If the Bus Is A-Smokin', Don't Come A-Pokin'


Edmonton bar owner Tony Burke has found a creative way around the city's new smoking ban: a remodeled bus where customers can go to light up out of the cold. Since the bus has wheels instead of a foundation, it's not covered by the smoking ordinance. (Just to be on the safe side, Burke registered it in his own name, rather than the business's.) "Despite the loophole," reports the Globe and Mail, "Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has told reporters that bars should comply with the spirit of the law."

As Scott McCormick notes over at Northern Exposure, the spirit of the law is the spirit of intolerance:

The standard "public health" argument seems dubious in this case…People entering the butt bus are clearly making the decision to go in knowing it is specifically designed for smoking, and the bus serves no other explicit purpose except as a venue for smoking (you can't bring a drink on it). Of course, if your real goal is to stop people from deciding how they use their own bodies, you're failing–which is why this case nicely exposes the fact that the public health argument isn't the true motivation for many of the anti-smoking nannies.

To be more precise, it exposes the fact that the activists and officials who support smoking bans do not distinguish between public health and private health. Their main goal has always been to discourage smoking, which they believe directly threatens "the public health" by exposing smokers themselves to the risk of disease. According to this view–which, unfortunately, has become "the standard 'public health' argument"–everything you do that might lead to disease or injury, from driving unbuckled to eating too much, is the government's business.