Smoking ban violates property rights

By Medecci Lineil

The Health Ministry last month announced smoking will soon be banned at all eateries nationwide, even at open air premises and those without air-conditioning.

Imagine, smoking at Islamic Cafe, Bombay Masala, Siang Siang Corner, Thompson Corner, Top Spot Food Court is an offence for which you can be fined between RM250 and RM500.

Next up, maybe my own property outdoors, in my house and in my car. Do you see how invasive the smoking ban is now?

By the way, Adolf Hitler banned smoking in certain public places. Under his rule, Germany launched the first and most broadly reaching anti-smoking campaign of modern time. Smoking was discouraged in the workplace and banned in cinemas and schools.

What I want to argue is that coffee shops and non-air-conditioned eateries are private places, not public places as claimed by government.

The smoking ban, in my view, has nothing to do with public health. I believe this is about controlling someone’s ownership behaviour managing property.

Those coffee shops and eateries have owners just like you own a house or car. Intruding into someone’s coffee shop and forcing the owner to enforce the ban is a violation of free enterprise and definitely bad for business. Lose customers and lose revenues.

In a local news report, The Kuching Coffee shop and Restaurant Owners Association said, “The ban, when implemented will make it be difficult for us to attract the crowds therefore affecting our business.”

“GST has already hit our business and once the news policy comes into effect, we will be further burdened,” the association added.

Here’s another one.

My family and I invited guests to my house for Gawai open house recently. Most of our guests were smoking and drinking at the same time.

Now what if one of my guests does not like to hang out with people who are smoking? Of course I am not going to tell everyone in my house to stop smoking and drinking. My house, my property and my rules.

It means if you are in my house, you cannot smoke unless I say you can smoke. If I am in your house, I smoke or not depending on what your rule is.

The same principle applies to coffee shops and non-air-conditioned eateries.

I cannot complain to the Siang Siang Corner owner that his place should allow smoking or not because it is not my food court.

The owner knows that many customers like to enjoy a cigarettes with their drinks.

At the end of the day, it is his rule to determine whether to allow smoking or ban smoking, not the government’s.

As far as I am concerned, I don’t think coffee shops and non-air-conditioned eateries owners have a problem with smokers and receive complaints from non-smokers.

I’m not a smoker and I respect the freedom of smokers. If you don’t like smokers, just leave them alone and live your way. Don’t take the freedom from smokers and coffee shops and non-air-conditioned eateries owners by supporting a smoking ban law.

First published in The Malaysian Insider on June 8, 2015.

 

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