Monday, 12 January 2009

Smoking ban my arse

Jacob Grier (via Andrew Sullivan) on smoking and the market, with evidence in support of the proposition - which I've always maintained - that the liberal and civilised way to deal with smoking in public places is to leave it to the market:

Arlington makes an interesting test case. It’s one of the wealthiest, most liberal cities in the country, and residents would surely approve a smoking ban if they were allowed to. Fortunately they’re restrained by Virginia law that forbids local anti-smoking ordinances to exceed the state’s own rules. Every year a statewide ban is introduced in the senate and immediately shot down by the tobacco-friendly house.

The fact that popular bars and established restaurants are voluntarily choosing to restrict smoking shows that ban opponents have been right all along: given demand for smokefree environments, profit-seeking business owners will eventually provide them, if not as immediately as a legislative ban would. And as someone who generally prefers bars with clean air, I think that’s fantastic — as long as dive bars like Jay’s or the backroom cigar lounge at EatBar remain free to set their own policies too.

The smoking ban is puritanical and authoritarian bullying by the state, pure and simple.


Captain Haddock said...

And I hope you feel the same way about the hunting ban.

JM said...

Well, to some extent, but I don't think the libertarian argument is as strong in that case: if there was evidence that hunting caused far more pain and distress than other methods of pest control, I would have been in favour, just as I am in favour of the state intervening in dog fighting, bear baiting etc. I have no difficulty with the state criminalising acts of animal cruelty; I just don't think the evidence stacks up in the case of hunting.

JG said...

Also, foxes can't just choose to stay in watching the telly if they don't want to go to the hunt. Whereas people who don't want to be smoked on can choose to hang out in smoke-free pubs/other venues.