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Letter: Smoking rules first step to nanny state

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For use with the smoking ordnance series
For use with the smoking ordnance series

Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Aaron Hankins


Received: Dec. 5

The new smoking ordinance recently passed by Columbus City Council affects all citizens of our community, not just smokers and local business owners.

I contend that this ordinance is another piece of bad legislation that will make the citizens of Columbus less safe, cost jobs and further erode our constitutional rights in favor of the nanny state.

The role of our local police department is to protect the citizens and our property, of which our local department does a very fine job. But when this law takes effect, our local police officers will become the smoke police.

This is not their job. Now smokers become treated like criminals, and our police force will be spread thin. There are only so many officers who can only be in so many places at one time with only so many precious minutes each shift. See someone smoking in a private business? Call the police on them, the ordinance says.

While officers are responding to smoking, there could be and will be a call that involves a real crime or accident that truly puts a citizen’s life in danger. We want our officers on the front lines of first response focusing their time and energy on protecting citizens, not chasing down smokers. At the end of their shift, we want our hard-working officers to be able to go home and relax with their families, not give them a bunch of paperwork related to smoking “incidents.”

This law will put our lives, our homes and our property at needless risk as police will not be able to focus as effectively on stopping real threats.

Not only will this ordinance put our lives more at risk, it also will put our livelihoods at risk. Government regulations on businesses and the private sector always cost jobs. This smoking ordinance is no different. Today, it will cost jobs in these private establishments that allow smoking. Tomorrow, all jobs, especially those in our state’s strong manufacturing sector, will be at risk.

These “public health advocates” will look for and find any type of carcinogen, trace elements of pollution, traces of harmful chemicals or any other workplace safety issue in our manufacturing plants and will lobby government to shut them down in the name of “protecting employees.” It is coming. You can already hear the faint whispers regarding their next steps to destroy the jobs we depend on.

You can also hear their whispers regarding children and parenting. In the near future, if a parent is a smoker, these “public health advocates” will lobby government to have the authority to take these children out of these homes to be raised by the nanny state. These advocates nationwide already have begun to take obese children away from their parents.

Speaking of obesity, this nanny state policy will not end with smoking. It will begin to target citizens who eat fast food, who eat junk food and who drink Coke. Mayor Bloomberg and NYC have already passed bans on soda. Today, it is NYC. In 10 years, it will be Columbus, Ind. Don’t think you won’t be targeted, too, as you drink your caffeine-laced coffee with sugar while reading your morning paper.

What else is coming next? “Studies” have shown that cancer can be linked to cellphones, car exhaust and power lines. Some have said that radiation exposure to microwaves and televisions over long periods of time could also be linked to cancer. The list goes on and on.

Big government has always been smart to attack the freedoms of individuals slowly and one at a time, using a “divide and conquer” approach. Attack the smokers, and no one else cares. Target the small business owners, and no one is concerned. Attack the obese, and no one else notices. Infringe on gun owners, and no one else protests. What about when they are done with everyone else? It will be your turn, even if you do not see it coming.

Sure, we need healthier communities and better parents, but government coercion through lobbyists, bureaucrats and politicians are not the solution. They are the problem. They are the ones who created the cycle of dependency and entitlement that began many of these problems in the first place. We need to focus on neighbors, families, communities and institutions of faith to make a better society, not government.

Nanny state policies, such as this smoking ordinance, gravely affect everyone’s life, livelihood, future and freedom. The greatest thing about our nation’s founding is that our Founders gave us a constitutional republic where they affirmed that every man is created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our founders gave us self-government, individual liberty and private property rights.

Their wisdom created the

freest and most prosperous nation in the history of mankind. Now, it is up to us as Americans to protect our inheritance of freedom against the lobbyists, special interests and career politicians who threaten the very core of our duty and liberty as citizens: personal responsibility and freedom of choice.

While I personally do not smoke and I personally advocate for tobacco cessation, as a city councilman it is not my authority to pass measures that infringe upon the liberties and rights of other citizens. We must never forget that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Aaron Hankins is an at-large member of the Columbus City Council.

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