Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Cleveland, not smoking

It is bad enough that Cleveland doesn't have a football team: "In their first game in 15 years without iconic coach Bill Cowher stalking the sideline, the Steelers blitzed, battered and bullied their way to a 34-7 win over the hapless Browns, whose season opener couldn't have gone much worse." The full story is here. But, what irks me even more is the anti-smoking policy in the stadium that was built on "sin taxes" (i.e., tobacco mostly). No somiking anywhere in the stadium and if you step outside for a smoke you can't get back in! A friend who was at the game informs me that people were being fines $75 for smoking and some were handcuffed and taken away...One guy said, "give me a ticket for $225 because I plan to have three more cigarettes while I'm here." I wonder what they would do if you smoked a Cuban?
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Discussions - 26 Comments

This policy is now standard in many venues. There are almost always sneak-away spots, where the cops won't bother. Of course it is outrageous, but of course smoking is bad for you.

Sooner or later, all of these kinds of policies are going to have exactly the opposite of the intended effect. People (rightly) don't like heavy-handed (even if well-intentioned and even if correct in substance) attempts at directing their personal behavior. Smoking is going to become even more cool than it was in the 50s--precisely because it's now deemed so naughty and it irritates exactly the sort of person it is fun to irritate. Sex, of course, will become even more boring than it already is the popular imagination (at least the pathetic kind trumpeted by the popular culture) but the cigarette after your nameless and soulless encounter. . . well, that will be something.

Julie - I agree that many people rightly resent the nanny state. But in this case, the nanny inconveniences only smokers (and perhaps people they are with). And smoking is on the decline. Why should smoking become more glamorous just because it is targeted by nanny? Among some perverse libertarians, maybe. Smoking is a bad thing. Nothing about it is the act of a free person - except for those who persuade themselves that they could choose not to smoke, and they'll be damned to be required to do so by the laws. As someone constantly struggling not to smoke, I favor being inconvenienced.


I'm glad that your apparent inability to solve your nicotine addiction through your own efforts has led you to endorse the government controlling the lives of all Americans.

Under your logic, we shouldn't get upset when the government overregulates any "unhealthy" habit that can lead to addiction (alcohol, fast food, internet usage) for those who let it.

As someone constantly struggling with an overreaching government, I prefer choices and liberty.

What so bad about smoking? Sure it will likely shorten your life but there is more to life than life itself. There are a great many pleasures that accompany smoking, especially for those that enjoy, reading, thinking, coffee, beer, food, and sex.

I think choice is good, too. I would like to see bathrooms provided for people who want to use them to meet others of the same sex during half-time. Also, as long as we are providing smoking areas, let's permit the smoking of marijuana and hashish. I would also like to have the National Anthem sung in Spanish, as well as in English. Those who don't like it, or understand it need not participate.

It is a hassle to provide these choices, but I don't mind paying for them, just as I don't mind my insurance premiums and co-pays going through the roof so that my neighbors can exercise their choices to smoke, drive without a seat belt, and eat a steady diet of salt and fat.


I suggest that if your insurance premiums are going up due to what you deem the "irresponsible" behavior of others covered by the same plan, this is a problem that you should mention to your private insurance company.

Better yet, why not create/join an insurance company that shows a little prudence in who it covers? Seems to me your complaint can be taken care of without further government control.


Despite the confusion, smoking in public places is really being regulated as a nuisance (the taxing of tobacco is another story). Just like we have no problem telling our neighbors they can't play loud music at 2:00 AM (at least I have not heard the libertarian battle cry "it's governmental control!!!" yet on that one), we don't have a problem telling them they can't stink up and pollute the air when others are in close proximity to them. On this issue, libertarian ideology makes as much sense as Marx on the freedom of capital...

Peter says:

A friend who was at the game informs me that people were being fines $75 for smoking and some were handcuffed and taken away...One guy said, "give me a ticket for $225 because I plan to have three more cigarettes while I’m here." I wonder what they would do if you smoked a Cuban?

Perhaps they will send him to Guantanamo! If not, perhaps they should for so brazenly ignoring the law. Mr. Schramm, perhaps you could clear the air, but I thought Ashbrook was (when not asking WWLD) about conservativism, not libertarianism. If you are a libertarian, I guess you won't mind me bringing my nephews rock'n'roll band and playing in front of your house at 2:00 AM? ;)

Hitler, Napolean, and George III all hated smoking, tried to ban or limit the growth of tobacco, and would not allow its use in their presence (and reacted violently when others did). There's something deeply telling about the souls of those who would control the petty vices of others. Christopher, due to your sarcastic remark about Lincoln, I'm guessing you call yourself a paleoconservative. Like most paleoconservatives, you don't realize that once you've abandoned Natural Rights, you've closed the door on individual liberty properly understood. Your coneservatism is probably based solely on Christianity or something like that, so your understanding of "liberty" probably perfectly coincides with your religion. Mine does not. That is why, though not a smoker, I am more than willing to reasonably accomodate its use.


Really, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. I am willing to "accommodate" tobacco to the same extent I am willing to accommodate my nephew's rock'n'roll band. He can't follow me wherever I go (for example, this past weekend I was at the beach - a public beach owned by the people of the state of N.C., yet I was forced to "smoke" because about 15% of the people out there were smoking, a sizable portion of them downwind :), he can't do it at 2:00 in the morning when most of the community is asleep, etc.

It won't be long before smoking is rightly restricted to private spaces, just like my nephews rock'n'roll band.
Libertarians are blowing political capital on this issue - and revealing the weakness of their philosophy...

oh, and I forgot:

Hitler, Napolean, and George III all hated smoking… There's something deeply telling about the souls of those who would control the petty vices of others.

BAH! You keep up with that sort of hyperbole, let me know how it works out for you..."deeply telling about the souls"...BAH HA!!!


I'm absolutely okay with banning smoking and any other activity from "public" places like schools,government buildings, and beaches.

What I am 100% opposed to is the government banning privately-owned establishments, which happen to be open to the public, from having the option of allowing smoking or not.


I see your position. I am wondering, what do you think of government banning other things from privately owned establishments? For example, we ban certain construction methods, we demand fire escapes, and even parking places for a very small minority of folks who happened to be "handicapped". I suppose, in a society, a community, we demand a certain "civil" atmosphere. I look at smoking as on par with this. Where libertarianism fails is how you get a "private" property owner to acknowledge this...

Christopher, Smoking is to you a public nuissance and uncivil. What could not be banned under your understanding of these terms?

I'm also in favor of smoking bans. In fact, I would be in favor of making tobacco a banned substance on the level of marijuana and cocaine. Smoking drives up the health insurance costs of everyone and, contra Interested, one cannot simply change to another company. Very few people are ever in a position to do so. By voting for smoking bans I am in effect voting myself a higher quality of life, which I believe I have a right to. Further, it is almost impossible to protect children from being poisoned if we continue to tolerate smoking, and it is completely impossible to protect poor employees if we allow smoking in private venues. A just society must ensure that poor women do not have to sacrifice their health to find employment.

We are all in this together, Colman. There is nothing that society cannot theoretically ban, the issue is a matter of severity. I think society has a right to regulate the diet's of its members. The issue in these matters is prudence, not principle, for the only absolute principle in a society is that we are all "in it together" and must live civilly with each other. Sometimes that means giving up vices that hurt the community.

errata: I don't why "diets" is a possessive in that apologies

Interested illustrates my point better than I. When I saw reasonably accomodate, what I really mean is allow a man to decide whether or not to allow smoking in a bar that he privately ownes. Do you really want the government making those decisions for us? What happens when they make a decision you disagree with, Christopher? You won't have a leg to stand on. And Buu, I do hope you exercise regularly and eat healthy, lest you too join the smokers in increasing the cost of health care.

*When I say reasonably . . .

The Huckabee conservatives emerge!

I died laughing reading Fung in 8 by the way. Look we all know right from wrong. Smoking is bad, eating fatty foods is bad, drinking is bad, not working out is bad. Lets just tax the hell out of all sorts of bad behavior and use it to make all gyms and YMCA facilities free to the public. In fact lets pay people to work out and run on treadmills(hell we pay the army and they do PT every a real sense soilders are paid to work out). What we really need is mandatory national PT, with higher taxes imposed on those who fail to meet the standard, and or cash prizes awarded to the physically fit. Lets tax McDonalds to the point that eating at Olive Garden is cheaper! Lets regulate the maximum soda size at gas stations...64oz at the local 7/11 or Stripes is just ridiculous! Drinking water is good for you, to encourage citizens to drink water we should create a government program that pays people a dollar for every bottle of Dasani that they drink in front of a certified drinking inspector. A little Draconian? Listen up folks, I had a 240 lb gorilla of a drill sergeant that routinely had hydration formations were we didn't get paid anything and we had to drink from old canteens that the previous cycle might have pissed in...we would drink three canteens of water and then we would usually get a bonus workout...known as a smoke session... So don't cry to me about making a buck for drinking lousy Dasani(glorified tap water, I know)...but I digress. In any case it is good for you. Forced hydration, free work out, and a smoke and alcohol and soda-pop free environment. Some call it basic trainning, I call it a vision for a fitter/healthier america. I will tell you what I will even allow every citizen to get one specical stress card per week good for either: getting out of PT, or a free cigarette, or a cold beer, or a coke. And that is much more than a stress card could ever get you in even the nicer gentler army of today...but I understand that you people are civilians. One should be reasonable about such things.

Suggestions for a healthier america:

Mandatory National Physical Trainning: Army style every morning from 6-7:30.

Hydrate and earn a dollar per Dasani consumed.

20 dollar tax on all fast food menu items containing over 100 callories.

Regulation making it illegal to sell soda in cups larger than 16 oz, refills are illegal!

$120 tax per pack of cigarettes, with regulations stipulating that it is illegal to smoke more than one cigarette per week, and that is provided one attends all PT sessions.

Exhorbitant tax on all forms of alcohol, with cap of one beverage(1 oz shot, 5 oz wine, 12 oz beer) per citizen per week assuming that one has not smoked a cigarette or otherwise used up stress card by missing a PT session.

In order to make americans healthier Army Basic Trainning should be the model upon which all things are henceforth permited or banned.

Smoke a cuban? Shit...we still have an embargo do we not? First offense: all stress cards forfeited for a year. Second offense: Levenworth baby!

Another long tirade from a man who has no sense of scale, and has apparently never heard the terms "slippery slope" or "straw man." Is this really the kind of thinker the Ashbrook program is graduating these days?

I have, on different occasions, enjoyed a cigarette with at least two of the interlocutors on this current topic. I believe that neither continue in such habits , although such reformations have thus far, much to the chagrin of my wife, escaped me. I am perhaps young enough to experience redemption at some point in the future, just not as of yet.

What appears to be missing from the myriad of comments, yet what was alluded to in Dr. Schramm's original, was the financial hypocrisy that surrounds smoking. Smoking has paid for the athletic venues in Downtown Cleveland. Yet, said activity is not permitted inside these venues, even though there are areas (at least in Jacobs Field) that would otherwise be in compliance with state legislation, fire codes, etc.

The irony in this is two-fold: First, Cuyahoga County smokers will continue to pay for these facilities half-way through the next decade, yet are not permitted to smoke inside the facilities.

Secondly, and more to my point, is the push-pull manner in which politicians treat smokers. They embrace smokers with one arm, dropping the attached hand into the smokers' wallets, yet shove them away with the other arm. Laws, excise taxes, TSA policies, etc - all designed in an effort to promote better health and well-being of the citizenry.
In short, financially penalize and make generally inconvenient an unhealthy activity - in hopes that all activity eventually ceases, while simultaneously hoping that said activity continues in perpetuity, to bankroll things such as sports complexes.

People here talk of health costs. The Big Tobacco firms kicked have paid approximately $61 Billion of the $246 Billion settlement reached 10 years ago. Yet, less than $5 Billion has gone into anti-smoking efforts. The rest (averaging over 1 Billion per state) has found its way into the general fund of the receiving state.

Those who argue against the existence of slippery slopes are short-sighted. Regulation reaches into virtually every facet of our lives, and continues this encroachment, often without notice. Madison himself warned us of this, saying "I believe there are more instances of the abridg[e]ment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. "

When smoking, drinking, gambling, fast food, grilled food, processed food, red and white meat, etc have all been wiped out; When salaries are taxed at 100%; When the only consumer products legally purchasable are genetically modified vegetables and running shoes (built by child slave labor, natch); And when the politicians start leveraging excise taxes on those products to fund their pork projects, I can only imagine the raucous laughter emanating from the graves of dead smokers, bankrupt Phillip Morris execs, out-of-work tobacco farmers, and probably more than a few Libertarians.

More than likely, however, this laughter will be drowned out by the sorrowful tears of Liberty. Assuming, of course, that the dead can cry as well as laugh.

Anderson's point, apparently, is that the state would go bankrupt without the tax revenue from cigarettes. I think it's safe to say that that's just plain ridiculous.

(Obviously the government needs only turn its taxes onto other luxury items, like yachts or plasma TVs.)

Oh Buu, you're missing the point. Where do you draw the line when it comes to controlling the wellbeing of the populace? Smoking is bad for the individual's health and the population at large, agreed? So we should tax it in hopes of curbing the behavior. Eating fast food is bad for the health of those who partake, so we should tax it too, right? Sitting around and doing nothing all day is clearly bad for the health, and will lead to increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and poor quality of life, so . . . we should mandate exercise(?). Where do we draw the line? I'm all ears.

PS I'm curious, do you eat healthy and exercise regularly? Because I'm a young, physically active guy who would hate to have insurance premiums go up - especially since I know for a fact Social Security will be going bust within fifty years.

Lines can be drawn on prudence, not principle. Unless you're in favor of legalizing all drugs you've already drawn that line yourself. Personally I draw the line at banning tobacco and taxing fast food (or at least imposing dietary guidelines). This issue requires some deliberation, yes, but that isn't an objection. At least not unless you're willing to go all the way with it and abolish the FDA, legalize suicide, and do away with speed limits.

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