Our nannies on the Tyler City Council

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No Smoking

Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on Newstalk 600 KTBB, Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

On Wednesday of this week, the City of Tyler did what a large number of cities have already done in passing an ordinance that severely restricts smoking in restaurants and other public places.

I have always been a little surprised that such an ordinance has been such a long time coming in Tyler. Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin and many other cities have all had similar ordinances on the books for several years.

I am a vigorous non-smoker. The employees here who still smoke will tell you that I am a complete pain in their necks about it. I encourage people who smoke to quit. All things being equal, I will hire a non-smoker over a smoker every time.

It has been illegal to smoke in commercial office buildings for some time now. But if it weren’t, I as the owner and principal of this business, would prohibit smoking within our office and studio spaces of my own volition.

Plain and simple. I don’t like smoking and I don’t like being around it.

But plain and simple, I don’t like this new ordinance.

It’s an assault on freedom. One of my favorite haunts in Dallas is a restaurant owned by the Campisi family. It’s an Italian food landmark that has been around since just after World War II. Joe Campisi’s widow, the matriarch of the family, is a smoker. I was in the restaurant a few days after Dallas’s smoking ordinance took effect and I watched as Ms. Campisi was prohibited from smoking on her own property.

That should scare you to death.

Because if the government is able to decide for our own good that the Campisis can’t allow smoking on property that they own, it won’t be long before the government decides that Fettucine Alfredo poses a health risk and that the Campisi family shouldn’t be allowed to serve it.

The same goes for the beef at Dakota’s or the prime rib at Kiepersol Estates. No doctor is going to tell you that eating heavy red meat is good for you just as no doctor will ever tell you that being around people who smoke is good for you.

If you think I’m overstating the implications of the Tyler council’s action, consider the following.

Two Republicans and one Democrat of the state legislature in Mississippi introduced a bill that would make it illegal for restaurants to serve food to people who are overweight.

In New York City, an ordinance passed in 2007 dictates the ingredients in food served in restaurants, making it illegal to serve any food that contains trans-fats.

In California, revisions to the building codes are in the works that would mandate what are called Radio Controlled Thermostats, or RCTs, in new construction and substantial remodels. With an RCT installed, power authorities would have the capacity and the authority to override your thermostat setting and set your home temperature for you, all in the name of energy conservation.

(Read about California’s RCTs here.)

We already have speed limits on roads and highways. But since speeding still kills thousands of people every year, how long will it be before the government mandates mechanisms on our cars that prevent the car from going over 65 miles per hour?

Where does this kind of nanny state thinking stop?

I believe that it won’t stop until it’s too late. Freedom is surrendered not all at once but in small increments.

The fact is, the marketplace is much more efficient than do-gooder politicians.

If my friends the Campisis want to turn their restaurant into one that specifically caters to smokers, it’s their property and they should have the right to do so. I would then have the right to decide if I still want to eat there. I probably wouldn’t.

I know that being significantly overweight will impact my ability to make a living, my attractiveness to my mate and my prospects for a long, healthy retirement. So I act accordingly out of my own free will.

I like my home to be cool. So in the winter, I don’t use much heat and in the summer, I use a lot of air conditioning. And I pay the resulting bills. If energy becomes scarce, the marketplace will send me a clear signal to reduce my consumption by raising my price.

I know that the Tyler City Council, like its counterparts in cities all across America, was well-intentioned in passing this highly restrictive smoking ordinance. But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

All of the behaviors that these do-gooders seek to control are self-limiting through the efficiency of free markets.

But intrusive and coercive legislation is not self-limiting. Once the camel’s nose is in the tent, it’s not long before the rest of the camel is in the tent as well.

Smokers and non-smokers should all be alarmed by the city council’s recent action.

That’s my word. What’s yours?

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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13 Responses

  1. Scott Mackey says:

    I could not agree with you more! It is aggrevating to hear yet another government entity trying to make our decisions for us.

    I feel smoking is not healthy, I do not like it when smokers light up next to me, but I think they have as much of a right to light up when they want to as I do not to. Where they throw their cigarette butts is another issue!

    If some health researcher came out and said everyone needs to smoke marijuana because it will make us feel better. Will the do-gooders in our government next tell me I need to smoke marijuana or I will go to prison? Where will it end?

  2. Andy Erbaugh says:

    As I get older and in my humble opinion more wise (though some would argue) I see the misuse of local, state and federal government with very clear eyes. I am not a smoker, my wife is. I like the idea of a smoke free world but let me tell ya, it ain’t gonna happen. This ban is going to put a serious hurt on several businesses that contribute a lot of money to our local economy. To me it is not an issue of a smoking ban, but an issue of larger government control over our personal lives.

    I believe I have also made a serious decision to run for political office when I retire. I have been a police officer for 9 years and in that time have seen abuses of our system that the government not only allows, but encourages. Now, with the looming forecast of darkness threatened by what is left of our presidential candidates, I can only surmise that the nannies will stick the bottle further down our throats.

    This country has become the most powerful country in the history of the world based on our ability to think for ourselves, to achieve based on our own abilities and to take action when it is needed. The posiition our governments now take is one that removes our free will and saps the life out our initiative. A strong voice is needed to stop this.

  3. Seth Morgan says:

    Smoking banned, next Trans-fats will be banned from restaurants (New York, NY), our Central Heat and Air will be monitored and controlled by the government on our behalf (California state). At what point does it stop? At what point do we step up and speak out, instead of rolling over for letting mass media buzz dictate how many freedoms are taken from us?

  4. Jeff Hone says:

    I AGREE MIGHTILY WITH THE COMMENT I HAVE HEARD ON THE RADIO TODAY ABOUT THE SMOKING BAN. WHAT YOU SAID FITS ME TO A TEE. I THINK THE CONCEPT OF TAKING AWAY PERSONAL FREEDOM IN THE NAME OF \”HEALTH,SAFETY AND WELFARE\” STEALS A LITTLE PEICE OF WHO WE ARE AS AMERICANS EACH TIME IT HAPPENS.

  5. Getan Pade says:

    As if the City of Tyler government doesn’t have enough problems to worry about – let’s enact another oridnance. Hey Mayor and Co., when you have fixed the traffic problems, the zoning problems, and the various other problems our wonderful city has then move on to creating another situation.

  6. Cathie Pugh says:

    I agree 100% with the above comments. The owner of a business should have the right to operate their business as they see fit…..short of illegal activities. Those in my family are not smokers and we appreciate smoke free environments, however we go to restaurants that are not smoke free and find the majority of those restaurants are well set up to accommodate smokers and nonsmokers alike. We all have a choice to go or not to go. The city government need not and should not impose additional regulations. We don’t need a “Nanny”.

  7. Kevin Braly says:

    Since the recent passage of the smoking ban by the Tyler City Council, I have been scouring the Constitution as well as many other historical documents striving to find any justification for a government entity to deny owners of private businesses the right of free trade wihout due process of law.

    I was unable to locate any language in the Constitution which would support their recent action, but I did locate a few key phrases in a political document published in 1848 which seem to support their position. And I quote:

    “The proletariat will use its political supemacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production into the hands of the state”, “Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property”, and finally, “Their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of existing social conditions”.

    I located the phrases supporting the smoking ban in the Communist Manifesto.

  8. Russell Hebert says:

    I welcome the ban. But wait, it is not a ban after all. The smokers are allowed to go outside or to the designated area and smoke. They can still smoke! If thet want to kill themselves, be my guest, but don’t take me with them. I hear about their ‘right’ to smoke. I have the same right not to breath in their toxic waste. What if I wanted to go to a local establishment and blow soapy bubbles across the room and cough on everyone? Do I have that right? I think not!

  9. Kevin Barham says:

    Orwellian! Big brother is watching and knows better how to run our business investments than we do. Mention safety or education and big brother can pass any law it sees fit regardless of public opinion. I think the majority of people fear their goventment from local to federal and don’t know what to do about it. It’s plain and simple,…vote these idiots out of office that want to control every aspect of our lives.

    I heard about the Northern Illinois University shooting this morning. How long before we’re no longer allowed to own guns? And how about the obesity in this country? How long before a Big Mac becomes a thing of the past or if you can buy one, you have to pay a hefty Fat Tax.

    I reiterate, vote these idiots out of office. They’re legislating us into the land of the free without freedom. Right now, I’m being monitered by big brother because I’m on the internet. All our phone lines are monitered because of the (Patriot (Orwellian) Act. Should they deem me a threat, I disappear. All in the mane of saftey for the general public. Do you feel safe? I don’t.

    They’ll pass a law which divides the people and we do nothing about it. You may agree with the law thay pass but what happens when you’re on the other side and they take one of your freedoms. The founders of this nation didn’t intend this misuse of government power. This is a slippery slope and once we lose our footing, we fall into oblivian where a nanny police state moniters every aspect of our lives. It may be too late. All we have is our vote! Send the nannies packing!

  10. Andy Hearn says:

    RE: Smoking
    It looks like big brother is slowly taking over.
    I do not smoke, and do not like it in my face, but something is wrong when the government makes a law against smoking. They are coming into your homes, checking you out to see if your are wearing your seat belt, and are telling you how to rise your children. The next thing will be allowing aliens to be citizens.

  11. Charles Huggins says:

    You folks are missing the point here. These types of laws aren’t to protect you from yourself (that WOULD be a nanny situation) – they’re to protect OTHER people from you. In recent years, research has shown that second-hand smoke is much more dangerous than we originally knew. That’s why the increase in these types of laws. A similar situation is seen with automobile regulations. A lot of people have problems with seat-belt laws (forcing you to protect yourself). No one really has a problem with drunk-driving laws. Restrictions on smoking are now perceived as more in the second group as new data has come in.

  12. Kevin Doss says:

    The point is not second hand smoke, it is freedom of choice. If a public business wants to allow smoking they should be able to. If one does not want to be in a business that allows smoking don’t go. Let the market decide. Businesses are about making money and if allowing smoking cuts into profits, they will ban it. The same is true for employees. If you don’t want to work for a business that allows smoking, don’t. When they can’t find employees, they will change their policy. I don’t eat at restaurants that allow smoking and haven’t for years and I haven’t gone hungry yet. Freedom is something that should not be taken lightly. Each time we are willing to give a freedom up, we open ourselves up to loose more. True freedom is exercising self control and not imposing ones will on someone else, someting smokers and non-smokers have forgotten!

  13. j f rousseau says:

    I missed the part that said whether or not all of the homeowners agreed to the no smoking ban. If they all agree, that’s their business. But, this is as silly as towns banning smoking. Smoking problems usually don’t show up for decades. Texas DPS nor SecofState don’t keep records on smoking and driving accidents. Yet, right there in so-called dry Tyler, on the square, you can leave the Courthouse, Channel 7, a bunch of lawyer offices, Sheriff and Police shops, go into Eltife’s Rick’s saloon, get a snoot full, walk across 15 foot of sidewalk, jump in your car, and immediately start aiming your car at people. Now, the smokers, if they’d had just been more polite, knowing the campaigns against smoking, if they’d just wait till they left the diner, or tonk, then maybe they‘d leave us alone. Like the tobacco makers lawsuits, where‘s the alcohol lawsuits?

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