April 03, 2006

Smoking Ban=Loss Of Freedom

Residents in Platteville, Colorado also think that smoking bans are more about a loss of freedom than a "health" issue:
Platteville - As waitress Sharon Johnson sees it, the newly enacted statewide smoking ban is less about protecting people's health than about snuffing out their rights.

"If they can do this, what else can they do?" she says, referring to the legislators who voted to prohibit smoking in virtually all public places beginning July 1.

"It's pretty obvious where this is going. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at this point is gone. I suppose the next thing they'll do is take away my right to remodel my house the way I want to do it."

Such libertarian sentiments run deep in Platteville, one of many rural Colorado towns where tobacco smoke is as routine a sight in bars and coffee shops as cardboard cups in Starbucks. As Johnson's co-worker and fellow smoker Jill Frasier puts it, "Quite frankly, I think this is wrong. Fifty-eight people decided our lives are going to change, and they're just cramming it down our throats."
A few days back, I ran across a quote from Tocqueville, who believed that tyranny in a democratic/republican form of government would probably look like this (smoking bans, mandatory seat belts, etc.):
[government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
The loss of liberty through a thousand tiny cuts, all in the name of "health" or "saving one life" or any other nanny-state rationale. What is most disappointing is that Republican legislators signed on to the bill, and a Republican governor signed it into law.
The smoking ban, signed by Gov. Bill Owens last week, will apply to all enclosed spaces except casinos, tobacco shops, cigar bars, the smoking lounge at Denver International Airport and private workplaces with no more than three employees. Homes, cars and ranch buildings are exempt.
Gee, thanks for letting us smoke in our homes--until some new legislature decides that that too must be outlawed (for the kids, or public officials, etc.). Now where's that cigar. . .

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