Before what’s left of our liberty goes up in smoke, we need to take a deep breath and think things through . . . or at least our legislators do . . . at least the legislators of Montgomery County in Maryland.
The Montgomery council has just approved one of the most restrictive anti-smoking measures in the entire country. Now you can’t smoke in peace in your own home.
The new law is not an outright ban, but it does open the door to all manner of harassment and hardship. If you smoke in your home and some of the fumes happen to drift into the home of a neighbor, whether through a vent or a door or an open window, your neighbor can now complain to the county’s Department of Environmental Protection, which could then slap a fine of $750 on you or your landlord. Just think of it as a new cigarette tax.
Bob Levy of the Cato Institute can only shake his head over this eagerness to solve every little local headache by looking to the government. He says, “Ordinarily, we rely on common courtesy and mutual respect when individuals relate to one another. But nosy, intrusive government has polarized the dispute between smokers and nonsmokers.”
One member of the Montgomery council tries to reassure us. If people abuse the new law, we’ll repeal it, he claims. But I don’t think we can trust them to repeal it, seeing as how we couldn’t trust them not to pass such an outrageous law to begin with.
But I do trust you to complain, especially if you live in Maryland.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.