San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 9th, 2011
Commentary: Clearing the air on proposed smoking ban


On Tuesday, my colleagues on the city council approved a vote which would start the process of banning smoking in San Marcos. My issue with this proposed ban is not the question of if one should smoke or should not smoke. What I do take offense with is the idea that government should once again make rules that micromanage our daily lives.

Currently on the books, there is a smoking ordinance which has been in place since 1991. Under this ordinance, property owners have the option to allow or not allow smoking in their business. I fully support this current measure and feel any new ordinance which would tell a business owner how they can and cannot run their own establishment is bad public policy, bad economic policy and sets a precedent we should avoid. After all, individual liberty, personal responsibility and property rights are the cornerstone of this country.

And I am not the only one who feels this way. In the last week alone, the Texas Legislature rejected a similar over-reaching smoking ban bill, marking the sixth time this type of measure has failed. By moving to adopt this ordinance, this community is stripping business owners of their rights. While I think we should always promote healthy living for our community, it should not be at the expense of the fundamental freedom of rights of property owners.

The sad thing is this smoking ban is only a continuation of an already restrictive city code. Currently in this city, we have one of the most limiting city development codes. For instances, under the current code’s C.U.P., businesses must wait six months before they can apply to sell alcohol – a major source of revenue for any restaurant in the downtown area. How are we to attract business with an over-reaching code like that?

Now there is discussion about banning smoking as well; this is just another missed opportunity and a reason many businesses would pass on San Marcos. When the government restrictions limit freedoms and slows down economic growth opportunities, businesses do not choose to do business in that community. I don’t want that for San Marcos.

But the C.U.P. and proposed smoking ban are not the only examples of this micromanagement. Currently there are also talks of banning alcohol in the city parks, despite the fact picnics in our parks provide a fun, safe, and affordable source of entertainment for our citizens. Why we would want to ban alcohol completely from the parks is beyond me. On a nice Texas summer day, there is nothing better than heading to the river with a group of friends, having a BBQ and a nice cold drink. But now, even that is being threatened by these overreaching ordinances.

Currently on the books, there are ordinances relating to public intoxication, underage drinking and disorderly conduct. If the laws currently on the books were properly enforced in the parks, there would be no need for these types of arbitrary all-out bans of alcohol — which mind you is still legal in this state. So if we can’t fully enforce all of the ordinances already on the books, why would one think we could enforce another ordnance?

If we continue down this path, we will have a city code that doesn’t attract business, limits the freedoms of property owners currently in the city and puts completely unnecessary restrains on what citizens can and cannot do.

Why would we want to be that city?

Why should we micromanage to this point?

Email Email | Print Print


8 thoughts on “Commentary: Clearing the air on proposed smoking ban

  1. The smoking ban is not overreach by government. It’s to protect citizens from the harmful stuff that smokers do to them. Government regulation is what keeps us from eating food that is not properly prepared or not kept properly by private business owners. Regulation that protects us from uncaring, careless, or greedy private business people came about because people were harmed. There are plenty of folks that feel as I do.

  2. Fred, thank you for looking out for the few of us left that believe that our current local and federal government is over reaching and intruding into our daily lives and our rights.

  3. Fred I agree with you. I’m not a smoker but I want the choice to go to a place where people can smoke if they wish.

  4. Fred Terry, very well done! It always amazes me that we see people with various “public health” type degrees claiming that they know better than the people who have spent their entire lives building and running a private business how that business should be run and how regulations limiting that business will “benefit” them.

    Unfortunately the little “private businesspeople” tend to all be independent of each other and have very little in the way of shared resources or associations to defend themselves when the “Big Boys” roll into town to apply pressure. The smoking ban folks truly have huge national and even international associations complete with guidebooks and guidelines for how to push legislation through, suggestions as to which “sound bites” will work best, and feel no compunction at all about threatening local legislators with images of upcoming elections where they’ll be pictured as “siding with Big Tobacco” against the defenseless little children if they don’t vote “the right way.”

    Regarding Charlie’s argument that a ban is justified to “to protect citizens from the harmful stuff that smokers do to them” the best recommendation I can offer is to read “The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans” at:

    where you’ll see how questionable that concern is.

    – MJM

  5. Since the original comments seem to have been removed and a fresh clean page offered I’ll just have to repeat what I wrote the first time.

    Mr. Terry, please ignore Charlie. It all apparently goes over his head. (Psssst… Charlie… if you want a place that has no smoking then put your own money into a business and run it that way. Otherwise, stay out of places where the owner, and HIS money, do what he thinks is best for HIS place. Geeez, neither the smoker NOR the non-smoker OWNS it. Oh, and your analogy — tainted food and smoking — fails. It is not the same thing at all).

    I, on the other hand, nominate you, Mr. Terry, for president. Bravo for having the courage to stand up for the “cornerstones” in the face of the PERCEPTION of an “unpopular” position. More people than you know stand behind you.

  6. Nanny, yes. If you visit some of the main Anti sites you’ll find screeds trying to convince governments and building owners and condo associations to this and also offers of legal help or legal assurance that they can get away with it. After all these years of assuring the public that they simply wanted “to protect innocent workers” and other such claptrap they are now finally coming clean on their long term social engineering goals.

    – MJM

  7. Everyone, please ignore Audrey. It all apparently goes over her head.(Psssst… Charlie… if you want a place that [is racially integrated] then put your own money into a business and run it that way. Otherwise, stay out of places where the owner, and HIS money, do what he thinks is best for HIS place. Geeez, neither the [integrationist] NOR the [segregationist] OWNS it. Oh, and Audrey’s analogy — “cornerstones in the face of the perception of an unpopular position,” and smoking — fails. It is not the same thing at all.)

    Liberty *in and of itself* is nothing worth pursuing or safeguarding. Geeez, have we learned nothing at all from the 60s?

    Oh, the laudable underdog heroism of the Tobacco Industry!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *