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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Monongalia County Smoking Ban Comment
    Gregory Morris, 2/14/08 1:54:50 pm
    Back in my hometown, local politicians are trying to drum up support for a complete public-area smoking ban (h/t Nick). By now, both of my readers are all clearly aware of my feelings on government regulations of this sort, but I figure I'd say it again: private property is private property. A restaurant owner should have the right to set her own rules regarding smoking on their property. If it is beneficial to business to ban smoking, they will do so. If it is harmful to business, they won't. Many restaurants in town already ban smoking. The bars, however, do not. That is their choice, and in a free market it should remain so. The government needs to stop enacting new regulations "for the good of the people" when all they do is infringe on private property rights, as well as the lifestyle choices of individuals.

    If you don't want to be around smoke, do not patronize businesses that allow smoking. People are allowed to make that choice, and there is no reason for the government to enact the will of one subset of the population on another.

    Since I do not live in Monongalia County anymore, I have no say in the local politics. However, every time I see things like this, it makes my blood boil.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

    Re: Monongalia County Smoking Ban
    Gregory Morris, 2/14/08 4:58:31 pm
    For some reason, this didn't go through...
    Leo:
    So I should be able to dump toxic waste into the ground, as long as I'm within on my property boundaries?....

    Also, are you aware of how much money is spent treating on healthcare to treat the results of smoking? Unfortunately, Libertarian smoke doesn't stay confined to Libertarian lungs.
    Re: Monongalia County Smoking Ban
    Gregory Morris, 2/14/08 5:04:32 pm
    Actually, no, you can't dump toxic waste on your property because it can leach out and cause damage to the property of others. Even if that weren't the case, I'm not suggesting that all government regulation of private property is completely wrong...

    Cigarette smoke is not comparable to "toxic waste", in that if I smoke in my backyard, there is no way it will reach anyone else in high enough quantities to cause more damage than our already screwed-up air does. That goes the same for smoke in a bar... if you are not in that bar, then the smoke in it won't hurt you. If the ventilation system pumps bar air directly into your home, then yes that would be a problem, but I've never seen that case, and if I did, I would argue that there are civil remedies.

    My point is that just because you don't want the bar to be smoky doesn't give you the right to tell the owner of that bar what to do. Healthcare costs related to second hand smoke (which, by the way, I find the figures relating to that rather dubious) are not at issue here. If you are around second hand smoke, then it is your fault you are around it.

    I'm OK with public buildings being off-limits to smoking, because those are public property, and everyone has a right to be there and be free from smoke. You have no particular right to be in a certain bar or restaurant though.
    Re: Monongalia County Smoking Ban
    GunGeek, 2/15/08 2:52:36 pm
    Not that the gov should be forcing businesses to ban smoking, but I think most businesses don't realize what kind of a difference it would make.

    In California they did this and one of the businesses that screamed that it would drive them all out of business was the bowling alleys. Let's face it, it seems like everyone there smokes. Well, business did drop off for a while. Then, once people realized that they could go bowling without having to endure the smoke and coming home reeking of stale cigarette smoke, they are now doing even more business than before.

    Most even raised their rates and are really raking it in now.

    Again, not that they should have been forced into that situation, but it worked out for them in the long run.
    Re: Monongalia County Smoking Ban
    Nick, 2/15/08 4:14:01 pm
    "Well, business did drop off for a while."

    An economist would tell you that it's a pretty big cost to have any slow-down at all. Can we say for certain that business during the initial down-time would have been better than it was? Probably. Can we say that the revenue lost during that down-time has had a net negative effect? Yes. Regardless of conditions now in bars/bowling alleys/restaurants, that initial loss is income that can never be regained. Even though they may charge more now, and business is still successful, there is no reason to believe that they could not have charged more with smoking still permitted. Any government-created slowdown is always negative for an economy, because it represents income and money exchanges that can never be realized by businesses. There are other negatives I could elaborate on to the situations with bowling alleys, etc., but I won't for now. Also, I have seen a study that in California towns, and in other parts of the country where smoking was banned in bars and restaurants, employment at bars is down between 4-16% and taxable revenues from bars has fallen by several percent, although taxable revenues at restaurants has not changed significantly. I can link an overview of the study if we would like.

    And then of course there is the general property rights political/philosophical argument to be made against such a smoking ban. But for space's sake, I shall spare you all, as I'm sure you know the argument by now.
    Re: Monongalia County Smoking Ban
    Gregory Morris, 2/15/08 6:31:04 pm
    GunGeek: Your statements are proof that capitalism, and not government regulation, works. It just seems that in the case of those particular businesses, the owners weren't smart enough to realize that they could increase profits by banning smoking and making the facilities more family-friendly. The fact of the matter is there are business all over the country that have banned smoking without a government forcing them to. It is and should be a business decision, and not a government decision.
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