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Monday, 24 June 2013

Utah: No Smoking Allowed, Nor Dogs, Nor Double Measures

The greatest confidence trick Public Health has ever pulled must be redefining the concepts of "public" versus "private."  Business owners do not own their property -- the [Nanny] State owns them.  There is a massive difference between "protecting" people from, say, eating at a rat-infested greasy spoon diner and "protecting" people from their own choices.  But Public Health and the State see no difference between the two.  In order  to implement "public" smoking bans, the definitions for what are private and public had to be redefined.  Without this con-trick in place, smoking bans could not have succeeded. With this great con-trick firmly rooted in the consciousness of society, backed up by a tangled web of legalese and fines, the State can force private businesses to do whatever the State wants.

We're in Utah this morning, and leaving in about an hour or so.  We've spent two days here. The first day we holed up in Kanab, which is central to a host of amazing sights and natural wonders like Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell.  The landscape here is stunning and we are not sorry for spending two days to see it all.  But for all its splendour, Utah has serious issues with free choice.

You could blame it on the Mormons, who aren't allowed to smoke, nor drink alcohol or coffee, but that blame would be somewhat misplaced. Because I spent some time here years and years ago, and back then you could smoke in restaurants and other places.  I remember several very late nights drinking coffee and smoking in a restaurant that stays open for 24 hours.  So at one time, Utah was much more liberal and accepting of smokers, despite it's predominantly Mormon population and beliefs.

All that has changed since Public Health's New Inquisition took hold in the past decade or more.  Now in Utah, thanks to the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, it's illegal to smoke inside "public" places -- it's even illegal to smoke within 25 feet of a "public" building's entrance, although the latter is widely ignored.  Break the law and you're liable to pay hefty fines. I am hardly surprised. Here's a slightly-fuzzy-but-still-legible photo I took of a notice posted on the door of a souvenir shop in Kanab.

If there was ever a place where an oppressive anti-smoking law wasn't needed, it's Utah. Because even 20 years ago or more, most places were non-smoking, because most businesses owners here  are Mormons and don't smoke, and the majority of smokers will generally abide by no smoking notices posted by business owners. But that's how Public Health rolls. This is denormalisation, and it must be applied everywhere, under the threat of extortionate fines.

Strange that dogs and other pets are not allowed in a souvenir shop, which did not serve food, due to a state law.  It would be fine if the owner decided she did not want animals in her shop.  But the State decided that for her, and so unless you're blind and need a guide dog, your dog is unwelcome. That said, I saw a dog hanging out inside a coffee shop ... nobody cared.

As for booze, well the beer here is limited to a maximum alcohol content of 3.2%.  This restriction is definitely a product of the religious beliefs here. Public Health should rejoice and praise the Lord, however, since most beers in America tend to fall in the 4% to 6% range, which means Utahns are 0.8% to 2.8% less likely to get some kind of alcohol-induced cancer or liver disease.  I suppose.

You can get full-strength spirits, but there appears to be a twist. You can't order a double gin and tonic. You can get one single measure per person per order.  So no double gin and tonics for Mrs Tyranny, but we worked around that by ordering a "primary" for each of us. Nevertheless, a customer in the restaurant we were at said that he thought the law had been changed to allow double measures and that the restaurant was probably unaware of it.  Regardless, it is or was a dumb ass law.

Let people decided for themselves. Let business owners decide how to run their businesses. It doesn't matter where in the world this should be.  If we want to live in a free society -- and clearly Public Health does not like freedom and liberty and individual responsibility -- then our governments need to stop passing laws that restrict our free choices.