Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Statewide Smoking Ban; Non-Smokers' Rights v. Business Owners' Rights

Today's Indianapolis Star brings a letter to the editor written by Nasser Hanna, associate professor of medicine of the Indiana University School of Medicine. In the letter, Dr. Hanna talks about how smokers do not have the right to smoke in these business establishment because their smoking interferes with the rights of those who do not want to be affected by the smoke.

Contrary to Dr. Hanna's apparent assumption, I do not as a non-smoker have the right to go into a private business owner's establishment and be free of cigarette smoking. The issue is not about smokers' rights versus non-smokers' rights. Never has been. The issue is about the right of private business owners to run their business as they see fit and to allow a LEGAL activity on their property if they so choose. My right as a non-smoker is to not patronize that business if I do not like the smoking environment. As a life-long non-smoker and the son of a smoker who died from lung cancer, that's a decision that I make all the time. I do not like being in smoke-filled rooms. So I choose not to patronize those businesses that have that climate.

I find it amusing that Dr. Hanna and the other nanny state advocates have the chutzpah to tell these business owners they know better than the owners how to run their businesses. The nannies have invested nothing while many small business owners have their life savings wrapped up in the stores, bars and restaurants they own. Between the two, I am going to bet that the business owners are more likely to know what is best for their businesses rather than Dr. Hanna and his gang of nannies.

Here's an idea, Dr. Hanna. If you don't like smoking at a particular business, don't patronize the business. It really is that simple. It is a concept we in this country call "freedom."


Anonymous said...

What if you work for the business and don't have a choice whether or not to patronize the business? We can't walk out. That's the case with bar/restaurant staff. The FCC says the public owns the airwaves. Is this not true with the air we breathe?

Diana Vice said...

If it's such an important issue for the employee, why did he/she take a job knowing that they would be subjected to smoke? They don't have to work there, and they didn't have to apply. They surely aren't entitled to a job. Surely they knew they were asking to work for a smoking establishment; therefore, I don't have much sympathy for the complainers. I don't smoke, and I detest inhaling smoke, but what I detest even more is the violation of property rights. Business owners should not be forced by the nanny state to comply with nonsensical laws. It's not the proper role of government. Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, "It's to secure our rights that we resort to government at all."

Paul K. Ogden said...


I could not have answered Anon 5:10 any better than you did. Thanks.


Diana Vice said...

That's quite a compliment coming from the Master Communicator in the Indiana blogosphere. You're the Ronald Reagan of Indiana in my humble opinion. We think alike on many issues, and it's always a treat reading your common sense posts.

Patriot Paul said...

I'm taking a contrarian position, and as a libertarian, I know there are good people on both sides of the issue who justify their arguments. Those who know me would know I would be against Big Bro's incursion into our lives or where we work, and an ardent defender of live and let live without intruding on my basic rights, but this is a no brainer for me. I've heard the aforementioned arguments but hve seen the medical evidence. The argument has changed from being simply annoyed or aggravated as a non-smoker employee in a bowling ally (one of the currently exempt places in the law's loopholes) to one of being in eminent danger through the unseen killer of 2nd hand smoke. The constitution's 'unalienable' right to 'life' trumps our nanny concerns. People are dying due to the unforseen consequences of what others do in a working environment and you should not have to make a decision of your job vs. health, based on new evidence that we have a killer. People knowingly having HIV and infecting other partners is equally an unseen killer. I attended the presentation last night at the City Council, along with my green Smoke Free Indy shirt and sign and am proud to ask the Council to fill some of these loopholes to protect our citizens in the workplace. You may tear apart the arguments if you wish, but I'll side any day on the protection from an unseen killer of our citizens (and still remain great friends with those on the flipside).

Paul K. Ogden said...

Patriot Paul,

First, I wouldn't rely on a constitutional claim for a right to a smoke free environment. After all, many of the Founding Fathers smoked the same people who drafted the Constitution. I'm pretty sure they never intended to do away with smoking. Heck they had spittoons at the Convention.

Second, I'm inclined to say "so what" regarding the medical evidence. If someone deliberately exposes themselves to a risk, that's their choice. You don't have to work in a smoking environment, you don't have a right to patronize a business and be free of smoke.

If government's responsibility is to protect us from bad decisions we make, then maybe we need to outlaw fast food joints. Want to talk about killer, obesity might well beat cigarettes. Have you seen the size of some of the kids today? We are on our way to a major health crisis. I can't imagine having been overweight BEFORE my metablism slowed down in middle age.

I appreciate your comments though Patriot Paul. You are certainly one of our more thoughtful citizens.