Dear Tell All: I'm upset about the statewide smoking ban that's set to take effect on July 5. To me, this is another example of government overreach, impinging on the freedom of small business owners. If restaurants and bars want to allow smoking, why should the state of Wisconsin be able to tell them they can't? If customers don't like the smoke, they can go somewhere else. And if the business owners prefer to keep the nonsmokers, they can prohibit smoking on their own. Isn't that the way the free market is supposed to work?
I live in Sun Prairie, and come July 5, my wife and I will be deprived of one of our favorite activities: going to our favorite bar for a romantic evening of wine and smokes. Is this really a crime? Shouldn't there be options for people like us in Wisconsin who find such an activity appealing?
Dear Smoky: The scenario at the bar sure does sound appealing - for you. But what about the other people trapped there, who don't necessarily want to inhale the equivalent of a dozen cigarettes but have to anyway, all because of you and your wife? What about the bartenders and other staff? At least the patrons who dislike the smoke can walk out, but not the employees.
There are limits to this "freedom" you're talking about. Do you think small business owners should be allowed to bury nuclear waste on their sites? I'm guessing you'd say no. So what's the difference? Exposure to secondhand smoke, like exposure to nuclear waste, can cause cancer. Responsible governments should protect citizens from contact with such stuff.
That's not to say the government should be able to stop you from smoking altogether. If you and your wife want to light a candle in your living room, open a bottle of wine, and smoke until the room is hazy with carcinogens, that's your right. In fact, it sounds exactly like your idea of a romantic evening.
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