As North Dakota Considers A New Smoking Ban, It’s Time To Admit That The Debate Has Changed
Last week backers of an initiated measure to expand North Dakota’s smoking ban to all businesses open to the public including bars, restaurants and smoke shops.
The matter will be hotly debated across the state, but this won’t be the first time we’ve had this debate. The arguments are familiar. Supporters of the ban feel they have the right to impose their views on smoking onto private property owners. Opponents think businesses ought to be in charge of setting their own policies.
But there’s a new aspect to this debate. Decades ago, when the battles over smoking bans began, supporters of the bans argued that non-smokers didn’t have enough options in terms of bars and restaurants and other facilities that were smoke-free.
Did they have a point? Maybe, though I’m not sure that’s enough of a justification for ram-rodding non-smoking policies down the throats of private business owners whether they like or not. But whether or not they had a valid argument back then, and whether or not that argument was justification for smoking bans, the point is that non-smokers have plenty of options now. Restaurants with smoking sections are almost non-existent. Non-smoking bars are common. Most places of employment are smoke free.
So why do we need an expanded smoking ban? It is easy for non-smokers to avoid smokey environments. It seems the goal of those pushing the smoking bans has moved beyond providing choices for non-smokers into denying choices to smokers.
That’s something voters should consider as they weigh this issue in the lead up to the balloting. The smoking ban movement has turned into a tobacco prohibition movement. And prohibitionism, as we’ve learned in America, leads to bad things.Tags: North Dakota News, smoking bans