City council members in Folsom, California, a suburb of Sacramento, are considering expanding the city’s smoking ban to include apartment residences and restaurant patios.
The city’s smoking ban currently prohibits cigarette use in all public areas, the interiors of businesses and restaurants, and many other areas of the city. Smoking is allowed in private residences and on public sidewalks.
Infringing on Personal Choice
“Government is on the brink of intruding a bit too far into personal choices in areas that are otherwise legal activities,” Kerri Howell, a councilwoman and former mayor of the town, told Budget & Tax News. “There are bars and restaurants here in Folsom that have outdoor patios, where they provide ashtrays for their customers who smoke cigarettes and cigars. I must presume they have done that to accommodate what their clients have requested.
“The bars and restaurants that allow smoking have allowed it for a reason,” she added.
Howell said the proposed extension of the existing ban could hurt local businesses.
“There were individuals interviewed by the local NBC affiliate . . . at a local pub, smoking cigars outside, on the patio,” she said. “They indicated that they would no longer frequent that business if smoking were banned.
“I suspect that same situation would apply for those who choose to visit bars and restaurants in Folsom but do not live here. It is likely that those individuals would choose to patronize businesses with less-stringent smoking regulations,” she added.
‘Little to Do with Public Health’
Howell said she fears the proposed ordinance is “a start down a slippery slope.”
John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, shares Howell’s concerns.
“The amount of government overreach has reached a point of absurdity,” he said “The policies being considered by the Folsom City Council, against the legal act of smoking in outdoor areas of businesses and homes, have little to do with public health.
“Whether you smoke or not—or don’t think others should smoke—is not the issue. The issue is whether government officials should be allowed to make private decisions for businesses and individuals inside and outside their businesses and homes,” Nothdurft said. “Not nearly enough attention is given to the fact that the right of business owners to decide how to run their establishments should be protected.”
Jesse Hathaway ([email protected]) is managing editor of Budget & Tax News.
“Where There’s a Smoking Ban, There’s Still Fire,” Michael T. Owyang and E. Katarina Vermann, http://wwww.heartland.org/policy-documents/where-theres-smoking-ban-theres-still-fire/