Allowing is not the same as encouraging

This should surprise everyone no one, but North Dakota’s public smoking ban is causing harm in what I hope are unintended ways.

Ron Gibbens said there’s a “very strong likelihood” two charitable bingo halls will close because of a statewide anti-smoking law, yet he is not asking legislators for an exemption to the law.

Gibbens, who founded the North Dakota Association for the Disabled 30 years ago with his wife, Faye, has dismissed the idea of asking for a smoking exemption because of the nature of the organization.

“As an organization that provides for the health of citizens, we don’t want the NDADto be portrayed as being pro-smoking,” Gibbens said.

What about pro-property rights? Also, it seems reasonable to assume that the NDAD allowed smoking in its bingo halls before the ban. Were they pro-smoking then? Money-grubbing philanthropists? Questions worth asking.

Never mind, though, because the more interesting aspect to this story is how North Dakota residents work around the law.

The eastern bingo halls are more susceptible to closure because customers cross the border to Minnesota, where they can smoke in bingo halls there, Gibbens said.

Holy crap, someone needs to do something. Those poor bingo players are subjected to cigarette smoke. No matter what, North Dakota’s leadership must resist the urge to acknowledge that the smoke they’re being subjected to is the smoke rising from their own cigarettes. But don’t resist it because it’ll lead to the common sense acceptance that property rights and individual liberty matter. No, that would be too ambitious. Resist that urge because it will lead to more intrusive violations aimed at protecting people from themselves. It isn’t working now. How much further will politicians push to achieve compliance with “for your own good”?

One other consequence, which I’m sure smoking ban supporters ignored, was also foreseeable.

Gibbens estimated that the state would lose about $1 million a year if either one of those [charitable organization tax relief] proposals passes but that the state risks even more losses if two bingo halls in eastern North Dakota – one operated by the NDADin [sic] Grand Forks and another by the Plains Art Museum in Fargo – close.

Tax receipts decline when artificial barriers are imposed to protect people from themselves? Who knew? I’m sure a good general tax increase will follow, since all government actions must meet a revenue-neutral minimum standard. The smoking ban supporters will feel awful about it, I’m sure. Unless that was an end-goal all along.

For more amusement, I enjoyed a few of the comments posted to the story.

Al Gee wrote on May 25, 2006 8:03 AM:”Whaaaaa! Whaaaa! Our customers can’t smoke some heaters and daub some paper at the same time so we need a tax exemption. How about trying to improve your product and or marketing instead of blaming the law for your financial difficulties.”

The product was fine before the state imposed a restriction on what private property owners could do within their walls. And the marketing “problem” is that the NDAD can no longer sell the same product. But those are just facts, which are justifiably irrelevant.

Stop Whining wrote on May 25, 2006 8:32 AM:”I get tired of businesses complaining because of no-smoking changes. My grandmother plays bingo in these halls and is very happy to go and play bingo and plays more now that the bin is in effect. I realize that many smoking customers may have left, but that is the nature of the beast. No matter how you look at it, this is gambling. There should not be any changes made to the tax structure of these businesses.”

The beast. Finally, an honest assessment of government infringement on property rights. I disagree with the commenter’s approval of the beast, as if you didn’t know.

Not up to business wrote on May 25, 2006 10:33 AM:”It should NOT be up to businesses to decide whether or not they allow smoking. That would be the same as allowing businesses to decide whether or not they will allow vulgar profanity, nudity, or drunken behavior in their place of business; yet in many places, with a few exceptions, each is against the law. Simply put, the majority of people have determined that certain behaviors which infringe on others rights are no longer allowable. Smoke all you want, when you want, and where you want; as long as you don’t pollute anyone elses [sic] clean air in doing so. “

It would be the same, wouldn’t? Heaven forbid someone should smoke while saying “fuck” and drinking naked . We can’t allow that person to infringe on everyone else’s right to not witness it. It’s in the Constitution. Look it up. It follows the “free puppy” clause.

I wonder if Not up to businesses would accept the conclusion of the qualifier in the final sentence. That logic would allow the state to ban smoking in private homes with at least one non-smoker. The only way to enforce that would be require learning the wrong lesson from 1984. Mob rule has such pleasant outcomes.