It's a sobering figure, but according to a survey conducted by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services regulation and licensure section of data management a whopping 72% of Lincolnites think I'm an idiot
. Err, that is, they support Lincoln's smoking ban. (I, on the other hand, think it is evidence of majoritarian tyranny. Hence my idiocy.) In related news, those same 72% of Lincolnites think liberty is "ok in theory" but in practice liberty should take a back seat to "my right to tell others how they ought to live their lives."
What I find most amusing about the smoking ban is that it criminalizes private behavior on private property, forcing that behavior into public space. That strikes me as bass ackwards. Isn't it in the public interest to force undesirable private behavior out
of the public space and into private space, where only those who are willing to be subjected to the behavior will be so subjected?
Here's an alternative smoking ban for you: All smoking is banned in all public spaces, indoor and outdoor
, and in any location in which those present do not have the freedom to choose whether or not to enter that space. (An example of the latter would be when a public entity, such as the city, holds a public meeting or event in a private space.) All smoking is banned in any space occupied or inhabited by any individual unable to freely consent to being in the presence of cigarette smoke. In other words, smoking is prohibited anywhere children are present, including private residences and vehicles. Smoking is permitted in all other locations, including all businesses, so long as they post a modest sign or decal at every entrance to the building or designated smoking area. If smoking and non-smoking areas are to be provided within the same facility, the amount
of smoke-related material in the air of the non-smoking area must be below [some stringent air quality standard I'm not qualified to specify]. Smokers may occupy the same space as persons who do not consent to the presence of smoke if some sort of (probably hypothetical) technology is employed that completely contains the smoke.
That's a smoking ban I can support. Why? Because it values the right of private individuals to behave as they wish on private property, while protecting the health and well being of every individual who does not or cannot consent to being in the presence of tobacco smoke. It also severely limits smoking outdoors, which eliminates the "smoking corridor" problem near the entrance of major buildings, and it will dramatically reduce cigarette-related litter in public spaces. The most obvious concern is banning smoking in private space whenever children are around. The ban has to be structured that way because children are, legally speaking, unable to consent to the types of risks smoking presents. It's not like such a restriction is without precedent. Society requires children be raised in much safer environments than those that adults can live in if they choose.
My ban sounds a bit backwards, I suppose. But which is more backwards? Pushing an obnoxious private behavior into public space, where non-consenting individuals are forced to put up with it against their will? Or keeping that private behavior isolated in private space -- away from all
public space -- where only
consenting individuals have to (get to?) put up with it? Which is more Orwellian (if by majoritarian means), and which embraces the (supposedly) American notions of liberty and personal responsibility?