Open letter to the Monroe County Commissioners
June 24th, 2005
Back to Opinion columns.
Amend the smoking ban.
From: Scott Tibbs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Monroe County smoking ban
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2005 06:37:40 -0700 (PDT)
To the Honorable Joyce Poling, the Honorable Iris Kiesling, and the Honorable Herb Kilmer,
As you know, local veterans organizations are working to create an exception to the city of Bloomington's smoking ban so that private clubs (and possibly bars) will be exempt from the ban. The county's ban does exempt private clubs, but AMVETS is preparing to fight the county over whether or not "bingo nights" makes AMVETS a "public place".
First, I think the county has more important things to do than to quibble with AMVETS over allowing smoking on bingo nights. There is no reason this needs to become an expensive court battle. You should, in the spirit of the ban's exemption for private clubs, drop the complaint against AMVETS and let them operate their organization the way they see fit.
I would like to echo what the radio ads on this issue have been saying. It is unfortunate that veterans are unable to smoke in their own private club. We owe a large debt of gratitude to our veterans, who have been fighting, bleeding and dying for nearly 230 years to make sure that our freedoms are protected. What harm is there in letting them smoke a cigarette in their club?
I think it is unfortunate that Monroe County's smoking ban does not include an exception for bars. This, in my opinion, is an unreasonable provision. Even if I were to accept the "need" for a ban on smoking in "public places", county government should not be regulating adult establishments.
If you are going to ban smoking in public places, why not ban drinking in public places? While alcohol does not have direct health effects on those surrounding someone who is drinking, alcohol does have negative social consequences such as reduced inhibitions on improper behavior. If someone cannot drink in a "public place", that will reduce the likelihood of impaired driving, which puts innocent bystanders in imminent danger of death or injury.
Of course, you are not going to ban drinking in "public places". Why is that? The reason is because your constituents will not stand for it and you will be soundly voted out of office. Tobacco, meanwhile, is a much more politically safe target for nanny-state regulations.
A better solution would be to repeal the smoking ban. I dispute the definition of restaurants and other such establishments as "public places" if they are located on private property. The property owner should be the one to decide whether or not smoking is permitted in his or her establishment, not county government. I urge you to show respect for private property rights and repeal the ban. If you are not willing to do that, at least make a reasonable exception for bars and leave private clubs like AMVETS alone.
No one is forced to go into an establishment that allows smoking. Consumers have a choice as to whether or not to patronize a business where smoking is allowed, and the labor market allows employees of those businesses to make the same choice. We do not need county government to protect us from the consequences of those choices.
As I have said many times in the past, I despise smoking. However, I do not believe it is the business of county government to tell consenting adults that they cannot consume a legal product on private property, so long as the owner consents to that use. It would be far better for the county to repeal the smoking ban and treat your constituents like adults, rather than children who need to be protected from themselves.Scott Tibbs