South Dakota Referred Law 12 on 2010 Ballot

Back in 2002, South Dakota implemented a ban on smoking in most public places. Now, Referred Law 12 seeks to expand that ban to all the other public places that didn’t get covered last time.

Some see this as a public health issue–saying that we must pass this law to preserve us from ourselves. I do not see it that way. I do see this a matter of curtailing freedoms more than anything else. As citizens we often engage in behaviors which might be dangerous to ourselves as long as we do not endanger others or other’s property. You might say that we are free to choose.

We ought to be careful to give more power to government in this regard. While many will say that this is something good (banning smoking in more areas) and as such we should not be concerned, we are setting a precedent that allows the government to step further into our lives than was previously the case. Would you be in favor of this law if it outlawed the eating of cheeseburgers in public, or perhaps the drinking of non-diet sodas? After all, some communities are looking at things such as fat and corn syrup as so evil that people must be prevented from having them by government fiat.

I do not smoke. I believe that smoking is a waste of good money and good lungs. Nonetheless, I believe that retail establishments which wish to allow smoking on premises should continue to do so. At the same time I believe that those who would smoke should be individually responsible for covering the additional health care costs which their lifestyles necessitate. Insurance companies would be wise to set premiums for smokers at such a level as to ensure that this is the case–instead of sharing the risk across the entire pool of citizens. I believe that such an action would allow the market to properly price smoking at such a high point that many would forgo it for financial reasons.

That aside, let us not double down on the poor decision made in 2002.

Vote “No” on Referred Law 12.