Smoking is not a protected right

It's spring and the weather is perfect for a nice long walk around downtown Asheville. I love walking down the sidewalk on Broadway, seeing the trees in bloom and breathing in the sweet mountain air … blech, cough cough! Oh wait, what do you know? Another rude person standing and smoking on the sidewalk, ruining everybody's air and endangering everyone's health all because they're having a nic-fit.

The recent legislation banning smoking in restaurants is another example of completely impotent lawmaking. Nobody in Asheville smoked in restaurants anyway, or at least in the good restaurants. Every time I am sitting outside at [some local restaurants], or even inside at [some others], I am accosted by the poisonous exhalations from some smoker who can even be as far as 5 to 10 feet outside of the restaurant's exterior. Cigarette smoke is pervasive, repulsive and a conclusive source of cancer-causing carcinogens. Whenever a nonsmoker, someone who has made a conscious decision to protect their health, walks downtown or tries to eat outside at one of the many wonderful downtown restaurants, their lifestyle and very life is assaulted by the wanton, careless and destructive decision of smokers to smoke in public.

I think the recent antismoking bill should be amended to classify secondhand smoke as a form of assault. And in this criminalization of secondhand smoke, I think that nonsmokers should be granted certain liberties for the purpose of defending themselves against continued secondhand inhalation.

— Chris Burgher
Asheville

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55 thoughts on “Smoking is not a protected right

  1. travelah

    Chris, I think that along with your desire to assault smokers that the same smokers have the right to pummel you right back with impunity. Maybe, your “good health” will help you win but I suspect the smoker with the big guns coming at your arrogant chin will get the best of you.
    Be careful what you ask for (even though it is absolute ignorance to think you could ever be granted your fanciful request).

  2. tsullivan

    How old are you? Lifeis full of foks who don’t do everything you want them to, I suggest you get accustomed to it.

  3. “I think that nonsmokers should be granted certain liberties for the purpose of defending themselves against continued secondhand inhalation.”

    Those ‘certain liberties’ are called private property rights and freedom of association. The writer would violate those individual rights by using the coercive force of government to impose his personal lifestyle choices on all others. Instead, rights to property and freedom of association should be protected by the government, ot violated.
    …………………………..

  4. travelah

    Yes, it matters. I am always amused by the union propaganda of non-union liberals who have no stake in management-union relations, especially when they fail to realize that “unions do not represent any significant segment of the private sector American workforce. The protections that unions USED to provide their members have for the most part been codified into federal and state law. There is very little need for unions in 2011.

    Now, so much for that diversion.

  5. LOKEL

    The “Smoking Ordinance” includes sidewalks, since they are City property ….call the cops.

  6. It wasn’t “union propaganda”. It was a direct question (with no expectation of an answer, by the way) to someone who proclaims to believe in free association but probably only the kind of free association that allows employers to have an unfair advantage over the employed.

    Now, as to the rest your comment, it is true that unions don’t represent nearly the number of workers they used to but I don’t think that’s a trend that can be attributed to the supposed protections of US labor law (protections which have actually been in decline since the 1980s).

    Until the “classless” society that Mr. Peck speaks of arrives, there will always be a need for collective bargaining units to hold a measure of balance against employers. Again, in a “free” market, there would be no legal restraint to keep an employer from abusing the contracts with the workers.

    Now, for my part, I am always amused at the anti-union propaganda of conservatives who aren’t business owners. Unless you would like to state on the record that you are a business owner, of course.

  7. travelah

    I am a stockholder in a business that I am also a senior manager of. I suppose in a sense, that allows me to be a “business owner”. The hourly employees of the business are represented by three unions. I suppose I bring a perspective of experience in this matter.
    Please share your opinion regarding why private sector unions have declined to the point of representing only 6-7% of workers in this country.

  8. You mean besides the shift away from manufacturing jobs toward the more traditionally non-unionized service economy?

    There’s also the reputation they created for themselves in the last few decades that’s a factor but mostly I would say that it’s been the (unwilling) change in how America works and not the conditions under which they work.

  9. travelah

    I doubt the loss of manufacturing is a major factor in this. Instead, we have seen a shift of manufacturing to right-to-work states. A lot of the employment that has been outsourced to other countries was non-union to begin with. Most of the textile industry in this country was non-union. The same is true with shoes and clothing.
    I do not know what “unwilling” change you are referring to with regard to how America “works”.

  10. travelah

    There is a decline in interest or a sense of need on the part of workers. The cost of membership no longer offers an exceeding benefit.

  11. JWTJr

    Not real sure what union membership has to with smoking, but there is are simple explanations about the reductions in union participation.

    Union jobs are going overseas. Then, the jobs left behind are taken by the most senior union members leaving little left for the junior members.

    The high cost of pensions and retirement healthcare benefits is causing tiered benefit structures where the new members don’t get the same packages that the old members did

    Its just not as attractive to be a union member as it used to be if you are young.

  12. travelah

    JWT, mat thought the union issue was a good diversion. I agree since the opening letter is just plain absurd.

    I agree with much of what you have offered with the exception of union jobs going oversees. Most outsourced jobs that displaced manufacturing jobs were non-union. Instead, as I noted earlier, I think the bigger shift was to work-to-right states along with the lack of attraction as you noted.

  13. WitchDoctor

    First, I would ask that a moderator remove all these off-topic posts. How in the world were they cleared in the first place? Why don’t you guys just make your own thread where you argue and snipe at one another?

    And Chris, really? I’m a non-smoker, but I don’t keep this fact from clouding my reason. While it may not be particularly pleasant to walk through a cloud of exhaled cigarette smoke, surely you realize that, as you walk around town, there are many, many things that are an assault on your health. Can you imagine the toxins that are generated by the steady stream of cars that pass by as you walk along. Those cars are burning fossil fuels by the gallon and pound! Yet, here you are, whining about someone exhaling the smoke from a fraction of a gram of a burning plant. Get a grip.

  14. sharpleycladd

    Can I physically defend myself from people who violate their – and my – political self-interest by voting Republican? How about people who really believe the wealthy of this country are “job creators,” or that large corporations are “overregulated”? How about people who can’t read a birth certificate or interpret climate change data, or, for that matter, think fossils are a fraud? These people are a threat to my health and the health of my family members. Can I, please, begin laying about with an axe handle?

  15. bill smith

    [i]I think the bigger shift was to work-to-right states along with the lack of attraction as you noted. [/i]

    That’s likely true. The Taft–Hartley Act and other subsequent factors that have systematically weakened unions has lowered their ‘density’. Fewer people tend to join a union if it is seen as ineffective and pointless, as it often is in ‘right-to-work’ state.

    Of course, in non ‘right-to work’ states union membership remains much higher. People join unions when they have clear advantages.

    Seems quite self-fulfilling.

  16. chops

    “rights to property and freedom of association should be protected by the government”

    There is no right to ‘cigarette’ freedom. That’s funny. If there was, though, I would agree that our government should step in and protect that right.

    But I also wish that our government would protect resources (such as clean air) so there would be a limit to how much cigarette smoke we allow into the atmosphere, for example:

    I wouldn’t want our government to protect, say, an individual’s right to smoke a trillion cigarettes all at once and leave no clean air in the atmosphere at all. There has to be some limits enforced.

    Having no protection of resources would be stupid.

  17. travelah

    Of course, in non ‘right-to work’ states union membership remains much higher. People join unions when they have clear advantages.

    That is true however even in the closed shop states the percentages are relatively low. Washington state for example has approximately 15% private sector unionization and it is one of the highest in the country. A big factor in that number is due to Boeing who is also moving a production line to SC whose average is closer to 2%. As for Taft-Hartley, I would advocate a strengthening of it and that is likely to occur when the New American Revolution completes Round II in Nov 2012.

  18. TallPaul

    “I don’t think that’s a trend that can be attributed to the supposed protections of US labor law (protections which have actually been in decline since the 1980s).”

    What US labor law protections have declined? Please name some.

  19. cwaster

    Coming from an asthmatic (me) I can understand the concern about clouds of cigarette stench all around. It makes me physically sick.

    But… criminalizing smoking as mentioned in the article is a stupid idea, in my opinion. Maybe making it so you have to be a certain amount away from the door would work or something.

  20. Squirrel

    What about my right to imbibe in public? What about my right to drive? And my right to discipline The government already has too much power. Why give them any more? They already took away trans-fats, and in California, where it’s all backwards, they banned plastic water bottles all because they think that it harms people. Please, there’s no such thing as lung cancer from second hand smoking. That’s just more liberal propaganda. If you’re so health conscious, move. Because Asheville is a city of smokers.

  21. bill smith

    [i]even in the closed shop states the percentages are relatively low[/i]

    Relative to what? France?

    [i]when the New American Revolution completes Round II in Nov 2012. [/i]

    Oh come now. You and I both no the GOP isn’t even TRYING to win the WH right now. I mean, Trump and Bachman? Now, Huntsman looks good for 2016. I’ll give you that.

    And there is always Dr. Paul, but you mainstream Republicans don’t seem to.

    [i]What US labor law protections have declined? Please name some. [/i]

    Surely you jest. Or don’t read the news.

    Collective bargaining ring a bell?

  22. bill smith

    [i]Please, there’s no such thing as lung cancer from second hand smoking.[/i]

    ORLY??

  23. Big Al

    Even dismissing the notion that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer (which I don’t, BTW) there are still more than enough non-smokers with allergies and respiratory ailments triggered by smoke to justify banning smoking from public establishments.

    Smokers, if you cannot go without a coffin nail for the short time it takes to eat a meal out, you have a very big problem. You are also very selfish. Not a “progressive” attitude at all.

    As for all this off-thread union talk, what about my freedom to work WITHOUT being in a union? The MANDATED union membership of certain professions and in certain states is reason enough to oppose them. Just fascism in a different colored coat.

  24. bill smith

    [b]The MANDATED union membership of certain professions and in certain states is reason enough to oppose them[/b]

    Until you need them on your side. Then it’s a necessary evil.

  25. Charlie

    I don’t care how “progressive” it is, I’d prefer to keep my liberties thank you.

  26. dpewen

    2nd hand smoke does not cause lung cancer? Asheville is a city of smokers? I live downtown and do not believe these comments. Where do you get your information?

  27. TallPaul

    Silly me. I thought Bill Smith was referring to *worker* protection by labor laws. I note that he hasn’t mentioned ONE such law that has been weakened.

    Protecting *unions* is another thing altogether.

  28. We work more hours for less pay than any other industrial/advanced country.

    Pensions are a thing of the past.

    Sick days have all but been eliminated under the aegis of “paid time off”, which accrues slowly and is subject to denial.

    We have lower leave times for family care/birth care than most countries and zero paid-time leave. Work is being done now to relax child labor laws.

    But, new mothers have to be provided some place other than a bathroom to express breast milk, so I guess that totally balances out all of that other stuff.

  29. TallPaul

    Mat: I know there are a lot of bright shiny things to distract you, but please try to stay on topic.

    Nothing in your post describes a single instance of protection provided by labor laws being decreased.

  30. dpewen

    We work more hours for less pay than any other industrial/advanced country.

    I do think so … where did you find this information?

  31. bill smith

    @TallPaul-So people in Unions aren’t ‘workers’?

    My apologies. I hadn’t received the memo. Thanks.

  32. dpewen

    Mat, I am not a right winger and am surprised by the findings … glad I am retired and made my money during the time when it was possible.
    Also, to keep off topic I am not a fan of unions .. and was never in one.

  33. travelah

    mat, the study you presented deserves to be denounced. It borders on stupidity having already passed ignorance. Productivity gains are not evidence of working more for less pay. Add to that the increased hours being due to exempt salaried workers and the story lacks credibility. Hourly workers are paid overtime for additional hours therefore increasing their pay.
    If I redesign the workflow on the floor to gain increased outflow thereby lowering my “unit labor cost”, I have not increased work hours and lowered pay.
    Of course, how would the knuckleheads at MSNBC know that?

  34. Points? Those vague assertions you made that somehow you know more about how to assess the situation of productivity and wages than the Department of Labor?

    You assert that gains in productivity “are not evidence of working more for less pay” [b]without offering evidence for your counterpoint[/b]; that increased hours of work are “due to exempt salaried workers” [b]without offering evidence for your counterpoint[/b]; that “additional hours” were worked that paid overtime [b]without offering evidence for your counterpoint[/b]; and that businesses could “redesign the workflow on the floor to gain increased outflow thereby lowering…’unit labor cost'” without increasing hours and lowering pay [b]without offering evidence for your counterpoint[/b].

    You have made no “points” – you have simply offered unsubstantiated counterpoints.

  35. travelah

    mat, surely you are not serious. Hourly employees are paid overtime for additional hours worked. What evidence do you need for you to understand this?

  36. R. Shank

    Back on topic. Are you serious about people smoking OUTSIDE or is this a bad joke. I’m a nonsmoker and I think complaining about people smoking outside is ridiculous. As another person already mentioned, you are subject to more harm from car exhaust than the second hand smoke outside in town. If you believe in the “free market”, for all you right wing folks, we should just keep increasing the purchase price of smoking until people decide they do not want to smoke anymore. Let it reflect closer to the true long term cost. Of course this will result in a “black market” for smokes. Oh wait we already have one of these too. Let’s use the money to pay off the debt rather than more bombs for the military. The Tea Party is against more taxes so that will not work. Insurance companies have already began charging smokers more than nonsmokers to reflect the additional risk – another incentive to not smoke. I understand asking people not to smoke in enclosed areas but outside? At some point your liberties end and mine begin.

  37. TallPaul

    This whole concept of “not a protected right” is pretty scary. Someone who would utter this phrase probably thinks that we’re only supposed to have the rights that government decides to protect.

    That is completely backwards. Government power and individual rights are diametrically opposed. We are *supposed* to have a government of limited powers defined by the Constitution. What a shame that document, who so many have shed blood to defend, is so conveniently ignored when it gets in the way of someone’s latest idea for the expansion of government.

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