20 December 2005

Smoking ban for England?

England may have total ban on smoking in public places, because a partial ban (for pubs that serve food). is considered “unenforceable” as reports the Telegraph. This will follow similar bans soon to come in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Unfortunately, none of the debate about this in England is about what it should be about – property rights.

The arguments are always vacuous claims about the “rights” of smokers to smoke wherever they want (which is nonsense) or the “rights” of workers to not be exposed to smoke.

The only right at stake here is the property right of the owner of the premises. Either you have the right to permit (or ban) any legal activity on your own property or not. That means the right to ban smoking in YOUR pub or to allow it, or make it compulsory. The same would apply to a dress code, a language code or allowing people to perform sexual acts or enforcing silence. It is NOT a place that anyone else has to right to enter except on your terms – and that includes employees. I watched an absurd item on the BBC news last night with a pub owner saying he wished smoking was banned in pubs, because he doesn't like it - as if anyone is stopping him from banning it! Clearly he prefers the income from smoking customers to having cleaner air inside his pub - but he should make that tradeoff, not the government.
and I am speaking as a non-smoker, who has asthma and much prefers pubs which have no smoking, so I have no vested interest from that perspective, but I have an interest as a property owner. I don't want anyone telling me what I can or cannot do on my property, as long as I am not initiating force against anyone else on my property - and unless I force someone to remain on my property while I or others smoke, then I am not infringing on anyone's rights.

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