Guest Post: Vote No On Smoking Ban Measure 4
Let me start with an illustration; Let’s say I want a garden in front of my house, so I plant the seeds in the spring, care for them accordingly, and they grow. In the middle of summer, suddenly weeds start to grow. Does that mean I get my weed whacker and cut down everything, then till it all back into the
earth? Absolutely not. I grab a hand-shovel and a hoe and I remove the weeds so I can keep my beautiful garden.
Measure 4, the indoor smoking ban, is the weed whacker to the garden of freedom in North Dakota. Before I continue, I want to remove any illusions of bias in my position by stating honestly that I am not a smoker. I simply believe very deeply in the rights and freedoms that each individual has.
The proponents of Measure 4, a special interest coalition called Smoke-Free North Dakota, have established a straw man fallacy in regards to indoor smoking, and that fallacy is that the owner of every establishment that allows smoking in indoor or confined areas have not otherwise ventilated or filtered the air properly.
They also want you to believe that the e-cigarettes and vaporizers that they are also seeking to ban are harmful to people around them. Neither of these things are true. While I admit that establishments may exist that do not properly filter their air, I maintain that this legislation isn’t the answer. Furthermore, e-cigarettes and vaporizers emit only water vapor. Measure 4 fails, as do other in-door smoking bans, for a variety of reasons.
First, the implementation of modern technology, namely, air filtration systems. These systems should be the primary focus of indoor smoking regulations. While I am not a fan of regulations, I understand the threat of second-hand smoke and feel that, in this case, one cannot go without the other – that indoor smoking cannot go without proper air filtration.
While there are HEPA filtration systems that can clean 99.99% of air particles as small as .3 micrometers from an entire room every 3 minutes, Smoke-Free ND ignores this as a viable option for businesses. This alone creates a safe environment for all customers to any establishment, and for additional accommodation, smoking and non-smoking sections that are fully walled-off can be reinstituted.
Second, this special interest group has completely ignored the fact that these businesses are the private properties of the business owners who established them. In a free market system, as well as a constitutional republic such as ours, the natural right to private property is the most fundamental moral, political, and economic freedom we have.
As John Locke presented, it is the doorway to pursuing happiness, the key to owning your own labor, and the means by which you can transform a resource into a product, and thereby live freely on it. These entrepreneurs have transformed what were once shells of empty buildings into businesses that employ thousands, and cater to the desires of thousands more. To remove that natural right would not only be unconstitutional, but it would simply be wrong. The right to private property must always be maintained, or else we lose our freedoms.
Finally, I have no doubt some of you are asking why I have considered only the rights of entrepreneurs and not those of consumers. Let me ease you by saying I have not forgotten those that give our businesses reason for being. As I stated earlier, we have a free market system, or at least we should. At what that means is in such a system, producers and consumers determine what the market prices, functions, supply, and demand are. In contrast, in a control system, like that of communist China and Russia, the government dictates the market prices, functions, supply, and demand.
What we need to consider is that consumers have more power than this private task force and their unconstitutional Measure 4, or any law, could ever dream of having so long as we choose to exercise it properly. In today’s age, there are thousands of business alternatives for us to choose from if another dissatisfies us. If a consumer is unhappy with indoor smoking, it is not our right to use force through legislation to get our way – we don’t have that right. It is our right to walk out the door and seek the services of a business that will accommodate us accordingly. Hurting a business owner’s bottom line and forcing market competition is the fair and legal practice for inducing change in the market.
In closing, I leave you with this; I was recently confronted by a friend who said, “But I have the right to breathe clean air,” to which I responded, “perhaps, but if anything it is a positive right, not a natural right.” Natural rights supersede positive rights in that our Creator endows natural rights to us, whereas positive rights are simply given to us by government in its written law. The “right” to breathe clean air is not paramount to the right of the business owner to his private property and his freedom to work with it as he or she may, especially when you have the freedom to walk out on your own. If in the future you support an indoor smoking regulation, please fight for business owners right to choose how they run their businesses, and encourage indoor air filtration and a separate smoking section. In the mean time, please vote no to Measure 4.
Justin Vega is the 1st Vice Chairman of the NDGOP’s executive committee in Legislative District 16.Tags: guest post, measure 4, North Dakota News, smoking ban