Wednesday March 08, 2006
Speaking out on the proposed smoking ban in Columbia Below are the prepared comments I gave on March 6th to the Board of Health in opposition to the anti-choice smoking law they are considering sending to the City Council. I will be posting my general comments on the hearing later today.
My name is John Schultz. I am the chair of the Boone County Libertarian Party. I speak in opposition tonight to the proposed changes in Columbiaâ€™s smoking ordinance.
I would first like to state that I am a non-smoker and do not condone smoking.
When the process first began to amend the smoking ban, it was framed as a health issue. Recent changes due to opposition, primarily by fraternal organizations, indicate that is not the case. If health were truly the issue, the Health Department would seek to outlaw smoking everywhere. Rather, this appears to be a slow attempt to modify behavior by making it difficult for smokers to partake of a legal substance on private property where it is permitted by the owner.
This smoking ban is really more about choice, or rather the lack of it. This anti-choice smoking ban will remove the ability of proprietors to target the customers of their choosing. It will also create an unfair competitive environment by giving those sites with an outdoor patio the possibility to offer smoking areas to their clientele, something their rivals without outdoor seating will not be able to offer.
Both customers and employees have the freedom to choose their surroundings. Several restaurants in Columbia have made the switch to non-smoking over the past year, indicating that those owners understand that smoking is not preferred by their customers and employees. Similarly, other venues have not made the switch because they offer a welcome alternative to a segment of the population. Truly this is the free market at work.
I wish to call attention to Chapter 191 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, sections 765 through 773, and particularly section 769, which defines several areas not considered a public place under state law and which may allow smoking. These areas include halls used for private social functions, limousines and taxicabs, bars and restaurants that seat less than fifty people, bowling alleys, and pool halls where signs indicating no non-smoking areas are available. I would like to inquire of the Board if the city attorney was aware of these statutes when approving the language of the amended ordinance and if the city is legally able to restrict those places granted non-public status by state law.
Finally, I would like the Board to address a recent job posting in the Columbia Daily Tribune for a community tobacco educator. Will this employee be using public tax dollars in an effort to sway either the city council or residents of Columbia to favor the proposed ordinance changes?
( Mar 08 2006, 12:07:58 PM CST )
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