The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would ban smoking on private property. From a property rights prospective, House Bill 259, “Prohibit Smoking in Public & Work Places,” is a radical proposal.
This proposed legislation takes an activity that is legal in North Carolina but makes it illegal on private property. The bill would actually make it illegal for business owners to smoke in their own businesses, even if they are there alone, even if they are the only employee.
As well as being a property rights advocate, I am a non-smoker, an asthmatic and a parent. I often make the choice to not patronize smoky establishments. Choice is the key word in this important debate. This proposal does not give the property owner any choice.
While our lawmakers certainly have the ability to ban smoking on private property, they also have the ability to create and pass legislation that would substantially decrease the amount of secondhand smoke that the general public is exposed to. Perhaps that would be a less-intrusive place to start.
Some say that this legislation is a step in the right direction. The more than 33,000 members of North Carolina FreedomWorks believe that instead, it is a door closing on private property rights.