Sunday, June 24, 2007

No Swimming at the Beach

There seems to be some confusion as to what a public place is. Public places owned by the taxpayer are 100% public and therefore subject to laws imposed by the people. Bars and restaurants are privately owned establishments open to a focused public. When there is no line drawn between the two, the freedoms of every citizen are at risk. The federal government sits idly by as a nationwide smoking ban spreads. A nationwide smoking ban is unethical because it infringes on the rights of business owners, takes away the rights of taxpaying smokers, and gives the government too much control over our personal choices and individual habits--control that could essentially destroy the fabric of America.
Most people would agree the owner of a bar has an obligation to remove an unruly customer who may have had too much to drink.
Customers comfort and happiness are primary concerns in the hospitality industry, and the fact remains some customers like to smoke in restaurants, and restaurants and other venues feel it’s their responsibility to accommodate those customers as well as the ones who don't smoke. They want to be able to please everyone. (Turpin, 2002.)
The primary reason an owner has a business is to turn a profit, the only way to do that is to keep their customers content. Why is all right to turn away a disorderly customer to satisfy the majority but not a nonsmoker? Is that not a matter of taste? Is it unethical to make laws based upon personal preference?
“No shoes, no shirts, no service,” is a common sign people have seen at the local convenience store, obviously there for the comfort and health of all patrons. No one would conceivably argue that this was not a necessary precaution taken to promote the equality of all customers. Has this sign ever been posted at the beach? Of course not, because it would not make sense. So why is it all right to forbid smoking in all establishments when smoking is one of the primary reasons people frequent it? An indoor air quality, ventilation and smoking activity study was performed by six contributors in six nations. Midrange quality and priced restaurants were surveyed at peak hours, one of the main goals was to find the occupants’ view of the indoor air quality as it pertained to several areas one of which being cigarette smoke. The survey found in America a mere 12.9% were dissatisfied with air-quality as it relates to cigarette smoke while the noise and the draft rates of dissatisfaction where substantially higher. (Bohanon, Piade, Saintjalm, Schorp, 1999, p. 2-6) Requiring owners to obtain a license to allow smoking in establishments would be less imposing on business owners’ rights. Setting guidelines for the amount of clean air necessary in an establishment in accordance with health related data then requiring the business owner to adhere to these requirements before receiving a license would solve any health issue argument one would have.
Protecting every American is the responsibility of the Federal government. On September 11, 2001, this country endured an immense tragedy, losing thousands of innocent lives, changing American lives forever. The government paid out billions of dollars of restitution to the families of the victims of “9/11”. They paid this because they failed to protect Americans and were aware of the tragic mistake. If the preservation of freedom takes a backseat to anything, it would only be to life itself. So why does the federal government avoid the issue of smoking bans across the nation? One can only be left to assume the millions of dollars incurred through the big tobacco companies and the revenue produced from the sale of cigarettes compromises the Governments ability to be unbiased. “If all second hand smoke presents a health risk, then make it illegal to grow, sell or use all tobacco products. We don't think that will happen because government is too dependent on the taxes generated by tobacco sales.”(Rauner, 2004, p.7)
Avoiding the issue by allowing states to legislate laws seems to be a perfect solution to not appear hypocritical to the citizen or alienate one of the biggest financial providers. However, avoiding the issue is another failure of the Government to protect Americans. Laws should preserve the rights of all Americans yet the Government allows laws to be written, infringing on the rights of the taxpaying business owners and citizens that happen to smoke.
No one is forced to patronize any business, it is a matter of choice. Choosing to enter an establishment that allows smoking then complaining about it almost appears that one is patronizing the establishment only to complain. Why would one support a business that goes against such a strong belief? Would an African American buy a bumper sticker from the Ku Klutz Klan even if that sticker was something the African American wanted? If a statement was made by nonsmoker by not patronizing a place that allowed smoking than some places would obviously cater to the nonsmoking group.
The “no smoking” laws that pass are often written as if they are to protect the health of employees. The argument can be made, this is America and just as one does not have to patronize a place, one is certainly not obligated to work in any particular place. Finding work can be difficult especially for people with limited education. The hospitality industry is a convenient place for people with limited education but promising integrity to find employment. These types of choices may be narrow and can become narrower if the choices are restricted to places that do not allow smoking. However, according to Chad Cotti and Scott Adams (2007) bars subject to smoking bans suffer a decrease in employment while restaurant employment remains virtually unchanged. (p.1). Instead of making laws that completely restrict smoking consequently impeding on the rights of so many would it not be more effective and more American to regulate it?
If laws can be made that restrict smoking in an establishment to protect the employee; what prevents the same argument to be made by a cable person entering a home? How would one like to be told to take down a Crucifix or Star of David inside their home before the cable person arrived because it was offensive? Perhaps one should not play Rap music inside one’s home because the cable person finds it psychologically unhealthy. If laws can be made to restrict smoking inside establishments for health reasons why not Rap music? If laws can be made to restrict Rap music inside establishments than why not personal homes? If Rap music is offensive and unhealthy then why are not more famous works of art such as the Statue of David? Where does it all end?
Both sides of the issue have strong standpoints. Nonsmokers believe their rights are being infringed upon where a law is not in effect and smokers feel the exact same way where it is. The answer is to find common ground. Guidelines can be imposed to preserve all ways of life without destroying the fabric on which this country was built. Allowing smoking in all public places is unfair to a particular group. Why is it so hard to see that banning smoking in all public areas is also unfair to a particular group? Requiring business owners to obtain licenses to allow smoking would create both smoking and nonsmoking establishments. Requiring a minimum clean-air standard in places that allow smoking would make a safe working environment for employees. Contrary to popular belief voting ones rights away is not the idea of a democratic practice. If the majority of the country is Christian, is it democratic to outlaw Hanukkah by a majority vote? If the majority of people find Rap Music detrimental to their psyche is it all right to outlaw it by a majority vote? The bottom line is this is not a smoking debate it is a freedom of choice debate. Offering any freedoms up for sacrifice simply over personal preference is dangerous, and can pave the way for extreme government control which will lead to the loss of freedoms that countless people of this country have given their life to preserve.


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