February 19, 2003
Various county and city governments have started to ban smoking in restaurants and even in bars. I can't tell you how much this pisses me off. I should point out that I hate cigarette smoke more than almost anyone I know. When I was younger and more obnoxious, I would shoot spit-balls at smokers and talk loudly with my friends about how I kill smokers for fun. So, this is not about my desire to be able to smoke wherever I go or be surrounded by smoke in restaurants.
All of the news coverage I've seen and all of the debates I've heard have revolved around the public's feelings. (i.e. The ban makes non-smokers happy, but it upsets smokers.) Who cares? We're talking about bars and restaurants here. For the mentally challenged: these establishments are someone's private property. I'd like to introduce these people to a little thing called the United States of America. Public opinion does not determine how one uses their own property. The opinion of the owner is the only one that matters.
I've actually heard people in support of the ban say things like "I have a right to go out to eat and not have smoke in my face!" Back up there, chief. As far as bars and restaurants are concerned, you don't even have the right to walk in the door if the owner doesn't want you to. And you (acting through the government) most certainly don't have the right to tell the owner whether or not he will allow smoking on his property, any more than you have the right to tell him what will be on his menu, or what color his walls will be painted. You do have the right to enjoy yourself in a smoke free environment, but the way you exercise that right is by avoiding the environments with smoke, not by modifying environments that aren't under your control in the first place.
I would certainly enjoy a place more if it was completely smoke free. I would also enjoy it more if the employees gave back-rubs and the beer was free, but it simply isn't up to me. Banning smoking in bars and restaurants is no different from banning (or requiring, for that matter) smoking in people's homes.