Thursday, April 2, 2009

Business Owners Right to Operate

The comments of mine below were the Letter of the Day in the Star Tribune March 19, 2008.

As bar owners continue to host "theater night" and pack in people, when will the message reach state agencies and the Legislature that Minnesotans' rights as business owners are being restricted by intrusive legislation?

The state Department of Health, in the March 5 article, claims that bar owners are violating the spirit of the ban ("Health officials to bars: No more theatrics," March 6). Why is it OK for the "spirit" of free enterprise and the constitutional right to pursue happiness to be ruthlessly savaged by the state of Minnesota's governing bodies?

The notion that smoking is bad for you and those around you is a debate of agreeable differences. The fact that society wants to trample upon the rights of a business owner is tragic. The state should reverse the smoking ban and replace it with an ordinance that requires all bars and restaurants to display on the outside of their building if they are smoking or nonsmoking establishments. If society truly believes that smoking is bad, then the smoking establishments will lose patronage and employees. Let the market dictate the rules of the game.$urlTrackSectionName

Since the time of my article, bars have lost the loophole of “theater night”. Government still has no right to restrict a business in their service of a legal product. The demand for smoking in bars exists and many bars have established “smoking lounges” to help accommodate their patron needs. Personally I know my patronage to the local watering hole drastically decreased since the ban went into effect. The reduced patronage is a direct result of not being able to smoke in the bar.

Any interesting dilemma is taking place with regards to smoking, as reported last night by WCCO, as additional taxes are being charged. A $0.62 tax per pack went into effect on April 1st. The belief is that by pushing the price per pack above $5.00 it will deter smokers and price cigarettes out of younger smoker’s budgets. The question that WCCO pondered was at what point will tax revenue suffer?

The issue is not the right to smokers vs. non-smokers or if second hand smoke is bad for you. Two issues are at play here. The right for a business to offer an environment for a legal product to be used and the hypocrisy of Government to demonize tobacco while relying on tax revenue to meet budget needs.