Smoking bans

February 22nd, 2006

I like them.

Yes, tadalafil ailment I know I lean libertarian.

And for the longest time I couldn’t reconcile the two.

But then my girl said, viagra generic store “the problem is that a smoker’s right to smoke takes away my right not to smoke.”

And a light went off in my head.

YES!

That’s exactly it.

Smoking in a public place is an assault.

(Literally so, sick if the allegations of the dangers of secondhand smoke are true.)

If someone near me smokes, I smoke whether I want to or not.

The right of everyone to breath clean air takes precedent over an individual’s right to pollute it for everyone around him.

And before you start leaving comments that people should be able to do whatever they want on their private property and bars and restaurants are private property not public places…don’t bother.

Bars and restaraunts are NOT private property like homes. They are places of business. As such they are subject to a number of regulations:

Health regulations
Occupancy limits
Fire codes
Liquor laws

It is not the same as a private individual’s home.

And if a ban puts a few restaurants and bars out of business (which I doubt ever really happens), they have no one to blame but themselves.

If they had ever provided true smoke-free environments for their non-smoking patrons (instead of putting half walls between the bar and the “no smoking” area), no smoking ban would ever have passed anywhere.

So bring it on my brethren.

Try to convince me that smokers should be the one class of people who get to exercise their “right” at the expense of everyone else.

Entry Filed under: Politics

35 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 12:57 pm

    So, let me get this straight. You are for taking “choice” away from smokers? You are against letting the market decide? I’ll give you an example. The ban in Madison. Many bars and restaurants lost alot of buisiness. Non-smokers did NOT come out in droves. I remember an interview I read with one bar owner who said that a couple of young men came in, commented on how nice it was with the ban, then bought a couple of soda’s and left. No one else was in, at a time when he was busy before the ban. Some bars and rest. had to lay off more than half their staff. So, apparently this is ok with you?

    I don’t have a problem with going to a place that is non-smoking only. I can do without a cigarette. However, if a person who owns an establishment wants to allow a legal activity like smoking, should that not be his choice? Just as we are free to choose where we eat or drink, should an owner not also have his choice as to allow a legal activity?
    Your answer should be interesting.

  • 2. Nick  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    I think you’re on to something here. In fact, next time I go to Starbucks to enjoy a cup of coffee and read in wonderful silence (yeah right)… and some couple nearby start talking… then I’ll simply inform them that they’re talking is infringing on my right not to listen to them. Seems perfectly legitimate to me now.

  • 3. Jenna  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    If there were so many people that were so offended by second hand smoke, why didn’t any bars go smoke-free voluntarily?

  • 4. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Ah, Nick. Excellent point. Drives me nuts the way people can’t be without the dreaded cell phone. Everywhere you go, blah blah blah.. Insanity!

  • 5. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    1.) Talking doesn’t give other people diseases, Nick.

    (When I wrote this, I knew you would come around eventually and challenge me to name someone who died from secondhand smoke. I can’t do that. However, I can point you to a page on the British Medical Associations’ website where doctors talk about the diseases (and deaths) they’ve observed that they attribute to secondhand smoke.

    Also, I think there is significant proof that smoking causes disease in smokers.

    I can’t see how inhaling the smoke from the air instead of directly from the butt would somehow suddenly make smoke completely non-carcinogenic.

    Good to see you, btw. I knew this would bring you out to play. ;)

    2.) Talking doesn’t ruin the taste of other people’s food.

    3.) And talking can be moderated guys. Smoking is binary assault. You can’t smoke more quietly.

    4.) Also, annoying speech can be combatted by ear plugs or earbuds. I’m unaware of any commonly used/effective method for screening out the smell, taste, and health risks of smoke.

  • 6. Nick  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Actually there is a significant difference between smoke that is directly inhaled and smoke that comes second hand.

    First you have to remember its filtered through the cigarette filter (though its also filtered for the smoker).

    Then its filtered by the smokers lungs, which does a great job of getting rid of a lot of dangerous things.

    Then of course its diluted in the surrounding air after leaving the smoker’s lungs. So while it may smell to many, you’re only getting a tiny percentage of what the smoker gets.

    Of course, a lot of doctors “attribute” things to smoking, but much of that research is based on conditions that occur to smokers, and then extrapolating that detail to non smokers exposed to second hand smoke. There really haven’t been any scientific studies that I’m aware of that have concentrated purely on people who are exposed only to second hand smoke regularly.

    I am curious though… what’s your plan to get rid of the big diesel trucks and buses that are constantly driving in front of me assaulting me with their fumes?

  • 7. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    Nick.

    Fuel cells. ;)

    And would you drop your objection if there were more conclusive evidence of the health risks?

    (And I’ll answer the opposite question, if it were absolutely certain that secondhand smoke caused no physical harm, I’d have a harder time defending smoking bans. But, to be truthful, I think in the end it will be conclusively proven that secondhand smoke is a health risk.)

  • 8. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    OK, Bill, didn’t mean to ignore you.
    You said:

    “However, if a person who owns an establishment wants to allow a legal activity like smoking, should that not be his choice? Just as we are free to choose where we eat or drink, should an owner not also have his choice as to allow a legal activity?”

    Stripping, shooting, and having sex are all legal activities that we’ve banned from shared spaces such as bars and restaurants.

  • 9. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Hey Jenna,

    (I hate disagreeing with you by the way.)

    I think the main reason bars haven’t gone smoke-free voluntarily is that they didn’t have to.

    They knew that most of their non-smoking patrons would put up with a smoke-filled environment because their adversion to smoking was overwhelmed by the possibility of getting laid.

    Nothing engenders tolerance like the possibility of sex.

    On the other hand, I suspect that a bar that guaranteed sex, but didn’t allow smoking would do quite well. (But we don’t allow that either, do we?)

  • 10. Nick  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 3:04 pm

    Would I approve a ban if second hand smoke were proven conclusively to be dangerous? Well I suppose on what the “danger” turns out to be. After all, even though some factories emit chemicals that increase our risk of certain diseases, we allow them to continue operating because the risk is not considered high enough, even if we do put regulations on what they can put into the air.

    But if the risk was quantifiable, and high enough, then yes I would then support the ban. Of course, good luck getting anyone to do a real scientific study on second hand smoke. Trying to argue that second hand smoke might not actually cause any quantifiable health hazards brings on you the sort of backlash that groups get when they fight to ban abortion. Its almost become just that political.

  • 11. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 3:14 pm

    Stripping, shooting, and having sex are all legal activities that we’ve banned from shared spaces such as bars and restaurants.

    We’re talking about smoking. If I want to see a stripper, I go to a strip joint. If I want to shoot, I go to a gun club or a range. I won’t even touch(pardon the pun ;-) the last one.
    The point is, I make the choice, not the government. It’s the nanny state. We know what’s best for you and all that.
    CHOICE! You’ve not made a valid dismissal of my point.

  • 12. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    BTW Nick, I drive one of those big diesel trucks, although, mine doesn’t smoke a lot. The new emissions the epa and dot mandated dropped the fuel mileage from avg. 7.5 to 6.7. Less emissions, though.

  • 13. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Hey Bill,

    I’m not sure why you think I haven’t addressed your post.

    But let’s go through it again. You said:

    ???So, let me get this straight. You are for taking “choice??? away from smokers? You are against letting the market decide????

    That’s 100% right.

    I’m a semi-reformed libertarian.

    I think the only legitimate function of government is to protect our rights.

    And I believe we have the right to do anything we want to…as long as our actions never cause material harm to other people or interfere with the free exercise of their rights.

    (So far it sounds like I should be against banning smoking.)

    But the problem is I’ve come to believe that smoking in an enclosed public place is equivalent to a physical assault.

    (The EPA, classifies secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen. This classification is reserved for those compounds or mixtures which have been shown to cause cancer in humans, based on studies in human populations.)

    In my philosophy, neither a smoker’s choice, a bar owner’s choice or the free market trumps my right not to be physically assaulted in a public place.

    I love the free market, but where It conflicts with my rights, it loses.

    Your next point was:

    I’ll give you an example. The ban in Madison. Many bars and restaurants lost alot of buisiness. Non-smokers did NOT come out in droves. I remember an interview I read with one bar owner who said that a couple of young men came in, commented on how nice it was with the ban, then bought a couple of soda’s and left. No one else was in, at a time when he was busy before the ban. Some bars and rest. had to lay off more than half their staff. So, apparently this is ok with you?

    Again, my answer is "yes." This is OK with me.

    First, I think it’s a red herring. Every pub in Ireland didn’t go out of business and the restaraunt owners in New York City aren’t starving since their bans were enacted.

    Secondly, we don’t let business do whatever they want just because it might make them more profitable. Selling old, rancid and cheaper meat might make a restaurant more profitable, but we don’t allow them to do it.

    Your last point was:

    I don’t have a problem with going to a place that is non-smoking only. I can do without a cigarette. However, if a person who owns an establishment wants to allow a legal activity like smoking, should that not be his choice? Just as we are free to choose where we eat or drink, should an owner not also have his choice as to allow a legal activity?

    I thought I had already addressed your last point.

    There are plenty of legal activities that we do not allow in bars and restaurants(gambling, sex, shooting, etc). Just because something is legal in one context doesn’t mean it’s exempt from regulation in all circumstances. Sure a bar owner might like to allow smoking (or gambling, or shooting, or sex) in his establishment, but just because all those things are legal in certain circumstances doesn’t mean we MUST allow them to be carried out in a bar or restaraunt.

  • 14. Casper  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 5:07 pm

    I dunno Elliot, you’re gonna have a hard time ever convincing me that telling bar owners (or any business owner, for that matter) that they can’t allow a legal activity in their bar.

    One of the arguments I constantly hear from people that are pro-ban is that they like it better when they don’t have to deal with the smoke. The thing is, it isn’t about them. The $20 they spend in a bar is nothing compared to the thousands (or maybe millions) invested by the owner, the person who took all the risk in starting the business. And if the customer doesn’t like it, they can leave!

    And the argument that we don’t allow shooting, stripping or sex in bars doesn’t cut it for me because, frankly, why shouldn’t we? If someone wants to open a strip club, let them. If someone wants to open a combo bar/shooting range, let them (that’s not to say it’s a good idea, just that the government should be the ones to decide that). As for sex clubs, well, that might make things interesting!

  • 15. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Hey Cas,

    That’s why I didn’t make the “I like it better that way” argument.

    Basically, it all comes down to this for me:

    Either secondhand smoke is perfectly safe for everyone (including employees) in which case bans aren’t justified.

    Or it’s a health hazard (and thus an assault on all the nonsmoker’s rights) and a ban becomes what I would consider to be an appropriate/legitimate use of government intervention.

    (Although, I will say I think there is something to what my girl said: Why does their right to smoke get to trump her right not to smoke their smoke?)

    (I hasten to add that in a truly libertarian/anarchistic environment I could just shoot the guy who was blowing smoke in my face and we could get government out of the equation entirely. ;)

  • 16. Casper  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 8:52 pm

    But Elliot, why does your girl have to expose herself to places where there is smoke?

    And trust me, I’m all about shooting them.

    Don’t tell the feds.

  • 17. Jenna  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    What do you have to say about the slippery slope?

    Sure, people hate cigarette smoke. When we ban it, not many people care. They can do without it.

    What about when our government decides eating cheeseburgers is too dangerous? What if they ban any foods containing trans or sat fats? What if they decide we should only drink diet soda? What if they decide we shouldn’t use cell phones b/c of the possibility of brain cancer? What if they decide certain types of sex are dangerous and should be banned?

    Sure, the smoking ban sounds great to you and people who hate smoking. But what about when the banning folks come to your door and ban something you like, but others hate?

    Where’s the line? (I don’t mean this as bitchy as it sounds :) Is it where you decide it should be? Ald. King?

  • 18. Casper  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    As for employees, I’ve heard the argument that those who work in bars take those jobs because there’s nothing better they can do.

    I thought that was working at Wal-Mart.

    I know a lot of folks who work in bars. They don’t have a problem with it. And they make good money doing so.

    And if they do, then it’s simply motivation for them to get better jobs.

    PS-When I type my comments they are reproduced in the section above. That’s cool. And it freaks me out.

  • 19. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 9:53 pm

    “But Elliot, why does your girl have to expose herself to places where there is smoke?”

    I don’t know, Cas. She just likes to expose herself. What can I say? ;)

  • 20. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    I never think of you as being “bitchy,” Jenna. Pissed? Sure. But never bitchy. ;)

    I would like to point out that all of the other stuff you mentioned is self-inflicted. I think smoking is unique because it is actually inflicted on those around you.

    I don’t care if other people smoke away from me. Or eat bad things. Or take drugs. All that stuff hurts them, not me. I think they should be free to behave as self-destructively as they want to. But while I don’t care if someone gets drunk, I’m going to be pretty pissed if they get behind the wheel and drive down the street towards me or someone I love.

    And again, all this is predicated on secondhand smoke being actually harmful to other people. If it weren’t harmful and was just annoying, I think the bans would not be justifiable.

  • 21. Casper  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    I don’t know, Cas. She just likes to expose herself. What can I say? ;)

    Dammit Elliot. How in the world am I supposed to respond to that?

  • 22. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:12 pm

    I didn’t misunderstand your point. My point is simply this. No one FORCES anyone to go into an establishment. It’s your choice. By allowing government to take the choice you may not like away from thie owner is where Jenna’s slippery slope comes in. (that didn’t sound right. LOL) If Smokers want to go to a bar or restaurant that doesn’t allow smoking, then they have to not smoke. Conversely, non-smokers are saying that they are special as they shouldn’t have to make that choice. If they don’t like smoking, then start a push to make it illegal. Just remember, next time, it may be something YOU like. And there may not be anyone to stand up for you.

  • 23. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    By the way, the one place I don’t think you guys have pressed me hard enough is that people can choose not to go into a smoke-filled environment.

    I really do think restaurants and bars would have avoided these bans if they hadn’t so smugly refused to provide real smoke-free environments for the 76% of the populace that don’t smoke.

  • 24. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    lol

    Bill was nailing me on exactly what I said you guys weren’t pressuring me enough on even while I was making my last post.

    Again, I don’t think this would be an issue if there really were bar/pub options for non-smokers.

    For whatever reason, EVERY bar permits smoking. If a decent variety of non-smoking options were available, I would be completely against any ban.

    But practically speaking if you want to go out to have a drink you have to be willing to do it in a haze of smoke. A haze that is probably (though not for certain) hazardous to your health. What kind of choice is that?

  • 25. Casper  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:37 pm

    What kind of choice is that?

    Stay home.

  • 26. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    So minority rules then, Cas?

    One single smoker’s selfish desire to destroy his own lungs nullifies every non-smoker’s wish to enjoy a drink without breathing someone else’s posion?

    Seriously, whatever happened to “your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins?”

  • 27. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    Mybe someone should try and open a non-smoking bar. See what happens. If it bombs, that would make my point. You see, when I go out to eat with friends, and some don’t smoke, we sit in the non-smoking section. If I’m out on my own, I still sit in non-smoking. With a friend who smokes, smoking if they want. It’s my CHOICE.

  • 28. Melinda Omdahl  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:47 pm

    I want to be present in this debate please… I’m that girl who says “the problem is that a smoker‚Äôs right to smoke takes away my right not to smoke.” Go ahead and be mad at me if you want.

    However- tell me this… some friends and I WANT to go out on a Saturday night to a club and dance… name ONE public place I can go get a beer and dance to some music and not inhale someone else’s “right”?

    (BTW- I already know what you are going to say to me… so bring it on. I’m ready!)

  • 29. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:56 pm

    Melinda, that’s one of my points. If someone were to open a totally non-smoking club, non-smoking by the owners choice, not govt. fiat, and it was successful, I think you’d see them popping up all over. Right now, no one has tried, by market forces to make a go of it. Instead, they’ve used Govt. to do it. That, to me is so inherantly wrong.

  • 30. Wm. Clement  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:58 pm

    I have to go to work. All, it’s been a fun debate. Talk to you all tomorrow morning.

  • 31. Administrator  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Night BIll.

  • 32. Melinda Omdahl  |  February 22nd, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Oh… let me apologize for pulling this out… but I have to… sorry…

    Market forces don’t always do what is best. Let me give you some examples… Just off the top of my head, It took the government to get people to do the following…
    1 – Reign in Enron
    2. – Curb industrial pollution
    3. – Outlaw the exploitation of child labor
    4 – Stop the practice of slavery

    My point? Sometimes profit interests (market forces) are not in everyone’s best interest.

    Also- allow me to point you in this direction

    I could find a lot more just like it, but my point here is – why do I have to risk my personal health just because someone else wants to? … Especially if I’m carrying a child?

    Finally- we’re not just talking about bars. I work three floors above a bar in an office. Do you know what it smells like every Monday morning? I certainly did NOT choose that and have a very hard time getting away from that.

    OK- I digress. Hammer away. :0)

  • 33. Casper  |  February 23rd, 2006 at 9:03 am

    Melinda, I sympathize with you for having to deal with the smell of smoke from working in a building above a bar. But if it’s a problem, talk to your employer. See what he can do. Suggest that he talk to the building owner or bar owner. Try to resolve the issue without involving the government.

  • 34. From Where I Sit » &hellip  |  March 7th, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    […] Smoking bans. […]

  • 35. From Where I Sit » &hellip  |  June 27th, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    […] edit: For people who aren’t familiar with my opinion on smoking bans, here it is. […]

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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