I've brought my non-nicotine-addicted brain cells to bear on this issue, and I'm forced to conclude that the answer is clearly no. We, the People, have not lost the right to smoke. We can still buy, sell, and use tobacco products. We can smoke at home. We can smoke outdoors. We can smoke in designated locations.
What we have lost the right to do is blow smoke in other people's faces in public locations, and bravo to that. After all, if one chooses to inhale smoke into one's lungs, that's one thing. Making other people inhale your smoke afterward is quite another. And although the data on second hand smoke isn't statistically significant, it's still damned annoying. The right to swing one's fists ends with someone else's nose. The right to inhale smoke ends with forcing someone else to breathe it.
Ah, but according to the Journal-Sentinel, many are protesting the smoking ban because it removes the ambiance of certain establishments. One band is quoted as saying that there's just something to the smoky atmosphere of a live gig in a bar. It's part of the mystique of being a rocker.
I say, that's what fog machines are for.
The owner of Landmark Lanes claims that the lack of smoky atmosphere will rob him not only of ambiance, but of customers, and that it will cost him his business.
I say, he'll recoup his losses by not having to clean off the nicotine stains from the brightwork.
Actually, Landmark will begin putting out tables and chairs for those who wish to smoke outside on the sidewalk. This should prove interesting, since that's the central avenue for the biggest annoyance on Milwaukee's East Side. No, not cigarette smoke -- hobos. They're thick along Farwell, and they'll target everyone who's smoking outside. Not just outside Landmark, but all the bars and taverns which now must have smoking outdoors on the sidewalks where the bums regularly patrol.
This could get interesting!
Either the hobos will finally get cleaned off the streets as thousands of pissed off smokers force Milwaukee police to finally do something about them, or thousands of smokers will finally quit.
Yeah, fat chance on either of those.
What makes this interesting for me, as a non-smoker, is that this happened so soon after an increase in cigarette taxes which was supposed to pay for so many things in the State budget. Either this hasn't generated the revenues expected, or the State Legislature expects to raise taxes some other way. Or both. Get ready for it. We'll face another huge budget shortfall, and since it's always easier to raise a limited tax than it is to cut an entrenched entitlement, something else will get taxed. And (speaking of taking away American freedoms after the 4th of July) it won't be legalized marijuana, unfortunately for us all.
Yet those who say their freedom is being violated by this ban will continue to whine, completely ignoring the fact that our more important freedoms are being raped by government far more regularly. I've said it before, and it bears repeating, that nicotine really does nothing for you, except get you addicted. It has no redeeming value. It doesn't ease nausea. It doesn't help the symptoms of glaucoma. It doesn't even get you high. So why bother defending it? Why not campaign for that which should be legal anyway instead of fighting over a reasonable limitation of something already legal?
Nah, that would make too much sense!
So, let freedom ring, all you nicotine addicts! You may smoke all you want -- at home.