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Smoke Signals?

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Do we live in a liberal society? Is the individual supreme? In a way, yes, but anyone’s right to act as he or she pleases ends where the well-being of another is impaired.

Canada now has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws: New laws have gone into effect in the provinces of Ontario and Québec that ban smoking from all public places, including private functions and clubs. Even ventilated smoking sections, which can cost as much as $50,000 to set up, have to be removed. Bar and pub owners are already complaining bitterly, saying that they will have to go out of business.

Other countries, for example, Ireland, are living proof that this is not necessarily going to happen. Non-smokers who used to stay away from bars, pubs and smoke-filled restaurants will see this as an opportunity to return to these places, thus taking the place of any smoker who may feel compelled to stay home as a result of the new law.

But libertarians take offense, and rightly so, because the law is excessively paternalistic. Protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke is one thing, but going so far as to tell owners of private clubs and similar establishments how to run their places is quite another. Requiring the removal of those ventilated and sealed-off cubbyholes to which smokers have been banished for years is also an example of taking things too far. And if you thought all this was extreme, just wait until you hear about this part of the new law: Smoking on patios is prohibited if there is an awning or other roof-like cover, because smoke might get trapped and become a hazard to non-smokers. The fact that such patios are often located right next to a busy street, thus forcing patrons to inhale car exhaust fumes, which are a lot more harmful than the smoke from a cigarette, is blithely ignored.

When a government intrudes on people’s lives and usurps their right to make independent decisions for themselves, it is not only libertarians that should be concerned. We are at a point where we have to ask ourselves, “What’s next?” Will it be illegal for obese people to show themselves in public, because they are an “annoyance”?

Any government that believes in paternalism must be viewed with suspicion, because paternalism represents a most dangerous mindset. It goes hand-in-hand with a belief of infallibility on the government’s part and the conviction that it always knows best.

Non-smokers will be breathing a sigh of relief until such time as the government steps in yet again, only to take away some of their rights in another area. When you make a deal with the paternalistic devil and sell your soul, you cannot go back in time and undo the pact when time comes to hand over your soul on a silver platter.

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About Werner Patels

  • Hard though it may be to believe this smoking law is less severe than those in some American cities. San Francisco and Austin have particularly severe laws. Here in Austin it’s illegal to smoke within 30 feet of a building entrance.


  • tommyd

    Smokers are an easy target for the worthless, corrupt, greedy, and self-righteous politicians who rule like kings. Smokers and non-smokers have hung around the same places for centuries now, and there was never some epidemic of non-smokers dropping dead from “second hand smoke”. It’s all bullshit propaganda. And aside from Saturday nights, nightlife is massively impacted by non-smoking laws. It’s just no fun anymore. All the cool people don’t come out anymore and places are packed with more non-smoking assholes.

    Whatever happened to privacy? Businesses in a supposed free market economy should be the ultimate deciders if they want their establishments to be non-smoking or smoke friendly. There’s no other alternative…..that is unless you’re living in a state or country that’s ruled by fascist decree and not a democracy.

  • zingzing

    seattle’s got 25-feet from any door or window. i live in downtown… very crowded. 25-feet from any door or window pretty much means the middle of the street. also, since no one pays attention to that rule in downtown, and since you can’t have ashtrays outside, the sidewalks have become littered with smelly cigarette butts. now, you can’t walk down the street without getting smoke blown in your face. also, the bums just crowd around bar entrances and try to get cigarettes off of people night and day. fucking annoying.

    also, it was my mother who always told me to stop smoking. so, it’s more maternalistic than paternalistic in my book. mommy state.

  • It seems Canada is being fed the fodder of fascism as well as America, in the guise of promoting the public good.

    The recent clamp-down on Internet ponzis is likely the very best example. The audacity of a servant government to regulate and impose punitive damages on private companies for the very deed the government itself have thrust upon The People for decades and refuse to eradicate is unconscionable and beyond words.

    If it appears fraternal or maternal is no matter; it is neither. However, even as they pretend it is in our best interests, it is the saddest example of parenting that has ever existed….”Don’t do as I do, do as I say.”

  • I think “parental state” would be the gender neutral form.

    I don’t think we’ll see legislation that outlaws obese people showing themselves in public as they do not emit toxic fumes like burning tobacco does, but it is entirely possible that the parental state could someday declare a “war on fat,” tax “fattening” foods, and order obese people into mandatory diet and exercise programs.

    The most pernicious form of tyranny is that which is imposed upon us for our own supposed good.

  • Don’t you get it yet? It’s not about smoking! It’s not about abortions, or gay marriages! It’s not about religion in schools or much anything else that gets peoples panties twisted in a knot.
    It’s about a whole lot of politically correct snobs whose bottles politicians have made a science out of spinning! The bottle spins. it points to the loudest, whining voice, the one who only gets louder when you take their toys away!
    That’s the ass to kiss! Not only do they get louder, they recruit more whiners as they go, doing the job that they do best, pissing people off. Politicians don’t give a good solid crap about these annoying beings or the issues they represent, they just provide another platform, one that may over shadow one of real substance.
    So here we are with smoking, the latest rage. Fourty years ago one(or I should say many)walked through the supermarket cigarette in hand. As did bus drivers, talk show hosts, news anchors, even your doctor. The first thing that the majority of people did when their plane took off was to light a cigarette.
    Now, I’m not so insensitive as to say that’s the way it should be now but why get so ridiculous?
    Because, snobs who have nothing better to devote their lives to get their rocks off making other people miserable!
    Beware, when they’ve done as much to smokers as there is to do they may find one of your pleasures or idiosyncrosys to target. Some people just aren’t satisfied if everyone else is!

  • I can’t believe this is still news to people. SMOKING KILLS….that is to say, the sooner and faster you put those cigarettes in your blabber mouth, the sooner and faster you will die. In your case this is a good thing, but for many people (including me) life is too good to throw away on getting your nic on, or looking cool, or following the crowd, or whatever other reason you “ilberals” want to justify killing yourselves. Spend a weekend in a county hospital (you can volunteer you know) and look at all the not-so-old poor-souls dying drawn out, horrible deals due to drugs (yes, including nicotine), obestiy, and the universial killer of being poor/minority, and see if you can justify smoking to any sane person. F UCKING c OCK SUCKERS… do normal humans beings a break and B LOW YOUR FU CKING HEAD OFF…