Western Slope Libertarians Fight Smoking Ban
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the March/April 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
A group interested in issues of personal freedom and individual responsibility recently formed the Western Slope Libertarian Party (WSLP). The affiliate was certified by the state party in early February and joins other new groups as part of the nation's fastest growing political party.
At their February 27 meeting in Montrose, members elected party officials and established the Committee to Preserve Property Rights (CPPR) to actively oppose the so-called "clean air" ordinance on the City of Montrose's April mail-in ballot, a measure that would force private property owners to adopt anti-smoking rules.
Local Libertarians elected business owners John Duncan (Western Environmental Service Technologies) and Tim Jacobs (Oak Grove Country Store) as co-chairmen and Jojo Ping (Jojo's Windmill Restaurant) as secretary and treasurer.
"I am very pleased to be working with Tim and Jojo on this important undertaking," Duncan said. "It has become clear to me that the parties in power have lost their focus. I was very happy to find the Libertarian Party."
Jacobs is a long time LP member. He echoed Duncan's enthusiasm: "We're looking forward to the challenges ahead, and would welcome the help of other activists in the area."
Ping, whose family helped settle the Western Slope, said, "I am proud to be a member of WSLP, a group which will fight incremental and all-out attacks on our personal freedoms. Our opponents in this 'clean air' ordinance fight want to keep chipping away at our rights and responsibilities, but we have had enough."
Maintaining freedom and responsibility as realized through private property rights are primary concerns of WSLP, so members also decided upon a campaign to clear the air and defeat the proposed "clean air" ordinance through CPPR. Jacobs said the ordinance is a threat to individual liberty.
"Our citizens need to speak up once more," he said. "Don't be fooled: the next time it will be your rights as a property owner on the line. Your vote counts."
Duncan added: "The 'clean air' ordinance obviously has nothing to do with clean air. It is obvious to me the so-called clean air ordinance is another assault on property rights."
So do Libertarians think persons who react negatively to tobacco smoke should simply stay at home? Aren't their rights important, too?
"The rights of non-smokers are no more and no less important than anyone else's," Jacobs said. "They, like all of us, have the right to shop, eat, and drink where they're most comfortable. Conversely, the business owner has the right to cater to that portion of the market he finds most profitable for his particular enterprise. Some businesses cater to non-smokers, others cater to a larger segment of our population."
Those interested in more information may contact Tim Jacobs at 970.249.6242 or John Duncan at 970.249.9523.