Conventional collectivist created authority is a deception in consciousness. You are your own Authority!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Up in Smoke

As a libertarian I think that people ought to have the right to do whatever they want with their own body so long as in doing so they aren’t interfering with the rights of others. That’s what most libertarians believe. Do what you will with your body and your life but don’t interfere with mine.

We all have a right to breathe the free air, for example, but no one should have the right to pollute the air with smoke thereby subjecting others to breathing the foul stench. That’s why as a libertarian I’m OK with laws prohibiting smoking in public places.

I think that smoking should be prohibited in public for the same good reasons why urinating, defecating or other activities which disturb the peace in public are prohibited.  Such activities interfere adversely with the rights of others to enjoy public places.  The laws are fair and just.  

The town of Westminster Massachusetts is presently considering the prohibition of all tobacco sales within the community. Their reasoning is simple and logical. Tobacco products such as cigarettes when used as directed by the seller are dangerous. Tobacco smoking makes people sick and too often makes them sick to death. In short, tobacco smoking constitutes a public health hazard.

 "If we can prevent children from having access and exposure to tobacco and nicotine products and reduce the chances of them smoking or using them, then we’ve essentially saved lives," said a spokesperson for the local board of health.  If it is fair and just to prohibit the activity of smoking in a public place it stands to reason that prohibiting the sale of tobacco in a public place is equally fair and just.

Naturally, convenience store owners and other retailers in the town are up in arms about the idea of prohibiting the sale of dangerous products in their stores.

"Most people that buy tobacco will grab a cold drink for the road, maybe scratch tickets, a bag of chips. So it’s not just an $8 sale, it’s a $20 to $30 dollar sale," complains the owner of Vincent’s Country Store. "We're just going to be sending all these sales five minutes down the road to another town where these customers will spend money on gas out of town, food out of town and before you know it, the gas stations are going under in Westminster and other businesses.”

Another store owner warned that the prohibition would result in some his employees losing their jobs. "It becomes very personal--these people are important to me. Lisa has been with me for 18 years. Denise… for 12 to 13 years; For Lisa, I am her entire income. She in fact will lose her house if" this job doesn't exist,” said the owner of Depot General Store.

While I sympathize with these people, the fact remains that the smoking of tobacco products is a public health hazard; tobacco is a dangerous product when used as intended by the seller.  Tobacco addicts have a right to smoke it if they can do so without subjecting others to the hazards, but no one should have the unrestricted right to smoke or sell dangerous products in a public convenience store. 

Many smokers – who have the manners of pigs -- don’t care about interfering with the lives of others. It’s fine with them if their hazardous addiction results in the rights of others going up in smoke. 


  1. Where do you draw the line? Will you allow people to smoke on their own property? The smoke will not stay on their property. The atmosphere is always moving. What about the benzene emissions from gas stations, and all the emissions from vehicles (on public roads)? Surely that's a much greater health risk than cigarette smoke? Then there's home furnaces and fire places. The EPA and the global warming cabal have declared carbon dioxide an air pollutant. Which of course calls into question the simple act of breathing.

  2. Tim's line of thinking can be, and has been, extended to every aspect of our daily lives. That's why we're living in a totalitarian state. You can come up with an excuse to ban, or greatly limit, just about everything. I'll be looking forward to seeing what potentially dangerous item the author justifies attacking next.

  3. Drinking alcohol can be dangerous too. What if someone imbibes a few too many either at home or in a bar and decides driving the car is a good idea?

    So lets ban booze. After all, it is a health harming substance that can easily endanger children as well as adults.

    Oh, wait. That was tried once - with more than disastrous results.

    Listen - I loath cigarette smoking and cigarette smoke. I don't allow anyone to smoke in my home. But I don't have the right to tell someone they can't smoke on or in their own property - whether that is a home or a store. My choice is to simply not visit them or refuse to trade within the confines of their business.

    And of course, how will you enforce this ban on cigarettes? With violence! Don't comply and we'll take your money via fines. Keep on not complying and we'll throw you in a steel cage. Try and stop us, and we'll have our enforcers shoot and quite possible kill you.

    Not very Libertarian, now - is it?

    1. Yep. The same could be said about anything you eat, drink or smoke. And it is being said if you look at the various proposals coming from all sides to ban or tax one thing or another because of its proposed ill effects on individuals or society.

      I'm never sure to be disgusted or amused when I notice many of those supporting the legalization or decriminalizing of marijuana are often the same ones proposing more and more restrictive sanctions on tobacco, including bans, on the sale of tobacco.

      They just don't seem to get it's the same thing and the best way of dealing with it for all involved is to acquire a live and let live attitude. Hey, you smoke your joint and I'll keep my gun or smoke my cigarette. A phrase similar to that is actually what switched me solidly over to the libertarian camp over 20 years ago.

    2. How do you enforce the ban on smoking in your home, Jack? Surely not with violence I think.

  4. Tim wrote, "Are you a smoker, Fred?"

    Yep, but I only inhale once (ask, if interested). Regardless, my comments still stand, and from a libertarian point it shouldn't matter. I'm sure you do some things I don't like. I'm not going to try and jerk you around by going after something you do.

  5. I might add, I can't help but wonder how many other arguments you've made here have been nullified by your passion for laws against smoking? I suspect many have.

  6. "How do you enforce the ban on smoking in your home, Jack? Surely not with violence I think.".

    As for me, I don't smoke in my own home. I step outside. Even if the wife wasn't bothered by it, I likely still would smoke outside. It stinks up the house.

    1. Most smokers have to learn the hard way that tobacco is a dangerous product that makes people sick when used as intended by the seller. I’m ashamed to admit that’s how I learned. Now I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease so I’m paying a high price for my own youthful stupidity. It proves that I was wrong when I smoked, was addicted to smoking, and thus didn’t particularly care how my bad habit affected others. It proves that now I’m right when I argue that the law should not prohibit smoking, but on the other hand, smokers should not be permitted to trample upon the rights of others in public places.

      I’m confident that as a libertarian you wouldn’t object to laws regulating noise levels even on private property, much less in public places, if the level of noise adversely affects the rights of neighbors to enjoy their property. Laws prohibiting the burning of trash on private residential property are reasonable as well. I’m sure you can think of other good examples. That is not totalitarian by any stretch. Such laws are meant to secure our rights which is the sole purpose of government.

      There are good and compelling reasons why Jack prohibits smoking in his home and why you step outside to smoke. Those reasons are equally compelling for prohibiting smoking in public places, except perhaps in designated areas where others won’t be obliged to breathe the stink.

    2. I had a grandmother who smoked until she was 95. Her smoking gave her all manner of pleasure in her old age. How does your bad experience with smoking have anything to do with banning smoking for everybody else? All this shows is that you're more than willing to use force and violence to make people conform to your specific opinion of what is good.

      If people can't agree on what should or shouldn't be allowed in public places (and a resturants or bars are not public places), then the first discussion should be about why some place is public in the first place, and then what will be allowed and on whose authority.

      Most public places should never have been public to begin with. Public places are typically used in ways for the political class to oppress the economic class. Supporting such actions is not libertarian.

  7. You don't believe in laws regulating behavior in public places? It's not libertarian? Public places are used to oppress peple?

    So you think it's OK for anyone to do anything in public they want, like shit on the sidewalk in front of your house; chain smoke in bars, restaurants, air planes, busses, movie theaters, schools, wherever they want, is that it? Live and let live. You don't care if it makes people sick. Tough shit. You should be allowed to drive on any side of the road anytime you want, right? Traffic laws are not libertarian, right? They're used to oppress people?

    You don't think there should be laws prohibiting your neighbor from turning up his sound system to ear splitting levels 24 hours per day and pointing the speakers toward your living room so that you can't hear yourself think? Your neighbor can have a nitro explosives lab in his garage right next to your house and that's OK, right? He can burn big heaps of old tires in his back yard right next to yours and that's OK with you?

    And we wonder why people think libertarians are weird.

    1. Is that the best you can do? A screed of strawmen? How very intellectual.

      What's weird is a supposed libertarian advocating the use of force and violence to promote his own personal opinions of what is good on to people that don't agree with him.