In the last few years, aggressive campaigns against smoking have continued to gain ground. The European Parliament recently approved new restrictions on tobacco products. Twenty-eight US states now have laws in effect that prohibit smoking in various “public” enclosed spaces, including bars and restaurants. There have also been many similar restrictions on smoking enacted around the world in recent years, including in England and the remainder of the UK. Many people endorse these laws for a number of reasons such as health risks or the discomfort of nonsmokers. People say that nobody should have to be exposed to second-hand smoke if they don’t want to be. On that point, they’re absolutely right.
Nobody who doesn’t want to be exposed to second-hand smoke should have to be exposed to second-hand smoke. However, these laws do nothing to remedy that problem, if indeed it is a problem. With or without the smoking bans that prohibit smoking in a restaurant, it is still the case that nobody who doesn’t want to be exposed to smoke has to be exposed to smoke. Why? Because if a person walks into a restaurant, sees that people are smoking, and then makes the decision to stay anyway, then that person is being exposed to second-hand smoke by their own free will.
It is important to remember that these businesses affected by the smoking bans are not public, but private. They have private owners, people who pay the bills, bought the property, and have their name on the deed, just as with you and your own home. All of the characteristics of “private property” are consistent just as much as with restaurant as with private residences. Therefore, just as you have the right to decide whether to allow smoking in your own home, the person who actually owns the business ought to have the authority to decide whether or not people can smoke in his place of business.
Furthermore, people open up businesses to make money. If a no-smoking policy in an establishment is what most local customers prefer, the owner will in all likelihood not allow smoking in his business, or suffer a loss in revenue. However, if somebody opens up a business where there are a lot of smokers, then allowing smoking would benefit the owner’s bottom line, so it would be rather idiotic not to. In that case, the owner probably will allow smoking in his business, or suffer a loss in revenue. Either way, the policies enacted by the business owner will end up being the ones that produce the most profit, which is generally consistent with pleasing the most customers. Anyone who still does not approve of the owner’s decision on allowing or not allowing smoking may always take their business elsewhere.