19 January 2008

Nanny State Gets Bartender Slugged

The nanny state doesn't think that any negative health effects that may come from working in a smoking environment should be an assumed risk for a person who chose to work at an establishment that allowed smoking (which, in itself, is a rarity nowadays); they would rather hold the establishment liable instead. As such, I blame the nanny statists for the bar worker who got popped by a couple of smokers a few days ago.

A bartender was sucker-punched in New Hampshire on Wednesday by some smokers who didn't like him kicking them out after they had to be repeatedly asked to stop smoking. From the Union Leader:

Sawaya [the owner of the establishment] said three patrons ignored a server's repeated requests to stop smoking inside the 88 Market St. restaurant and club.

Bartender Pat Mills then asked the men to put out their cigarettes about 10:50 p.m., Sawaya said.

"They blew smoke in his face and told him it was their right to smoke," he said.

Mills, who is in his late 20s, asked the men to leave and escorted them to the front door, police said. When Mills turned to go back inside, one of the three punched him in the head, Sawaya and police allege.

A brief struggle ensued, with Mills holding down his attacker -- later identified by police as Daniel Devine, 29, of Manchester -- while Sawaya pulled another patron off the doorman and two off-duty doormen jumped in to keep the third man from entering the fray, the tavern owner said.
Now, for the record, I do not condone the behavior of the smokers in this instance, and I think that they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

It is too bad, though, that the bartender had to get involved as he had to. Much like the patron who has had too much to drink, you need to attempt to deal with the problem in-house. If someone had too much to drink, however, the establishment has the ability to cut off the supply of alcohol, and law enforcement can be contacted if the individual attempts to leave instead of taking a cab (third-party liability can kill your bottom line). That is not the case with patrons who choose to violate state law by smoking, though.

Sure, the establishment can stop providing any service to those who choose to smoke in violation of the state law, but a new third-party liability scenario rears its ugly head in that situation. How many attempts need to be made to get the smokers to stop smoking before the establishment becomes liable for the alleged negative health effects of the second hand smoke on other patrons? When does law enforcement need to be contacted to avoid third-party liability in smoking cases? Also, who is responsible for any additional risks that the new legislation poses for employees of establishments that may need to confront smokers who openly violate state smoking bans?

Personally, I despise smoking bans. I see them as an excuse by the state to impose undue intrusions upon personal property rights. If the excuses for the bans are public health and safety, then why allow the activity to exist at all? If smoking is as bad as some state governments claim, then why don't they protect everyone by just banning smoking and all related products outright? Simply stated, state governments won't ban smoking outright because they don't want to lose the tax revenue.

The intrusions will continue, though. If one can't smoke at a bar for fear of the effects of second hand smoke on employees and other patrons, why can one impose that same risk on one's family in the home or car, especially if minors are in those homes or cars?

I'm not giving the nanny-statists new ideas here, in case that's whay you may be thinking. For example, Louisiana banned smoking in vehicles in which children are present about a year-and-a-half ago. Don't worry, the violation won't go on your driving record, but one does wonder if social services will get a memo on the violation.

With private businesses and vehicles no longer immune from government intrusion in an attempt to look out for public health and safety, private homes can't be far off. In fact, after Kelo, I'm surprised that states didn't start targeting private homes with all sorts of "common good" type laws.

This all made me think of something that I read over at The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen a few days ago. Vir Speluncae Catholicus had a post on an issue of public health concern involving a type of staph.

A new medical study appearing in the Annals of American Medicine shows that homosexuals are spreading a new, highly-infectious and extremely dangerous bacteria amongst themselves, most probably through anal intercourse. [...]

The study's authors note that the strong link between unhealthy behavior, particularly among homosexuals, is the driving force behind the disease. "Spread of the USA300 clone among men who have sex with men is associated with high-risk behaviors, including use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, sex with multiple partners, participation in a group sex party, use of the internet for sexual contacts, skin-abrading sex, and history of sexually transmitted infections," the authors write.

The study, which focused on clinics in the San Francisco area, found that in some cases up to 39% of patients had the MRSA USA300 infections in their genitals or buttocks, although the disease can be spread by general skin-to-skin contact and can even be picked up from surfaces.
The state will ban smoking, cell phone use, and trans fats for the sake of the common good; personal responsibility and choice be damned. Do you think that any state will consider banning any activity related to MRSA USA300, though? My guess is that the only state action on that will be more funding for free condoms and needle exchange programs.

We'll see, but it seems to me that in the nanny state, some animals are more equal than others.


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