I don’t smoke. I don’t like breathing other people’s smoke. I think it’s a dirty habit that will in all likelihood kill the person enjoying it. I also don’t think its anybodies business if you light up. A post over at True Anomaly got me thinking about this again. It’s becoming more popular to pass no smoking laws barring smoking in almost every public and many private places.
I had the misfortune of making the acquaintance of a young woman who worked as a Nicotine Nazi. That was her job. She was paid by a federal grant to stomp out tobacco use. It was all she could talk about. She was going to save the world from a weed, because at 23 she knew more about what was good for you and the rest of society. No one else could be trusted to make that choice for themselves.
Therein lays one of the many problems with the anti-smoking crowd. They know what’s best for you and you can’t be trusted to make your own choices so they will make them for you.
What about other so called “bad choices”?
How much TV should you be allowed to watch, what shows?
How much red meat, or McDonalds?
How much time bloging or surfing the net?
How much booze?
How much caffeine?
How much sex is optimal?
How much Church, which one?
The state that has the authority to regulate your smoking will use the same authority to regulate these other areas. More importantly they will use the same reasons.
If its ok to regulate smoking due to health concerns than its ok to outlaw McDonalds, drinking coffee or coke and alcohol. People live longer and recover from illness faster if they practice a religion, so obviously for maximum health benefit you should be forced to go to church. Men need sexual activity to maintain a state of positive mental health; so as a society we should make sure everyone gets his daily allotment of whoopee. There is probably a correlation between the quality of sex and over all satisfaction so maybe we need a law forcing the hot looking chicks to enthusiastically bang ugly guys with bad breath.
Smoking legislation isn’t really about the health of the smoker, second hand smoke, or increased economic costs of health care. Smoking legislation is about controlling other people’s behavior that we don’t like. Non smokers don’t like smelling tobacco smoke. There are other ways to handle the situation. You can go someplace else. You could ask the person smoking if they would mind not lighting up while you’re around.
It might be uncomfortable to ask someone not to smoke. They might say no. They might be put out. You might feel bad. It might be confrontational. It’s much easier to talk a bunch of politicians into passing a law outlawing a behavior anyplace you might happen to go.
Let’s have the cops enforce our preferences at gun point instead. Those deeply held preferences that we can’t be bothered to ask for individually because it might make us uncomfortable.