Smoking bans are NOT an example of a “nanny state”

February 27th, 2006

Supposedly a “nanny state” is one that protects its citizens from themselves.

Helmet and seatbelt laws are excellent examples of this.

But I keep seeing bloggers I normally agree with refering to smoking bans as an example of “nanny state” behavior.

By definition, best viagra ambulance they are NOT!

Smoking bans protect others from the behavior of smokers.*

They do nothing to protect the smokers themselves. (A smoker is always free to go outside and smoke or smoke at home.)

A law that outlawed smoking period would be an example of a nanny state.

Call smoking bans unnecessary. Call them an unwarranted intrusion on the rights of property owners. Call them fascist. But quit calling them an example of the “nanny state.”

If you don’t, I’m going to send you to bed without your supper.

*And, to me, protecting us from each other is the only legitimate purpose of any government.

Entry Filed under: Philosophy,Politics

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Casper  |  February 27th, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Elliot, I think you’re just trying to get more readers. ;)

    (please excuse the emoticon)

    I think the perception of it being a “nanny” state issue depends on how you look at the entire debate. From the standpoint of those who believe bans shouldn’t be in place because those who don’t like inhaling secondhand smoke could simply choose not to go into the bar, it seems as if what’s happening is that the government is saying smoking shouldn’t be allowed in bars because people are incapable of making that decision on their own.

    Now, when you look at it from your perspective of protecting some people from others, the nanny state approach kind of disappears.

    Personally, I do see it as promoting a nanny state. I do believe people have the choice not to patronize the bar. And I disagree with one of your earlier statements that you might like to go there but the smokers keep you from doing that. There are lots of places people may like to go but health issues keep them from doing so.

    Consider people with peanut allergies. Should they demand that Thai restaurants not use it in their cooking? Or that grocery stores not carry peanuts at all?

    Or maybe hotels shouldn’t have swimming pools because some people don’t know how to swim. Drowning is pretty dangerous.

    Maybe bars shouldn’t serve alcohol because some people don’t know a thing about moderation. I’d hate to see them drink so much they get alcohol poisoning.

    I understand that in some cities, bars are banned from allowing smoking unless they install certain types of air filtration systems. I’m willing to accept something like that. Could we maybe compromise on that?

  • 2. Melinda Omdahl  |  February 27th, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    The problem with this issue is that it is simply black or white. There is no shade of gray. There is no compromise as it is today.

    As I’ve said before… Tell me of one… JUST ONE… bar that I can go into to hang out with friends on a Friday night and NOT have to endure smoke?

    … I’m waiting….

    …Still waiting….

  • 3. Melinda Omdahl  |  February 27th, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    Also – Casper… your examples are actually kind of weak…

    People with peanut allergies don’t have to eat a peanut dish while sitting in a Thai restaurant. People who can’t swim don’t have to go swimming just becuase they are poolside. And- people go to bars all the time and don’t drink (think designated driver).

    However – one thing holds true – no matter where you go you have to breathe.

  • 4. Administrator  |  February 27th, 2006 at 10:15 pm

    Casper said:

    Elliot, I think you’re just trying to get more readers. ;)

    I always thought disagreeing with your friends COST you readers.

    On the other hand, any number above 1 reader is a bonus.

  • 5. Casper  |  February 27th, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    Melinda, the peanut issue goes beyond actually ordering the dish. There’s a reason many airlines no longer give peanuts on flights. People with those allergies claim they cannot be in the same room with peanuts. In fact, some schools have banned kids from bringing PB&Js from home for that very reason. I think the comparison is pretty strong.

    As to naming that bar, there was one in Milwaukee. I can’t recall the name now, but it shut down for lack of business. And if you want one so badly, open one. Invest your money into it and see how it works out. If there is one and smokers want to be there and give up their smoking to be with friends who don’t smoke, more power to them. But don’t ask bar owners who choose to allow smoking to stop doing it for your comfort. They’re in the hospitality industry. Most are small business owners very in tune with the wants of their clientele. I know a number of them…and trust me, they want the smokers.

    Elliiot…even though I disagree with you on this issue, I’m not going to stop reading. To quote that one movie about cowboys, I sure wish I quit you.

  • 6. grumps  |  February 28th, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Pooley’s in Madison was the grandest failure of the Non-smoking marketplace. There may be niche spots where smoking is prohibited but the business model won’t hold up without someone deciding they know best.

    Sorry, Eliott. Nanny is as nanny does.

  • 7. Aaron  |  February 28th, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    As I’ve said before… Tell me of one… JUST ONE… bar that I can go into to hang out with friends on a Friday night and NOT have to endure smoke?

    Chuck E. Cheese serves beer, doesn’t it.

    The issue is not about smoke free bars!!!
    The last “smoking ban” bill that was being considered in Milwaukee allowed bars and restaurants to buy smoking permits.

    The issue is about more revenue: CHA-CHING!!!

  • 8. Melinda Omdahl  |  February 28th, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    I guess we will just have to agree to disagree. After all- the fundamental issue here is whether or not second-hand smoking is dangerous. I believe it is. Casper- you believe it isn’t.

    Certainly- you cannot. Otherwise- you’d have no problem with people decking one another, shooting one another… heck- throw out the whole penal code.

    So- I guess- until you know what most of us already do- that smoking is actually dangerous to one’s health and to the health of those who have to breathe the deadly air – we’ll just have to leave it at that.

  • 9. Wendy  |  February 28th, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    Three Old Guys in West Bend is a smoke-free bar. I’ve been in there, it’s a hopping joint. I’m pretty sure they were against West Bend’s smoking ban–it would take away their edge.

  • 10. Casper  |  February 28th, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    Melinda, I think it really comes down to what the basis of our argument is. Where you think it’s a health issue, I think it’s an issue of the business owners’ rights.

    In all honesty, I don’t believe the argument is black and white. I think you make good arguments…I simply disagree with them. I don’t think the comparison to punching or shooting someone else is apt. When I walk into a bar, I expect there to be smokers. I do not expect there to be people looking to punch or shoot me

    If I were to believe that was the case, I WOULDN’T GO INTO BARS.

    At least, I’d stay out of bars in Cudahay.

    I think the danger of secondhand smoke is overstated. At the same time, I think the danger of firsthand smoke is understated. Regardless, I’m not basing my argument on the health factors of smoke.

    It truly comes down to the rights of the of the business owner. He or she owns a business based on appealing to their customer. Many bars have chosen to ban cigars and scented cigarettes. It was their choice to do so because their clientele didn’t like it. Hell…even Landmark Lanes does so, and that bar has an inherent odor of urine! When they choose to eliminate cigarettes, I would prefer it be their choice and not mandated by the government.

    Just like it’s your choice not to go to the bar.

    I do sympathize with your plight. Please…PLEASE…let the business owner know you don’t like smoke. Let them make the decision whether or not to allow smoking. But do not ask government to dictate whether or not a legal activity should be allowed in their business.

    Finally, may I ask, were you on Water Street tonight? An Irish named bar, more specifically?

  • 11. Melinda Omdahl  |  March 1st, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    I was on water street… but not in an Irish bar. Sorry.

    By the way- I respect you Cas! It’s good to be able to discuss differences in this fashion. Really good.

  • 12. Casper  |  March 1st, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    Melinda, to be honest, I saw someone in McGillicuddy’s wearing a button advocating smoke free bars. Based on your stance, I wondered if it was too much to be a coincidence!

    And I enjoy the debate as well.

  • 13. From Where I Sit » &hellip  |  March 7th, 2006 at 11:07 pm

    […] The meaning of nanny state. […]

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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