Friday, September 19, 2008

Protect Private Property: End Smoking Bans

September 19, 2008

Washington, D.C.--The Washington state Supreme Court ruled recently that the state’s smoking ban applies not only to businesses open to the general public, but to private clubs as well.

“It is bizarre that in a free country public officials are deciding the smoking policies of private businesses,” said Don Watkins, a writer for the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Those decisions rightfully belong to business owners. Smoking bans, whether in private clubs or privately owned businesses open to the public, are a violation of property rights.

“Supporters of smoking bans claim that the government must protect consumers and employees from the alleged dangers of secondhand smoke. But they are already protected: no one can force them to patronize or work in an establishment that allows smoking. Smoking bans don’t protect the unwilling from smoke--they merely abrogate the rights of business owners.

“These bans should be disturbing to anyone who values freedom. If the government can trample on private property rights in the name of dictating people’s health choices, then smoking bans are only the beginning. Indeed, we are already seeing bans on trans fats, and even proposals to revoke the business licenses of fast food restaurants that serve overweight people.

“It’s time to end this trend and recognize the right of businesses to use their property as they see fit.”

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