June 19, 2003

Smoking and Property Rights

William Anderson explains here how the state imposed smoking bans are a dangerous assault on property rights:

"While many libertarians have fashioned the argument as a contest between the rights of smokers and nonsmokers, it is a mistake to stop there. There are no doubts that conflicting rights exist here, but legislation targeting tobacco use is not the answer. The real issue here is not whether the law will be used as a mediation device between smokers and nonsmokers, but rather the fact that activists are using the state as a vehicle to hijack private property rights and to take choices away from individuals who are quite capable of thinking for themselves.

"If one abolishes man's freedom to determine his own consumption, one takes all freedoms away," writes Mises.

The decision of whether or not to ban smoking on private property should be solely left up to the property owner, period. Furthermore, individuals who choose to work or patronize such places should not be permitted to claim later that secondhand smoke made them sick (and then have a jury make them multimillionaires)."