Why I Support the Smoking Ban

My readers generally know me as an independent conservative who, nine times out of ten, tends to agree with the Republican Party. That said, I’m never afraid to take the other side based on my own convictions (which is why I have never joined any political party). It’s my libertarian streak that sometimes puts me at odds with the Republican Party that one time out of ten, because I generally feel that the government ought to stay the heck out of my and everybody else’s business.

So how, you may ask, can I possibly support the smoking ban that Governor Tim Kaine (D-VA) is signing into law today? After all, the ban tramples the property rights of business owners and the individual rights of smokers, doesn’t it?

The reason is simple. I think government should stay the heck out of my and everybody else’s business, but the government still has a responsibility to legislate against harmful acts that effect the innocent. That’s why I support a ban on abortions, which kill innocent human beings, yet tend to oppose legislative acts to limit or prohibit homosexual activity—even though I consider it immoral—since it only directly effects consensual participants. Cigarette smoke is an airborne carcinogen and can potentially harm me; I have a right to never be exposed to it unless I voluntarily choose to be so exposed.

I do not support outlawing smoking. In fact, on the contrary, I tend to support the legalization of marijuana since its intoxicating effects are no worse than those of alcohol. I draw the line at ‘hard’ drugs though, again because of the major societal ills caused by addiction to meth, crack, heroin, etc. As far as I’m concerned, people can drink and smoke all they want—so long as they don’t put me at risk by driving, handling firearms, or performing other dangerous tasks while under the influence . . . and as long as I don’t have to be directly exposed to these drugs or their byproducts except by choice.

Smoking bans like the one being signed today in my home state of Virginia don’t stop people from smoking, but they do significantly reduce my potential exposure to harmful environmental toxins I prefer not to be exposed to. They aren’t trampling smokers’ or property owners’ rights, they protect everybody’s right to only be exposed to toxins they chose to be exposed to.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.