This is my comment on the various people who imagine that efforts to ban smoking in public places is a matter of jackbooted government thugs interested solely in cutting off your personal freedoms and stuffing them in your mouths: margo saturn boxcar.
Look: no one has the right to poison me, period. No one has the right to indulge in an entirely optional behavior that forces me to breathe poisoned smoke, that makes my hair and clothing stink for hours even if I'm exposed to it only for a few minutes - not in a public place. If you want to smoke, you can step outside and do so to your heart's content (and your lungs' displeasure, but that's your business). But you do not have the right to force me and other customers, or the employers and employees of a business, or others who *must* be in the venue (such as musicians playing in clubs), to breathe your cigarette smoke.
The argument that non-smokers can "choose" to go elsewhere assumes that smokers have the right to colonize public spaces for their own usage: no, they do not. "But aren't non-smokers 'colonizing' public spaces for their own usage, Gadge?" No - because cigarette smoke is not a naturally occurring, pre-existing phenomenon, and everyone has a *right* to clean air. (Note: arguments about polluting factories, auto exhaust, etc., are irrelevant, if only because that pollution is a side-effect of arguably necessary behavior, whereas cig smoke is an entirely optional behavior. You get addicted, whose fault is that? Not mine.)
The argument that there should be non-smoking sections, or that good filters can clean out smoke, ignores the fact that smoke drifts and that *no* HVAC system can truly clean out smoke (I know this because I'm married to an architect who works with HVAC systems all the time.)
Whether smoking is allowed in public places is not a question of "rights"; it is a public health issue. It's no more a question of "rights" than the issue of whether restaurants should be allowed to have their owners' pet rats roaming freely about the premises (outside of PBS, that is). It's no more a question of "rights" than the question of whether I have the right to spit in your face if I feel like it. I mean, I don't go around spritzing the air with foul-smelling, poisonous fumes - well, at least not unless I've had too much chili.
Do you get the idea that I might be slightly irritated at the arrogance and discourtesy of people who assume they have the right to fill public spaces with poisonous smoke? And ultimately, I think that's an important issue: plain courtesy ought to suggest that you do *not* have such a right. And the defensiveness of so many people who argue about their "rights" and rant about intrusive governments suggests that they know it.
While I'm at it: why is it so many smokers seem to think cigarette butts are magical, invisible objects that vaporize instantly upon disposal? I don't go tossing empty bottles onto the street or sidewalk; why do you toss butts as if the Magical Butt Gnome will collect them for you?
--that mole-preening guy