There is one very interesting complication to the question of whether smoking should be allowed in public places or not; that is, what is a public place? When defining public place, we think of those places where random people congregate for whatever reason. Your home, of course, is not a public place, but the local supermarket is. Your car is not a public place, but the vehicles used by the local transit system are. Your friend’s cabin up north is not a public place, but the little bar on the corner is. So public place is anywhere the general public may want to congregate for whatever reason.
The very interesting complication is that we include bar in that definition of public places. When we ask the question should smoking be allowed in public places we are asking, in part, should smoking be allowed in bars and taverns? What is so interesting about this is that we are trying to control one habit that is currently being judged as negative even when it is partaken of in a place where one of the most negative habits is regularly satisfied. In fact that other negative habit went through the same prejudice as smoking is right now. Back in the 30s there was a little something called prohibition.We saw where that public outcry got us; gangsters, illegal activity, bootlegging and on and on.
What we are saying is it is OK to drink and get drunk on your butt, but do not take a puff off a cigarette while you are doing it. The whole situation seems very ironic to me. So, I first had to ask myself a brand new question: Why are we using abstention to try to control a habit that is clearly dangerous to those who involve themselves, but then don’t try to control the other habit that is historically every bit as damaging, dangerous, threatening and very abusive to ourselves and those around us? Why do we try to control smoking in a drinking establishment?
That one question which I personally have no answer for, is what convinces me there is a very simple answer to the entire controversy. Yes! That’s it, no more and no less. Yes, smoking should be allowed in public places. A vice is a vice is a vice. How can we justify strict control of one of those vices yet allow so many others and simply create laws and rules to control them?
Even beyond the tavern vs smoking scenario we permit the making of cigarettes. We first allow farmers to grow tobacco, corporations to process tobacco, retail establishments to sell tobacco products, and adults to purchase those products. Do we really have any right to now try to regulate where and how this perfectly legal product can be used? We make legal every aspect of the cigarette other than where someone can smoke it.
Of course, individual business owners should be able to control cigarette smoking in their own establishments every bit as much as I should be able to control cigarette smoking in my own home. That should be the only legal restrictions; does the owner of the establishment where someone wants to smoke allow it or not.
It is really no business of anyone else other than the owner of the establishment. Government has no position in the controversy. They tried that once, remember prohibition? It is really a one by one location decision.
Simply because some one does not like the smell of cigarette smoke is not reason enough to tell the smoker to quit doing it. I don’t like the smell of fingernail polish remover, but ladies do it in public places and I see no efforts on anyone’s part to regulate it. I don’t like the smell of body order, but I can always find someone who smells of it – in a public place – and no one is ticketing them or punishing them. I don’t like the smell of bubble gum either but people chew it wherever they want to without fear of retribution.
To broad scale prohibit smoking in all public places is prejudice against smokers. Why not address other similar practices like blowing your nose in public places – I can’t stand that, please abolish it. Then there is coughing without covering your mouth – that’s hideous, let’s legislate it! One of my strongest dislikes of things done in public places is that of chewing food at a restaurant with your mouth open. Shut it already would you? You are disgusting! You are an adult! Practice a little public decorum, or maybe we should say that eating food in a restaurant is not allowed!
These practices continue and will for some time yet. I complain, but I would never even think of complaining to the point that I would ask government to help me outlaw chewing with your mouth open. That’s ridiculous. We are all in this whole “live in the world thing” together, let’s abide each other’s shortcomings or questionable habits. Why must there be a law for everything?
Simple dislike of something by a select group of people should have nothing to do with whether we allow that practice to continue or not. I don’t like the smell of smoking, but it is a legal endeavor, more power to them, if that is what they want. I will just make it a priority not to sit near them or at least not to sit down wind of them.