Whose Rights Are Going Up in Smoke?

(Photo: Tuberose.com)

The Cincinnati Health Department is encouraging people to comment on the proposed enforcement rules for the Clean Indoor Air/Smoking Ban, which went into effect Dec. 7.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has posted the rules online until Jan. 10. Send comments by e-mail to beh@adh.ohio.gov by regular mail are to Chief, Bureau of Environmental Health, Ohio Department of Health, 246 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Under the proposed rules, the Office of Environmental-Indoor Air would handle complaints. ODH isn’t able to levy any fines until the enforcement rules are in place. All complaints can be forward to ODH at 1-866-634-7654.

Businesses must follow the law by not permitting smoking, having “No Smoking” signs posted and removing all ashtrays.

The question of whether or not these rules and enforcement go too far is still up for debate, especially on the part of smokers and business owners. But a larger question is being largely ignored, and it is this: If everyone in this country has the right to choose what they put into their bodies, then where does the line fall between your right and my right?

When there is scientific evidence that your choice (smoking) can have a negative impact (diseases resulting from second-hand smoke) on me, who is it that has to make accommodations for the other? Voters made that decision this past fall, but majority rule doesn’t really address this conundrum.

If you drink and drive and hit me with your car, there’s a clear infringement on my rights, so there are consequences — you might go to jail, have to pay serious fines and lose your license, and I can sue your ass for damages. How is smoking different simply because you can’t immediately see a broken bone?

— Margo Pierce

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12 Comments on “Whose Rights Are Going Up in Smoke?”

  1. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    We would suggest that the more significant issue is property rights. If we are to believe the philosophical underpinning upon which our Nation was founded, all liberties and freedoms are predicated upon property rights. In the current case, we ask ourselves to what extent does the diminishment of the self-determination of the citizen-owner(s) of an establishment, or proerty, undermine these rights and thereby all derivative rights.

  2. Neal Watzman Says:

    What a person puts into their own body, is, for the most part, up to them. If a person wishes to drink alcohol or scarf down the Quarter Pounders, that’s up to them. I’m only marginally affected.

    Smoking would follow the same logic if it weren’t for that darn second hand smoke. The stuff that exudes when a cigarette burns and a smoker exhales. Unfortunately, I end up having to breathe that stuff also. It’s offensive, it smells bad, the smoke gets into your clothes, and it’s not good stuff to breathe. Isn’t that different?

  3. The Dean Says:

    Please link to any studies which show people getting some kind of disease through second hand smoke exposure limited to bars and restaurants.

    Thank you.

  4. Smoke em if you got em Says:

    How about if all the gays start smoking and then claim their special government given rights when prosecuted? That might put an end to all this nonsense. How would the courts react to that one?

  5. jane when i order coffee Says:

    poor, stubborn, eternally-unchanging cincinnati. have you noticed things haven’t been so good for you lately? among the fastest shrinking cities in the country? i noticed that new york, chicago, la and san francicso have managed to be just fine nightlife zones with smoking bans. the smoking patio culture becomes it’s own fun little beast, and everyone enjoys being inside more. it makes me sad to know that cincinnati will end up ‘forced’ to uphold the smoking ban* and cincinnatians who can’t be forced to do anything will drive their stubborn asses across the river to make northern kentucky even more economically vibrant and cincinnati even more dusty. meanwhile, columbus will continue to get cooler than us.

    *welcome to democracy, jerks. you got your damn constitution changed to prohibit homosexual marriage so you’re all safe from whatever that infringes on you, now step up to the part that makes you less comfortable for once. i’ll be filing my complaints regarding the three bars i was in last week, wherein the bartenders were smoking. holy shit already.

    ps – health concerns affect life, property rights affect economics; one is universal and one is a construct. choose your favorite.


  6. It was great that the prople of Ohio voted to make the state smoke free. Now it is time to enforce the law. I still frequient local restaraunts tjhat allow smoking.

  7. Ned Says:

    Yeah, that’s right. Enforce the law. Enforce it for people like Walter who want the government to tell him how to live his life and how to spend his money. How presumptuous it would be if people like Walter had to vote with the feet and dollars. Oh the humanity of it all – self reliance and responsibility!!!!!!

  8. Margo Says:

    A car traveling at 50 miles an hour that runs over a human body will, most likely, kill the person unfortunate enough to get in the way. Who kills the person – the car? The Driver? The person who was in the way of the car? The city worker who failed to hang the “pedestrian crossing” sigh that would have informed both parties of who legally had the right of way?

    The response depends on you perspective and the point you’re trying to prove, which all reinforces the conundrum that all things are relative. There are precious few absolutes in this world. When you move to the edges of absolutes you ignore so much in-between that your argument becomes suspect.

    The argument that second hand smoke – without any other extenuating circumstances that might impact a person’s heath and cause the death – kills people is an unrealistic and a dismissive way to justify the argument that second-hand smoke is harmless.

    The bottom line is that one single thing rarely kills a person like a speeding car, a bullet to the head or eating lead-based paint. What is at the core of this argument is this: is the risk posed to one person by another person’s habits or personal choice great enough to justify curbing the rights of one to protect another?

    Setting the arguments of “junk science” and “businesses will fold” aside, where SHOULD the line be drawn?

  9. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    We still sense a failure of people to grasp the distinction between private property and public property. Like traffic laws, restrictions such as this that apply to public, or common, property may be appropriate to protect the health and welfare of citizens. However, when restrictions are made that deteriorate or lessen private property rights, whether of individuals or private enterprises, the result is noxious and diminishes more than the immediate freedom in question.

    Where private property rights are fully secured and protected under law tyranny cannot exist. Consider alll the infamous tyrants and dictators from history regardless of political leaning – whether fascist, communist, monarchist, etc. – and you will find their notorious deeds only achievable by undermining private property rights.

    We suggest the whittling down of private property rights by restrictions such as this makes it easier and more likely that other violations of private property rights will be accepted. Think about the objectionable surveillance aspects of our Nation’s current homeland security efforts. Ultimately, the objection is to the resulting diminishment in property rights. If we as a society show our acquiescence to give away our property rights how can we object when they are taken?

  10. artpro Says:

    I do not understand the hand-wringing on this issue. It is a health issue and the voters knew exactly where they were drawing the line.

    I have not seen any reports about anyone losing any business other than the piece in the Enquirer about hookah restaurants. All of my favorite places have gone along with the smoking ban, and all of them are doing fine–I see no difference in their business from my observation, and when I ask bartenders and owners, they don’t see any difference in the amount of business that they’re doing.

    I know of a few people that are going to Kentucky exclusively, or say they are, but these are people in my experience that didn’t go out that much anyway.

    Jane, don’t confuse the Internet postings of the few with the real situation in this town. Cincinnati is doing fine after the ban.

  11. Westside John Says:

    It should be simply a question of Do you want to go to a place that has smoking or do you not want to? To actually sit here and say that “I” want to go to that private establishment so stop smoking for me is ludicrous. What if I don’t like babies crying so we put a ban on children under 12 in a family restaurant. If you don’t like smoking there are tons of places that were smoke free before the ban. I went to an old bar in theWest side that caters to 60+ veterans mainly and most of them smoke. The place still allows smoking , why, because a ban would, in this case, cause 80% of the client base to no longer frequent the establishment.

    The real question is “What’s Next”

  12. Margo Pierce Says:

    When protecting public health becomes an issue the role of government is to do just that. No private business is going to do it – it’s not profitable – and in this case, the majority of people in the state have given our public health officials their marching orders.

    I haven’t checked with a lawyer on this, but what about. . . .

    For the 60+ vet bar and others that want to be smoke-full, charge an annual membership fee – say $5 to cover the production and mailing of a membership certificate – and call it a private club. Give a $5 coupon to new members for buying drinks.

    Use a little creativity people! Instead of whining about what you CAN’T have or have LOST, put your brain cells to work on coming up with a creative solution. We’ve figured out how to fly for cripe sake, it’s not like this could be much harder to figure out.


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