Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Smoking Bans

Kaukauna is considering a smoking ban. The ban in front of the Kaukauna city council is one that prohibits smoking in public places with an exemption for bars.

This is more reasonable than Appleton's ban which I hope (but am not confident of) is going to be rolled back by referendum.

WHBY played two soundbites from opponents of the Kauakauna ban. They oppose because they want a total ban. One was a doctor who said smoking has no redeeming value. I differ, if it had no redeeming value then would people be plunking down good hard cash for a pack of smokes? Hardly. Just because the good doctor refrains from smoking does not mean it is without redeeming value. In any event there is much that adds spice to our lives that really can be easily reduced to an activity with "no redeeming value".

The second soundbites were from some woman who I guess led the charge to get the Appleton smoking ban in place. She was threatening the Kauakauna council members who voted for the ban with removal from office. Methinks she will try and fail at that.

WHBY opened up the airlines and some woman called in and said this is just like Jim Crow laws. That is, the same argument that private businesses should be allowed to bar or allow smoking is the same as allowing them to have a blacks only section or to bar blacks all together.

I will concede there is some similarity. However, there are much more pressing societal concerns against Jim Crow laws than there are with if a given tavern allows smoking or not. Society can and does regulate private conduct on a frequent basis, but society had better have a good reason to do so. Just because a law feels good and seems good does not justify robbing people of their private property rights.

There are taverns in the Appleton municipality that will not allow smoking even if the current ban is repealed. Other bars have solid smoke mitigation plans in place. One bar that just opened will allow smoking upstairs and ban it on the first level. Beefed up ventilation systems also mitigate the smoke problem.

In the end this is what scares me about the smoke police. The smoke police and health enforcers will get a statewide business smoking ban, but will they stop? No, they will then go into our homes.