by Jimmy Boegle
A woman called me today, apparently upset that the Weekly has endorsed Prop 201 (which would ban smoking in bars) and Prop 203 (which would tax cigs to pay for preschool programs). While some of what she had to say was freaking insane (at one point, she said that studies linking smoking to cancer were "bunk"), she got me thinking: What rights do smokers have to smoke?
My position as of this moment: Smokers cost society a lot, in terms of medical costs; if raising taxes gets smokers to cut down and/or quit, or gets fewer people to start, then that's fantastic. And secondhand smoke kills, so therefore, smoking in bars should go. (And I am sorry, I don't buy the argument that a blanket ban on smoking in bars will hurt business that much. I am sorry, but the bars in California seem to be doing just spiffy.)
However, I am open to hearing good arguments on why smokers have the right to smoke in bars and why taxing the hell outta cigs is wrong. Persuade me.