The agreement reached by lawmakers, the Tavern League and Smoke-Free Wisconsin is still a bad bill. The new compromise is essentially like saying: "Hey, don't worry. We still interfere with basic, fundamental rights, we just do it next year instead of next month. See? All better isn't it?"
Except, it isn't. The only concession is "tobacco bars" are exempt and the effective date is July 5, 2010. Pardon me if I don't do cartwheels in celebration.
The bill does not define "tobacco bars" so one is left to wonder if that means a bar like Maduro, or does it mean a cigar and pipe shop that doubles as a smoking lounge. I would hope the exemption includes the former, but I am not holding my breath. Though I do appreciate that the day after we celebrate our nation's birth of freedom, we will put another nail in the coffin of individual liberty and a business owner's ability to make their own decisions.
And therein lies my biggest problem with the ban. Smoking - for all it's risks - is a legal activity for adults. I am not opposed to banning smoking at school or in government buildings or hospitals. I have no problem with protecting our innocent children from the evil cigarettes, but bars, taverns, places where only adults are allowed to be, should not be included.
Oh, what's that you say? This is to protect the workers who have no other job, we can't expect someone to exercise a choice in where they work. Sorry. Don't buy it. If you decide that you want to be a bartender and the bar has smoking you made the choice to apply there. As a customer, you make the choice to drink or eat there. If you don't like the smoke, don't go.
This isn't just about public spaces either, we are about to pass legislation that bans smoking even in private clubs. The Reference Bureau's analysis states quite clearly: The substitute amendment also specifically prohibits smoking in private clubs. Please tell me that the 4 of us here at LIB are not the only ones who find it just a little disturbing that we are including private clubs in a public smoking ban. What's next, our own homes?
I'm not a big smoker. I hate cigarettes. Still, I occasionally like to have a cigar with my drink, or when I'm playing pool or darts. I don't mind if other people do either. It's their choice to smoke, it's my choice to go to a place where I know smoking takes place.
This constant, ever-creeping control over more and more of our lives is a bad trend. This smoking ban is done to save us from ourselves. We have to ask: What's next? Seriously. Fatty foods cause the obesity epidemic and Type-2 Diabetes, I guess we better ban Culver's and McDonald's. Drinking causes all sorts of problems, I guess we better ban alcohol (again). Soda is bad for you too, I guess we need to ban Coke and Pepsi.
What's that you say? I'm over-reacting? Right. That's why no one has tried to ban trans fats. That's why no one has tried to tax soda because it's bad for kids. Right. Just keep on telling yourself that.
Banning smoking is easy. It's an "icky" habit, so no one puts up a fuss. But this goes beyond common sense. We intrude upon basic rights of people to conduct business freely or live their lives freely. It's another step down the road to Big Brother and government control over our lives. Listen to the reaction of supporters to this news. It's all about saving us from ourselves, because they know better.
Doesn't that bother anyone?