John Stuart Mill and Hookah Bans

"The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest." --John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

If I couldn't laugh about the irony of it, the latest smoking ban would have me crying. Virginia, a state whose economy depends on the manufacture of tobacco products (tobacco manufacturing is still the state's number one industry), has recently passed a sweeping anti-smoking law that will more than likely put several restaurant and bar owners out of business.

According to the Washington Post, this bi-partisan bill was "hatched in closed-door meetings between Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Safford)." Although the new law doesn't reach quite as far as some of the more virulent anti-smoking groups wanted, it does go far enough to target places where smoking has been an accepted part of business for generations. With all the secondhand smoke hype that the media has subjected us to, I can't help but wonder why anyone who is genuinely worried about secondhand smoke exposure would continue to work in establishments that permit smoking or, more importantly, why anyone who chooses not to work in an area where smoking is allowed is so concerned about those who do.

John Stuart Mill, in his essay, On Liberty, says it best: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." In other words, don't try to stop me from smoking hookah in a shop made specifically for that purpose because you think that the secondhand smoke may cause harm to others. An alternative is available: if you don't want to be subjected to secondhand smoke, avoid places of business that permit smoking. Problem solved. Duh!

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Comments (2)


5:48 PM

Man Lol thats like putting a car making ban in detroit. In time I think the only place you will be able to smoke is in your own home.

Believe it or not, there are places here in Southern California where you can't even smoke in your own home if you live in a condo or an apartment!