Virginia Governor Tim Kaine proudly signed legislation in March which will ban smoking in all private restaurants; this law goes into effect in December of this year. now, at least on the apolitical surface, one would think I would be all smiles about this law. after all, I have never taken even one puff from a cigarette – I rather loathe the invasive smell of smoke, and the tenacity with which it refuses to let go of my clothing after a night on the town. I find appalling the CEOs of big tobacco, who knowingly market their product to youth, because every soul they win will score thousands of dollars over their lifetime. I abhor the physical damage tobacco does to the mouth, gums, teeth, lungs. most personally, I was affected by the cancer it gave my mother, whom God graciously gave the strength to fight off this horrible disease (at least for now), but who has not yet found the strength to kick her addictive and deadly habit.
but after all these things, I am at odds with Governor Kaine for a multitude of reasons. first, this law takes responsibility and choice away from the individual. many of us enjoy going to bars and restaurants – but who is forcing us? if smoking in a bar is an ingrained atmosphere of that bar, then so be it. should we be barred from eating fish in a seafood restaurant, if the smell of fish is repulsive to some customers? NO! those customers can find somewhere else to eat, where there is no fish!
but most importantly, I loathe the continuous government intrusion into the private sector. as the individual consumer has a choice, so should the individual business owner. the owner should be free to make a decision on smoking based on what is best for his or her business. anyone who cannot deal with smoke in a particular restaurant can surely find another one which has chosen not to allow smoking on its premises. and if such a restaurant cannot be found, one is free to start their own restaurant which enforces such rules, as there is clearly a market for it! such is the beauty of capitalism.
this law was surely made with good intentions, but it walks the line right on the edge of that slippery slope. it encroaches on the liberties of one citizen (the business owner) for the liberties of another (the anti-smoker); this idea is against the fundamental nature of a Republic. could we eventually see a ban on smoking in any business? that does not seem far-fetched after a bill of this nature is passed. could we eventually see a ban on smoking in your own home? certainly that seems ludicrous. but one must consider this possibility: what if your business is run from your home?