Property Rights vs. Smoking Bans

The Ohio Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the statewide smoking ban as constitutional. Many business owners argue that the law infringes on their private property rights.

Twenty-seven U.S. states currently have statewide bans on the books, which cover most indoor public places, although many have exemptions for such businesses as cigar bars, casinos, and private clubs.

Property rights are sacred in this country and they must not be removed unless it’s with the best of reasons. But when there’s a legitimate safety issue at stake, government often arrives on the scene and sticks around. Fire exit signs, access for handicapped people, and other occupational regulations may cause a few headaches, but you don’t see any widespread protest. Can second-hand smoke be construed as a valid safety hazard as well that must be avoided?

If we were to agree that bar and restaurant owners have the legal right to dictate the air quality inside their walls, are we discriminating against non-smokers by giving them no healthy option other than to stay home?

What do you think? Are smoking bans an enemy to freedom, or should the number one priority be the health of employees and customers?