So yesterday the state of Michigan (my home state) passed a law to ban smoking in public bars and restaurants. As a former smoker and current vaper I have mixed feelings on this. Should the government be allowed to tell business owners that they can’t allow smoking in their business? I want to say no, but unfortunately the government already tells these business owner what they can and can’t do in many other ways.
That’s the problem with government isn’t it? It’s capable of both helping and hurting and something the opinion on which is which, can vary.
As far as smoking is concerned, I can understand the position of many nonsmokers. Especially when it comes to restaurants. Why should the nonsmoker be subjected to smoke of other patrons while trying to enjoy their meal? It’s not cheap to eat out and that could certainly ruin your experience. Even when I was a smoker I could clearly see that the nonsmoking and smoking section of most restaurants were often not very segregated. Often times separated only by a few feet without any solid barrier between the two. So to assume that drifting smoke isn’t going to find it’s way into the nonsmoking section is just silly.
But perhaps there was another way about it. Restaurants already have certain health standards they have to abide by. Laws could have been put into place regulating “smoking rooms” in the back of restaurants that are blocked by solid walls, double doors and the addition of smoke eater machines inside those rooms. Regulation is at least the better alternative to an all out ban. It would have represented balance and choice.
Another alternative could have been a regulation that stated your business either had to be an all smoking establishment or an all nonsmoking establishment. Thereby giving the business owner the choice and letting the free market determine which businesses succeed. Something tells me there is room for both.
But it’s not really about tolerance is it? The truth is some nonsmokers just hate smoking and would probably love to see it outlawed. They see it as a ridiculous act which only harms people. Beyond that they make bold statements like “why should I have to inadvertently pay your health bills through my higher insurance fees and taxes?” Smokers meanwhile retort by saying things such as “We live in a free country, we should be allowed to do what we want with our own bodies and if I enjoy smoking then I shouldn’t be told I can’t.”
It is a hard call. None of us are here forever. Our goal is not to arrive unbeaten and unbruised into the grave. I’ve heard many a smoker make comments like “it may cut ten years off the end of my life, but those are the worst ten years anyway.” There is some logic in that. It’s not like we go on living forever if we just eat healthy, work out and don’t smoke. We’re all going to grow old and die one way or the other. Whether it’s breaking a hip and slowly losing your health or slowly dying of lung cancer or having a heart attack and going quickly. So until science can find a way to extend our lives to the point where we can live healthy and happy in a 24 year olds body for hundreds of years, we’re going to hit that point where death is upon us. But even then I could smoke for 20 years and get hit by a car. Wouldn’t have really mattered how long I smoked then, would it? To a smoker their quality of life is enjoying it. Being free to do as they wish. Exploiting the various sins of man to their satisfaction.
On the other hand nonsmokers take the approach that they want to feel better, breath better and not stink of smoke. That’s how they want to live their lives.
The question is, should one side really dictate how the other should live?
Personally I like to take a middle ground approach. While I believe that smokers should be free to smoke I think they need to take more responsibility with it. They should have the decency and concern not to smoke around kids and other nonsmokers. Or at the very least ask the nonsmokers if they mind and not take offense if they say they do. Smokers should also stick to areas that are smoke friendly, including bars which are all smoking.
On the flip side, nonsmokers shouldn’t put themselves in situations where they have cause to complain.
But then so much of this isn’t really a choice anymore is it? Because the government here in Michigan has just banned the practice in most public places. So I guess this is a victory for some and a show of intolerance for others.
Of course there is a third option. E-cigarettes. These are a better solution for everyone. So long as smokers can handle the slight change of texture and nonsmokers can get over their hatred of anything that remotely resembles a cigarette.