Smoking. Why It Should Be Legal.

I am not a smoker, but I think it should be legal in certain places. Many people I have talked to have been more than happy that smoking has been outlawed in public places, at least in the midwest for around a decade now. I am going to tell you why that’s not a good reaction.

Lets start by saying this is not an article promoting smoking. I understand that scientifically there is a lot of evidence that says smoking is unhealthy for the smoker. There is also evidence that says that smoking is unhealthy for those who regularly breathe 2nd hand smoke. For that reason I do not advocate that anyone should smoke in their home if they have any non-smokers in the house, this meaning anyone with kids. There is not evidence, that I know of, that says that someone who walks within 20 feet of a smoker once a month will develop significant lung problems. I personally have asthma so I think I qualify in the group that is hard of breathing.

Why do people smoke in the first place? Usually it’s started as a way to be “cool”. The older kids smoke. Your parents don’t want you to smoke. Naturally the thing to do is smoke. Later people can become addicted to the nicotine. At this point it gives them a relaxing feeling to smoke, as they are getting their “fix”.

How to stop cigarette smoking? Like most things, I think the most effective way to stop smoking is through education. If you show kids pictures of smokers lungs they are pretty unlikely to start smoking. Have you seen the scary  anti smoking commercials? Effective. It’s probably not common knowledge that most smokers actually want to quit. But it’s a difficult road to break any addiction.

So now that I’ve thoroughly painted the picture that I am not advocating smoking, let me tell you why I’m also not trying to outlaw it. Smoking was outlawed because it was unpopular. Not because it was unhealthy, but because it was unpopular. This is a bad precedent to set. People wanted to go to a bar, restaurant or bowling alley and breathe clean fresh air. While that is fine and dandy, I have yet to read in the Constitution where you have the right to go to a privately owned restaurant. The people who want to go to those places have a choice. They can go to those privately owned places or not. They are not entitled to it. The key here is privately owned establishments. Don’t write me telling me how it should be illegal to smoke in a hospital, I agree, because there is a captive audience there who can’t choose to leave and medical equipment that shouldn’t be smoked around.

People have more power than they recognize. While they have demonstrated that they have the power to band together to ban things they don’t like, perhaps we should step back and think if this is a good road to go down. Think of things you like. Alcohol? Soft drinks? Burgers? Riding a bicycle without a helmet. Driving a motorcycle without a helmet. Driving a car without a seat belt? All of these things can be dangerous and I’m sure you can tell me why I shouldn’t do any of them, but I am here to tell you that me wanting to do any of these things doesn’t inhibit your ability to choose to not do them. Some of these things have been made illegal and come back from it. Prohibition. Some are currently illegal in certain places, riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Some are not yet illegal but certain people are trying to make them illegal, drinking more than a certain volume of soft drink. Thanks Michael Bloomberg. Basically by outlawing things you are running to the teacher and telling on someone. That’s childish.

So what do I think would have been a more effective way to get people to stop smoking in a place you wanted to be? Perhaps talk to the owner of the establishment. Tell him directly that if he doesn’t choose for his place of business to have it smoke free, you won’t give him your money. Money talks. Now this being the owners place, he could comply, if he thinks he’d get more business that way, or if he thinks he’d get more business by allowing patrons to continue to smoke that’s completely fine by me also and it should be ok with you also.

So what do you think? Will you continue to make criminals of people who aren’t doing anything wrong? Or will you continue to advocate to outlaw things as long as you disagree with them?

Let me expose you to a speech by Martin Niemöller.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Now let me interpret that for you by substituting things you might care about.

First they came for the smokers, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a smoker.

Then they came for the soda drinkers and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a soda drinkers.

Then they came for the coffee drinkers, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a coffee drinkers.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

And finally a thought by David Allen Green.
So my challenge to you is to think bigger. Don’t think “How will X impact me?” But think “How will X impact the world?”

Credit Francisco Karm for cover photo. Flickr Creative Commons.

6 thoughts on “Smoking. Why It Should Be Legal.

  1. Pingback: My thoughts on smoking. Am I a Libertarian? | Official site of DJ Michael Heath

  2. Pingback: Trust. Government Regulation. Guns and Income Inequality (Oh And Of Course Smoking) |

  3. Pingback: Freedom! |

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