Saturday, November 19, 2005

Smoking hot

I'm running out of creative titles for posts on the burning issue of the day, smoking, but since this is getting a lot of attention in the press now, I have to keep writing about it (and, by extension, writing headlines for my posts). Also, as I'm writing this, I'm watching the Terps play BC, so I may not have given the title as much attention as I should. Ah, multi-tasking.

Anyway, just a brief comment on this letter to the editor in Thursday's Columbia Flier:

County Executive Jim Robey has demonstrated outstanding leadership in proposing pro-health legislation. Any proposal that would permit existing bars to continue to expose workers to deadly secondhand smoke is unacceptable. There are no second-class workers in Howard County; all have the right to a healthy workplace. A progressive county like ours should enact proven public health policy and not make unreasonable concessions that compromise workers' health (emphasis added).

I agree in principle with the assertion that there are no second-class workers in the county, although I don't think reality supports this. The second part of this argument, however, is a bit of a strawman.

As it stands now, every worker has a right to a healthy workplace, even though some workplaces are not healthy. Indeed, those restaurants that allow smoking don't necessarily qualify as healthy workplaces. Yet because the majority of restaurants in the county do not allow smoking, workers in this industry have the right to choose whether they want to work in a healthy (non-smoking) or unhealthy (smoking) establishment. Nobody is being forced to work in a smoking restaurant, just as no customer is being forced to patronize one. Robey's bill, meanwhile, would eliminate such choices entirely.

Although the subjugation of personal choice is not the sole province of Democrats, it has certainly been branded to them, with detrimental results. Regulations are a necessary function of government. However, zealously micro-managing lives through the over-use of collective power clouds the distinction between good and bad regulations, giving more credence to the arguments of crazed libertarians.

All that said, smoking's bad, ummmkay.

And, damn, this game is killing me. BC 14, MD 10 at the half.

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