S?ren H?jbjerg
Smoking Bans Are An Assault On Liberty


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Property Rights and the Balance of Reason:

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Under the falseguise of health, anti-smoking zealots are massively hammering the rights ofcitizens and business owners to make their own decisions. These fanatics exploitthe democratic majority rule to foist their interventions against a minority,smokers and the entrepreneurs who cater to their wishes.

The propertyrights argument is commonly regarded by smokers rights activists as a silverbullet in the war against smoking bans. There is no silver bullet in this war.There are only ordinary bullets. And we will be needing lots of them to rid theworld of the anti-smoking tyranny.

Smoking bansare not a one-pronged assault on property rights. They are a multi-prongedassault on liberty. Let us examine three major venues of assault.

Property rights

The most basicassault that smoking bans represent are on property rights.

In a freemarket economy there is private ownership of property and the means ofproduction. The owner of the property is at liberty to set rules of conduct thatapply there. Anybody that frequents the property is bound to abide by theserules. The owner is at liberty to expel anybody in breach of the rules. In thisrespect, it matters little whether or not the property is open to the public.

Governmentrules overriding the owner’s right to set his rules of conduct are a clearviolation of the private ownership of the means of production. There is noarguing that smoking bans are government intrusion in the property rights ofowners.

Using workplacesecurity considerations as a pretext for such intrusion is bogus. Smoking is notpart of the production process. It is a personal habit, and whether it mightaffect others is of little consequence. It is still not part of the productionprocess.

Division oflabor

The secondassault is that on the division of labor.

The labormarket can easily separate those willing to expose themselves to other people’stobacco smoke from those who are unwilling. At the discretion of the owners of aworkplace, the smoking  of tobacco can be allowed, restricted or entirelyprohibited. Those not willing to smell tobacco smoke are free to seek employmentin workplaces that prohibit smoking. Those willing to endure the hardships oftobacco smoke may seek employment in workplaces that allow smoking.

Thus thedivision of labor sorts out working conditions according to everybody’s wishes,and adjusts itself to the exact desires of the workplace’s owners.

Governmentrules prohibiting smoking at workplaces effectively shuts off the power of thedivision of labor, something that belongs entirely in the realm of the freemarket. It is an assault on the division of labor.

Further, inplaces where this division has already taken place, government enforced smokingbans attack the entrepreneurs who have catered to the wishes of those who havevoluntarily selected workplaces that allowing smoking. The livelihoods of theemployees are assaulted by such government meddling.

Destroying themarketplace

Underdemocracy, the majority rules. Any vote cast on the minority party is wasted.Therefore, democracy caters only to the majority. If allowed to do so in anunrestricted way it becomes a tyranny of the majority.

However, themarketplace is different. In the marketplace, every vote counts. If a member ofa minority places demand for a particular product or service, their vote is notwasted in the marketplace. Products and services will be delivered to theminority according to their economic vote. This is a key mechanism behinddiversity in the marketplace. It is also a demonstration of the superiority ofthe marketplace over democratic majority rule.

When themajority in government places smoking bans on the marketplace, it extends themajority vote into the marketplace. The government has no business dictatingwhich products and services the marketplace shall deliver. That is the businessof consumers and the marketplace that serves them.

Smoking bansare good for business

One of thefalse pretences behind smoking bans is that they are 'good for business'. It isbeyond economic comprehension how government intervention that breaches propertyrights, the division of labor and the diversity of the marketplace is beneficialto business. In any case, it is entirely beside the point whether smoking bansare good or bad for businesses.

In order toseparate good from bad business, the marketplace needs to experiment withdifferent services and products. Some products and services will be successful,others will fail. Indentifying what is good or bad on the marketplace requiresboth the liberty to succeed and to fail. Failure is an indispensible tool in thesearch for successful products and services.

Whengovernments mandate smoking bans under the pretext that it is good for business,it is attempting to prohibit failure and mandate success. This takes away theability of the marketplace to fail, and hence toseparatethat which is good from that which is bad. How is anybody going to develop newproducts and services, if the government passes legislation that disallowsfailure and mandates success"

If smoking bansare indeed good for business, then governments have absolutely no businessmandating them!


It is clearthat no matter how it is twisted or turned, government mandated smoking bans area great evil.

They acceleratean already alarming trend towards tyranny of the majority. They destroy the freemarket that everybody depends on for survival. They commit a great crime byfocusing citizens’ attentions on what can only be a tiny risk at the expense ofvigilance against much graver dangers.

It can only bea question of time before the consequences of these failed tactics crystallize.

FORCESINTERNATIONAL (Forces, Inc.) is a non-profit educational corporationorganized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA. Forces, Inc. hasreceived a charitable tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)3. Your contribution is tax deductible.FORCES INTERNATIONAL © trademark,logo and original material copyright © 1995-2004 is property of FORCESINTERNATIONAL unless otherwise indicated. Original FORCES material may bereprinted or used in any non-commercial form if proper credit is given toFORCES and original intent remains intact. All other material remainsproperty of its creator/owner.

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