Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inconsiderate actions up in smoke ...

I have a plethora bad habits. Not the least of which is smoking.

I started smoking at a very young age and have quit a couple times – once for five years – but like most bad habits, it has been near-impossible to kick.

I'm well aware of the health implications of smoking. It's bad for me. I get it. Most bad habits are considered bad because … well, they're bad for you. Otherwise we'd call them good habits.

The problem I have with smoking – and the reason I've tried to quit – is because it's bad for other people.

Frankly, I'm more worried about other people's health – especially my kids' - than I am my own.

That's why I have no problem with the Town of Tonawanda's recent ban on smoking in public places.

You might think that a smoking ban would go against every bone in my Libertarian body. I was, after all, vehemently opposed to the smoking ban in bars and restaurants … and I still am. But bars and restaurants are to playgrounds and baseball diamonds like apples are to anvils. Not even close.

I opposed the smoking ban in bars and restaurants because those establishments are privately owned … just like your home. The owner should be allowed to set the rules as he or she chooses. And as the market dictates. You have a family restaurant? Don't allow smoking. You have a corner bar? Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

There is no market for allowing smoking at a public ball field, though. And there's no benefit. Not public. Not private. Not to anyone.

Quite the opposite, in fact … unless you're one of those people who doesn't believe that second hand smoke is bad. Honestly, I find it hard to believe that some people still believe there is no danger from second-hand smoke. The same people, undoubtedly, believe that the oil being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico is somehow good for the environment.

You likely know that I think government's role should be limited. Minuscule even. And government certainly shouldn't make it their job to protect us from ourselves. But one of the things they should do is protect us from others … and protect others from us when necessary.

It should be a given that you wouldn't light up at a t-ball game. If nothing else, it's poor form. But some people just don't get the memos. They don't comprehend the concept of societal norms and social etiquette.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for an etiquette czar or anything; some sort of Amy Vanderbilt with detention slips. But when the public health is being harmed because someone is too inconsiderate to realize the ramifications of their actions, someone needs to step in.

Someone – in this instance – was the Town of Tonawanda. And good for them.

Of course, I'd actually say they could have gone further. The ban is by voluntary compliance. They're going to post signs and hope people play along. Teeth would go further, but it's a step. A step that I hope other communities would follow along in.

To my friends in the various town, city, village and county legislative branches: I'd love to see you all follow in the Town of Tonawanda's footsteps on this particular piece of legislation.

My kids will thank you for it.