Saturday, February 19, 2005

On government-mandated smoking bans

"Jude" at the analysis blog has posted a terrific "letter to the editor, published today in our local paper back home." I reprint it here for those who tell me they love freedom but draw the line at smoking.
I would like to commend the Free Press editorial board for its candor: The Burlington City Council did "stand up and say public health trumps all arguments" (Feb. 10). Of course one of those other arguments was the human's right to freedom of association, but three cheers for the Council's "courage" anyway. The same goes for their bold action in forbidding U.S. military veterans from smoking in the privacy of their own club. They've survived shrapnel, tank artillery, machine gun fire, and hand-to-hand combat, so we should probably "save" them from their own smoking habits. I'm sure these veterans all salute the Council for stamping out the freedoms many have fought to protect.

And congratulations to the Council and Free Press editorial board for assuring that "no employee -- whether in an insurance office or a private club -- should be forced to breathe smoke-filled air when he or she goes to work." I suppose it's only a minor detail, but there has never been an employee forced to work in such an environment here in Vermont; to assert this is to misunderstand what forced means throughout the rest of the world. North Koreans are forced to work at certain locations and in certain professions. An employee of a bar in the United States is free to leave at any point to seek another job. A typical worker in Cuba or Zimbabwe is afforded no such luxury. Yes, smoking can be harmful, but then again, so can fascism.


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