no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

On smoking bans, defiance

July 19th, 2005

In the absence of smoking bans, restaurateurs are allowed to ban smoking in their establishments if they see fit. We don’t clamor for a law that requires restaurants to allow smoking (in the name of equality everywhere) because restaurateurs can ban smoking if they want; you don’t have a right to smoke unless they decide to grant it to you. As a customer you are there on a purely voluntary, cooperative basis, and as soon as the arrangement no longer suits your fancy, it behooves you to stop spending your money there, and to divert it instead to an establishment more in-tune with your own personal preferences. This having been said:

Chicago is trying to ban smoking everywhere.

New Jersey is trying to ban smoking in cars.

One restaurant remains defiant in Indiana.

I’d like to lend my moral support to that restaurant, who is defying a Morgan County, IN law regarding smoking in public places like resaurants. I’d also like to thank Mr. Albertson, 62, whose statement is profound: “I have been eating with these people for years,” he said. “I have a right to come in here, or to leave if I want to if the smoke bothers me. I don’t think they have a right to tell people they can’t sit in here and have a meal because they smoke.”

And all though the Morgan County law is not an outright ban on smoking (it is merely a regulatory issue, as it seems) I think the restaurant is approaching it properly, by posting the sign on the door that reads:

This restaurant allows smoking. If this offends you, please feel free to visit one of our competitors.

The restaurateurs, Williams and Dunigan are standing up to what is an absurd, arbitrary abuse of regulatory power. I know, the argument is as follows: Smoking is hazardous to those who don’t smoke, too.

My response to them is: Avoid that establishment like the plague then. You don’t need to eat at Charlie’s Drive-In any more than your neighbor needs to smoke before and after his meal. Whose rights trump whose? The non-smoker, you respond, because he is not imposing anything upon the smoker.

What about the rights of the business owners, to operate their business as they see fit, in order to maximize their profit and success? The fact of the matter is that you do not have a right to dine in his establishment, whereas the proprietor has (ought to have) an absolute right to the product of his labor. These factors are conveniently ignored.

It is implicit, then, that they are making a business decision that in effect, is saying: we will make more money by losing some business to non-smokers than we would if we (practically speaking) excluded the business of smokers. that they accept the possible loss of business from those who are offended or otherwise bothered by the smoke, and judging from the posted sign they are unequivocally affirming this responsibility.

no third solution

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