It’s Not About Public Health, It’s About Tobacco Prohibition

Smoke-free sign

The City of Bismarck just extended its smoking bans to cover bars. Now those bars want an option for allowing smoking outside of their establishments, but the city council (at least according to one of its liberal members, the recently-elected Josh Askvig) so far is refusing to review their policies.

Now, remember that the tobacco prohibitionists tell us that their concern is about people who don’t like smoking being exposed to second-hand smoke and its negative health impacts. Yet, when an opportunity arises to allow smokers an opportunity to practice their habit away from non-smokers the tobacco prohibitionists demure.

Meaning that it’s not about choice for individuals. It’s about prohibition. It’s about stopping Americans from engaging in a perfectly legal habit. Its policy not at all unlike alcohol prohibition.

I don’t believe that the government has any business dictating smoking policy to private property owners. If you don’t like being around smoking, don’t go into an establishment that allows it. But even supposing the government does have the authority to enact smoking bans, and that it’s good policy for them to do so, it seems to me that said policy should be predicated on allowing all citizens involved a choice.

Businesses that want to allow smoking, and are able to provide areas for both smokers and non-smokers, should be allowed to. And the tobacco prohibitionists would be fine with such policies…if they were truly motivated by a concern over public health and not prohibiting tobacco use.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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