The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed threat of secondhand smoke.
Indeed, the bans themselves are symptoms of a far more grievous threat, a cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic. This cancer is the only real hazard involved -- the cancer of unlimited government power.
Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," smoking bans have actually targeted many privately owned places such as bars and shops -- places whose owners should be free to ban smoking or not and whose customers are free to patronize or not.
Outdoor bans even harass smokers in places where others' health is obviously not the issue.
The decision to smoke or to avoid "secondhand" smoke is a question for each individual to answer based on his own values and judgment.
This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their lives. All lifestyle decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful consequences; many are controversial and invite disapproval from others, but the individual must be free to make these decisions.
He must be free, because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own judgment can guide him through it.
Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom of choice for a minority is being seriously limited by a majority made baselessly fearful through massive media campaigns often funded by tax dollars.
The real threat we face here, no matter how strongly it is denied by the anti-smoking lobby, is the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.
We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behavior. They are in office to serve us, not vice versa.
Thunder Bay, Ontario