There are very few things that will get any red-blooded American riled up quicker than threatening to take away their rights. That’s one reason why any assault on the 2nd Amendment is met with quick and decisive rejection by most Americans. We don’t like to be threatened by anyone, much less our own government. That is why I have a problem when I see our government, be it federal or state, going after the right of Americans to engage in activities that are legal. So it is in the case of smoking, so let me see if I can get everyone’s brain cells working early on this Friday morning. (This one’s for you, Laurie.)
For the record, I have smoked only two or three cigarettes in my lifetime. The main reason I didn’t smoke any more than that was a near miss in being caught by a fellow by the name of Avis Jackson, aka my Dad. I’ll be honest, I lied my way out of a whipping, although I have always suspected he knew the truth and decided to have mercy on me. His words and his attitude towards me smoking put the fear of God and Avis Jackson into me and any desire I had to look cool with a cigarette in my hand was gone with the wind.
All of that to say I do not smoke and honestly believe it to be a very nasty habit. I mean that as no affront or insult to any of you who may smoke, it’s just the way I feel about the issue. Having said that, I fail to see how I have a right to tell you that you can not engage in said habit. The last time I checked, tobacco was legal and your body is still your body. As long as you don’t force your habit on me, we’re good. There is debatable evidence that suggests 2nd-hand smoke is a danger to those of us who do not smoke, but who knows what the real story is there. A lot of variables are involved, so it may be very hard to tell what the truth really is.
As it stands right now, Oklahoma state law says that you can not smoke at work, if it is an indoor workplace. Smoking is allowed in other public places, including bars and clubs. State law also says that cities can not enact stricter smoking bans than the state has enacted. Oklahoma House Speaker-elect Kris Steele has decided that he wants to change that. He plans to introduce legislation that will repeal the law that prevents cities from enacting their own, stricter tobacco use laws. If his legislation passes, then cities will be allowed to enact as strict of a ban as they want. That could be used as a recipe for abuse.
I have a question that may seem simpleminded, but bears an answer, I think. What is wrong with the owner of the property deciding if they want to allow smoking or not? Most of the restaurants I visit have two different areas for their customers, smoking and non-smoking. That seems to work for the overwhelming majority of those customers and for the business owner. Reporter 37 has a post on this that I want to quote, as he says it much better than can I.
What if we let each property owner decide whether people get to light up, dip, chew or line their shoes with tobacco on their property? The state government could make every inch of state property smoke free while the city council in Miami could allow cigars and pipes in the mayor’s office if they see fit. The manager of the Denny’s in MacAlester could allow smoking in his dining area while the owner of the Waffle House in Durant could declare his restaurant a smoke-free zone.
I know it’s not the lockstep uniformity that Steele and the do-gooders want, but freedom is like that. Sometimes you have to let people live their lives as they choose.
I have already stated what current Oklahoma law says about smoking. I think it strikes a good balance between allowing personal freedom and liberty and protecting those of us who do not smoke from possible harm from 2nd-hand smoke. With all of the issues facing our state, such as budget shortfalls, economic growth, and jobs creation, why do we need to spend any time whatsoever on making it easier for cities to restrict the personal liberties and freedoms of our citizens? Personally, I think Kris Steele and anyone else who would jump on this bandwagon of doing good need to get their priorities straight. This is not what we elected them to do.