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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Agreeing With a Democrat on a Smoking Ban

    By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
    Posted on Sun Jun 21, 2009 at 11:02:56 PM EST
    Tags: Roy Schmidt, Grand Rapids Press, No-Exception Smoking Ban (all tags)

    It's a rare occasion when I wholeheartedly agree with a Democrat on anything, and this includes the Democrats among my siblings and extended family.  But earlier this month I read a letter to the editor of the Grand Rapids Press by State Representative Roy Schmidt (D-76, Grand Rapids) to which my response was something along the lines of, "Oh, hell, yeah!"

    As of May 2009, all but 13 states and 3 territories of the U.S. have some form of general statewide smoking ban.  Several of the states and territories have fairly stringent measures on the books - Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, and Washington went so far as to enact them via ballot initiatives - that have very few exemptions (generally; private residences, tobacco stores and bars, outdoor areas, private clubs, and certain performance venues and religious ceremonies).  Additionally, somewhere in the immediate vicinity of six dozen other countries have some form of national smoking ban in place, and many of those are fairly strict as well.  (In Ireland, you can get fined up to €3,000 on the spot for personal violations . . . and enforcement is pretty tight.)  France has really restrictive regulations governing public smoking areas, and this in a country where smoking used to be an art form.

    Before we get into the quibbling over private property versus public property, let's get a simple definition out in the open.  The way I read these laws, "public" is defined as "any place nominally accessible to all members of the community" (said definition from both Black's and Webster's).  Thus, "public" is in the sense of "open to the public" and would include just about everything except private residences and vehicles, private clubs and beaches, and workplaces where every employee is directly (or immediately indirectly) related to the owner.

    That's actually not unreasonable; business and companies are already subject to a variety of health and safety regulations.  The purpose of these regulations isn't to impose nanny-state dominance, but rather to ensure that workers can go about their employment with a degree of assurance that they're not being inappropriately endangered; ditto for customers, clients, and visitors.  (Spare me the whining about OSHA and MIOSHA over-reach; that carping puts you off-point the second you start.)  While individual regulations or enforcement may occasionally go too far, the overarching intent is proper, and we really should avoid tossing the baby with the bathwater.

    The detrimental health effects of smoking are very well known, to the point that I don't believe I need to detail them here, and have been known to Big Tobacco since at least the mid-1950s.  According to the CDC, cardiac diseases outnumber all forms of cancer - combined - by double as a cause of deaths in the United States.  (For the purposes of comparison, the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., pneumonia, occurs with about one-fifth the frequency of cancer.)  The vast majority of cardio-bronchial diseases and cancers have smoking as a direct causal factor, if not the direct causal factor.  Suffice my opinion that smoking is essentially suicide on the installment plan.

    Now, if the only person the smoker were endangering was himself, then I wouldn't care less.  But it is just as well known that second-hand smoking is at least as dangerous a health hazard, if not more so.  And this is where we get into the "public health hazard" of smoking.  See, workers in bars, restaurants, casinos, and similar businesses are subjected to a laundry list of toxins on a daily basis that, in any other context, would be strictly regulated . . . and for good reason.

    Let me head off another argument before it gets started.  Right-to-Work proponents in Michigan are frequently, if not always, required to counter the forced-unionism argument that anyone who wants to work in a non-unionized environment should just switch jobs.  The typical RTW counter-argument is twofold: first, why should I be forced to change jobs; and second, have you tried voluntarily changing jobs in Michigan recently?  Unless I'm completely off, the vast majority of RightMichigan regulars (not including the lurkers and trolls) are pro-Right-to-Work, and have used that counter-argument at least once.  Union workers wouldn't be forced to find another job or dissolve their local; but RTW workers wouldn't be forced to join that local as a condition of employment.

    However, as Representative Schmidt shows, that argument cuts both ways.  And those of us that are ardently pro-RTW should realize the value of this.  Our standard counter-argument to forced-unionism tyranny is being legitimately and properly applied against unconscionable exposure to the inhalation of carcinogenic toxins.  To which I submit that those of you who would oppose this position should first be honest about the probability that the basis of your opposition is a fundamentally flawed understanding of "public place."

    The only proper exemptions to a statewide smoking ban are for that property which is truly private (as in: "not for public access").  Beyond that, if the Legislature wants a ban, then it ought to cover all places to which the public nominally has access . . . period.

    As I said, it's a rare occasion when I agree with a Democrat on much of anything.  But on this one issue, Roy Schmidt and I absolutely see eye-to-eye.

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    I'm Shocked (none / 0) (#1)
    by wctaxpayer on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 03:47:23 AM EST
    I quit smoking about 17 years ago. I was smoking about three packs a day and had a terrible cough. I had been smoking since I was a kid. My parents quit punishing me when I was about 16. Even then I had a mind of my own. My husband and my son still smoke and they can only smoke in the basement or outside. I made that rule and they abide by it.

    They know as well as I how bad it is for them. I, however, do not agree with you.  If I own an establishment I believe that the government has a right to regulate those things that can be dangerous but not be seen. Such as a heating unit, which may emit unseen gasses or refrigeration which unregulated may cause food contamination. In the case of smoking, it can be smelled and seen and warned against.  But if it is my business and I choose to allow smoking, my employees are aware when the are hired and the public is notified, I believe that my right on my property is just that. Your right to come in is really an invitation not an entitlement.

    Rose Bogaert, Chair Wayne County Taxpayers Association, Inc.

    Also Disagree (none / 0) (#4)
    by Rougman on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 10:58:36 AM EST
    So much for freedom.  Let the bureaucrats decide!  

    This is more than a second hand smoke issue, though it is second hand smoke that most people are visibly irritated with.  This has become an issue with bureaucrats who want to create a healthier public so that their bill for socialized health care is less expensive.  Bureaucrats all have their own little pet projects.

    More restrictive smoking laws are in our near future regardless of how contrary they are to the principles of freedom.  So are restrictions on sugary drinks, candy, foods high in fat, foods that promote animal flatulence, foods whose production might cause fertilizer run-off, need pesticides, or would be transported great distances for consumption.  (For the Daniel Quinn fans out there, restrictions on any and all mass agriculture would be a good thing.)

    Most people will sit back and accept this particular anti-smoking encroachment into their own personal lives because they happen to detest smoking and therefore surrender little measurable freedom due to its enactment.  

    Meanwhile, all the other advocates are lining up to restrict your behavior in their own chosen arena of advocacy.  Enjoy!  

    perspective is a wonderful thing (none / 0) (#5)
    by goppartyreptile on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 02:58:24 PM EST
    Here's a question, that I intend to work on and actually put up an article on, that I'd like to have answered by the anti smoking folks:

    If going to a restaurant and spending an hour or so there, twice a week, is directly linked to the deaths of 60k people (or, as the Surgeon General's own report put it, 22,000-69,000) per year, how has the human race survived?

    I'm reading a book about the founding of Australia right now, and I just don't get it.  I mean out of 800 or so convicts that were initially "transported beyond the seas", about 150 of them didn't make it.

    6 months.  Locked in the hold of a boat. With rats. And no understanding of hygiene.  And little food.  And the food they did have was rotten.  And they didn't understand what caused scurvy.  And all kinds of other things...

    And 60% of the population of the United States smoked until about two or three decades ago... so how do any of you visit your grandparents?

    So the question is, how does me going to Applebee's once a week for a drink with friends, sitting next to the smoking section, with the fans and vents and so on-- to the point that the only smell of smoke is about as strong as the cologne on the guy trolling for chicks three tables over-- going to kill me?  Or anyone else?

    The Dept. of Energy did a study back in the nineties, where they wired bartenders with devices that detected smoke, and found that they "smoked" the equivalent of 6 cigarettes A YEAR.

    If you want to do something to save restaurant workers and bartenders, ban alcohol.  15 thousand people were killed in 2007 because of drunk drivers.  

    That's direct causation... not, "nevermind the red meat three meals a day, eating too much fast food and drinking coffee, and family history, obviously the guy died of heart disease because he was in a room with people blowing smoke at him that they had already filtered through their lungs."

    And the EPA's own report labeling 2nd hand smoke a carcinogen was thrown out of court by Federal Judge William Osteen, who said in his opinion:

    The Agency disregarded information and made findings based on selective information... [The EPA] deviated from its risk assessment guidelines; failed to disclose important (opposing) findings and reasons; and left significant questions without answers... Gathering all relevant information, researching and disseminating findings, were subordinate to EPA's [goal of] demonstrating [that] ETS was a Group A carcinogen... In this case, the EPA publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun; adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency's public conclusion, and aggressively utilized the Act's authority to disseminate findings to establish a de facto regulatory scheme...and to influence public opinion... While doing so, [the EPA] produced limited evidence, then claimed the weight of the Agency's researched evidence demonstrated ETS causes cancer. (Osteen, 1998)

    (I'll update with links for that later... playing with the kids right now)

    This is junk science wrapped into a moral crusade to ostracize a group of people to the point that they are driven out of existence.  Oh, and the fundraising's good too.

    See, if you read the letters to the editor on this issue, you learn things like "smokers are mentally deranged," and people don't like them "spewing out their death on everyone."

    Is smoking good for you? Am I denying the dangers?  Absolutely not.  See, I'm dealing with it in my family right now.  But I'm not going to get emotional and lash out against everyone else.

    I've seen this before, on a much smaller scale.  See, we humans like to join things, and make decisions, that are based on: "I'm better than you."

    And we need to find other groups to demonize.  I'm just thankful that, when I had my red mohawk and was picked on, the cool kids in high school with the varsity jackets weren't able to use the power of the government to demonize me.

    Y'all ain't going to like this a bit . . . (none / 0) (#6)
    by Kevin Rex Heine on Mon Jun 22, 2009 at 04:55:24 PM EST
    . . . but I'm not budging off of my position on this one.  Hell, I just might reinforce it a bit.

    But before I do so, let me spank Corinthian Scales once or twice.

    Silly fish, at what point did I say that I agreed with everything that Rep. Schmidt wrote?  On the first two comments that you rebutted I actually agree with you; but then again, so might Rep. Schmidt.  (The guy's a freshman Representative; give him a fighting chance to screw up before you crucify him, willya?)  As to seat belt and helmet laws; granted, they're much abused of late as revenue generators for cash-strapped municipalities.  This merely points out that a law written for the public good (which is the purpose of the government in the first place) can be misused if the incentive to misuse it is there.

    This is where I might divert to a discussion of taxation and revenue-sharing policies in this state and how hosed up they are, but I suspect that won't be necessary.

    Like it or not, the fact of the matter is that sinful human nature requires government.  (1 Peter 2:13-17 provides a partial Scriptural support.)  And in the constructive trust that is supposed to characterize our representative republic, we place the government in control of those things that are more than we are capable of dealing with as individuals for the good of all of us.  (In this I refer to such things a national defense, emergency services, court systems and such as that . . . by no means am I advocating anything even resembling statism.)  In the exercise of its responsibilities, the government passes laws as it seems to think best for the greatest good.  Yes, they also pass laws that shouldn't be passed, but that's where the individual vigilance of the citizenry, of which President Lincoln spoke, is supposed to provide the ultimate check against government overreach.  Else why would we have the Second Amendment?

    One of the things that we trust government with is the protection and preservation of our individual rights.  For this purpose the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution exists.  ("The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.")  And this, I think, is the constitutional support for the smoking ban.  As an individual, I have a constitutionally-established right to operate in the public sphere without an unreasonable threat to my life or health.  (By this I use "public" in the sense of "public access," not necessarily "public property.")

    The question turns on the two concepts of "public access" and "public hazard" . . . period.  The second you allow the public onto your property, or employ anyone outside of family, in the normal course of your business, you have consequently opened the door to government regulation.  This concept is addressed in the 1906 SCOTUS decision in Hale v. Henkel (201 U.S. 43).  This includes a private business that transacts with the public, by invitation or otherwise.

    And it by right only should include those things which are inherent public hazards.  Thus smoking, which is known to endanger everyone else in the room, should be subject to regulations appropriate to protecting the health of all.  However, other things, such as junk food, endanger no one but the consumer, and of right ought to be unregulated accordingly.  This is the reason why you can drink like a fish at the bar of your choice, but you aren't breaking any laws until you become a public nuisance (such as urinating on a stop sign) or menace (such as getting behind the wheel of your car).

    Like it or not, government exists.  Granted, it's overstepped its bounds of late, but one of its basic purposes is to protect us from that from which we cannot effectively protect ourselves.  To argue otherwise is to invite anarchy.  Rather, the real question is, where should we draw the line?  Again, throwing out the baby with the bathwater is inappropriate.

    I submit that, with respect to a smoking ban, "hands off" is not an appropriate approach.  The public health hazard is well-documented and too great to ignore.  (Judge Osteen's opinion notwithstanding.)  Tangential arguments, or moving the goalposts (such as claiming that by advocating for regulation here means that I'm advocating for increased government regulation everywhere), are not appropriate as counter-arguments.  This is especially so given that those regulars on this site who know me, such as Jason and Rose, will recognize that government overreach is the last thing I will advocate.

    I happen to think that a smoking ban on public property or in public-access places is an appropriate use of government authority.  Clearly, everyone who's responded so far disagrees.

    The odd thing is that just about every House Republican I've spoken with so far (two exceptions that I know of) agrees with my position.  The only appropriate ban is a total one . . . no exemptions save for private property not open to public access.  Speaking with Rep. Pearce earlier today, he opined that the only way such a ban would be effective is if it included language that prevented it from going into effect unless and until all 19 or 20 Indian Reservations agreed to it under the terms of their compact with the state.

    Quite frankly, that makes sense too.

    Legalize pot? (none / 0) (#10)
    by stevenstmason on Tue Jun 23, 2009 at 12:22:41 AM EST
    Sounds like a pro-pot proponent.

    Oh hell yeah, patience is a virtue! (none / 0) (#13)
    by maidintheus on Tue Jun 23, 2009 at 12:57:34 PM EST
    Or it used to be...

    Frankly, I don't give a rip but I always agree with Gillman.

    Anyway, the government, MSM, schools...will/has had a huge influence in public sentiment and people make choices towards an obvious trend. Let the propaganda take it's course and we won't need more laws. It isn't illegal for intelligent people to ban smoking from their biz, home, or disassociate from places that smoke, as we see done more and more.

    I did disagree with Gillman once...can't remember what it was though.

    Closing a loop . . . (none / 0) (#14)
    by Kevin Rex Heine on Wed Jun 24, 2009 at 04:14:46 PM EST
    . . . on this particular debate.

    Jason and I spoke by phone yesterday, primarily because I wanted to make sure that there were no misunderstandings.

    This whole debate turns on the question of where a line should be drawn, and more specifically where a smoking ban should properly be placed relative to that line.

    With only the exception of the smoking ban, Jason and I do not disagree on that line.  (At least we don't as of what we've discussed to date.)  And please don't assume that I'm making this easier than it is (or harder than it is, for that matter).

    Ronald Reagan (may his name be forever praised), as Governor of California, wrestled with this same concept relative to pornography.  To him it was a matter of properly balancing the First Amendment rights of the pornographers against the rights of children to be protected from that garbage.  I don't know what answer he came up with, but I figure that if it's okay for him to struggle with this concept, then it's okay for me to do the same.

    I'm not using precedent as as source of truth; I'm using precedent as precedent.  That is, there is a legal decision out there on the record that provides a persuasive indicator of where the line of government intrusion should be drawn.  In my view, a smoking ban sits on one side of that line.  Six of the seven who've thus far posted reples to my argument disagree.

    (I don't have a clue of where STM stands on this, but then again I tend to rank him below "typical high school cheerleader" on my list of people who can string together a logical argument.)

    And by the way, that Hale v. Henkel decision also has application to the taxation question.  I'll be using it in a series of essays that I'm working on.

    The fact that I'm advocating as I am for a smoking ban doesn't mean that I'm advocating for greater government inolvement in private affairs.  Nor does the fact that my argument agrees with Roy Schmidt's make him a Statist; nor does the fact that my argument agrees with Tom Pearce make him a RINO.  What it does mean is that the three of us interpret a very narrow question differently than six of you do . . . and nothing else.

    (On another question relative to taxation, Tom, Roy, and I happen to agree . . . and so will the six of you.  But more on that in another thread.)

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