ShareThis Page
State shouldn’t set policy for restaurants |

State shouldn’t set policy for restaurants

We long for the days when government was content with being government and didn’t try to be our daddies and mommies.

The latest example in Pennsylvania comes in a bill proposed by State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, a Republican from Montgomery County, that would outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants.

The bill is an extension of Pennsylvania’s Clean Air Act, which already bans smoking in all workplaces except bars and restaurants.

We’re not denying that smoking is unhealthy. Its damaging effects are widely understood, even by most smokers. But that shouldn’t give government the authority to start setting policy for private business owners.

There are many people in our society who enjoy smoking; there are also many people who can’t stand to be around the smell of cigarettes and cigars. Bars and restaurants should be able to accommodate both groups.

Left unchecked by government order, some bars and restaurants would ban smoking on their own. Others would allow smoking anywhere in their facilities. Still others would cordon off smoke-free areas so that both groups could be happy.

That’s the way things work in a free society, and it’s how our society used to operate before government became the self-appointed gatekeeper over anything it deems unhealthy, whether it’s smoking, drinking, fatty foods or driving without seat belts. (But not gambling, which will continue to be encouraged as long as it remains a state-run industry.)

Local bar and restaurant owners are predictably dismayed by Greenleaf’s attempted power play.

“Most people smoke more when they drink,” said Ryan Skibicki, assistant general manager at Redd Dawg’s All Star Clubhouse in Rostraver Township. “Some say it brings out the flavor.”

“I think it would affect the bar people who come in and want to have a cigarette and a beer,” added Wayne Foulks, co-owner of Felicia’s Restaurant and Lounge in Monessen.

As long as tobacco remains a legal substance and the activity is engaged in by adults, the state should have no business sticking its regulatory nose into bars and restaurants. It’s difficult enough for these businesses to succeed without having their customer base reduced by an unwanted ban on smoking.

Greenleaf’s proposal should not only be rejected, but the smoking-related provisions of the original Clean Air Act should be re-examined to see if they are placing an unnecessary burden on private businesses.

And since our state is obsessed with safety, we would like to see the re-election campaigns for politicians like Greenleaf come with a warning label to remind voters that too much government interference can be bad for their health.

— Tribune-Review News Service

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.