Let consumers rule on smoking

Taragi, Kumamoto

Regarding Patricia Yarrow’s Feb. 12 letter, “Shaky will to reduce smoking“: Coffeehouses and restaurants are private property. It is up to the business owner to determine what kind of environment attracts the greatest number of customers. Even if nonsmokers are a majority in the population, they are not necessarily the majority in the customer base of an individual bar or restaurant.

The best way for nonsmokers to change an establishment’s smoking policy is to not patronize businesses that allow smoking. Economic incentives are always better than government intervention because: (1) when the business owner is making the choice, rather than having the choice imposed on him, he is more likely to abide by it, and (2) one-size-fits-all government regulations destroy choice. Under the status quo, both smokers and nonsmokers can find establishments that suit their needs.

The social policies of France are no example for the world to follow. France also passed a law banning the traditional Muslim headdress for women in public places. Is this the kind of intolerance we want to emulate in Japan?

The desire to regulate other people’s behavior is antithetical to a free society. I’m sure there is some legal behavior that Yarrow or I engage in that some people would find unhealthy or even distasteful. If enough of those people band together, does that give them license to dictate how Yarrow or I live our lives?

The paraphrased words of Martin Niemoller ring true in the modern fight against such nannyism: “First they came for the smokers, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a smoker.”

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

joseph jaworski