Banzhaf crosses the line

Is it possible that I’m actually starting to like John Banzhaf? Earlier this week he gave a stirring, if not quite sincere, defense of free enterprise. In a press release issued on Wednesday, his Action on Smoking and Health organization confirmed the warnings of civil libertarians that the anti-smoking movement wouldn’t stop with allegedly reasonable workplace restrictions:

A clear majority wants smoking banned in all homes, even if children are not present, and even if the smoke is not drifting into an adjoining dwelling.

This could expand the latest front in the war to protect nonsmokers, says the man who started the nonsmokers’ movement by getting smoking first restricted and then banned on airplanes and then in workplaces and public places, and who is racking up victories in the battle to ban smoking in private dwellings and cars…

Since restrictions of smoking are one of the most effective — and virtually the least expensive — way to help smokers quit, it is no surprise that there is growing support for smoking restrictions, even if no nonsmokers’ health is being put at risk by the smoking, suggests Banzhaf.

I’ve suggested before that despite all the recent victories for the anti-smoking lobby, its increasingly untenable claims and restrictive proposals will open the door to blowback. Kudos to Banzhaf for helping to make my prediction a reality!

Physician Michael Siegel, with whom I disagree about workplace smoking bans but respect for his conscience and devotion to sound science, also thinks that this is a bad day for tobacco control advocates:

I must also say that ASH is making the pronouncements of smoking ban opponents look good. Many years ago, when I was lobbying for smoke-free workplace laws, opponents of these laws argued that this was just the first step: workplaces were the first step and eventually we [the antis] would be trying to get smoking banned in the home. I countered these arguments by stating no – you’re wrong – we are going to stop after getting smoking banned in the workplace. Unfortunately, it looks like I was wrong and the smoking ban opponents were correct. Thanks to ASH, all those smoking ban opponents can now say “I told you so.”

Read his entire post here.

Please do smoke, if you like
A malodorous anniversary


Banzhaf discovers free enterprise

“Nobody has the right to any particular job. Under our free enterprise system, employers — rather than bureaucrats — determine the conditions of employment, and employees who want a job must accept the conditions.

The only major exception is that basing decisions on factors like race, national origin, gender, disability, etc. are prohibited since these are fixed conditions and don’t adversely affect the employer. Smoking is an activity rather than an immutable condition, and each smoking worker seriously affects the employer’s bottom line.”

That’s John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), explaining why employers ought to have the right to fire smokers. Banzhaf, of course, has been a leading proponent of forbidding restaurant and bar owners from setting their own in-house smoking policies. I’m sure the inconsistency is lost on him.

[Hat tip: Michael Siegel.]

Smoking ban unfair, insulting
The magic of politics