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Monday, April 23rd 2007

A Smoke Free Texas

Dewhurst To Press Corp: “Can I Bum A Cigarette?”

Texas is looking at a statewide smoking ban in public places. That’s right: Texas. A number of Texas cities have such ordinances, but a bill has already moved through the House to ban public smoking statewide and now faces some opposition in the Senate. Which is why future gubernatorial candidate and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s surprise support of the bill during Senate testimony is a ‘little bit of a big deal.’

Chronicle Podcast of Dewhurst’s Testimony

My feelings are probably more mixed than most’s. Public smoking falls clearly within the boundaries of infringing on other’s rights. Which should be, largely, the only extent of liberty.

The cause and effect between second hand smoke and a whole plethora of health problems is clear. You shouldn’t be able to walk down the street swinging a machete shouting, “If you don’t want to get hit don’t come out on the street!” Admittedly that is an over the top analogy, but it is still relevant.

The real question is how far government should go in regulating smoking. It sends a few shivers down my spine when extending the ban to private places of business, where the public has a reasonable choice of whether to hand those businesses their patronage.