First it was my home state of Florida, now it's our neighbor Georgia that has decided government must get involved between consenting adults and places they frequent by banning the sinful social practice of smoking.
ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill Monday to ban smoking in most public places in Georgia, ending a guessing game that had gone on for weeks.
So then why did he sign it? If a restaurant is making good business by allowing smokers to dine then what's the point of Big Daddy government stepping in to intervene?
The law will allow smokers to light up in only a few places, including bars and restaurants that do not admit people under 18; designated hotel and motel rooms; and workplace smoking areas that have an independent air handling system. Violators face fines of $100 to $500.
The Republican governor had said for weeks that he had misgivings about the bill, believing that government should not become "the end-all and be-all nanny for all people."
Because the sissy anti-smoking crowd believes their "rights" to eat in a smoke-free environment supersedes those who want to enjoy a good smoke with their meal and beer.
Make no mistake, I'm not a smoker. Never have been and never will be, but if a restaurant owner wants to allow smoking then the ball is in my court to either accept it or find another place to dine, not cry to Big Daddy so my will is imposed on everyone else. In my house you follow my rules and one of them bars smoking. In my car you follow my rules and one of them prohibits passengers from eating messy food that makes crumbs. In my place of business you follow my rules and - wait, no - I instead follow rules set by the government because in today's society government basically owns everything.
Here in Florida, restaurants have seen profits plunge because smokers stay less and as a result drink less. Prices go up to compensate and everybody is lugubrious, all so we don't have to be bothered by smokers while we eat. Thanks a lot ban supporters. So you can be satisfied with smoking laws we all have to pay bigger tabs.
I wish I could blame this problem on the we'll-mind-your-business-for-you liberals, but it's been mostly Republican governors caving in to such foolish legislation. In fact Republicans have even supported higher cigarette taxes, just another reason for the lower class that's dependent on nicotine to require more federal assistance.
The effects of smoking bans have been seen nationwide. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, "bar and restaurant business is actually down more than 20 percent in these states [with smoking bans]."
But these sobering facts don't seem to bother the selfish pro-ban crowds. Readers of my blog, Aggressive-Voice Daily have been bringing up facts on second-hand smoke, cancer and all the unintended consequences cigarettes bring.
While these are true facts regarding the health hazards of cigarettes, we are ignoring the fundamental issue of imposing one's will on others. If you don't like being bothered with smoke or if you fear the effects of temporary second-hand smoke, then don't frequent such places.
I know, you don't want your dining experiences to be limited to fast food, carryout, and cooking at home. You'd rather go out with unlimited options. You want to be able to go to any restaurant you want. And if someone there wants to smoke a cigarette, they better walk outside because you, the almighty, don't want to share the same space even if it's segregated with smoking and non-smoking sections. Because after all, there's a chance some of that smoke might drift your way and spoil your evening.
One reader of mine wrongly compares the smoking ban to noise ordinances. "If something bothers a large portion of the community it should be contained or relegated to 'safe' areas where it is not a problem. It's not too much to ask smokers walk out the door to have their cigarette."
This is comparing apples to oranges. Noise ordinances are valid protections. Blasting your stereo encroaches the space of others. I shouldn't have to listen to your loud music when I'm trying to sleep in my house. I shouldn't have to see the needle on the speedometer rattle in my car. But you're saying: I shouldn't have to smell that in your restaurant.
No, it isn't too much to ask smokers to smoke outside, but it is too much to demand of free enterprise capitalists that they not allow smoking at all in their restaurants. In the process, profit is lost because people like to sit around and enjoy a smoke, usually ordering more food and drinks while catching the game. Now restaurant employees have to worry about the dine-and-dash, where patrons would say they're going out for a smoke but actually flee without paying the bill.
Don't think that ever happens? Just ask the people who work at Denny's.
When you cut to the chase it's fair to say that supporters of smoking bans are selfish. They're selfish because they support a law that strips the owner of the right to run his own establishment.
This is no different than a populace demanding that theaters show movies at certain times convenient for them. No different than forcing restaurants to serve both fountain and bottled drinks. No different than any example you could think of where an owner is forced to do something to his establishment in case you, the self-righteous patron, decides to walk in.
What's next? What about a law forcing restaurants to not allow kids after a certain hour so those who don't "tolerate" loud kids can enjoy their meal in peace? Where does it stop?
I don't want to see drunkards at football games ruining the experience for me, but do I dare support a ban on alcohol at sporting events? Of course not, that's unheard of. But societal views on smoking are different than those on drinking, and because of it we tend to tolerate certain practices more than others. It only makes sense that the owners of the establishments, the ones taking your money and providing the services, determine the rules for all to play by. Not Bid Daddy government.
It's a shame that America is no longer a free market. Surely this is not how our Founding Fathers envisioned America, a country where government has become so involved that almost everything is now determined by bureaucrats.
So go ahead, you selfish supporters of smoking bans, go out to your favorite restaurant and enjoy tonight's special knowing there won't be any pesky smokers bothering you. Just make sure you really appreciate the experience, especially if the owners of the restaurant once relied on sales by smokers, because that may be the last time you ever go there.