CONCORD, N.H. -- Governor John Lynch signed a law yesterday banning smoking in New Hampshire's bars and restaurants.Actually, the science is ambiguous at best. If it's as clear as Gov. Lynch says, he should have no problem producing a list of all the New Hampshirites who've died from second-hand smoke. Still, this point is irrevelant. As the governor of a state bearing the motto "Live Free or Die" should know, if people want to work and patronize a bar that allows smoking -- even if it compromises their long-term health -- that is their choice.
"The science is clear -- secondhand smoke poses a dangerous health risk, and that is why this new law is so important," Lynch said.
But as with smoking bans everywhere, this bill concerns itself not with the interests of individuals, but politicians.
Opponents could have argued for allowing smoking only so long as it is done within giant plastic bubbles. Ban proponents would have responded that children exposed to the sight of people smoking in giant plastic bubbles would think it's cool, and that we need to think first and foremost about The Children.
Opponents argued for education instead. They said restaurant and bar owners should decide when or whether to ban smoking, not the state.
They tried unsuccessfully to carve out an exception for "fully enclosed" smoking rooms in some businesses. The rooms would have been required to have separate ventilation systems, and employees would have been able to choose whether to enter them.
But ban supporters said allowing smoking rooms would make it difficult for workers to say no to their employers. They said the rooms would be bad for smokers and their children and for anyone seated near their doors.
Politicians pushing bans in the name of public health care only about the self-satisfaction received from imposing their life choices on all those they control. Perhaps it's time for New Hampshirites to die, since they're certainly not living free. Or, at least, change their license plates.