Editor’s Note: The following article discusses only my opinion toward smoking legislation and does not reflect my opinion on the choice to smoke or my stance on the effects that second-hand smoke has on public health.
The quickly approaching smoking ban has evoked a mixing pot of emotions from Michiganders. I have found my own opinions to be complex and occasionally conflicting, but they have led me to a conclusion on my stance: I am not in favor of state-wide smoking ban legislation.
The key word here is “legislation.” People should be left to make their own decisions, be they poor for their health or not, so long as they are informed and these choices are not forced upon the person due to circumstance.
Many restaurants and other public areas have already gone smoke-free. The need to legislate a trend that is becoming the norm is quite beyond my understanding.
By observation, it seems to be that eateries that do have smoking sections are the exception. It would stand to reason, then, that these restaurants, being perhaps one of the few places where a smoking section is present, truly may be hurt by a smoking ban.
Insofar as bars are concerned, however, I do understand why people may want a bar to be smoke-free. Certainly not all drinkers are smokers. Even when ignoring the irony of this “one poison versus the other” sort of trade off though, I still stumble into areas of conflict.
If a bar is an “ages 18 and up” establishment and its owners wish to accommodate their smoking customers’ habits, I think that this is a business decision that should be left up to the establishment. If the business wants to risk losing customers who do not want to be around said smoke, then this is a wager that I believe business owners have the right to make.
A reasonable exception to this premise is children. A child largely has little influence over factors that could prove to affect his or her health. Decisions influencing a child’s wellbeing are usually left up to parents. I can certainly see how, for the sake of someone’s health who cannot yet make educated decisions and whose parents may be uninformed or selfish, the smoking ban is reasonable in this respect.
Ultimately though, I would say that the decision to allow smoking should be left up to the establishment and the decision to attend such an establishment should be left up to the patrons. The public demand for the types of establishments people want to frequent will be enforced by their monetary support.
I suspect that, as public opinion towards tobacco continues to lean in the way of heavy opposition, most public establishments would then end up deciding to become “smoke-free” places of business. I do not feel it is right for the government to trump freedom of choice in such a paternalistic manner as to pass legislation because “they know what is good for us.”