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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023


Smoking Ban Violates Rights California’s law banning cigarette smoking in bars is running into resistance among Californians; bar owners have challenged the law, the Assembly recently passed a bill which would postpone implementation, and Gov. Pete Wilson recently said he would consider signing legislation allowing cigarette smoking in bars. But these efforts fall far short of a principled challenge to the law. Together, they represent a pea-shooter defense against what can only be described as an atomic-bomb assault on smoking. The new law must be challenged, not because it won’t stop smoking (though it won’t), but because it violates the rights of every individual smoker and nonsmoker alike. The ban restricts the individual’s actions on privately owned property. The law does this on the premise that government is responsible for the health of every Californian. Therefore, smoking-ban proponents claim, government has the moral right to eradicate any perceived health threat from society by use of force. Rule by force, for the sake of the public good, is the basis of every tyranny known to man. Advocates of the ban cry that cigarette smoking is unhealthy, and therefore the state must regulate everyone even smokers who resist for their own good. Smoking is unhealthy. But it is primarily the decision of the smoker to smoke. It is also the decision of the bar owner to permit smoking on his property, and the decision of bar patrons and employees to patronize and work in a bar where customers are permitted to smoke. Government’s role is to protect individual rights from the initiation of force. No one is forced to patronize a bar or any private property where smoking is permitted. As scientists debate the effects of secondhand smoke, no one can claim he is forced to breathe secondhand smoke in a bar; that decision is made upon entering the bar. The smoking ban puts the freedom to make judgments and act on those decisions under siege. Any attempt to strike the totalitarian ban on smoking whether from bar owners, the Assembly or the governor must do so in the name of individual rights. As America inches toward the nanny state, with her founding principles of individual rights in grave danger, the challenge against tyranny must be an unmistakable outcry for individual liberty. SCOTT HOLLERAN Freelance writer

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