Andy Palumbo's blog this morning makes a great point about Pennsylvania's smoking ban being two years old now. Gee, two years and the world of Pennsylvania commerce has not come to an end? Now who ever would have guessed that (*cough* me *cough*)? Smoking should be banned in every public place. Why? Simple: someones right to harm themselves is not greater than my right to keep myself from harm.
Now this does beg the question (well it does if you are me, and this is my blog): if it were up to me, would I make smoking illegal? The answer is a solid, 100% no. Let me be clear here: smoking is nothing more than another drug addiction. Hell, it has been well documented that the addiction to nicotine bears remarkable similarities to opiate addictions. Anyone who somehow thinks that smoking is just a "time honored tradition partaken of by adults" (a line that I got from a cigarette company website) is living in a land of delusion. It's a drug...a powerful very powerful drug...that causes a very powerful addiction.
Getting back to the point, I would not ban smoking completely simply because I don't think government can or should legislate personal behavior down to this level. Note the word "personal", in that as long as your behavior doesn't in any way, shape or form negatively impact me, then I'm thinking that it's none of my damn business if you want to turn your lungs into the equivalent of charcoal briquettes. Yes, the argument will be made that "well it causes health-care costs to go up for everyone" and that would be correct, but there are a lot of stupid things we all do that have that same result.
- Do we ban, for example, people from using box cutters? After all, I once filleted my leg while cutting a piece of ceiling tile with a box cutter.
- How about banning people from using using a knife to separate frozen hotdogs? Been there, done that, and I have to puncture wound scar to prove it.
The reality is that we can't as a society protect people from themselves. However, I'd like the government to protect me from you, at least if you smoke. You may want to pour up to 599 different chemicals into your lungs, but I don't.
Now the above may sound cruel and harsh, but that is not my intent. In point of fact I wish everyone who does currently smoke would quit. Especially if I know you. No one should die from something like lung cancer simply because a tobacco company wanted to make a buck.