I am very displeased that my state passed a smoking ban.  I don’t even smoke.  I don’t like the smell of it, the taste of it, the cost of it.  Yet, I feel that banning it in public places like restaurants and, especially, bars, is a slap in the face of capitalism and personal freedom.

Ok: I walk into a bar.  Chances are, I expect to see drinking and other adult behavior.  I don’t expect puppies, kittens, or butterflies.  I can use my freedom of choice here.  I can choose to enter a bar, pay a cover charge possibly, and most likely buy a drink or two in a bar that is “nice,” with clean bathrooms, a non-sticky floor, and general pleasant atmosphere; I can choose a different bar with a deafening punk band and a different milieu.  I can, in 2009, choose a non-smoking bar- and many people do.  Customers vote with their dollars and these days, non-smoking establishments are preferred by many.  That is a person’s right.  Jack and I often go to a fish fry at a terribly smoky restaurant up the street.  Everyone there with few exceptions smokes.  A series of choices has led each one of them there- our regular waitress, the bartender in his leather vest, the old lady at the slot machine in the vestibule.  Not a single one of them seems coerced in any way.  One could argue that the habit of smoking itself is its own shackle, but I will get to that in a moment.

Now, I do not walk into a tavern where the band is playing “both kinds” of music- country and Western- and ask why they don’t have an AC-DC cover band that night.  It’s a goddam country bar.  Likewise, I don’t walk into a non-smoking bar and light up. 

My real feeling is that addictions are complicated.  They serve some purpose in a person’s life, some real need, some underlying uuuuuh of dissatisfaction.  Now, addiction to alcohol is a very serious matter.  Drunk driving is a huge problem in this state, has been for many years- white crosses covered with plastic flowers decorate every highway.  Alcoholism ruins marriages, tears families apart, destroys lives- though alcohol in moderation alleviates pain both mental and physical.  Smoking is, I am told, a more difficult addiction to break free from- but it still does not have the far-reaching effects of alcohol addiction, or even Vicodin addiction.

It is 2009.  Fewer teens and young  adults smoke than ever.  Smoking has long been banned in corporate environments.  It is considered unattractive, undesirable; smoke-free restaurants and bars abound.  A ban is unnecessary and un-Capitalist, and will only be the start in the slippery slope of banning more of the freedoms which we Americans cherish.

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