Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 12, 2013

CONFER: The smoking ban — 10 years later

Niagara Gazette — I hate smoking. It’s a disgusting, dirty habit — and a deadly one, too: I lost both of my grandfathers prematurely to it. One suffered congestive heart failure while the other was afflicted with lung cancer. They died a handful of years before Mother Nature likely would have taken their lives without any help.

But, for as much as I despise cigarettes and wonder why people would engage in such a diversion, I understand and value the premise of personal liberty. It’s their own bodies — they can do whatever they want to for their own enjoyment as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights to life, liberty and property due to others. Smoking is no different than say, someone eating too much or too poorly or taking up potentially dangerous hobbies like motorcycling or sky-diving. To each his own.

There are usurpations of this personal liberty in play in 28 states across America, including here in New York, where smokers are unable to freely and publically enjoy their love affair with nicotine. 2013 will mark the 10-year anniversary of the institution of the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act, otherwise known as the smoking ban. For a decade now, smokers have been treated as second-class citizens and cannot engage in the act without having to venture out into the elements.

Smokers and those who want to cater to them should be treated more fairly under state law, because smoking (or the lack thereof) is – and should be - a choice freely made by the individual, be it a property owner, the smoker, or the non-smoker.

Allowing smoking within a place of business, study, or worship should be a choice afforded the property owner. If a businessman wants to open his doors to smoking, let him. If he’d rather lose the business from smokers and maintain a smoke-free facility and the customer base that come with that, let him. Smoking is part of the product he is offering to his clientele (the experience and ambience associated with a smoke-laden or smoke-free bar or restaurant), so let him choose the product he wants to offer.

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