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Justin Vega, Published October 14 2012

Letter: Anti-smoking measure is an assault on liberty

Let’s say I want a garden in front of my house, so I plant the seeds in the spring, care for them accordingly and they grow. In the middle of summer, suddenly weeds start to grow. Does that mean I get my weed whacker and cut down everything, then till it all back into the earth? Absolutely not. I grab a hand-shovel and a hoe, and I remove the weeds so I can keep my beautiful garden.

Measure 4, the indoor smoking ban, is the weed whacker to the garden of freedom in North Dakota, and you should vote against it. The first of many flaws with this measure is that, as in the illustration above, it wants to address an alleged problem in a situation by removing the situation, not by trying to fix a problem.

According to the private coalition that wrote this bill, Smoke-Free North Dakota, the only way to make sure that nonsmokers are unaffected by secondhand smoke is to outlaw indoor smoking. Wrong. Taking Schatz Crossroads in Minot as an example, commercial air filtration systems can use HEPA filters that clean 99.99 percent of air particles as small as 0.3 micrometers from an entire room every three minutes. You can also couple this strategy with creating walled-off smoking and nonsmoking sections.

Furthermore, they attack vaporizers and e-cigarettes, claiming that the emissions are harmful, too. This is completely false, as the only thing they emit is water vapor, not smoke (because nothing is burning).

Next, this law is unconstitutional and violates the most fundamental moral, political and economic natural right Americans have. Smoke-Free North Dakota has carelessly debased the right to private property and, in dictatorial fashion, determined that business owners cannot own and operate their business in the fashion the owners deem most acceptable.

As John Locke presented, private property is the doorway to pursuing happiness, the key to owning your own labor, and the means by which you can transform a resource into a product, and thereby live freely on it. These entrepreneurs have transformed what were once shells of empty buildings into businesses that employ thousands, and cater to the desires of thousands more.

To remove that natural right would not only be unconstitutional but it would simply be wrong. The right to private property must always be maintained, or else we lose our freedoms.

They have also clearly established that equal rights mean nothing to them. Of course, they clearly cater to the freedom of assembly of nonsmokers, but what about smokers? Don’t people who smoke have just as much of a right to commune in a bar of their choice with other smokers, as nonsmokers do with other nonsmokers? Of course. Especially when we, as consumers, have done our job in the free market by creating enough of a demand for fully nonsmoking establishments. As a result of the demand we created, we now have the ability to fully exercise our right to choose to spend our money at the establishments that best cater to our desires. This, above all things, is supply and demand at its finest – the true mark of a free market economy.

And because of these facts, we must ask ourselves, is this law really about secondhand smoke, or is it actually about tobacco prohibition? I personally believe it’s the latter – a law that seeks to prohibit a legal action. This law would add to the epidemic of job-killing over-regulation. It diminishes the free market system and moves us closer to a control system, similar to those of communist Russia and China.

Please, vote for private property rights and freedom. Vote “no” on Measure 4.

Vega, Fargo, attends North Dakota State University and is the Republican Party’s first vice chairman, Legislative District 16.