558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Government should protect liberties, not legislate health
March 11, 2013
It would be nice if government spent more of its time working to improve efficiency, cut bureaucratic red tape, and developing jobs in the community.
Unfortunately, too often government stops doing the business of governing in order to infringe on individuals’ rights in the name of public safety or health.
Recent actions by the Crook County Wellness Team are just one more example of government overreaching.
For the past several weeks, the Crook County Wellness Team has been running a tobacco survey in the Central Oregonian. The team’s goal is to ban all tobacco use on county properties. The survey is both disingenuous and slanted to get the result that the wellness team desires.
To begin with, the team’s goal is to make all county property, indoor and out, tobacco free. However, the survey only deals with second-hand smoke. Chewing tobacco is not even mentioned. Secondly, the survey is not scientific and therefore really does nothing to identify the true feelings of Crook County citizens.
Question three of the survey asks, “In your opinion, how important is it for Crook County to establish tobacco-free buildings and grounds?” However, in large part, the question is irrelevant as the buildings are already smoke-free by Oregon law.
Current law already protects the non-smoking public from the hazards of second-hand smoke in public places. Individuals who choose to smoke must be more than 10 feet from a building entrance, and not block walkways. Consequently, it is easy to avoid second-hand smoke.
It is a waste of time, money, and energy to attempt to pass rules and regulations that are already largely covered by current law.
However, there is a much larger issue at work here. The purpose of government has never been, nor should be to protect individuals from themselves. America was founded on personal liberties and individual responsibility, not on government regulation.
Although the majority of Oregonians do not smoke, and may well find smoke unpleasant, that is not the point. What’s next? The city of New York has already banned sugared drinks larger than 16 ounces from restaurants. San Francisco requires certain kinds of fast food restaurants to offer healthy alternatives to their normal fare. The result is that many fast food franchises have left the city.
Currently there is a proposed bill in this Oregon legislative session that would tax sugared drinks, including “flavored water with no calories added,” all in the name of public health.
Those wishing to trample on the rights of other individuals need to remember that the next fad, or health issue may well attack your “vice” or comfort food, or any number of other personal choices that each of us currently make for ourselves.
Whether you are a smoker or tobacco chewer or not and regardless of how unpleasant or distasteful you may find the habits to be, they are still a personal choice. And as long as they are not causing a serious health threat for others, that’s how they should remain.
We don’t need more government intrusion and regulations. Rather it’s time to take personal responsibility for our own choices and actions and for government to leave well enough alone.