JLF’s Roy Cordato makes a very interesting point about the state’s ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars. In this transcript of a recent Carolina Journal Radio interview, he and I discuss the ban in terms of property rights.
Martinez: But the Court of Appeals disagreed and said the state of North Carolina has the right to do this and that it fits within the law, so this Pitt County club is going to have to comply.
Cordato: That’s exactly right. I guess there were three clubs who challenged the law — three private clubs. My concern is that they’re private clubs, and, the fact is, I don’t see why or how the state legitimately can or should be able, in a free society, to tell people what they can and cannot do on their private property.
So my view is that if the owner of a private club, restaurant, anything that’s private, truly private — if an owner wants to allow smoking or not ban smoking, or say you’re a restaurant and have a smoking section and a nonsmoking section like we had for many, many years with most restaurants, that should be their prerogative. Basically they will be responding — because they’re for-profit businesses — they will be responding to what their customers want. And I argue that’s what they should be doing. That’s what we want businesses to do.
Martinez: However, the state of North Carolina, the argument from the state is: Well, we have a role in protecting public health, and because smoking is bad for you, therefore the state has the right to step in and say we’re going to make this decision for you. Is that valid at all? That’s embraced by a lot of people.
Cordato: Oh, of course, and from my perspective, no. That argument then can be applied to your house. I mean, what if somebody came into your house — you invited them over for dinner or whatever — and you’re a nonsmoker, and you don’t allow smoking in your house — as I don’t, for example — and they lit up a cigarette? And you said, “Well, I’m sorry, could you either step outside or put out the cigarette? I don’t like people smoking in my house.” And they said, “Well, I have smoker’s rights.” Or the opposite — someone comes in, and you’re a smoker, and they ask you, as the owner of the house, “Could you please put that out? I have nonsmoker’s rights. My health is at risk here.” Well, I think most people would say, “Fine. Leave. It’s my house.”
Well, this principle is exactly the same in a restaurant. It’s not like there is a shortage of restaurants. And it’s not like the restaurants are like Duke Power, where we can only buy our electricity from one person. There are restaurants everywhere and all different kinds.
Believe me, restaurants are dying to cater to special niches, to special desires. And there will be smoking restaurants and nonsmoking restaurants, smoking bars, nonsmoking bars, or restaurants and bars that allow nonsmoking and smoking under the same roof. So these are the decisions that should be made by the people who, in fact, are taking the risks associated with running those businesses.
........As you post your comment, please conform to Right Angles's simple comment policy: we welcome all perspectives, but require that comments be both civil and respectful. If you wouldn't say it to a co-worker in front of your boss, it probably is not civil and respectful. We will delete any comment that fails this test and issue a warning to the poster. A second offense will result in a ban on commenting on this site. In sum, disagreements, arguments even, are welcome; abusive behavior is not. Thanks.
You must be logged in to post a comment.