Where there's no smoke, there's still ire

120109smoking
She is, therefore she smokes

Starting today, one question you will no longer hear when walking into most restaurants in the Old Dominion is “smoking or non-smoking?”

A smoking ban in restaurants and bars takes effect in Virginia today and those who must puff while they smoke or drink must go outside, sit in an outside dining area and find a restaurant that’s willing to build a separate room with additional ventilation.

Quite a turnaround for Virginia, which owes a large part of its very existence to the tobacco leaf.

As expected, those who feel it is their God-given right to light up are mad as hell about the new law.

From one diner in Roanoke: “Who in the hell is the government to tell me I can’t smoke in my favorite restaurant?”

Well, it’s the same government that has the right to tell us we can’t legally drive a car without a driver’s license, state-issued tags and insurance (or payment of the “uninsured motorist” fee). The same government that says we can’t hunt on Sunday or drive while drunk.

The last time I checked, the Commonwealth isn’t telling us we can’t smoke. It’s just saying we can’t smoke in certain public places. Smoking is already banned in most public buildings, including government complexes.

Like most people my age, I smoked when I was younger but quit more than 40 years ago. Yet the craving for a cigarette never vanished and I want a smoke as badly now as I did four decades ago. When I compare that to my addiction to alcohol, I find that my urge to drink diminished over time but my desire for a cigarette ever has. Nicotine is a powerful, addictive drug.

Does the government have the right to ban smoking completely? As with all governments, its right to intrude into our lives is limited ony by its own willingness to become more onerous than it is now. Should it ban smoking period? No, I don’t think it should. Government already exercises too much control over our lives. If people want to take their chances by smoking, that’s their risk.

By banning smoking in restaurants, government is prohibiting a practice that could put other people at risk through second-hand smoke. A person’s right to smoke should be limited when that smoking endangers the health of others.

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9 Responses

  1. I agree with the law. I use to smoke and smoked in public places but once my first child was born ( who is very allergic to smoke) I realized how uncomfortable it made nonsmokers.I many times have decided not to go sit down and eat because I knew that there would be smoke in the area I would be eatting. I have had to in convience myself many times because of people smoking maybe its the smokers turn..Its their habbit not mine

  2. I would be perfectly happy to see penalties on parents for smoking around their kids in confined spaces.  I grew up in a house full of smokers, and no matter what I said, how much I coughed, how many lung problems I had, or how nicely i asked, my parents refused to smoke outside the house, or to not light up while in the car with me.  I am now rakced with life-long breathing and lung problems, including asthma and severe smoke sensivity, not to mention a terrible susceptibility to get bronchitis or pneumonia…all related to being forced to breathe smoke-filled air from my parents.  It’s honestly not that far from child abuse, as the scars inflicted will be with me for the rest of my life, and my life is quite possibly going to be shorter as a result.

  3. Doug,

    My question relates to an earlier post. Do you know why our personal property taxes have increased so dramatically this year? The personal property tax on my vehicle has more than doubled this year, yet my car is one year older! Perhaps I missed some explanatory information about this tax increase in the local news.

    Thanks for being the watchdog of Floyd county. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that your investigative journalism was ultimately responsible for preventing Floyd county officials from being bamboozled by the con artists who called themselves Data Knight 365. Keep up the good work. We need you!

  4. Yvonne:

    Counties and municipalities are no longer receiving rebates from the state on the car tax (part of former Gov. Jim Gilmore’s “repeal the car tax” plan) so the personal property taxes are back to their “pre-repeal” levels.

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