Catchy, isn’t it? Even cheesier than “Nashville Drops its Cash Crop,” “Dead End to Tobacco Road,” and “No Smoking Near the Smokies.” (And you non-bloggers think this is easy…)
The Nashville City Paper, which I will always recommend over the Tennessean, has an informative article describing the positioning of the chess pieces that represent the beginning of the end to smoking in Nashville. I speak with little optimism for defeating the ban after watching what just happenend in DC in spite of vociferous opposition.
If you have no idea what’s just happened with smoking in DC, there are plenty of online references, but I’ll link exclusively to Jacob’s reflections on the middle, end, and his antagonistic postmortem since it probably wouldn’t be quite as hot a topic in my head right now if I wasn’t reading his blog. (Not to mention that the organization dedicated to opposing the DC smoking ban apparently dismantled its website when it dissolved.) And if you still want to learn more about how one could possibly defend the right to smoke, check out Wikipedia on smoking bans, assumption of risk, and public choice theory.
Of course, it won’t be quite as easy in Nashville as it was in DC for political and cultural reasons. The City Paper article points out one reason why:
“Tennessee is still a very strong state from the aspect � of people growing tobacco,” [Tennessee Restaurant Association President Ronnie] Hart said. “When you put something in a House ag committee, you�re messing with farmers.”
Hmm, so this battle pits the Defenders of the Public Good against the farmers? Sounds messy. Hart also asked, “Why do you want to pick on restaurants? That�s kind of what gets us. Why are we the only ones they want to do this with?” Good point — why are we trying to put farmers out of business to save people from their own choices, but merely redirecting their choices instead of eliminating them altogether? I refer you to the Wikipedia definitions of special interests and rent seeking.
But here’s the money quote from the article, courtesy of the spokesperson for the American Cancer Society:
When you�re in a public venue like a restaurant, it would serve the greatest good to be able to limit the numbers of people who get sick as a result of second-hand smoke.
Ah, now we may be getting a glimpse of the problem — our friend at the ACS misapplied at least two key phrases in just one short sentence! Since when did a restaurant become a “public venue”? Sure, it’s a place where members of the public may frequent, but so is my house when you put it like that. A restaurant is unquestionably a private venue that attempts to provide services to customers, who reflect their opinion of said services by electing to visit or bypass the establishment. And is it our responsibility to always act in the “greatest good”? Because if so I have some things to say about the number of heart disease cases attributed to obesity, not to mention the number of fatalities attributed to automobile collisions.
They’re trite examples, I know, and I’m not stating anything that hasn’t been stated before me throughout the course of this international debate. But they make the point. In fact, I will go so far as to say that there’s only one pro-ban argument I’ve actually heard a person who believes it make: the “I don’t care what the arguments are, I just don’t like smoking and will do what it takes to get rid of it” position. I respect it because it’s intellectually honest and doesn’t try to make an indefensible case, which may not be the most sophisticated method but at least it’s consistent and empassioned and not shrouded in some cowardly disguise.
(Some of you may be saying, what about the “it’s a proven health risk” argument? Nope. Even if it’s a sustainable position, it’s an inconsistent and indefensible one unless you can prove that you actively oppose any consumer product that could potentially increase public health costs, or any product that could diminish the health of many individuals against their will in a more significant manner than other products for which a ban is not being discussed. And I haven’t yet met anyone who could credibly take that position.)
I hope you look forward to reading as I report on the Nashville smoking ban saga from time to time — because that’s what I’ll be doing.