2002-10-19 / Editorial/Opinion

Even Smokers Have Rights

Even Smokers Have Rights

This editorial was written by Wave Managing Editor Howard Schwach. Other Wave staff, including Publisher Susan Locke, do not agree with allowing smoking in any food venue.

There is nothing we like less than eating at a restaurant where people are smoking nearby. It ruins the entire meal. We are in favor of a law that bans smoking in restaurants where non-smokers must endure the second-hand smoke as well. In fact, we would go so far as to say that smoking should be banned in and around all public buildings. Having said that, however, we believe that smokers have rights that must be protected despite the fact that anybody who can read knows today that smoking is dangerous. Government learned long ago that it legislates against the public will only at its peril. This is another case where a compromise must be found, and we have one to propose. Each restaurant in this city should have a choice of becoming either a "smoking" or a "non-smoking" establishment. Once the choice is made by the ownership of the establishment and the decision is widely disseminated, including signs in the establishment’s window, then the public is warned and can make an informed choice as to whether it should patronize that establishment or not. Want to smoke? Go to a restaurant that allows smoking. If you don’t want to smoke, or cannot endure smoke while you are eating, don’t patronize a restaurant that allows smoking. Restaurant workers will have to make similar choices. It is a simple concept, but one that allows for the capitalist ideal. If the masses of people really do not want smoking in restaurants, then those that allow smoking will eventually go out of business. If the masses of people want to light up after a good meal, then those that do not allow smoking will fail. It is those diners who do not care one way or the other who will have the best of both worlds. We should not ban smoking in all restaurants. After all, smokers are citizens and they have rights just like the rest or us non-smokers.

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