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As many of my readers know, I'm not a fan of many of America's anti-smoking laws and I can honestly say that I'd hold the same opinion even if I didn't smoke. Quite frankly, blanket bans on public smoking verge on fascism. It proposes no health risk whatsoever to smell someone's cigarette, cigar or pipe as it wafts by in an unenclosed space. None. You could smell smoke in a public park every day for a thousand years and not get cancer. Tobacco smoke is not cyanide gas.
Allowing merchants to ban smoking in their establishment is fine. But to ban it in all buildings, regardless of the preferences of the owner, manager, or patrons is ridiculous. Why can't a bar owner in NYC decide for himself if he wants to allow smoking? No one is required to be in a bar. Proponents of these laws say that it exposes the employees to a health risk. First, the health risk of breathing second-hand smoke on the job is negligible, far less than eating meat and dairy. Second, no one is required to work there.
In California (and some other places) you can't smoke within 25 feet of a building. For those of you outside of California, this isn't a joke, they're actually protecting the health of bricks and masonry. This law is clearly nothing more than a vendetta against a habit that some people find unappealing.
There are plenty of habits I find unappealing, if I can get enough people behind me, does it make sense in a free society to ban them? I love music but hearing music that I did not choose to listen to at that moment bugs the crap out of me, for instance: In cars, stores, restaurants, taxis, nightclubs, you name it. Nine times out of ten it is something I do not have on my iPod and I can honestly say that it annoys me as much as smelling smoke annoys other people. I'm sure there are other people who feel the same way, shall we outlaw all music that is audible to more than the person who chose to play it?
I don't like ugly clothing or hairstyles, either. Let's ban them in all public buildings and within 25 feet of doorways. And in public parks and on beaches, too. Soda pop and junk food also disgust me and are as clear a long-term health risk as is smoking. Out you go. And don't get me started about some people's accents. A nasally southern twang makes me want to jump in front of a train.
I'm guessing that most people don't share my view and some may claim democracy and say the majority wins. But that's not really what a free society is about. It means we're all free to do what we choose if it isn't injuring others. An odor we find unpleasant isn't really injury, it's momentary inconvenience, as it is with music, ugly hairdos and twangy nose-talkers.
Mind you, I don't think smoking bans will ever be repealed, I'm just whining.