Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Smoking and Alcohol: Polices to Reconsider
I apologize for my long absence from blogging. I have been spending the last two weeks with a friend who lacks the internet in his home. Therefore, my time on the net has been limited to time spent at the homes of others who have internet access or at coffee shops (which I hate with an unrivaled passion). I would ask, however, that you keep an eye on my blog as I will still be posting when I get the time.
As you may or may not be aware of, I am a Tennessean who has been living in Louisiana since the end of August, working as a field rep for a political non-profit called the Leadership Institute. I miss Tennessee with everything in me. I love and miss my home state, but one thing I will not miss is TN’s refusal to allow for personal responsibility and liberty.
One example of what I am referring to is the state of Tennessee’s liquor and smoking laws.
I don’t smoke or drink, myself. In fact, I am very opposed to both the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products. Heck, I don’t even like people taking medicine for non-migraine headaches. However, I still believe it wrong for my displeasure with the practice of others to hold sway over the law. (Note: I am writing this as a woman is smoking beside me at a coffee shop. The smoke is killing me (literally and figuratively), but I still believe I have no right to tell her she should put it out.)
In Tennessee we have laws that regulate smoking and alcohol in relation to location. Smoking cannot happen in non-bar atmospheres like indoor restaurants, and liquor must be sold in a liquor store or licensed bar. I have noticed the absence of these restrictions in LA.
I must admit when I first entered Wal-Mart here in Louisiana and discovered in-store liquor establishments and saw shelves of Vodka and Jack Daniels, I was a bit taken back. It was quite different for me, growing up in TN without said sights.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate drunkenness, I hate reliance on alcohol in social contexts, and I abstain completely from alcohol myself. But do I agree with TN’s policy on alcohol? By no means! I believe that we should let individuals act on their own responsibility when it comes to alcohol. I have no right to dictate their ability and limit their liberty. Furthermore, as a Christian, I believe that drunkenness will never be combated through state legislatures prohibiting liquor sales. Rather, only through changed hearts will we see changed practice.
The same should be said of smoking, which I despise on an equal level. (Note: The argument that will follow can be equally applied to alcohol.)
Any establishment that wants to offer the ability to smoke on its premises to its patrons should be allowed to do so. Equally, an establishment has every right to prohibit smoking on its property. This is a decision that is best left to property owners on the local level—not to the government. Before Tennessee adopted its current law on the matter, property owners were able to exercise their God-given rights to their property. Now this is not the case. The nanny-state propped up by the Tennessee legislature now tells property owners how and where property owners are able to use their property in relation to smoking. This is wrong beyond all measure.
Moreover, it robs businesses of the ability to market their establishments to customers. No longer is one’s smoking policy an effective way to cater to demographics.
I remember quiet clearly my parents avoiding certain establishments when I was growing up based on smoking policies. For example, we would not go to certain restaurants because “all the smoke” as my parents put it. Others, we would frequent, seeking better air quality. Businesses who wanted like minded customers could advertise their being a “smoke-free” environment. The same is true of “smoker-friendly” establishments. Now that the policy has changed, those who would like to provide a place for smokers to frequent have lost business to bars and other “smoker-friendly” facilities. Likewise, those who once enjoyed exclusive “smoke-free” clientele have lost their marketing edge as all non-bars are now required by law to remain “smoke-free.”
Not only have property rights been violated by dictating what can or cannot be done on one’s property in regard to smoking, but the government has hindered businesses’ ability to make profits. This is a grave mistake for a free society and a policy that should be reconsidered.