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Wisconsin’s Smoking Ban: a second look

By Aaron M. Rodriguez

Some Thoughts on Wisconsin's Smoking Ban

Smoking Ban On May 14th, my uncle Frank J. Tamel wrote a piece entitled Wisconsin’s Smoking Ban: Bad for nonsmokers. He made some salient points about how punitive taxation ultimately shrinks the tax base and creates a budgetary hole for future generations. Likewise, a budgetary hole will prompt legislators to find more unhealthy consumables to tax, (e.g., fast food or alcohol products) in order to satisfy their shortfall. This vicious cycle of taxation multiplies the extent of government regulation. And when we give the government more power, we get less liberty in return. Uncle Frank's article got me thinking about the driving force behind the Wisconsin smoking ban. Democrat Fred Risser, Chief author of the bill, said that the Wisconsin smoking ban will save both lives and taxpayer dollars. He further estimated that it would save Medicaid about $754,000 per year in costs. If this rationale is the underlined reason for proposing Wisconsin's Smoking ban, then we may have a few problems to contend with.

Rationale of the Wisconsin Smoking Ban

The first problem with the Wisconsin smoking ban was pointed out on Ban the Ban, a website devoted to the individual’s right to choose without oppressive government interference. The author identifies an inconsistency with Risser’s logic - if the Wisconsin smoking ban ought to be implemented because smoking is unhealthy, then why does the ban stop at the workplace? Why isn’t smoking banned everywhere, including private residences?

The second problem with Wisconsin's smoking ban is one of hypocrisy or a double-standard. There are a number of things we do daily that deliberately put both ourselves and the lives of others at risk. Driving, for example, poses a risk to the driver, the passenger, and the pedestrian. Shall we ban cars from the roads due to the risk factors? Car accidents cost taxpayers billions annually in terms of insurance premiums, medical bills, and city cleanup. If the Wisconsin smoking ban is about saving us medical costs, then perhaps we should remove cars from the equation altogether?

A part of me wants to see the Wisconsin smoking ban passed. I’m a non-smoker, so naturally I get annoyed and frustrated when people smoke around me. I think it’s disrespectful and inconsiderate. I also work in the health care profession; and on a daily basis, I see how smoking affects people in the later stages of their life. Like I’ve told my wife, I’ve never met a person with emphysema that wasn’t a smoker. It’s a disgusting and disabling habit. My heart goes out to those who are linked to their oxygen bottles and nasal cannulas because they cannot breath without a higher concentration of oxygen. Sympathy aside, however, it would appear that at each corner of the debate, the rationale for Wisconsin’s smoking ban falls flat on its face. And when it comes to state legislation, we are best served by ruling from the dictates of reason, not from the shackles of emotion.

The Slippery Slope of Government Regulation

Governor Doyle has stated that his smoking initiative is an effort to prevent Wisconisin kids from smoking to help motivate adults to quit. If this is the real rationale behind the debate, then all Wisconsinites are in trouble. The slippery slope is gigantic, and quite frankly, liberals are very creative at finding new ways to raise your taxes. Currently, Senate leaders are considering a “soda tax” in an effort to pay for a health care system overhaul. The rationale behind this tax is that sugar-sweetened drinks lead to obesity and diabetes, and therefore, companies that profit from these products and consumers that enjoy them ought to be punished for taking unnecessary health care risks. It reminds me of the film "Demolition Man" with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. In the movie, salt was banned as a consumable because it was deemed unhealthy by the government.

Final Thoughts on the Wisconsin Smoking Ban

The problem is obvious. In the past few years, government has been creeping into our lives more and more with new regulations and higher taxes. And with a government entirely controlled by the left, this process has been quickened all the more. Our forefathers envisioned a government that had the ability to keep its citizens in check, not to instruct them how to diet. I’m not against the Wisconsin smoking ban because I like smoking. I’m against the smoking ban because we don’t need a government, that has a history of applying the laws inconsistently and hypocritically, telling us sanctimoniously what products we ought to buy because they don't promote healthy living.

Comments (13)
  • louis masterson  - little help

    I`ve been a smoker for many years. now that the state and local taxes have made smoking a problem with our budget I think the state ( who collects more money then the manufacturer ) should implement either a tax credit or state run programs to help people such as myself who are hopelessly addicted to nicotine quit. This tax from our government is equal to a drug dealer dealing addictive drugs and raising the price as they wish. This tax goes along with our government having to much control over our lives, this will in time lead to one of two endings... Complete government control or civil unrest and revolution

  • Ryan D.  - Crazy

    What about freedom?
    I thought the USA was about freedom.
    Not anymore I guess!

    Ban smoking in restaurants. That makes sense, but bars and cigar shops? Are you kidding me?
    What is this country coming to? That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard! Why do people go to bars? TO HAVE A DRINK AND A CIGARETTE!!! The lack of common sense here is unbelievable.

    I'm a non-smoker by the way.

    Oh, and people will smoke in these places no matter what anyway. So good luck enforcing this. Think about it...

  • No Name

    The smoking ban is going to be passed eithier way on July 5. I want to have the freedom to walk into a bar and breathe fresh air. I hate coming home and smelling like smoke as well as waking up in the morning with mucas in my lungs from the smoke. Just want to enjoy a nice cold brew without having problems breathing. Second hand smoke is the rationale behind this entire debate throughout most of the states in the U.S.

  • ashley  - get over yourself

    you know what i want you to quit driving cause i am tired of breathing in your exhaust fumes... and if you don't wanna smell the smoke go to a non smoking restaurant to have a cold brew.. we have rights to and i think you people are being discriminatory.. it's illegal to discriminate.. based on anything about another person.. here lets worry about people who smoke but not the illegals that come in this country.. that's real smart... geez this country gets dumber and dumber every year.. it's our choice not yours.. so get over yourself and move to another establishment.. we are all government controlled.. i don't like to smell the firework smoke either but we still light them off.. maybe we should ban those.. i think we should.. oh and gasoline.. you worry about cigarettes when there are no studies proving anything about the second hand smoke.. so please do me a favor and leave smoking bars cause when you think about it the bartenders that are on the outside will get more tips and there will be noone on the inside partying with you "non smokers" have fun by your self hahahahaha

  • Anonymous  - 2ndhnd smk

    Secondhand smoke does harm smokers and nonsmokers alike, but I do agree with the rest of your statement

  • tak

    1. There are no proven studies that second hand smoke causes lung cancer. The one major medical study done by the federal AG was thrown out as statistically invalid. Lung cancer is common type of cancer like breast, prostate or colon cancer. Ban boobs?

    2. Less the 10% of smokers die of smoking related illness. This does make the median lifespan of a smoker shorter.

    3. Major university studies have shown that the average tax payer cost is LESS for a smoker than a non smoker. The average lifespan of a smoker cuts out years of SS benefits, medicare, assisted living, etc.

    4. 1/3 of property tax is paid for by tabacco tax. You're welcome.

  • Gregg

    The smoking ban is not equivalent to driving cars. Yes, driving cars MAY harm others around you. Smoking ALWAYS harms others around you. It's just plain selfish to smoke in front other people. Driving a car benefits society by allowing people and items to get places faster, which is something highly coveted in our society. What is the benefit to society to allow smoking in the workplace? It's not a law punishing smokers; it's a law protecting people who choose not to smoke.

  • ashley  - FYI

    FYI cars always harm other people.. look up the statistics on how many die of carbon monoxide poisoning in cars.. get a life dude.. cars are just as bad as cigarettes

  • Dave

    carbon monoxide poisoning is either in a house usually or if it is from a car the person is commiting sucide you idiot. they aren't going around sucking on someone's tailpipe on I-94. and when car's hurt people then the people are punished, fines or jail time so why aren't smokers tossed in jail then if you wanna be equal about it?

  • Anonymous  - Taking Away Choices

    I understand the point of smoking bans but at the same time YOU ARE TAKING CHOICES AWAY. Smokers should have the same choice as non-smokers. People have the CHOICE if they want to go into an establishment that has smoking. If you don’t want to be around the smoke, then DON’T GO, no one is forcing you. Smokers have the choice if they want to go into a place that doesn’t have smoking and that is THEIR choice. Since this plan, you are taking away smoker’s choice. You want to talk about being selfish, look at the non-smokers. Businesses should also have the choice if they want smoking or not, the government shouldn’t be telling owners how to run their establishment, especially when it comes to a legal product.

  • John Biel  - secondhand smoke

    OSHA says that the particles contained in second hand smoke are "at environmentally permissable levels". Their position is the result of studies from 1993 and 2003 and they told me in a phone call that there is no new research which would make them change that position.
    The results of research in Britain were prefaced by the remark "We're sorry that we can't tell you what you want to hear". Britain passed their ban in spite of studies to the contrary.
    A 30 year study in California involving 116,000 people showed no significant difference in heart and respiratory illnesses as the result of second hand smoke.
    A federal lawsuit, thrown out because of jurisdictional errors, found the E.P.A. guilty of cherry picking information, withholding information, publishing results of research which had not yet been completed ( ? ), and using research which did not meet the tests of validity.
    Ask the American Cancer Society how many times they refused to research products for carcinogens at the request of Congress, and then whether or not the manufacturers of those products were major contributors to the A.C.S..
    Ask the A.C.S. what percentage of what they collect goes to research for treatment or a cure and how many millions they hold in reserve.
    Once you understand how desperatley the A.C.S. needed to get the monkey off there back, you can start to realize the real reason for the smoking bans, CONTRARY TO LEGITIMATE RESEARCH !

  • Anonymous  - Smoking ban

    I have been a non smoker and a smoker. As a non-smoker I am all for non smoking public facilities. I would like to come home and not smell like an ashtray. I also feel much better better in health wise when it comes breathing fresh air. As a smoker I still feel the same way. I do not smoke around my child. I smoke outside of my house because I don't want my child to breath in those toxins. My friend and her boyfriend used to smoke heavily around their children and now they are both going through some problems with breathing and some other problems related to their smoking. They now smoke outside of their house. If I wouldn't smoke around my child, how is it my place to pollute someone elses body? I didn't like it when I had to breath in other people's smoke, and I am sure other non smokers don't like it either. Also, many citizens who don't choose to go outside away from their children or non-smokers wouldn't take the initiative to change on their own to make public places a clean atmosphere so of course legislature and the government did it for us. If we would have chose to do it ourselves, we wouldn't be having the government making these "Privacy" cases for us. THIS IS JUST MY OUTLOOK.

  • brian  - smoking around kids

    i am a smoker. i liked that u cant smoke in bars and restaurants now. i dont smoke in my house so why do i want to go to a place that u can just to come home smelling like nasty smoke. i am hoping they pas a law so people cant smoke in cars or their home when kids are around. kids dont need to breath that smoke in. i am trying to get info on getting this a law.

    Brian

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