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.