It's bad enough that our elected officials gnaw at our liberties and rights, but when unelected bureaucrats do it, that really ticks me off. I refer to the proposal on the outdoor smoking ban by the Marshall County Board of Health. Board administrator Ronda Francis stated that they "get many complaints regarding children being exposed to secondhand smoke at ball games, fairs, playgrounds and the like. There have also been reports of children being burned on the face from cigarettes people are carrying. This change would protect children from these dangers." It seems they always invoke the name of "the children" to infringe on some right or liberty. Have you ever noticed that?
Well now, I will feel so much safer to know that some public officials are going to protect me, and the children, from that awful secondhand smoke while the children and I are watching the tractor pulls and other related events. Now, without the secondhand smoke interfering, the children and I will be able to savor that sweet smell of burning gasoline and oil fumes as well as the smell of burned rubber wafting across the fairgrounds - not to mention the occasional piece of flying debris (rocks, rubber, engine parts) heading our way. Life is full of dangers, but it seems that the only dangers we let our kids face anymore is a dead battery in their iPod or cell phone. But, banning outside smoking? Come on.
I know there are good public health reasons for restricting smoking in some closed spaces, such as restaurants, hospitals and the like, but when such restrictions are extended to fairs, parks, and other outdoor activities, the argument that third-party harms must be prevented becomes increasingly untenable.
What's next, banning smoking in cars where kids are present? Oh wait. Five states already do that: Arkansas, California (of course), Louisiana, Oregon, and Maine. The ages for the children in the cars vary from under 13 to under 18. A least 10 other states are considering such bans. Maybe homes? You guessed it. Several states, California (of course), and cities and counties throughout the U.S. have bans on smoking in private homes and apartments. Remember now, this whole thing started with a local health department just wanting to ban smoking in restaurants - now look where we're at.
I wonder how long it will be before someone from Maxwell Acres complains about the fumes from the tractor pulls? Or the noise, what about the noise? It's just a matter of time before it happens. Someone, or their children, won't be able to enjoy their yard or sleep at night because of the smoke and noise and another part of Americana will be taken away from us.
When are we going to wake up in this country? When are we going to say "enough is enough?" We'd better do it soon. I'm a non-smoker, but I'm defending smokers' liberties because I know that if it continues like this, it will be just a matter of time before they come for something I enjoy. We should not allow the bureaucrats to ban things just because they don't like them.
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison.
Thomas L. Wasemann