Mar 042002

The Associated Students of CSU Senate is currently considering legislation that would create a campaign that would encourage Fort Collins to adopt a “suitable smoking policy.” A “suitable” policy, according to the legislation, would “require all public restaurants, bars, and workplaces to be smoke free.” That’s an unacceptable, ridiculous and flawed proposal.

Such a proposal goes against the American right to run a business in the way that one sees fit. Legislating a choice like that is yet another erosion of personal liberty.

The question is inherently flawed. Restaurants and bars are not “public.” They’re privately owned and operated.

The question should be, “does the government have the right to restrict personal liberty by imposing foolish restrictions that have no basis in law?”

The answer is obviously no.

Look, if you want to keep smoking out of public buildings, that’s one thing. But to legislate such a thing for a private business is ridiculous.

Some will argue that banning smoking is the same as regulating the basic sanitation in the kitchen. It’s a health issue, right?


A consumer cannot spend lots of time in the kitchen to see if the guy who flipped his burger washed his hands after he took that restroom break. Nor can they check to see if meat has been kept at proper temperatures.

Health regulations protect us from hidden dangers. Cigarette smoke is not a hidden danger. Most everyone knows that it can harm you. Many choose to smoke anyway (a stupid choice, but that’s not the issue). Others choose to frequent clubs that allow smoking.

When you see someone light up in your vicinity, you can choose to move or to go somewhere else. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Nowhere is there a law that says that a person MUST get a cheeseburger in a particular establishment. If someone doesn’t want to eat in a smoky bar, that person can leave. It’s a choice.

Business owners also have a choice in our society. That’s the choice to run their business as they see fit.

If a restaurateur wants to keep smoking out of his or her bar, that person can legally do so. Those who have done so in Fort Collins have done well for themselves. Those who have chosen to do so in other towns are also doing fine.

When the city of Boulder required all clubs to be non-smoking and mandated that those with smoking sections have separate ventilation, they required businesses to unnecessarily spend thousands of dollars because their citizens didn’t understand American civil liberties. Why must the government continue to impose silly restrictions when personal choice works just fine?

You can’t legislate stupidity, nor should you try to. Some people don’t want to smell or taste smoke when they go to a club. There’s nothing wrong with that. But there is something inherently wrong with telling a private citizen what he or she can’t do on his or her own property. That’s un-American.

Want to keep smoking out of bars? Then support those establishments that are smoke free.

Our government has far too long pretended that it knows better than the private sector. Business owners know how to run their places so that they are turning a profit. Why fiddle further with that?

Smoking kills people. If you don’t want to inhale second-hand smoke, then don’t go to places where smoking is permitted. But don’t force your personal preferences on society. That’s a poor way to run a city.

If smoking bothers you, then go somewhere else.

Senate, defeat your smoking bill. Show the campus that you understand the difference between personal choice and legislative foolishness.

Bud Hunt is sometimes bothered by smoke, but he’s also bothered by Teletubbies, and doesn’t think that the government should regulate those, either.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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