Banning Smoking (no swimming at the beach)
could essentially destroy the fabric of America.
Business owners have a vested interest in satisfying all their customers; and regulating the air quality inside bars and restaurants may be an adequate solution to the problem that the unethical smoking bans are trying to solve. The primary reason an owner has a business is to make a profit; the only way to do that is to assure their customers continue to patronize the establishment:
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, p. 44)
When smoking is one of the primary reason people frequent an establishment, forbidding smoking in that establishment infringes on the owners ability to make a profit. Smoking bans are imposed with the belief that smoking makes all patrons feel uncomfortable. In truth, smoking makes only a small percentage of customers feel uncomfortable. 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 than restricting smoking completely. If the federal government set guidelines for the amount of clean air necessary in an establishment in accordance with health related data and the local government required business owners to adhere to these requirements before receiving a license than the needs of all the customers may be satisfied.
The federal government has an obligation to protect all Americans, which includes tax-paying smokers, without the bias of revenue interfering with the federal government’s decision to intervene when the state and local governments are imposing unethical laws. 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 in restitution to the families of the victims of “9/11”. The federal government paid restitution because they failed to protect Americans and were aware of the tragic mistake. Protecting the freedoms of all Americans is as important as protecting their lives; and smoking bans impose upon the freedoms that the federal government is obligated to protect. So why does the federal government avoid the issue of smoking bans across the nation? One can only be left to assume that the millions of dollars incurred through the big tobacco companies and the revenue produced from the sale of cigarettes compromises the federal government’s 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). Allowing state and local governments to legislate smoking laws seems to be a perfect solution for the federal government to not appear hypocritical to the citizen or alienate one of its biggest financial providers. However, allowing local governments to impose a smoking ban is another failure by the federal government to protect Americans. Nonsmoking laws are written with the understanding that they are protecting the rights of the nonsmoker. Laws should preserve the rights of all Americans, yet the federal government allows state and local laws to be written, infringing on the rights of the taxpaying citizens who choose to smoke and the business owners who want to allow smoking in their establishments.
American citizens benefit from the ability to make personal choices about what businesses they patronize, where they are employed and their personal wellbeing; laws that remove personal choice give the government too much control over an individual’s habits. Making personal choices that coincide with personal beliefs is not always convenient; and going miles out of ones way to find an establishment that forbids smoking appears to be unfair. However, if nonsmokers choose not to patronize a place that allowed smoking, than more places might then cater to the nonsmoking group. Potential employees for the hospitality industry may incur some of the same difficulties as the nonsmoking group does while trying to find an establishment that does not allow smoking. The argument can be made that 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 employment may be difficult, especially for people without a formal education. The hospitality industry is a convenient place for people with limited education but promising integrity to find employment. Increasing the choice one has to find employment by banning smoking in all hospitality based businesses may be morally correct. However, according to Cotti and 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 and consequently impeding on the rights of so many people, it might be more effective to regulate smoking, preserving the rights of smokers, nonsmokers and business owners.
Both sides of the issue have strong standpoints. Nonsmokers believe their rights are being infringed upon where a smoking ban 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 is 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 create a comfortable 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 then is it democratic to outlaw Hanukkah by a majority vote? If the majority of people find Rap Music detrimental to their psyche then is it all right to outlaw certain types of music by a majority vote? The bottom line is that this is not a smoking debate; the debate is about the freedom of choice. Offering any freedoms up for sacrifice due to 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 lives to preserve.