According to Prof. Aeon Skoble, smoking bans are on the rise in America. At first glance, this trend seems to stage a battle of rights. The smoker claims to have the right to smoke, while the nonsmoker claims the right to clean air in “public” places such as restaurants and bars.
In an important way, however, restaurants and bars are private places. They have owners, just like homes. Skoble argues that restaurant and bar owners should be able to set smoking rules for their establishments, much like you can set smoking rules in your own household.
Nobody forces a customer into a particular restaurant or bar; drinkers and diners are free to choose among the alternatives available, each of which has a unique environment, including its set of smoking rules. Discussions about “smoker’s rights vs. nonsmoker’s rights” miss the fundamental issue: restaurant and bar owners’ property rights.