Smoking ban violates rights

To the editor: On April 6, I attended a public meeting about a potential smoking ban in Otter Tail County. First, let me say that I am against the ban because smoking is not illegal; it is a freedom of choice. In the material that was handed out,...

To the editor:

On April 6, I attended a public meeting about a potential smoking ban in Otter Tail County.

First, let me say that I am against the ban because smoking is not illegal; it is a freedom of choice. In the material that was handed out, the proposed ordinance stated that there is no legal or constitutional right to smoke. Well, theres no legal or constitutional right to sleep, breath or eat either, but we do have the freedom to do that and lots of other things that are not spelled out specifically. Theres no legal or constitutional right to get a tan, either, but millions of people do and if that doesnt cause skin cancer, I dont know what does. Maybe we should ban tanning to promote the welfare of our children to protect their health.

I asked the Commissioners and Diane Thorson, who were at the head table, if this ban would include resorts. They nodded that it would. Not only will this affect tourism in this area, it WILL affect the economic factor in a negative way as well.

The resort I own is on my private property. My home is part of this resort. How dare ANYONE come into my home and tell me what I can or cannot do! How dare ANYONE come into my business and tell me whom I can or cannot have as guests or what THEY can or cannot do on my private property! If this county-wide smoking ban goes through, will the county have a fund available to compensate me when my business falls off because I have to tell my smoking clientele that they cannot smoke on my private property because someone a mile away MAY get a whiff of smoke and then that guest will then go to another county where they can exercise their freedoms? The question I did not get to ask was since the county would be deciding how my business was going to be run, would they then also pay my bills, taxes and insurance?


Will the county also be closing down campfires and all fireplaces within the county after all, those emit smoke, too. Also, can I assume that no one will be able to barbeque or burn any brush piles?

I heard several people talk about how we need to save our childrens health. I was around second-hand smoke all of my life. I do not have cancer and Im over 50 years old. However, if these people are seriously concerned about saving the childrens health, may I suggest that they close down all fast-food places and remove chips, pop, pizza, popcorn and other high cholesterol food products from their childrens grasp. That will kill them faster than any smoking or second-hand smoke. A comment was made that the main places these children can get jobs is in restaurants with or without bars. WRONG!! There are many jobs available to the young people of our area. Every spring, there are ads in the paper for cabin cleaners. These are not slave-labor jobs. Most of the resorts pay well and have good working conditions. In addition, no smoking is going on in any cabin while it is being cleaned therefore, a smoke free environment. What has happened, though, is that there are many of the young adults who dont want to do that type of work. I know I used to scrub floors to earn extra money when going to college. Its a shame that some of todays youth have been taught that some jobs are beneath them.

A comment was also made that the only bar and restaurant that non-smokers can go to is Mulligans. That is untrue. Thumper Pond and Elmers BBQ are non-smoking establishments. There are several non-smoking restaurants in Fergus Falls, too.

If you are truly insistent on protecting the general public, all alcohol and gambling should be banned as well. After all, someone impaired behind the wheel of a car can kill much more quickly than a cigarette or the second-hand smoke from the cigarette. Gambling has also been determined to be a disease.

I find it very interesting that the people that are for the smoking ban will have no adverse restrictions placed on them. They win everything. They lose no freedoms and have no sacrifices to make. The smokers, bar & restaurant owners, resort owners, motel/hotel owners and anyone owning a public place are all losing the freedom to run their lives and businesses as they see fit. I am truly sorry for those who lost loved ones because of cancer. I have lost loved ones as well due to that disease. Ive also lost loved ones due to car accidents. A drunk driver caused the car accident. The drunk driver was fine, but my family member and good friend were killed.

If the time, energy and dollars spent to put in a county-wide smoking ban were put into closing down the meth labs and sales (which are illegal!), just think how much safer we would ALL be.

I wonder what would happen if someone tried to ban something a non-smoker enjoyed or tried to tell a non-smoker what he or she could or couldnt do in his or her home.

I believe the truly democratic way of handling this is to allow each business establishment to determine for themselves if they want to allow smoking or be smoke-free. They would place a notice on their front door advertising their preference.


The Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the liberty and pursuit of happiness are being endangered in this instance. If you do not smoke, I am very happy for you. Its a choice you made. You had the freedom to make that choice. You do not have the freedom to take away other peoples choices just because you dont like the choice they made.

So whats next? Will all smokers be forced to wear a yellow star on their clothing? I truly hope history is not repeating itself.

I hope the County Commissioners will realize that this is not an issue for the County to undertake, but should be left to the State level, if the State even has a right to impose such a ban. Please vote NO for the smoking ban.

Cheryl Harris


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