Washington banned smoking in all indoor establishments with employees recently. As a result, I can finally taste the food at (the still very busy and crouded) Beth’s. It turns out that aside from being huge portions, it’s also excellent.

Most of my smoker friends don’t really mind the ban, but there are exceptions. (It should be noted that as a matter of course, the Official KillAllTheWhiteMan Style Guide requires me to dismiss verifiable, identified sources and stick almost entirely with hearsay*.) There is a backlash among the poor, put upon smokers, whose God and/or Constitution given right to inhale poison when and where they like is being infringed upon! Perish the thought!

The more self-righteous among the smoking community like to frame smoking as if it is a neutral activity, and that any banning or restricting of smoking by business owners should be handled the same way as, for example, the dress code. No smoking, must have a jacket.

Except of course, that it’s bullshit.

Smoking is a hostile act. You are lighting a carcinogen on fire, then spreading it through the surrounding air. Once your actions begin effecting people outside yourself, it is no longer an issue of personal freedom, but of the freedom of all involved. And when the action harms those around you, it becomes an issue where the government has a clear imperative: to stop you.

When you smoke, you hurt people. Really, that’s the end of the debate. Framing it as a debate about personal freedom, and the market supporting the things which people desire is fallacious. The right to swing your fist ends where the other guy’s nose begins. No one has the right to cause harm to another person without provocation. Ever.

I’m also struck by the classist nature of the argument. No one would ever expect a white collar worker to breathe poison in order to keep their job. But when a young woman starts waitressing because it’s the only job that fits around her school schedule, it is somehow reasonable to expect her to increase her risks of asthma, heart disease, and cancer? Not to mention what would happen should this girl become pregnant, and her baby is at an increased risk of a number of diseases, including SIDS.

*The Official KillAllTheWhiteMan Style Guide does however approve of nearly any excuse for a footnote.