Friday, February 6, 2015

Stop the Smoking Ban in New Orleans and Baton Rouge!

Richard Fast, a junior at Loyola University New Orleans, is studying economics under Dr. Walter Block and is Dr. Block's research assistant. He recently submitted the below letter to the University newspaper, The Maroon. The letter was in response to a January 31, 2015 editorial, at the paper, in favor of the recent smoking ban in bars and restaurants  in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

This letter is a response to the 1/30 Maroon editorial "Smoke Break."

Smoking is a personal, individual decision. Is it a bad habit? Yes. Is it stinky and unpleasant? Yes. Will it ruin your health? Yes. However, at the end of the day, it is the individual's choice to light up or not. You might say, "But, Ricardo, most smokers are addicts. It's not that simple." To which I say, yes, that's also true. There are many cessation groups and organizations in New Orleans (for example, and for each smoker trying to quit, there are a multitude of others with the same desire. With mutual support, quitting is very possible. As with everything else in life, this is much easier said than done, however I view the greater danger as when the tyranny of the majority “represented” by the arbitrary will of a city council for "the greater good" infringes upon individual freedom-- liberties we claim to hold so dear. Perhaps the biggest encroachment on freedom is on business owners, who took the entrepreneurial risk to start a bar or restaurant. Is that place of business not their property and is it not up to them, the business owners, to decide what they will or will not tolerate from their clientele on their own property? If a business owner wants to allow smoking on his hard-earned property, what's wrong with that? Patrons who are put off by the smoke are free to leave and spend their money somewhere else. Laws and government are not necessary to create a smoke-free environment. Many establishments voluntarily go smoke-free because of the private consumers' demand for a more pleasant environment (one example is the Spanish Moon bar in Baton Rouge, but there are plenty in New Orleans). Consumers vote with their feet and their cash, the market itself should determine winners and losers. As people become more health-conscious, the smoking rates will decline and the demand for smoke-less bars and restaurants will incline, weeding out smoke-filled bars from being as profitable. Government in this case is acting as a bully, telling business owners what patrons can and can't do on their own property and dictating what private individuals can and can't do with their own bodies. City councils such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge should keep their hands to themselves and stop interfering with personal freedom and civil liberties, of which smoking is a part.

Thank you,

Richard Fast

junior, economics

1 comment:

  1. And the whole time they tax cigarettes with a straight face