John Stossel

 The excuse is secondhand smoke. But there's only flimsy evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful. Studies were done on people who lived with smokers and were exposed to huge amounts of secondhand smoke at home and in cars. The idea that restaurant patrons are threatened is silly, and it's even sillier to fear exposure outdoors. But the politicians have become zealots.

 Granted, secondhand smoke is a nuisance. But so are many other things.

 If I don't like secondhand smoke -- and I don't -- I can choose to go to restaurants that don't have smoking, just as I can choose restaurants that don't have bad music. If I don't want to work in a smoky place, I don't have to.

 But when the politicians ban smoking in bars, people who actually like old-fashioned smoky bars are stopped, by force, from enjoying the kinds of establishments they like. Smoky bars cease to exist. Workers who don't mind smoke are deprived of jobs. Can't the smokers have some bars?

 Most Americans don't smoke. If we make it clear we want smoke-free restaurants, many existing businesses will choose to go smoke-free and new ones will open. That's a much better idea than politicians imposing force on everyone.

 Some people think the government must decide everything. But when government decides, minorities, even large minorities, lose rights.

 When we get to make our own decisions, we don't all have to make the same decisions. Some of the time, at least, we can all get what we want -- even when we don't all want the same thing.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate