Peg Kaplan of “what if?” doesn’t like the nanny state ninnies that make it their mission to protect their fellow citizens from the dangers of smoking. I have similar feelings on this issue. I would prefer that people choose to quit smoking since it is a filthy and dangerous habit. However, if people wish to smoke, they should be allowed to smoke. And it should be up to the individual business to decide whether to allow smoking on the premises. I can understand why people would want to get behind a smoking ban. Let’s face it, cigarette smoke stinks, and most people would prefer not to be exposed to it while in public. For that reason, one would be hard pressed to find many people who would defend the position of the smokers. But I think that such attitudes could prove to be short sided since smoking bans could lead to other government action that more people would oppose.
It seems like the tobacco industry serves as a kind of stalking horse at times. When the government sued Big Tobacco to recoup money spent on the health related costs of smoking, most people supported the action. After all, tobacco companies had lied about their knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking. So not too many people shed any tears over the companies getting hit with a huge settlement. They didn’t consider that the ruling in those lawsuits would lead to similar lawsuits in other industries. But, sure enough, suits were brought against gun manufacturers for the damage caused by their products. And soon McDonalds was sued for making kids fat.
The question is, “what’s next?”. So far, none of the fast food lawsuits have gotten anywhere. But that was true of the tobacco lawsuits for years as well. But if one of them is successful in the future, will the health advocates be satisfied and leave it at that? I don’t find that very likely. Such a success would only embolden them to pursue other methods for changing people’s behavior, such as a “twinkie tax” on junk food. And if the tax doesn’t change our eating habits enough, why not simply ban some forms of junk food? It might seem crazy, but a few years ago it would have sounded crazy to suggest suing McDonalds for your weight gain.