February 2008 Editorial Winner

Senate Bill 1875

By Tom Muchmore, The Ponca City News

They are at it again and it is getting old. The desire for the government to control our behavior is apparently too strong for legislators to resist. The latest is Senate Bill 1875 which would ban smoking in all kinds of places.

This bill among other items, makes smoking in cigar bars illegal. It does not allow the owner of a business to smoke in his own place of work even if he is the only employee. It outlaws smoking outdoors in several places.

This is partly due to the very dubious research about second hand smoke. We don't doubt that if you pack enough smoke in a small enough area it isn't good for your health. We also agree that smoky rooms can be very unpleasant. The simple answer is don't go into them.

Restaurants that allow smoking have very stringent rules on the ventilation of smoking rooms. If you don't think they do the job well enough then don't patronize the restaurant. If you don't like the smoke in a bar then don't go there. The existing rules are more than enough to provide plenty of places for those of us who prefer not to be subjected to the annoyance of smokers.

Smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes is not illegal yet. Until it is people should have the opportunity to do so if the owner of the property does not object. Those who object to the smoke have the right not to go near them.

This bill outlaws smoking in the military veteran's halls. First the government gets them hooked by providing all the cigarettes they can smoke during the war and then it tries to make life in the clubs set aside for them as uncomfortable as possible when they continue to smoke.

Smoking is bad for most people, so are a lot of other things. The government may even have a place in trying to educate us about these problems. We need to draw the line at allowing them to control our lives at such personal levels.

It would be nice if nobody smoked. However, people should have the right to run their own lives and take the risks they choose even when they are obviously foolish. The government at all levels wastes way too much time and effort trying to protect us from ourselves.

Freedom of choice was one of the basic tenets on which this country based its beginning. We are rapidly moving away from that attitude and moving toward the Big Brother mentality that many of us fear. Once you give up the right to make your own choices you delegate that right to others who will eventually decide to regulate something dear to you. To paraphrase an old saying, first they came for the smokers and we didn't object because we weren't smokers.

This bill should be thrown out as quickly as possible along with all the laws designed solely to protect us from ourselves.