Smoking ban

The very first trip I ever took to the General Assembly was to accompany then-Delegate Thelma Drake to a committee hearing where I testified about the need to exercise control over credit card companies. I recall getting out of her car and lighting a cigarette. Upon reaching the doors of the building, I put my cigarette out. After all, I had been used to not smoking inside government buildings, having been a federal government employee when that ban was introduced. (That is a story for another day.)

Upon entering the building, my first stop was the ladies’ room. When I came out, I could smell smoke – in this case, cigar smoke. I asked Del. Drake about it and she said that smoking was indeed allowed in the building and that up until recently, members of the GA smoked at their desks during session! As Margaret Edds said in her column today:

By all rights, as a reporter covering the General Assembly over several decades, I probablyCigarette in ashtray should be dead by now. Other than “bartender,” if there were a profession or a workplace more consistently draped in a canopy of smoke, you’d be hard-pressed to find it. Once, I remember counting the ashtrays in a committee room. Astonishingly, they outnumbered chairs.

However, it is not because of the history of Virginia being so intertwined with tobacco that I oppose the smoking ban. Nor is it because I am a smoker. Heck, I’ve had parties at my house and retreated outside my own home to smoke in deference to those who don’t smoke. No, I oppose the ban because it is simply the wrong thing to do.

People talk about personal responsibility and how the government shouldn’t interfere in our lives and then they turn around and support a ban like this. Where’s the consistency of thought? Either you want government to regulate behavior or you don’t.

I don’t.

Everyone has a choice. I choose not to go to outdoor baseball parks that ban smoking. (Of course these same parks allow folks to get rip roaring drunk and then get behind the wheel of a car. Hmmm.) I sometimes choose to go to nonsmoking restaurants because I happen to not like smoke around me when I’m eating. But I am unwilling to impose my choice on someone else. It’s kind of like what was said about gay marriage: don’t want one? Don’t get one.

Don’t want to be around smoke? Don’t go to a restaurant where it is allowed. Vote with your feet and your pocketbook. If enough people don’t want smoking in restaurants, guess what will happen? Restaurants will be smoke-free. We already see that happening.

But for those who want to have a cigarette, places like Greenie’s shouldn’t be put out of business simply because government is “protecting” us. If the majority of Greenie’s customers prefer a smoke-free environment, guess what? Greenie’s will either adopt a non-smoking policy or go out of business.

Government is not always the answer, folks. Business people who are afraid of being the first one on the block to go smoke-free have no guts. If you believe it is the best thing for your customers and staff, then do it. Grow a pair and stop relying on government to help you out.


79 thoughts on “Smoking ban

  1. So, I know this is an old post but I just had to chime in.

    The smoking ban is about controlling other people and holding them to your own personal standards. The moral majority would love to force prayer back into our schools; the obnoxious liberal would love to force smoking out of existence. It’s the same human need to control other people’s behavior to a self-identified standard and it’s immoral no matter what side you’re on.

    To those who say that “lives are at stake”, well then why not outlaw high fat food? There’s a clear link between eating foods that are high in fat and heart disease. And heart disease is the nation’s largest killer so how about you step down off of the “Ban smoking” soapbox and stand up on the “ban fat people” soapbox. Unless, of course, it’s not really about the aggregate number of lives you can save (but if that’s the case, why are you using lives as an argument?)

    I don’t want my behavior controlled by the government. If I want to smoke (I don’t, but if I decide I want to) I should be able to smoke. If I want a Big Mac, so be it. If you tell me that my smoke or Big Mac is harming you then you need to get yourself away from me. Instead, people try to outlaw behavior that aggravates them. “My rights are more important than yours!” goes the chorus.

    Lives are always at stake but, oddly enough, if you elongated the life of a smoker he’d still die. Maybe of heart disease! The truth is that humans die. It’s our thing. How about living your own life and letting those around you live theirs; in relative peace and without constant admonishment about how their habits are harming them. The same can be said of almost any vice, and we all have our vices, so unless you’d like to be berated, publically, about yours maybe you shouldn’t berate other people about their vice of choice.

  2. I the issue is invasion of ones personal space. One person’s cigarette smoke by default invades the personal air/space and health of another. I should not be forced to inhale another person’s second hand smoke; I can make the choice if I choose to drive with someone who I know smokes or visit that person’s home. That aside, we all have the right to breath clean air; no one has the right to pollute my space or the air I breath in that space without my permission.


  3. It’s not that business failed to produce smoke free alternatives, it’s consumers failing to incite such, and entrepreneurs failure to capitalize on smoke free alternatives. As for bans, they are good until you realize that some are stepping stones to encroaching on personal liberties and rights and not just the feel good ‘right-thing-to do’ that the government purports. I am all for a level playing field where business can elect to be one or the other, or both, clearly note their position and cater to their market. If a business gladly jumps on a nonsmoking status, then clearly they have the market or drive to do so. If a business doesn’t want to, and/or wants to cater to a smoking clientele, tough luck on the legal product and users? I am not for government saying that the act of smoking is illegal (except in your own closet) but the product is legal. Either make all smoking illegal or get off the pot. Then we can move on to banning other things until we get that utopia society that somebody says we should all be doing, maybe even you are part of that decision panel.

    As for clean air, you mean, cleaner air, the particles in your so called clean air still contain the contaminants of your multitude of trains, planes and automobiles (no matter how lower their emissions – sheer numbers and old vehicles eat into those), industrial plant smoke, landfill castoff, and a number of industrial and residential pollutants add to your cancer risks daily. Let’s make the clean-up hit home.

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