Smoking bans are the real threat to Democracy

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 themselves are symptoms of a far more grievous threat, a
cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic. This
cancer is the only real hazard involved - the cancer of unlimited government

Loudly billed as measures that only affect “public places,” smoking bans
have actually targeted many privately owned places such as bars and shops -
places whose owners should be free to ban smoking or not and whose customers
are free to patronize or not. Outdoor bans even harass smokers in places
where others’ health is obviously not the issue.

The decision to smoke or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, is a question for
each individual to answer based on his own values and judgment. This is the
same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their
lives. All lifestyle decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful
consequences; many are controversial and invite disapproval from others. but
the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must be free,
because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own judgment
can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking this freedom of choice for a minority, is being
seriously limited by a majority made baselessly fearful through massive
media campaigns often funded by tax dollars.
The real threat we face here, no matter how strongly it is denied by the
anti-smoking lobby, is the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government
into our lives.

We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behavior. They are
in office to serve us, not visa versa.

You seem to have your terms confused. It’s liberty not democracy that’s involved. It should be obvious that if a majority of people want to ban smoking then a ban is democracy in effect. It’s the principle of liberty that says individuals should be able to do some things even if the majority don’t like it.

Couldn’t one make the same sort of argument about driving while intoxicated? Sure, a drunk driver will kill a pedestrian far quicker than second hand smoke but second hand smoke affects more people in an enclosed space and might therefore have a greater negative impact on the health of non smokers.

And yes, more drivers than there are smokers. But not all of them drink and drive.

Or why not just have smokers potter off somewhere else and let the rest of us breathe relatively clean air? The question of whether to avoid someone obnoxious who’s making an otherwise pleasant locale untenable shouldn’t even have to be asked, why can’t they take their anti-social habit elsewhere? :slight_smile:

Does the OP seem…scripted, almost?

Undoubtedly. Snowbird’s probably an employee for some marketing firm who was given the job of posting pro-smoking messages on bulletin boards. The SDMB is one of the biggest boards on the internet; it’s surprising we don’t get more of this.

That said, it’s a valid opening for a debate (albeit posted in the wrong forum).

No, not when talking about smoking bans on bars and restaurants. Roads are public and people have little choice but to use them. Bars and restaurants, however, are private establishments that no one has to patronize. A person who owns it should be able to set rules for that establishment, and if he/she wants to allow smoking, then there is nothing wrong with that. If you don’t like second-hand smoke, go to a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have it.

Hold it! Let’s see some credentials. SLOWLY. You’re a Chewley’s Gum Representative? And you’re what? Stirring up all this anti-smoking sentiment to sell more gum? GET OUT OF HERE! And you people, don’t you have jobs to go to? Get out of here, go commute! Bunch of easily-led automatons. Try thinking for yourselves before you pelt an innocent man with cigarettes!

While the OP is a valid question, it is most definately scripted. I googled the first paragraph, and came up with 5 pages of exact hits, including one from a blog under the name of The Snowbird.

Ultimately, it’s know as the “common good.” Laws ultimately should address this issue.

N.B.: the common good is NOT the sum of all special interests.

Well, because if an owner wants to have smoking in his privately owned company, why shouldn’t he be able to? You don’t have to go there. It’s not a publicly owned building, like a courthouse or a state hospital. It’s a privately owned restaurant.

The subject is a valid one for debate, and frankly I’m sympathetic to the anti-ban crowd, but god do I hate spam.

The OP seems to obviously be spam, but the replies seem to be from established posters, some of whom seem interested in discussing the issue. So, at the risk of being jumped all over…

Here’s something I don’t quite understand. Recently, there was a referendum in Austin for a smoking ban in bars (I’m oversimplifying), and it passed. To me, that says there were enough voters who wanted a smoking ban to get a majority out of the people that voted. However, before that, there weren’t any bars in town that chose to have a smoking ban. (To my knowledge, and of course I could be missing one that I’m just not aware of, but I don’t think so.)

If there really were that many people wanting to have non-smoking bars, why didn’t someone decide to make a profit by changing to non-smoking, and advertising that to draw these customers?

Conversely, if most people want smoking in bars, why couldn’t they get enough voters to vote it down?

Is there some other force - business inertia, or trying to keep the same as other nearby businesses, or whatever - that pressures individual owners to have kept smoking (before the ban passed), in spite of sufficient demand for a non-smoking venue? If so, was such a low necessary, then?

I don’t really have a firm position on this issue one way or the other; but the above points make me wonder.

It’s more about protecting workers than customers.

At first I thought this said Smoking beans are the real threat to Democracy.

The fact that there were no non-smoking bars shows that there was, in fact, no sufficient demand for one. Laws are not a good indicator of what a business should or should not offer. People voting on the laws may not go to bars, for one. Or they may go to bars and dislike cigarette smoke but they put up with it because the trade-offs are such that it is worth their time to go to a bar even with smoke. Or, in other words, their desire to drink outweighs their desire to sit in a smoke-free environment.

So there was no economic pressure to ban smoking because people chose to visit smoking establishments and voted with the only thing that really matters – money. It’s easy to cast a vote. It doesn’t cost you anything and you don’t give anything up. To see how people truly feel about an issue, just look at how they spend their money. If they don’t care about an issue enough to allow it to affect their spending, then they don’t really care all that much.

And many of those workers don’t want these bans since workers stand to make less money in tips and less money if the place loses business.

Don’t smokers, tobacco growers, tobacco merchants all have the right to vote? Don’t they know it’s possible to nominate and vote for candidates who will oppose smoking bans? What if both are true, but a majority of voters wants and supports the bans? Is that democracy?

Oh, and while restaurants, bars, stores, etc. are privately owned, they are subject to a lot of laws regarding what goods and services they may provide and what conditions they must maintain while doing so. Public health is one of the reasons these laws are in place.

Yes, it’s democracy, but so what? Sometimes the majority is wrong, you know. Sometimes the majority wants to infringe on the rights of an unpopular minority. Just because the majority supports something does not make it right.

Yes, because no one going into a restaurant excepts their food to contain rat feces or to have a person with an open wound making their meatloaf. However, people who go to a bar know that they are going into an environment where there is smoking. That person can either choose to enter the bar or not do so, depending on which desire is stronger: the desire to have a drink or the desire to have a smoke-free atmosphere. If you want a smoke free atmosphere so badly, then don’t go to a bar where the man who owns it allows smoking. You can buy liquor elsewhere.

I’m not a smoker, but that’s a fair trade-off for me. The bar I go to has smoking. I like the place in spite of that, so I go there. Why should the owner be forced to ban smoking if his customers are happy with the situation that exists now?

Well, this is possible, but I’m not sure it’s certain. I’m not saying that I know this isn’t the case, but I’m not willing to take it as a given. For instance:

  1. If there were bars (even just one) that did not allow smoking, and they were doing worse (or better) than a bar almost precisely the same that did allow smoking, that would validate (or invalidate) your point. However, since there weren’t any for comparison, no point is made. It is not the case that we can see where the “money voted”.

  2. We don’t have any way of knowing how many potential customers would go to a non-smoking bar, but stayed home to avoid the smoke. We also have no way of knowing how many put up with the smoke so that they could drink (as you posit), but are happier without the smoke… enough so that they will go more often, stay longer, or spend more.

Again, as with Renob’s position, I don’t know that this is the case either; I’m neither willing to take it as certain nor dismiss it out of hand. Since we’re in IMO, I’m asking opinions.

The point about better conditions for the workers is certainly a valid one, and one that is brought up quite often. I wasn’t really thinking about this aspect when I asked my question; not because it’s an invalid point, but more because I’m wondering about how the customers feel.