New Controls On The Way
By Trey Ware June 17, 2010
Let me be clear. I hate smoking. I wish everyone everywhere would stop. It is terrible for your health, and it will catch up to you.
That being said, the City Council's Governance Committee signed off on tough new anti-smoking rules last night. The rules will be considered by the Quality of Life Committee in August before going to the full council.
The new rules include banning smoking in public places such as the San Antonio River Walk, the San Antonio Zoo, the Alamo, Main Plaza, stadiums, child care and adult day care centers, in service lines for ATMs, at concerts, food vendors, within 20 feet of education facilities and outdoor transportation areas, movies, and sporting events.
The rules would also ban smoking on private property such as comedy clubs, restaurants, bingo halls, and bars.
Apparently VFW halls, other private clubs, and city golf courses would be exempt.
Councilman Justin Rodriquez is quoted as saying, "There's no harm in doing the best we can to promote health." The exemptions totally kill the "all about health" argument. If this was really about health there wouldn't be any exemptions. If this was about health the ban would be all out everywhere. If it was about health, the city would reject all revenue from tobacco sales. It is disingenuous to publically decry a legal product as being a public health problem, while benefitting from the taxes raised through the sale of that product. Also, if this was really about health, the council would ban drinking at bars too. Isn't it unhealthy when someone drinks at a bar then drives home? The health argument doesn't fly.
There are several problems with this nanny-state ordinance. The most important is the fact that City Council will tell private companies, (restaurants, bars, etc), what type of customer they are allowed to serve. The City Council will now decide what people can and can't do while on private property. Banning smoking in parks, the zoo, etc is fine since the city controls those areas. They can decide what they allow there. But banning a legal activity in a private business is way over the line. As citizens, we should be concerned what they will attempt to ban next. Will it be salt such as they are doing in NY? What else will this council deem "unhealthy" and in need of banning?
This is about choices, and the people of San Antonio are gradually losing their rights to make choices for themselves. Even if they are "bad" choices such as deciding to smoke. As long as the product is legal, the choice should be left up to the individual and not the state.