Free Liberal

Coordinating towards higher values

Huckabee's Smoking Ban

by Kevin D. Rollins

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wants a national smoking ban. He says it is a workplace safety issue and compares subjecting restaurant workers to cigarette smoke is like exposing them to radon. He asks us not to think of it as a consumer issue.

I suppose, he doesn't want us to think of consumers, because that might lead us to think of the market, specifically, the free market. (Hint: I'm in favor of it!)

We can assume most bar patrons and employees are aware of this hazard and can choose accordingly to subject themselves to the smoke or to avoid the smoke. Bar owners can choose the amount of smoking allowed which maximizes the profits enjoyed. Smoking is not an externality, as pointed out by economist David Henderson in the latest issue of Econ Journal Watch.

So Governor Huckabee, do you want to be a health nanny, or do you just find the free market unpalatable?


« Never Underestimate the “Power” of Denial | Main | Republicans: Again the Stupid Party »


The only problem with your analysis is your misunderstanding of what Huckabee has said. He's not talking about a smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

From a conference call with bloggers on September 6th:

BLOGGER: There’s some concern about your statements regarding tobacco regulation from the Lance Armstrong forum. As a Public Health Professional, I fully support any and all tobacco regulation, but others felt your comments meant you would be building big government and forcing behavior on individuals. Could you clarify your views on tobacco regulation?

HUCKABEE: Certainly, I don’t believe that we as a government have a right to tell people what to do or not do. The issue is one of workplace safety, the same reason that the government regulates the exposure of radon and other toxic gases in the work place. In Arkansas I signed a bill that banned smoking in certain public areas and businesses, but not in bars or restaurants, because those were places consumers could more easily choose to go to or not. So, in the workplace, if we regulate smoking, it is an issue of worker safety. The responsibility initially lies with the states, of course. The only way this would be a federal responsibility is for it taking on that role as part of OSHA as it regulates other work place safety.

# posted at by Twinmomentum [TypeKey Profile Page]


Listening to Huckabee again, I am not convinced he would not ban smoking in bars and restaurants if given the opportunity.

Chris Mathews asks him if he would "outlaw smoking, nationwide, in public places."

Huckabee responds, "yes, I would... I think there should be no smoking in any indoor area where people have to work." He then says, "I don't support a restaurant/bar smoking ban because then you are basically saying we are dealing with consumers. Broaden it, here it is, it's a workplace safety issue. The same reason that we regulate that you can't pour radon gas into a workplace is the same reason that we shouldn't allow people to pour the toxic, noxious fumes of a cigarette into a place where people have to work."

He seems to be making a point about communication strategy, not about his ultimate intentions. "Broaden it," means that the issue is greater than restaurants and bars, which would mean that they are a subset of all workplaces. In Arkansas, apparently they are an explicitly excluded subset, but the the governor's logic is still essentially anti-free-market. Why should adult employees have less choice in their work environment than in their leisure environment? From the standpoint of "what needs to be regulated," what is the difference between being a restaurant employee and an insurance company employee?

If it is better for business to have a smoke-free workplace, why wouldn't an employer opt to do so freely, out of business-interest?


# posted at by Kevin D. Rollins [TypeKey Profile Page]

The state of Oregon's Department of Human Services spends an awful lot of taxpayer dollars, on a daily basis, even to this day, incessently broadcasting a single commercial supporting the idea that Heather Crowe was a "target" of evil tobacco. While completely ignoring, or not disclosing other well known mitigating health risks in her 40 year environment. Those which reveal that her death were much likelier caused by other factors in that environment, which are not attributable to "evil" tobacco. I ask you why? Is it possible it was to seize a lucrative opportunity to support a popular dollar a pack
tax increase, off the backs of addicted people, in order to fend off having to trim the fat?

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of websites exploiting this poor woman's fate, completely ignoring supportive evidence to the contrary that tobacco is a leading cause of death in the workplace, in the world, and in Heather Crowe's world, including many created and supported by the Canadian Medical Community. Bring this to their attention and I'll virtually guarantee you you'll get no response from them. Neither will you get any comment by the ODHS!

I say if we're going to make progress in the fight against cancer and all other diseases, let's be honest and at least stop attempting to divert attention away from cancers many likely causes. Then tax appropriately, rather than focus on a single, largely insignificant-by-proportion product, that shrouds and fogs us from real responsibility and investigation, for the moment, but ultimately never addresses the real causes of cancer.
If your not patient enough to get to the part of the story which describes the deadly effects of working for 40 years around the cooking gases produced in Heather Crowes environment over that time period, I just gave you a clue.

# posted at by danzen [TypeKey Profile Page]

There's no doubt "The Huckster" is bad news, but I'd say his performance at the recent GOP debate ( in which he said that we must stay in Iraq for "honor" is a far bigger deal than his obviously statist views on smoking.

# posted at by Paul Gessing [TypeKey Profile Page]

The Constitution doesn't give the federal government the power to do this. That's the end of it for me.

# posted at by angelatc [TypeKey Profile Page]