Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wichita Smoking Ordinance Is Passed

The compromise smoking ordinance received final approval and will go into effect in 3 months. Businesses which want to allow smoking will have to pay a $250 annual fee and post a sign "no minors allowed". The medical community has railed against this compromise, saying it should have gone all the way and banned smoking in all public places.

Opposition to the ban has, surprisingly to me, come not from smokers who want to be able to go into a bar or restaurant and smoke, but from folks who fancy themselves to be private property advocates. To these people, a private property owner should be able to do anything he wants with his property. This of course has never been the law. Inside the city limits of a city like Wichita, there are all kinds of limitations on what one can do with his property. Health Department and city inspection regulations come into play, and ultimately the city can take your property and condemn it if you refuse to bring it up to the city's standards. As George Costanza once famously shouted, "We live in a society here!"

And when you are using your property to run a business which holds itself out as being open to the public, many more regulations come into play. Restaurants, for example, are subject to unannounced inspections and can be ordered to clean up their operation if deficiencies are found. By the reasoning of these private property fanatics, there should be no Health Department regulations of restaurants because that infringes on private property rights. By their argument, restaurants should be able to sell contaminated food, and once word gets out people can then go elsewhere. That is their pro-smoking argument, that each business should do as it pleases regarding smoking and the marketplace will decide who survives and who fails, and public health concerns be damned.

No comments: