How is that a nanny-state move

The whole San Antonio Housing Authority smoking ban, that is…

The (SA Housing Authority — ed.) ban makes perfect sense. The smoke’s toxicity seeps through walls and stealthily creeps through vents, making its way from unit to unit; that’s why many housing authorities have smoking bans. And landlords — in this case, the state — have the power to put the brakes on activities that erode valuable property it has a responsibility to upkeep. Over time, cigarette smoke stains walls and leaves a grimy film on every surface from the kitchen counter to the windowsills. The residents of these facilities really don’t need any more blight.

The ban makes sense. And yet, something creepy peeks through the haze of this smoky story.

Those affected are the poorest members of our community. There is the line of thinking that those who don’t own their homes don’t have the right to do as they wish where they hang their hat.

I really don’t see how the San Antonio Housing Authority’s decision to ban smoking in its units is a nanny-state move. If they want to maintain the value of the units, in fact, I’d say it’s a pretty smart move. And hel-lo! Those who don’t own their homes don’t have the right to do as they wish because — wait for it — it’s someone else’s property. We rent, and our landlord specified no pets in the lease, and you know what? Them’s the breaks. Why? Because it’s his property. He has the right to whatever stipulations within reason that he wishes to put on renting it. If we want to get a pet, hey, we’re gonna have to go somewhere else. But it’s just one of those things we accept and move on.

I do find Maria Anglin’s focus on the ban’s effect on the poor to be quite unnerving. One gets the idea that she’d be perfectly fine with tony apartment owners imposing smoking bans, because hey, it’s a thumb in the eye of those eeeevil rich folk. (For the record, I’d be fine with that smoking ban too, for the same reason I don’t see a problem with SAHA’s ban.) I don’t see why the poor should get special treatment here.

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6 Responses to “How is that a nanny-state move”

  1. Chris in Boerne Says:

    I can see where you’re coming from with regard to property owners rights; after all, if it’s my land, it’s my rules.

    But I know that one of these days the question is going to be over a tenant’s keeping of firearms or something similar, and as a gun-owning apartment dweller, that day is going to suck.

    • southtexaspistolero Says:

      But I know that one of these days the question is going to be over a tenant’s keeping of firearms or something similar, and as a gun-owning apartment dweller, that day is going to suck.

      Oh, you’re absolutely right. I would note that just because, say, a leasing agent or agency has the right to do such doesn’t make said action moral or just. In that case I’d take a page from Joe Huffman’s playbook and work to make banning gun owners from keeping their guns on-site analogous to banning blacks or Jews. Or maybe take a bit of a different route and work to make banning guns analogous to banning fire extinguishers.

  2. Sabra Morse Onstott Says:

    Our lease also forbids smoking indoors. Something else which our neighbors ignore. More & more hotels are going to non-smoking only, and rental car companies have similar policies. Bottom line, it seems, is that the property’s owner has the say over what is done with it.

    Doesn’t mean it’s not Nanny Statism, of course. You just have to look deeper than Anglin is willing to. See, she thinks the government’s being mean to poor people by not letting ’em kill themselves slowly, but she has no clue the government is being even meaner by working to keep them poor.

    And Chris, we looked at a mobile home park (which I write instead of trailer park ’cause they were all double-wides, and purty) in New Braunfels where one of the regulations for a lot lease was “no firearms.” I find the legality of that questionable, as the homes in question were for sale rather than rent, but we chose to just go on out of that victim disarmament zone and not come back. Let ’em have their false sense of security.

  3. Bob S. Says:

    There a couple of problems with your arguments — not that I don’t think we should make it as uncomfortable as possible in ‘public housing’

    1st — the difference is the property doesn’t belong to a landlord, it belongs to all of us. So unelected elements of the population are setting requirements for the people who own the property.
    Tell me how that works again?

    2nd, while the dangers of smoking are well known, the dangers — the extend of the dangers of second hand smoke aren’t. If the unelected elements are allowed to rule out any activity that may or may not be dangerous — why not just required (and check for compliance) that everyone is tucked away in their beds for a mandatory 8 hours of sleep?
    I find no authority in the Constitution for the government to mandate people’s actions
    I can make a case for any — and I mean ANY intrusive decision that it maintains the value of the property, for the good of the community (public housing).

    3rd I think you missed the crux of her argument. I really don’t think she was decrying the ban — but that the ban didn’t go far enough.

    And the nanny state nature of this move meant to protect poor people from themselves makes you wonder why, if smoking is so bad, it isn’t made illegal altogether.

    This seems to be a case of ‘we are going to protect you IF you live here — but really we need to make it totally illegal’.

    Isn’t she really decrying the nanny state doesn’t go far enough?

  4. southtexaspistolero Says:

    Those are all good points, Bob, and that last one was one I didn’t really think about. Of course, there are those people who get government vouchers for private housing; does the government authority get to tell them they have to let the tenant smoke? I suppose that might go back to the Constitution not giving government the authority to mandate people’s actions. I do have to ask, though; is a smoking ban really that intrusive, considering the damage smoking does to a home? All the stuff all over the walls, the smell that lingers, and I don’t know what else. I didn’t really think it was a matter of making them uncomfortable but of protecting the value of the property.

  5. Bob S. Says:

    Pistolero,

    All the stuff all over the walls, the smell that lingers, and I don’t know what else.

    I’ve had two teenage boys that fit that description…and not the mind in the gutter stuff, just the teenage boy funk.

    Our middle child loved to lounge in bed, we had to paint the walls to get rid of the dirt and grime rubbed in. How is that any different from having to paint the walls to cover up smoke?

    Or how about some ethnic foods? I lived in apartments for 17 years. Some of my neighbors cooked foods that penetrated 3 or 4 levels or walls. One apartment always smelled faintly of Curry Chicken for the entire year I lived in it…..I never ate or cooked Curry Chicken.

    Of course, there are those people who get government vouchers for private housing;

    If you want to control exactly who does what in your house, don’t contract with the government.

    Isn’t it really that simple (which would also have the effect of reducing the availability of free/reduced housing – not a bad thing in my opinion.

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