon another liberty. So long as smoking remains a LEGAL activity, what right does government have to tell a business (property) owner that he or she cannot allow smoking on their premises? Is it that much of a stretch from regulating private businesses to regulating smoking in your home? If you think I'm reaching, consider the fact that some are encouraging lawmakers to view smoking in the home as a form of child abuse. ====================================================== http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Sept97/smoking.abuse.ssl.html Cornell child abuse expert says it's time to recognize smoking as child abuse ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cigarette smoking is a form of child abuse, says one of the nation's leading child abuse experts, and it's high time we recognize it as such. "More young children are killed by parental smoking than by all unintentional injuries combined," says James Garbarino, an internationally recognized expert on child protection and the director of Cornell University's Family Life Development Center. These deaths include almost 3,000 annually due to low birth weight, 2,000 due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and another 1,300 attributed to respiratory infection, asthma and burns, according to researchers in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (July 1997 edition). ======================================================= These groups plan to use this approach as a means of insinuating themselves and their agenda into your home. So we are left with the conundrum that government refuses to outlaw a hazardous activity because; 1. It will likely be unenforceable. 2. It will likely create a new crime syndicate. 3. It will cost governments billions in tax revenue. Worse, groups like the American Heart Association willingly play the stooge for government taxation of tobacco products. They assert that increasing taxes will decrease smoking, especially among younger smokers. Baloney. By making it more expensive, they serve to make smoking a status symbol. But here is the "logic" if you care to read it: ===================================================== http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11225 Tobacco Excise Taxes AHA Advocacy Position The American Heart Association has called for significant increases in federal and state cigarette taxes to reduce teen smoking, to save lives and to offset the costs of smoking by raising significant new revenue. Increasing the excise tax on tobacco products has been one of the most effective ways to discourage youth from starting to smoke. According to an August 1993 report from a National Cancer Institute expert panel, "An increase in cigarette excise tax may be the most effective single approach to reducing tobacco use by youth. The impact of an increase can be expected to encourage teenagers to stop smoking, and it may also discourage children from ever starting." Publicly, the tobacco industry decries excise tax increases as ineffective. Privately, in their own documents, the industry admits exactly the opposite that kids are especially sensitive to price. ====================================================== If "kids are especially sensitive to price", explain the brand-new high dollar cars you see in high school parking lots. Explain the $150 dollars sneakers. Explain the designer clothing. If you want to make cigarettes unpopular with high schoolers, try making them dirt cheap. In my opinion, the tobacco industry sees higher taxes as a means of keeping government off their backs. The industry knows that government officials will tread carefully so long as there is tax income to be derived. So what is the solution to mitigating the effects of second hand smoke in public places, which does not infringe on our rights? The solution is so incredibly simple that it boggles the mind. Allow the INDIVIDUAL to make his or her own choice. Instead of attempting to regulate smoking on private property, simply require the business owner to post one of two signs in their entrance. The sign should say either "Smoking Optional" or "Smoke Free". That way, when you or I walk up to the front door, we are cognizant of the status of that facility. If we object to smoking, we can take our business elsewhere. THAT is the way to solve the problem without sacrificing another of our steadily dwindling liberties in the process. Let the consumer regulate the activity of a business with his or her dollar. That is the way the free market has operated for centuries. It works far better than government fiat. The problem is that those who have appointed themselves to "take care" of us will see themselves left out of the loop. And they get very upset whenever someone suggests that individual Americans are damn well capable of taking care of themselves. I guess it's a job security issue.