It would be impossible to pass a no-smoking law for bars and restaurants today. The moment you tried there would be a thousand idiots in front of state capitols, smoking up a cancerous storm cloud with signs reading “MY LUNGS MY CHOICE” and various creative interpretations on how to write the word “Constitutional”.
You would have people on Twitter posting videos of being thrown out of private bars and restaurants with clearly-marked “No Smoking” signs, yelling about their freedoms and demanding boycotts.
There would be reports of violence across the country as smokers went up to non-smokers and blew smoke and ash into their faces, calling them “snowflakes”.
There would be people posting graphics to social media showing that *only* 0.8% of the US population dies every year from lung cancer, with poorly-formatted memes of Winston Churchill smoking a cigar and saying “I like those odds” (incidentally implying that those who oppose smoking are Nazis).
There would be re-posts of sketchy studies done by one non-oncologist plastic surgeon in Orange County, CA on populations from two restaurants, “proving” that if one person smoked in that restaurant, the chances of that one person directly and singularly causing lung cancer in any other person in the other establishment would be infinitesimal. Real oncologists would roll their eyes and not even deign to respond to such obvious statistical nonsense, and as a result the studies would be passed around as uncontested gospel by those who were asleep during math class.
The President would be photographed visiting Stage IV lung cancer wards, proudly smoking a cigar in spite of the clear and logical signs and restrictions against doing so, both because of the patients and because of the immediate danger of open flame to the hissing oxygen tanks that allow them to breathe. Idiots on social media would cheer him for being so brave. He would call the thousands of reports linking smoking to lung cancer “fake news”. He would declare lung cancer “contained”, and state that it would go away by March. Discussions of bills in Congress to give tax breaks to tobacco companies would be conducted in a smoky haze, produced by the GOP legislators smoking stogies as vice-signaling to their leader.
And finally, there would be the discussion of “free choice”, which would go something like this: “As a smoker, I take personal responsibility for the risks I am taking. I know I might get cancer, but that is MY choice to make and no one should be able to tell me when or where I have the right to smoke. If YOU are worried about cancer, if you have respiratory issues, if you have asthma or COPD or simply dislike the smell of tobacco smoke, YOU also have a choice, which is to stay at home and never eat at a restaurant or drink at a bar again.”
See? Everyone gets a choice, and everyone else should respect that choice.
The NYT would publish the names of 100,000 non-smoking bar and restaurant workers who died of lung cancer that year, and idiots would point out that some of them were old, or had high blood pressure, or COPD, or diabetes, or asthma, so it wasn’t *really* the lung cancer that killed them.
The cruelty and lack of empathy would be the point.