De rechtmatigheid van rookverboden
Op de TechCentral Station site gaat een Californische publicist in op de rechtvaardiging van rookverboden in publieke ruimten en de horeca.
Zelfs als je accepteert dat tweedehands rook gevaarlijk is zijn er andere redenen om het toch gewoon aan de marktwerking over te laten..
Externalities sometimes justify government intervention. If I run a factory that spews pollution into the air, the damage to my neighbors and the environment is part of the overall social cost of running my factory. Because I don’t bear those costs, however, I have no incentive to reduce the pollution my factory generates. By adopting appropriate regulations, the government can force me to internalize the cost of pollution, which is a fancy way of saying that the government can force me to take those costs into account when I make decisions.
The mere existence of an externality does not justify legislation, however. In a free society, with limited government and respect for private property rights, at least two conditions must be satisfied before government intervention is warranted. First, my actions must in fact produce external costs. Second, there must be a market failure — that is, people must be unable to solve the problem without government help.
Because I’ve conceded the first prong of the test, the merit of public smoking bans comes down to the question of whether the problem can be solved through private ordering. In other words, if we let the owners of private property decide whether people will be allowed to smoke on their premises, will non-smokers be exposed to unreasonable costs?
An affirmative answer is clearly appropriate in some situations. There are some public places in which non-smokers may find themselves a “captive audience” — that is, situations in which the non-smoker cannot avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Government offices that serve the public are a good example. If a non-smoker gets a traffic ticket, he may have no choice but to go down to the courthouse. A smoking ban thus might be reasonable in the court building.
These sorts of situations are quite limited, however. Let’s start with the most basic example: my backyard. Should I have the right to smoke a cigar on my back porch, where the only ones who smells it are my dogs? Presumably so, since I’m not imposing on anyone (my dogs seem to like the smell).