A headline like ‘Banning smoking in City’ should send chills down your Canadian spine. Let’s not go totalitarian on smoking like Edmonton just did. Back in 2003 (in the Stettler Independent) I predicted that anti-smoking campaigners would not stop at banning smoking in business establishments. These activists denied that they would push any further. But now look at what is being done! Imagine not being allowed to smoke on a dusty trail! That’s how far this ban will go. And it will go further still. It will go as far as the activists can take it and as far the citizens will permit.
I don’t smoke. And I don’t like smoke. But I support smoking. Here is why you should too. There is something even more insidious and threatening than the occasional gulp of secondhand smoke: the gradual loss of personal freedom. If legislators will ban smoking outside, you might think that is a wonderful victory for cleaner air. But think about the precedent this sets. If a ban like this goes forward, what comes next? Suppose that religion continues to be maligned as evil. And suppose that anti-religion activists get their way, just as the anti-smoking campaigners are getting theirs. Then certain religious books will be banned from your libraries, and then from your churches, your homes, your Internet services, and your bedside tables. That’s how the regression of liberties can happen in free countries, item by and item and step-by-step.
It is ridiculous to be so worried about the effects of cigarette smoke outdoors when pollution by a passing car exceeds these effects by a thousand to one or more. From the nearsighted perspective, the ban is about noxious fumes and cancer. But what lurks behind the ban is a hatred of liberty and a lust for control. If you value your freedom to read and worship, you should support the liberty to smoke. For the sake of preserving liberty, let’s risk the sight and smell of smoke once in awhile. The occasional whiff of smoke will not hurt so much as a fly. When you see a smoker light up, be glad for what this act signifies: liberty.