5/06/2007

Illinois becomes 19th state to ban smoking...


Illinois House passes statewide smoking ban - News

It appears as if the ban passed by the Illinois State House of Representatives on smoking in all public facilities and places of business will be signed by Governor Blajokavich, nullifying local referendum that have issued similar bans and bringing the entire state under one system. Illinois is the 19th state to pass a statewide smoking ban. Already the legislation has provoked an impassioned response on both sides.

In a letter to the editor published in the Commentary section of the Sunday Chicago Sun-Times, Timothy J. Barhum of Palos Park presents a well crafted jab at the "Dorthy Dogooders" whom he thanks mockingly offers, "Congratulations on taking away my choice and totally ignoring my rights as a citizen." Barhum concedes that as a smoker of 42 years, he is as aware as anyone that smoking is not good for one's health, but effectively counters with the argument that it is not illegal (at least not yet) and the taxes levied on the sale of tobacco fill the tight margins of the politicians pork barrel spending programs. For Barhum, it is obvious that public places, offices and most workspaces should be nonsmoking, but going to a bar or restaurant is a choice, and the "twenty-four percent of the population that smokes can no longer go out to dinner or have a drink with friends and family and relax with a smoke because your (non-smoker's) rights are obviously more important than mine, and I guess we can't have both because you have decided for all of us."

To me this is an issue and cause which should be pressed and protested creatively. My friend suggested an interesting strategy for subverting the new smoking law when we were talking the other night. Sean insisted that the best option available to small business owners who fear the impact of the legislation on their business is to make restaurants and bars "private clubs", but with a less exclusive membership policy than would be typical. For example, restaurants could sell one-day memberships, or monthly/yearly passes, so the smokers can cultivate their own subculture that doesn't trample on the lifestyles of their fascist-minded, intolerant, non-smoking neighbors.

I am of a similar opinion as that voiced by Mr. Barhum in his open letter to the editor of the Sun-Times, that all establishments in the food and bar industry should be given the option, but forced to choose and advertise as chosen. I cannot understand why non-smokers can't just stay away from places that reject their snobbish disregard for the liberty of the minority and diluted concept that they have a right to impose communal health initiatives. It is beyond question, in my opinion, that laws banning smoking in public places which are justified as measures taken to protect the health of citizens who already choose to not smoke, are tantamount to the fascism that tormented the world in the first half of the 20th century.

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