The MSJ’s Assault on Private Property Rights Continues…

When something is being forced upon me, I tend to be skeptical of what it is that’s being forced.  Call me crazy.

No more than two weeks ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a borderline retarded op-ed about smoking bans.  (See my scathing – and somewhat pissy – review, here.)  Well, they’re back at it again this week.

If Wisconsin doesn’t adopt a smoking ban soon, Gov. Jim Doyle says it will become the ashtray of the Midwest. Minnesota and now Illinois have statewide bans on smoking in public places.

Following the pack isn’t always the best policy, but in a case such as this where the public health stakes are so high, Wisconsin legislators should keep up with the neighbors. A statewide ban that would take effect next Jan. 1, with a phase-in period for bars and restaurants, has won the narrow approval of a state Senate committee. The full Senate and then the Assembly should approve the measure.

No, the amended ban isn’t nearly as comprehensive as those in neighboring states, and at least one of its exemptions – which would appear to allow “cigarette bars” – raises questions. But it beats what we have now: myriad local bans around the state that prohibit smoking in some bars and restaurants while competitors just down the road get a pass because they’re outside the city limits.

Yes, the stakes are so incredibly high.  Too bad the MSJ doesn’t see the true threat, errs on the side of junk science rather than inherent private property rights, and suddenly finds the task of “keeping up with the Joneses” so admirable.

The only way to level that playing field is with a statewide ban, which is why so many other states and other countries have passed bans. Even those smoke-filled Left Bank cafés famous in film and literature became smoke-free as of Jan. 1 under a ban on smoking in all public places in France.

Translation:  We know that a smoking ban will harm small-business owners, so we want to make sure that everyone loses business together.  It’s all about togetherness.  Collective misery.  How precious.

The Wisconsin lawmakers who pushed for a one-year phase-in period for bars and restaurants argue that many of these are small businesses and that the owners need more time to make that transition.

Doyle says that exemption isn’t really necessary. We agree. The vast majority of people don’t smoke anyway, and most bars and restaurants have not suffered in other places after smoking bans were imposed. But if this is what it takes – and that appears to be the case – for Wisconsin to finally get a ban, so be it. Hotels and motels would be able to set aside a percentage of their rooms for smokers, which also strikes us as a reasonable compromise.

Who exactly is this “we” and “us”?  There is no author listed on the op-ed, just like the last one.  I’m starting to feel as if I’m living Ayn Rand’s Anthem. 

Don’t you find it the least bit irrational (and ignorant) that in one breath, this “we” person calls for a “level playing field”, and in the next they say that bars and restaurants haven’t suffered economically where bans are imposed?

While Doyle doesn’t want bars and restaurants exempted, his spokesman, Matt Canter, indicated an open mind on a veto. “He’s not going to walk away from the table if he doesn’t get what he wants,” Canter says. Good.

A renegade governor hell-bent on destroying small business.  Lucky us.

But the exemption from the ban for businesses operated by manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and distributors of tobacco products is another story. It appears much too broad. The American Cancer Society fears it could lead to cigarette bars and tobacco lounges as it has in some cities – bars with smoking, in other words

Oh, the horror!

I’m going to start calling this mysterious author “Union 5-3992” .

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