Hennepin County is for quitters

The county’s smoking policy is too intrusive and counterproductive.

by Daily Editorial Board

The Hennepin County Board passed an intrusive policy last week that prohibits smoking on all county-owned property. The regulation strips decision-making power from its citizens and is based upon flawed logic.

The ban goes into effect July 1 and will prohibit smoking on any property owned by Hennepin County âÄî indoors or outdoors.

The new policy is nonsensical for many reasons. First, the policy makes it illegal for people to smoke in their own vehicles while on county property.

Prohibiting smoking in a personal vehicle is overstepping a huge boundary. Citizens have the right to make their own decisions about smoking, especially when the decision affects no one else. A vehicle is personal property âÄî the county has no right to keep a person from smoking inside it. GovernmentâÄôs role isnâÄôt to prevent people from making bad personal choices.

Supporters claim the policy promotes health and keeps county facilities clean. In reality, it will do neither.

If the county wanted to promote health, it could ban smoking in medical facilities. But ironically, certain areas of Hennepin County Medical Center are exempt from the ban.

Proponents argue that the ban will reduce the number of cigarette butts littering county property, but there will be plenty of people who continue to smoke on county grounds regardless of this policy. After July 1, though, they will be smoking without ashtrays in which they can sanitarily dispose of their cigarette butts.

The new regulation is illogical and overreaching. It is a poorly conceived and impossible-to-enforce proposal that tries to make personal decisions for its citizens and will promote neither health nor cleanliness.