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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

why i hate the american lung association

Today I get this glossy multipage advertisement in the mail. The front page shows a man sitting at a restaurant table reading a paper, cigarette in hand, and gray smoke billowing out of his mouth and nose. Caption: "His right to smoke?" You open up the ad to see a mother sitting at the next table with her young daughter. Caption: "Or our right to breathe clean air? Which should we protect?"

The purpose of the ad, which is sponsored in part by the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, is to get me to call my alderman and demand he support the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance. Well, the ad was partially successful: I WILL call my alderman...but to politely ask him NOT to support said ordinance.

The whole indoor clean air thing is really so simple if we respect property rights. Those who want to avoid smoke can sit in the non-smoking section. If that isn't good enough, they can patronize those establishments that do not allow smoking. The same goes for employees. While I certainly don't want the mother and young daughter in the ad to be forced to breathe second hand smoke, the fact is they are NOT being forced to; it really is up to the mother to go to one of the many restaurants in this great city that don't allow smoking (or open her own restaurant should she so choose). Demanding that somebody else, who took all the initiative and risk to open and manage an eating or drinking establishment, must use his property in a way that suits your smoking preferences is NOT your right.

Although the above mentioned charities may do some good, for example by supporting scientific research, I cannot support them when they spend so much money trampling all over property rights. Incidentally, I don't smoke.


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