Friday, October 13, 2006

Smoking Ban Burns Up The US Constitution In Louisville

Yesterday, the Louisville Metro Council passed a comprehensive ordinance yesterday banning smoking in 'every' 'public' building and workspace besides Churchill downs and a tobacco-product plant. Not exactly a comprehensive smoking ban.

I would like to remind the Metro Council that they are stepping on our constitutional right to smoke. Where in the constitution is this right? Its implicitly there, but it might as well be enumerated, indeed it really is. The second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms. Now what type of arms were they referring to? Firearms. And when you smoke what do you have, fire. And you also use your arm to smoke. They also can kill people. Therefore, cigarettes, cigars, etc, are arms covered by the second amendment which we have the right to bear and use. And of course that amendment does not actually mean in a militia, as has clearly been shown in court cases before. You might think this is absurd logic. I'm not going to contend with that claim, but rather submit that absurd logic is okay when it comes to making the law. Let me just point you to a supreme court decision that was just as absurd, Roe vs. Wade, and is now stare decisis. Because you implicitly have the right to privacy, you have the right to kill your children. Likewise, you implicitly have the right to smoke. Another similarity is abortions don't occur in private homes, even though its protected under the right to privacy, so why should things be any different with smoking.

Now restaurants, bars, etc, might me public places, but they're private businesses. No one forces you to go a restaurant, bar, etc. that allows smoking. So why the ban? The ban doesn't allow exemptions for places with separate ventilated rooms for smoking. But it does allow for smoking outside on patios, etc. Now how is that really different then separate ventilated rooms. Do non-smokers not like sitting outside. Second-hand smoke is just as annoying and dangerous when outside than when inside, especially when all the smokers are packed in a separate room. The claim has been made business increases when smoking is banned. Well, let each business decide what's best for them, and if they make the wrong decision they'll suffer the consequences. Since when did the government run private businesses?

What really gets me is this exemption for Churchill Downs. They claim its because they compete globally and with Caesars Indiana across the river, which allows smoking. Do local restaurants and bars not compete with those across the river, especially if smokers have to go across the river to smoke. It seems more likely its because Churchill Downs is a big corporation which can afford to lobby. And Churchill Down will probably get some of the smokers business just because they have a monopoly on smoking in Louisville.

Perhaps the point of a comprehensive ban is to protect the workers at these places. They after all still have to work in the smoking rooms night after night. So what about the workers at Churchill Downs? Does their health and well-being not matter? Why not just let places that want smoking to require those working in the smoking areas to be smokers? Or require them to wear masks, and maybe shame the smokers out of their habit? "Hello, I'm Darth Vader and I'll be your server for tonight. I'm wearing this mask because you gave me cancer. Can I start you off with some drinks?"

If we really wanted to do what is "good" for us, we would ban smoking in Louisville all together, both in public spaces and in people's homes. We have dry counties which don't allow alcohol to be sold, so why not make Louisville like that for cigarettes? (Because we're in Kentucky which produces the tobacco) Regular smokers after all do drive up our healthcare costs, both for the state and for insurers, leaving us the bill when they get cancer. So we would be better off if we banned smoking and tobacco products altogether. (Although they do die sooner, meaning they cost less social security money. So why not do a study and see if we save more paying their healthcare costs while they're dying earlier, and make our decision based off that. We might want to encourage smoking.) While we're at it lets ban fast food since that is unhealthy too, and costs almost as much to our society and pretty soon will cost more. Yum Brands Inc. might not be to happy about that, so we can give them an exemption, since they are a big corporation headquartered in Louisville. Sound familiar?

While I'm not big on smoking, I am big on keeping our government where it should be, largely out of our lives. (to a limit) We don't need the government to make every decision for us even though we might be better off. That is not compatible with our notion of liberty.


Anonymous Jason said...

I understand and agree with your satire. However, I think it does sometimes take the government to convince private companies to do the correct thing. All these places should've banned smoking a long time ago. While we're at it, smoking in general should be federally banned. And alcohol (except that used in fuel). This will get rid of the dangerous stuff out there. Prohibition? Yes, it is. Execution for those caught making/ growing and/ or selling these "goods" which should be called "bads" because they are.

As for the ban on fast food, they should force/ coerce(?) these companies into adjusting their menus to more healthier choices. I know most companies have already done so, getting rid of the "XL" size fries and drinks. But lets get rid of all the fried food in general. Baked/ grilled foods are much better for you.

Fri Oct 13, 06:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Gregarious said...

I'd agree people shouldn't smoke nor eat unhealthy fast food like they do. But I don't believe its the place of the government to babysit the public. And no one forces people to eat fast food either. Should people who sue McDonalds with frivalous law suits win? No, clearly its the consumers responsibility to watch what they (and their children) eat, and its their power to force change of the fast food industry here in our free market society.

Fri Oct 13, 09:15:00 PM EDT  

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