Friday, November 14, 2003

Light 'em Up: City and countywide smoking bans are hurting businesses. In Bethesda, Maryland, bars are losing customers to neighboring Washington, DC -- where you can't vote for a member of Congress, but at least you have the freedom to light up.

I'm not a smoker (save for the occasional cigar at barbecues), but the trend of trampling on people's rights to smoke in public is getting out of hand. Hell, Montgomery County, Maryland -- which includes Bethesda -- tried to ban smoking in your own home if a neighbor objected.

If people don't like smoke, they should not patronize the bars and restaurants that allow smoking. Let the marketplace sort it out. If a business wants to attract nonsmokers, then it should decide to outlaw smoking at its location. But the drop in customers at the bars means that these nonsmokers aren't going out any more often when lawmakers forbid smoking.

For help on this issue, the last place I'd consider a bastion of freedom is the United Nations. But sure enough, New York lawmakers are in a tizzy because they can't stop U.N. diplomats from smoking at the organization's coffee shops and the like. I wonder if we can count on them to liberate us from such oppression.


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