Smoking on Public Streets:

By the way, what would you folks think of banning smoking on public streets, by analogy to the bans on public urination? Both smoking and urine creates smells that many people find offensive. Assume that neither creates a material risk of danger to health. (As I mentioned before, urine is generally mostly sterile; my guess is that whatever harms second-hand smoke might cause, the modest amounts that one inhales from passersby on the street likely have negligible effects.)

I'll gladly concede that smoking on city streets is treated quite differently as a social norms matter from public urination; many people whom I much like and respect have smoked on the street, and some of them probably still do -- I doubt that many of them have urinated on city streets. My question is whether, despite this, smoking should be banned on public streets, and, if it is, whether such a ban would be morally proper.

I'd like to set aside the question of government-imposed bans on smoking in private places (such as restaurants and bars) that are open to the public; that's a separate issue that has been much discussed, both in libertarian circles and outside them. Here, I want to focus on laws that are limited to smoking on government property, and especially outdoor property -- sidewalks (both immediately outside building entrances and more generally), parks, and the like.