Grassroots Network of the Republican Party of Virginia

I recently listened to arguments on Doc Thompson's show about a law being backed by Governor Cain regarding limiting smoking at all eating and drinking establishments. I come from a state (Massachusetts) that has already eliminated smoking in all public businesses with few exceptions. Doc Thompson was adamant in his defense of smokers rights as defending individual liberty. I take exception to that and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I believe that people should have a right to do as they please up to the point where it begins to affect other people. I agree that there is a fine line that can be drawn as to where ones behavior begins to affect others and it is indeed a treacherous road. I do however believe in the right of states to decide as a people where that line needs to be drawn. I do not believe there is any argument as to wether I have the right to eat in restaurants as you all do. I also believe that I should be able to do so without you imposing on my space in that restaurant. As such I have no problem with restrictions on smoking in public spaces.

I understand the free market argument I just don't buy it here. In Massachusetts for years people would say that if restaurants were not allowed to have smoking people would just goto New Hampshire to eat. It was also said that if there was a market for smoke free restaurants then there would be smoke free restaurants. Of course there weren't any smoke free restaurants and to goto a restaurant one would have to suck up everyones smoke and deal with their clothes smelling like smoke as well. This is where smoker's "rights" were impeding on everyone else's rights. So Massachusetts finally passed a law eliminating smoking in restaurants and bars. It was particularly worded to protect the workers at these establishments. I find it ridiculouse to say that if you don't want to deal with the cigarette smoke you should get a different job.

When the law was passed in Massachusetts a funny thing happened. More people started going to restaurants and lounges. Public health has also made strides with reduced heart and lung disease in every state that has limited smoking in the work place and restaurants.

I believe there are possible compromises that could be made like allowing smoking at primarily drinking establishments but not in restaurants. Or in one state there was a cut off time where no smoking was allowed before 8pm. This allowed families to go out to eat without exposing there children to smoke.

To be honest I don't much care if this law passes or not as I don't eat out much and if I do I find the no-smoking sections just fine. My problem here is that I see the point of restricting smoking and it has a lot of merit. Doc Thompson framed his opinion as though defending smoking were some sort of conservative principle and while I believe conservatives should fight for individual liberty, that liberty ends when your smoke crosses my table.

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Well, As a 16 year old who can honestly say I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, I disagree whole heartily with this smoking ban in restaurants. Let the actual owners of the restaurants make their own decisions about smoking in their business. What ever happened to smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants? That seamed to work just fine until now. Plus, nobody puts a gun to a non-smokers head and says eat at this restaurant. Same goes with a smoker in any non-smoking establishment. Now I must admit I haven't read this entire thread so forgive me if my words are an echo.

While we are at it I believe marijuana should be legal for adults. Take that Mark, lol :)
I don't disagree that the smoking bans are unnessecary. I have only been in VA for 1 year but have never even noticed smoke in a restaurant. Years ago when smoking sections were first created they were a farce. You could sit at a table right next to the smoking section and the ventilation was bad. Restaurants seem to have done a fine job on their own of improving ventilation.

That said I believe Frank is wrong about the "right" of a society to restrict smoking in a restaurant. As long as that restaurant is subject to the health code and where public health is at stake, it is the responsibility of our representation to make sure that restaurants are not putting their employees or the public at unnecessary risk. What government does NOT have the right to do is legislate personal health.

It would seem somewhat hypocrytical though if we ban smoking in the workplace unless that workplace is somewhere we go for enjoyment after work. Is it OK for the government to tell department stores that they cannot allow smoking but not ok for the government to put that same restriction on restaurants.

The reason why I started this discussion was in no way to defend the smoking ban. I reiterate that I find it wholly unnecessary and I'm not even sure who Kaine was pandering to. My point is only that it is a conversation that the public should be allowed to have and not an argument of personal liberty. Just like marijuana is not a question of personal liberty. Whether it should be legalized or not is a fair discussion and at some point if the majority decides it should be legal then so be it. I do not like the idea of taking the discussion out of the public realm by saying that it is a constitutional right when it is not.

I'm rather amazed someone brought this thread back to life.
Mark, show me anywhere in the constitution, federal or state, that the government has authority to legislate anything regarding health of restaurant patrons relating to second hand smoke inhalation. This is another example of where folks need to educate themselves on the purpose of government. The purpose of government, as stated in our Declaration, is to secure our God-given rights...not to protect us from every danger known to man.

Authority comes from our Creator to us as individuals and then we form a government and give that government limited authority through an expressed powers document called a constitution. We can not give that government anymore authority than we ourselves have. Since you do not have the authority to tell me who I can and can not let smoke in my restaurant, you can not give that authority to your elected representatives. My restaurant is private property and I should be the one making that business decision. Like I mentioned earlier, I had already made that decision before we ever opened that we were a non-smoking restaurant. I'm sure some folks have decided not to eat at my cafe because of that, but that's a business decision, not a political one.

As for the health code comment, get real. The health codes concern food handling safety, not smoking in the restaurant. But that's another completely different discussion.
The Constitution does NOT give the federal government the power to regulate cigarette smoking in a resaurant. It also does not guarantee your right to smoke in a restaurant. Those powers not enumerated in the Constitution are left to the states. I am not familiar with the Constitution of this state but unless it specifically guarantees your right to smoke in a restaurant than it is up to the body politic of this state to decide that.

Here's the problem:

Liberals will often make up rights that are not in the Constitution to silence the debate and take it out of the will of the people to legislate on issues. Abortion is not a right guaranteed in the constitution so they file that under "Privacy". Gay marriage is not a right guaranteed in the constitution so they try to include that in the "equal rights" ammendment. The "Commerce Clause" is abused 7 ways to sunday.

Now here we are on the right doing the same thing. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness can be used to define whatever you want but unless a right is guaranteed in the constitution then it is left to the states to determine how to judge it. If you want smoking to be allowed win the argument on other grounds but don't throw the constitution out there just to silence the other side. That's abusing our most sacred national document.
Like I said, if you as an individual don't have the authority, then you can't give it to your elected representatives. So, for them to impose something on the electorate that they don't have the authority to do is called tyranny...plain and simple.

It's not about people's "right" to smoke anywhere they want...that's a ludicrous idea to begin with. It's about government exceeding its authority.
Mark - I'm coming late to this discussion and it's a long thread, so if I repeat a previously stated viewpoint, I apologize. Never hurts to repeat a point.

I am not a smoker, have watched family members suffer agonizing deaths from emphysema, and it would not bother me in the least if every cigarette suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. That being said, restaurants are PRIVATE businesses -- not public -- and, as such, the owners of these establishments have the right to engage in any legal activity that they deem appropriate. At that point, it becomes my choice whether or not to patronize that business. If enough people agree with me, then the business will fail. This is the free market at work.

As conservatives, we are either for a free market system or we are not. We cannot bash the Dems for abandoning free market principles and then clamor for government interference in the legal activities of a private business. If smoke-free dining is a constitutional right, then why not nationalize restaurants? Heck, we could have a nation full of restaurants that serve zero trans fat foods, no meat, prohibit smoking/drinking, and require 20 sit-ups before leaving. Wouldn't this be for the greater good?

You may not have ever owned a business -- I have. This issue becomes much more personal when you invest your own money, time, and soul into building something only to have the government step in and tell you what to do. It's not right.

Although I share your dislike of smoking, I cannot agree with you on this topic.
Not once in your argument did you say that it was a violation of the constitution to ban smoking. That is an argument I like. The free market argument is legitimate. It is not your constitutional right to have smoke free air in someone else's establishment. It is the right of society as a whole do decide whether they want to have smoke free air in all places where the public is allowed. The fact that smoking is bad for your health is a private matter and the government has no right to get involved. The fact that it is unhealthy to breath second hand smoke is a public health concern. In that case is it the right of the populous to decide whether that danger is immenent enough to warrant a ban.

I agree with letting the free market decide. In fact I believe it already did since most restaurants either do not allow smoking or have very good ventilation in their smoking sections. Any further legislation was wholly unwarranted. Apparently enough of our lawmakers disagree and so we will have to elect new ones.

It happens that I did own a business from 1995 to 2003 and it was unlawful for any smoking to be allowed in the workplace. It is illegal in every state to allow smoking in the workplace. At the same time many states allow smoking in restaurants. Why do we feel that we should be allowed then to smoke on our free time in someone else's work place. How would you feel if, in this economy, your boss told you that if you didn't like the smoke from the neighboring cubicle you should quit and get another job. That is the choice you give your waiters, bartenders, and buspeople.
Mark -- then let's make smoking illegal. However, while it is a legal activity, free people should and do have the right to make free choices.

You will have to show me the law where it is illegal to allow smoking in the workplace. I did not allow it in my facility, but I have certainly been in plenty of business where smoking was permitted. They were either breaking the law or you are incorrect. If you are correct, then I whole heartedly disagree with that law.

If smoking offends you that much -- trust me, I hate smoking -- then do not take a job where you will be around smoking. Period. I will not accept the "can't find a job in a bad economy" argument. We cannot give/take away rights based on the economy.

And tell me, where does it stop? Not with smoking. There are plenty of vices/activities that are on the government's hit list. Pick something that you like. I'll guarantee that there are people who find it offensive. Give them a precedent and they will use your same arguments to take away that which you hold dear.
I agree that there isn't a need to ban smoking. I was in Massachusetts when I had my business and there was a specific law that prevented smoking in the workplace but it made an exception originally for eating and drinking establishments. I'm really not sure about Virginia, maybe someone else knows. I think that as long as the ventilation is good the health hazard is minimized and the restaurants seem to take care of that on their own.

Where does it stop? Hopefully it stops where your actions affect others. If the action being legistated is personal in nature and does not directly affect anyone else I do not believe it should be legislated. Unfortunately many will use that same argument for the legalization of marijuana, heroine, meth, extacy, etc. Society has the right to draw the line somewhere as these substances are dangerous to society as a whole. The real danger lies in the financial arguments. Universal healthcare will open us up to a whole litany of violations because now your health has a direct financial affect on everyone else. THEY will try to legislate your food, your excersise and most likely will try to ban smoking. They may even try to make us all vegitarians. We will all be subject to mandatory yearly physicals and drug tests to ensure we are staying healthy. Older people will be denied services for the good of the collective.

In my opinion the government has already crossed the line with seat belt laws. By me not wearing my seatbelt I'm not endangering anyone else. Yet I'm in violation of the law. I have to obey a fire code in my own home. I may be required to have a CO2 detector in my own home. I'm sorry but my safety is my responsibility. If I was renting that home out I could see the argument but even then as a renter I can insist that my landlord take care of these things if I find them important.
Mark - I don't disagree with anything that you just said, which is basically "my rights end where your rights begin." The point of my initial post is that my rights, as a business owner, include allowing any legal activity on my private property. Trying to tell me what I can and can't do on my property in an infringement of my rights, not yours.

You are also correct that the government has already trampled all over our rights, and your examples are spot on. Problem is, we did not stand up before and that makes it harder now. It's incremental-ism at its worst. Every time we let government take a way a right in the name of "the greater good," we give up a little more of our freedom. That's why I do not agree with legislating the prohibition of smoking in restaurants.
Sounds like we're all pretty much in heated agreement.

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