Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wichita Enacts a Smoking Ban

The City Council this week, in a 4-3 vote, approved an ordinance which would ban smoking in all businesses which allow minors inside. This was a compromise reached after the original proposal to ban smoking in all businesses could not achieve enough votes for passage.

Kudos to the Council members. particularly Mayor Carl Brewer, who advocated for the complete ban. We all know this is coming, it is just a matter of when the Council can muster up the courage to do it.

And boos and hisses to the Council members who opposed this. Council member Paul Gray, in one of the stupidest comments ever made by a public official, said "If we're really that concerned about it, we should just ban it outright", referring to banning smoking around children in cars and homes. If such a ban were to be proposed, Mr. Gray and people of his ilk would be the first to raise a stink about intruding on private property rights, as he did in voting no on the very limited ban which was actually enacted.

The story in The Wichta Eagle quoted blogger Bob Weeks as saying that "No one has the right to be on somebody else's property on their own terms". This seemd to be saying that smokers have the right to smoke in public places, but non-smokers have no right to be free from harmful smoke in public places, which would be an idiotic proposition. However, after checking out his blog, I realize that what he was articulating was the libertarian position that property owners have the right to ban smoking or not on their own premises, and the public will vote with their dollars on which businesses to patronize. The Eagle quote simply failed to capture the essence of the position Mr. Weeks was arguing for.

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