Scott Tibbs
Printed in the Herald-Times, 03-18-2003

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City Council should not be our "nanny"

To the Editor:

March 21 will be six years since I was diagnosed with cancer. As a cancer survivor, I appreciate City Councilman Anthony Pizzo's concern for public health problems caused by tobacco smoke, especially lung cancer. However, I am opposed to banning smoking in "public places".

First, I dispute that restaurants and other businesses on private property are "public places". Nobody has an unfettered "right" to be on private property, yet Pizzo is proposing to ban the use of a legal substance on private property because some don't want to be around it. Rather than using government coercion, it would be better for consumers to petition businesses to eliminate smoking, refusing to patronize those that don't while rewarding those that do.

Nobody is forced to patronize a business where smoking is allowed. While smoking ban proponents argue that restaurant workers cannot choose whether or not to be exposed to secondhand smoke, the labor market allows this choice. If secondhand smoke is enough of a workplace hazard that Hoosier workers must be protected form it, the proper authority to regulate it is the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Division.

I believe Dr. Pizzo and other supporters of this smoking ban have the best interest of Bloomington citizens at heart. However, it is not the business of the City Council to play "nanny" to their constituents. I am 29 years old, and I don't live with my parents anymore. I do not need nine people in City Hall trying to be my parents.

Scott Tibbs