Anti-smoking measure snuffs out personal freedoms
Anti-smoking activists clearly have established that equal rights mean nothing to them. Don’t people who smoke have as much of a right to commune in a bar of their choice with other smokers as nonsmokers do with other nonsmokers?
October 14, 2012
By Justin Vega
FARGO — Let’s say I want a garden in front of my house, so I plant the seeds in the spring, care for them accordingly, and they grow. In the middle of summer, weeds suddenly start to grow.
Do I get my weed whacker and cut down everything, then till it all back into the earth?
No. I grab a hand-shovel and a hoe, and I remove the weeds so I can keep my beautiful garden.
Measure 4, the indoor smoking ban, is the weed whacker to the garden of freedom in North Dakota, and Herald readers should vote against it.
The first of many flaws with this measure is that, as in the illustration above, it wants to address a problem in a situation by removing the situation, not by trying to fix the problem.
According to the private coalition that wrote this bill, Smoke-Free North Dakota, the only way to make sure nonsmokers are unaffected by second hand smoke is to outlaw indoor smoking. Wrong.
Taking Schatz Crossroads in Minot as an example, commercial air filtration systems can use HEPA filters that clean 99.99 percent of air particles as small as .3 micrometers from an entire room every three minutes. Business owners also can couple this strategy with creating walled-off smoking and nonsmoking sections.
Furthermore, Smoke-Free North Dakota attacks vaporizers and e-cigarettes, claiming that their emissions are harmful, too. This is false, as the only thing these items emit is water vapor, not smoke (because nothing is burning).
Next, the proposed law is unconstitutional and violates the most fundamental moral, political, and economic natural right Americans have.
Smoke-Free North Dakota has debased the right to private property, and in dictatorial fashion, determined that business owners cannot own and operate their business in the fashion the owners want.
As John Locke presented, private property is the doorway to pursuing happiness, the key to owning your own labor and the means by which you can take transform a resource into a product, thereby living freely on it.
In North Dakota, entrepreneurs have transformed what were once shells of empty buildings into businesses that employ thousands and cater to the desires of thousands more. To remove their natural right of management would be not only unconstitutional but also, and simply, wrong.
The right to private property must always be maintained, or else we lose our freedoms.
Anti-smoking activists clearly have established that equal rights mean nothing to them. Of course, they cater to the freedom of assembly of nonsmokers, but what about smokers? Don’t people who smoke have as much of a right to commune in a bar of their choice with other smokers as nonsmokers do with other nonsmokers?
Of course — especially when we consumers have created a strong demand for fully non-smoking establishments. As a result of this demand, we nonsmokers now can fully exercise our right to spend our money at the establishments that best cater to our desires.
This is supply and demand at its finest — the true mark of a free market economy.
And as a result, here’s the question that needs to be asked: Is this law really about secondhand smoke, or is it actually about tobacco prohibition?
I believe it’s the latter; it’s a law that seeks to prohibit a legal action.
This law would add to the epidemic of job-killing over-regulation. It would diminish the free-market system and move us closer to a control system, similar to those of communist Russia and China.
Please, vote for private property rights and freedom. Vote no on Measure 4.
Vega is a student at North Dakota State University. He is the Republican Party’s first vice chairman of state Legislative District 16.
Fargo smoking ban petitions to be turned in Monday
Forum staff reports, The Forum
March 09, 2008
Organizers of a drive to collect signatures for a Fargo smoking ban plan to turn their results in Monday.
Barry Nelson, a member of Share the Air Fargo, said the group plans to turn in petitions with about 3,500 signatures to the city auditor’s office about 10 a.m. Monday.
The petition requests city commissioners to place a proposed ordinance on the June 10 ballot that would eliminate smoking in indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
Bars and restaurants are exempt under the current city ordinance.
Also Monday, city commissioners may take action on two smoking-ban related proposals that were delayed last summer to wait for a North Dakota Attorney General opinion. Wayne Stenehjem’s response, released last week, allows the city to move forward.
City Attorney Erik Johnson is recommending the city commission deny final approval of a comprehensive smoking ban because the Share the Air Fargo proposal is nearly identical.
He recommends the commission continue with an ordinance to allow the commission to put proposed ordinances on citywide ballots.
Ban vote not likely this year
Mike Nowatzki, The Forum
August 21, 2007
If there is a public vote on a complete smoking ban in Fargo, it probably won’t happen until next year, city officials said Monday.
City Attorney Erik Johnson said he plans to request an attorney general’s opinion on whether city commissioners can legally enact a “procedural ordinance” that would allow them to put a smoking ban ordinance directly to a public vote – as opposed to the ordinance being referred by voters after it’s enacted by the commission.
The attorney general’s office generally takes 60 days to draft an opinion, or longer if it’s a complex issue, spokeswoman Liz Brocker said.
If the opinion says the City Commission may legally put the issue directly to voters, and the commission decides to hold a special election to do so, the polling locations would have to be declared
70 days before the election, City Auditor Steve Sprague said.
That means a special election probably wouldn’t happen until early January or later, City Commissioner Linda Coates said.
City officials had hoped to piggyback the smoking issue on a Cass County special election ballot Nov. 6. However, State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said last week that the county’s home rule charter doesn’t allow special elections for sales taxes such as the half-cent tax proposed by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.
Coates said that while the GFMEDC prefers not to have the two issues on the same ballot, it could happen if the attorney general’s opinion takes longer than expected.
“My guess is if that (opinion) makes it just too close to the June election to justify the expense of a special election, it’ll end up on the June ballot,” she said.
Officials last week estimated the cost of a special election at $10,000 to $15,000 in Fargo and $5,000 to $8,000 in West Fargo, where city commissioners also have decided to put the smoking ban issue to a public vote.
The Fargo City Commission voted 5-0 on Aug. 13 to approve the first reading of the procedural ordinance.
Old Broadway co-owner Randy Thorson challenged the commission’s action. He argued that Fargo’s home rule charter says only voters may refer ordinances to a public vote, and that any proposed change to the charter – the document that describes the commission’s governing powers – must go to a public vote.
The commission also voted 4-1 on Aug. 13 to approve the first reading of a complete workplace smoking ban ordinance that contains no exemptions and isn’t contingent on West Fargo passing a similar ban. Coates said she believes commissioners will delay a second reading of the ordinance until they receive an attorney general’s opinion.
Mayor Dennis Walaker, who cast the lone vote against the ordinance because it’s not tied to West Fargo, said he’s not sure what will happen at Monday’s meeting.
“I have no idea whether we’ll have a second reading or not,” he said.
Judge quashes petition on smoking ordinance
By Jeff Zent, The Forum
November 20, 2004
While Fargo residents woke to a new smoking ban Friday, a federal judge snuffed out a request to temporarily suspend the city ordinance.
Buffalo Wild Wings, with two Fargo locations, and three of its employees, sought a temporary restraining order against the city’s smoking ban Wednesday.
In a petition filed in federal court, the restaurants and employees asked a federal judge to suspend the ban, pending the outcome of a lawsuit they filed the same day.
They hope to overturn the ordinance, arguing in their lawsuit that it’s unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson on Friday refused to sign a restraining order, saying the plaintiffs failed to convince him it was the right thing to do without first giving city officials a chance to defend the ban.
The restaurants and workers failed to show they would be permanently harmed if the ban was not immediately suspended, Erickson said.
But the judge didn’t completely close the door to suspending the ban.
He set a hearing for next week, on Wednesday, during which the plaintiffs’ attorney, Craig Campbell, will again press to temporarily shelve the smoking ordinance. City attorneys will argue to keep it in place.
Fargo’s smoking ordinance is arbitrary and violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, Campbell said.
Under the ordinance, Buffalo Wild Wings’ bartenders will work among smokers, but the city’s ordinance protects other employees from the health risks of second-hand smoke, he said.
Campbell said he also will argue on Wednesday, among other things, that a North Dakota law adopted in 1919 prohibits employers from exposing employees to heath risks in the work place.
City Attorney Garylle Stewart said the law gives the state labor commissioner the authority to regulate smoking in the workplace — authority that would trump the city’s smoking ordinance.
But the commissioner hasn’t taken a stand on the risks of second-hand smoke, nor has she banned smoking in the workplace, Stewart said.
Campbell said two of his clients, the restaurants, would like to see a complete smoking ban or no restrictions at all.
Businesses throughout Fargo are affected differently by the ban.
In general, all public indoor workplaces must eliminate smoking, even in places like employee lounges. Bars are exempt, but restaurants that don’t serve alcohol in enclosed areas have no choice but to ban smoking.
Campbell singles out an exemption for truck stops, saying it illustrates his point that the ordinance is confusing and unfair.
The exemption allows truckers and their companions to smoke.
“Where’s the rational connection to a legitimate public interest?” he asked.