My Two Cents: Smoking ban chips away at freedom, personal responsibility

Last week’s vote by the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health to make the county the first place in the state to ban smoking in most indoor public places is, in my opinion, just the latest blow to freedom of choice and personal responsibility in this country.

While many debate the economic impact of such a ban or the extent of the deleterious effects of second-hand smoke, I believe the real issue is the heavy-handed intrustion of government into the private sector.

What we’re seeing here is yet another example of the decline of people – adults – being able to make decisions for themselves and the rise of the nanny state.

From a laissez-fair perspective, shouldn’t private business owners be able to decide for themselves if they want to allow smoking in their establishments?

From a personal point of view, I am not a smoker and I am not particularly fond of second-hand smoke (although I think the health hazards are largely overblown). But that’s where it ends for me.

To put it another way, if I patronize an establishment that allows smoking, and there’s too much smoke for my comfort, I simply choose to take my business elsewhere.

I don’t make the arrogant assumption that everyone in whatever establishment I’m visiting should be forced to stop smoking because I don’t like it.

It’s not as if there is a shortage of businesses that are smoke-free in Pierce County. Why force every restaurant, tavern, bar and bowling alley to go smoke-free? Isn’t it better to have a mix of private businesses in terms of those that allow smoking and those that don’t? People can decide for themselves which establish-ments they choose to patronize.

I, myself, am disturbed at this trend toward government paternalism. It is dismaying to me to see the power of government being used to demand that everyone else conform to the personal choices of a certain group of people – in this case, anti-smoking zealots.

It seems to me that if you don’t want to be around smoke, you shouldn’t go where smoking is allowed. Why get the government involved in regulating our personal choices?

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who predicts it’s only a matter of time before government tries to ban smoking in private homes (you know, to protect the children) – gets in his two cents worth, in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.