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Smoking decision lies with business owners

Posted: Thursday, March 05, 2009

It is important we look at the proposed smoking ban. It is important that arguments concerning the smoking ban encompass more than one social issue.

Even though there are health issues involved with smoking and secondhand smoke, in reality, the issue of a smoking ban is an issue of ownership or property rights.

It is the government's responsibility to ensure property rights are enforced. Without clearly defined property rights, we see, through history, that other personal rights will soon also come under attack.

In 1776, Adam Smith published a book entitled "The Wealth of Nations." In this book he described what he called the invisible hand. In short, this invisible hand takes the self-interest of the individual and translates it to the entire community.

When someone goes into business as, say, the owner of a restaurant or bar, we understand that the incentive driving this decision is the desire to make a profit. We see, however, that this desire for personal profit spreads money through the community in terms of taxes, salaries and hiring local businesses.

According to the law, this person has property rights over the establishment. This person should be able to run the business as they see fit.

Now, economically, we look at the smoking issue. If this owner decides to allow smoking in this establishment, that should be the owner's decision. The community is in control of making the decision whether to frequent the establishment, and prospective employees are in control of deciding whether to work in such an establishment.

If the owner, who chooses to allow smoking, is unable to attract customers, then the owner has a decision to make. Keep the current thinking or go broke.

If the owner, who chooses to allow smoking, is unable to get people to work, then the owner has a decision to make. Keep the current thinking or go broke.

It is very important in issues of this matter we encourage our elected officials to respect the property rights of those individuals whose actions and desires benefit our community.

It is even more important to understand, in issues like this, it is demeaning and inappropriate for our elected officials to take such an economic decision out of the hands and wallets of those of us who should really be making the choices for our community.

Mike Gustkey

Kenai



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