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We must therefore be very careful to examine specific features of the situations in which this offense arises; only in this way will we be able to determine if annoyance is sufficient to militate against the moral right to smoke. Here the rights of property ownership and autonomy give weight to one’s preferences beyond what they might otherwise enjoy.Should someone be smoking in a nonsmoker’s home, the smoker surely must respect the nonsmoker’s preference to be free from secondhand smoke.It is well-known that cigarette smoking is dangerous to one’s health; thousands of Americans die prematurely each year from the effects of smoking, and millions more live on in ruined health with crippled lungs and overstrained hearts.
The non-smokers have actively placed themselves in the room, presumably, but they have not actively done anything to the smokers in the way that the smokers have actively done something to them.
Nor have they actively sought to place themselves in a smoky environment, that responsibility belongs to the smokers.
The right to be free from harm is in some sense more basic than the rights one may have to perform certain activities.
This “harm principle” is perhaps the fundamental liberty-limiting principle.
The focus of paper, is on the so-called right to smoke, and what role it should play in the development of a just public policy regarding smoking, whatever that policy may be.
Background It is important that this distinction between activity and passivity not be confused with the more controversial distinction between doing something to another and letting something happen to another.
In this respect, smoking is no different from other activities one simply does not want performed in one’s own home.
But suppose that the smoker is a friend, a business associate, or a superior.
Since the nonsmokers have to breathe the smoky air they had no part in producing, the smokers are doing something to the non-smokers.
Since both the smokers and the nonsmokers have equal right to be present in the room, the nonsmokers stand to smokers as victims stand to those who shoot them.