Smoking Bans

I agree with the use of government force to keep visible pollutants out of my air.   Simple as that.

Obviously, these things should be (and usually are) settled by discussion among civil people. Since smokers, as a group, are notoriously numb to everybody around them, they are beyond civil appeals.

There has to be a limit, of course, based on practicality. Addressing perfume is not practical and the problem (though legitimate) is about one millionth the scale of the smoke problem.

Banning smoking on public property is a straightforwardly conservative (even libertarian) exercise of government force.  The conservative principle is that whoever owns the property gets to use it however they want.   Ergo, ban smoking on public property.   Let private property owners (which includes bars, restaurants, ball parks, etc.) decide for themselves.

Smoking, outside of your personal air space, it is an unlawful seizure of the air of thise around you and should be constrained by force, if necessary.    And the good news is that it will.   The only reason it has taken this long is that it takes a while for a culture to get unaddicted.

My only regret is that the property rights of private, commercial establishments are being abused in the process, in an abuse at least as bad as the abuse it purports to cure.


“Does that mean we can ban my neighbor from barbecuing in his yard?  The fumes enter my house.”

The libertarian principles which clarify these issues into legitimate grievances are the only way to avoid the avalanche of illegitimate grievances now covering us over.

Suppose you and I were neighbors.   You have an absolute right not to breathe my fumes — pleasant, unpleasant, or otherwise — on your property.   That is an unarguable point.  And I have the same right to my own air.  The questions that remain are not moral ones, but practical ones.   How do we do it, since air moves at random?

But the moral principle derives directly from libertarian thought and is not hard.  It’s just that libertarians, like other mortals, think clearly or not depending on whose ox is being gored.

Most people are sane enough to be able to distinguish between the immaterial and the material, and reasonable enough to work out things without a judge.

A good legal system will recognize there are issues that are technically implicated by the law but as a practical matter too small for people not to be able to work out among themselves.

So, no, it would not be a productive thing to sue over a barbeque.

But let’s be serious: suppose you had lived in your house 30 years. A paper factory moves literally next door and makes the air unbearable. Can you seriously argue your property rights have not been infringed at all? Just move? Suppose you find as you prepare to move your land value has gone down by half overnight. Does the paper factory owe you anything?

I would argue it does, and this is libertarian respect for property, not liberal hypersensitivity about feelings.

But, more importantly, the principle by which we conclude it does is the same pinciple that says you have a right not to breathe pig stink in your yard, a right not to breathe cigerette smoke on public (government) property, and, yes, a right to insist your neighbor cook in such a way that it does not bother you inside your own property.  If his barbeque bothers you, though, you should be able to work it out with him, or ignore it, in an unspoken bargain that neighbors have to concede small (though legiitmate) grievances, in a sub-system of trade-offs which fly beneath the radar of the civil justice system.

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