Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where There's Not Smoke, There Are People Fired Up

Kanawha County's recent smoking ban for all restaurants and bars did not go unchallenged. Several bar owners have either threatened litigation or civil disobedience against a law they claim is unjust and harms their business. They work against the grain of the nanny state response that not only embraces the reasonable goal of helping people escape smoke, but the dangerous aim of forcing a morality on law abiding citizens.

The Legislature and county health departments agree that West Virginia must work towards becoming a smoke free society. I am not a smoker and I do not care to be around cigarette smoke for long periods (unless I am around my good friends whose company is enough fun to distract me from the smoke!) However people over the age of eighteen have the natural right to make this choice for themselves. This overt move towards prohibition only undermines the idea that individuals have the right to choose as well as the responsibility to live with the consequences.

And what about businesses? The idea of creating enclosed smoking sections was a responsible compromise. Keeping non-smokers from having to experience dangerous smoke was workable. It also recognized that individuals still had the right to choose. Jacking up taxes and eliminating public smoking areas reeks of the nanny state. New York now devotes millions of dollars in resources to combat cigarette smuggling, including paying for the incarceration of thousands. All of this resulted from extremely high taxes designed to eliminate the choice to smoke. Even those that do not smoke ought to fight for the reasonable rights of those that do.

What's next? The nanny state crowd never stops. They know what is best for you and me and will come after our unhealthy habits next. Snuff affects no one but the user, but do you think they will be left alone? Some cities have already started to legislate on the content of food served at restaurants. Others want to outlaw drive through establishments. They see obese children and blame the free market instead of schools that eliminated recess and phys-ed while making children take longer trips on the bus to go home and sit around doing increasing amounts of homework.

Are we a free society of adults that can make decisions about our lives, or are we a people that need guidance from our betters. It is not the government's business whether or not I or any other citizen are healthy. America was founded on freedom and real Americans must fight to prevent the control freaks from legislating our lifestyles.

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