...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The smoking ban

This is my second attempt to post on this subject. Yesterday my Mac wiped my post and then I had to move on with my day.
On Saturday NARN had a broadcast covering the Hennepin and Ramsey County smoking bans. A good portion of the conservative MOB is opposed to the ban on principle. Chad the Elder is perhaps the most outspoken proponent.
I'd like to respond to a point or two.
Firstly, I am very pleased to note that the anti-ban people have very much abandoned the absurd line of argument they'd previously attempted in which they go after established medical findings of the very harmful effects of nicotine and second hand smoke.
There is a great body of evidence that there are links between tobacco and lung disease and the anti-ban folk seem to have accepted that, by and large. They now move to a more credible field of debate over free market issues and property rights issues, which is where the debate belongs.

This heartens me to no end, as I have always felt that it is the Conservative Republicans should be counted on for reasonable discourse. Barking moonbat liberals are noted for their flights of fancy and ignorance of facts. I am happy to see that the anti-ban Conservative Republicans have regained their composure with medical fact.
They've conceded, by and large, the harsh truths of tobacco's harmfulness, and now discuss free markets and property rights. Bravo!

Chad the Elder of Fraters Libertas brings forth the most salient argument against the ban. I don't have a written transcript, for as of yet there is no NARN Radioblogger to provide this service. But to rephrase Chad's argument from memory, he maintains that the ban makes little sense because there is no reason that bar-goers cannot simply choose to go to those bars they want to go to. If private bar owners and operators were given their rightful freedoms to decide if they wanted their bar to be a smoking establishment or a non-smoking establishment, the consumer would have their freedom of choice.

Sorry, Chad. Though I respect your argument, it's not that simple. Smoking in bars has been a carte blanche privilege since time-immemorial. If you're a non-smoker and you're lucky, an establishment might have a non-smoking section for you. But more or less, if you're a non-smoker in a bar, "Sorry bub, you've gotta put up with the second-hand smoke if you like this place and wanna be here. Otherwise, get the heck out."
But what if the bar is a special place that you like because it offers live music you can't find anywhere else? "Sorry, bub. If you don't like it, don't come here no more."

I have first-hand experience with such places. The first place I would cite would be First Avenue niteclub. I cannot count all the shows I've seen at First Ave. But by far and away, most of them were so saturated with second-hand smoke, the haze in the air was part of the decor. Although I don't go to First Ave much anymore (for reasons completely unrelated to second-hand smoke), I was amazed at how much more pleasurable it was in a smoke-free environment. To be sure, I will go to First Ave again. And I am much more happy about the fact that it is smoke-free.
There is one reason and one reason only that I go to First Ave; to see the specific band(s) they have on their stage that evening. If I want to see Iggy Pop play live, I am beholden to the environment of the room. And if second-hand smoke is an obligatory element of that environment, my freedoms have been hijacked by smokers.
And that is my primary reason for supporting the smoking ban. For years, since far before I was born into this town, the smokers have held free reign to hijack the public spaces and bars and taverns and restaurants with their deadly carcinogen poisons because we simply didn't know any better.
It was actually thought that smoking protected your health. How ironic is that?

If I want to go to a bar and drink harmful alcoholic beverages and leave by any other means than an automobile, that is my business. The government has no say in that.
But why should I have to put up with deadly fumes when I want to enjoy a good time at a live concert show or at a favored bar or tavern, just because a decades-old anachronism like smoking hijacks our society?

I am all for freedom of choice. I would be in favor of some licenses being issued to several exclusive smoking bars...somewhat in the spirit of a cigar and cognac joint. Hey smokers, knock yourselves out. I won't be there with you.
But this smoking ban is very much deserved and very much needed in order to free our city of the scourge of carte blanch second hand poisonous air in virtually every corner of the town.


  • At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Excellent post. I feel the same way.

  • At 11:19 PM, Blogger R-Five said…

    I'll agree that arguing over the evidence is the wrong tactic and truly the wrong perspective. The fact that you can entirely remove the risk of second-hand smoke, whatever the citizen perceives it be, by simply not entering such places you are in no way required to visit immediately eliminates this as a public health issue.

  • At 1:03 AM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Sorry, R-Five.
    You're wrong.
    Bars, taverns, restaurants are not available as "required" gathering places. They are privately owned places of commerce.
    Without the ban, these places are poisonous dens of pollution. The greater good of society at large is entitled to gather in healthful atmospheres.

    Only the ban can free those gathering places of carte blanche pollution.

    Public and communal tobacco must be smashed into oblivion. It has claimed too many lives already.

  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    Presumably you would be in favor of the relaxation of other restrictions to toxins and poisons when they are found on public property.
    Let's see, alphabetically, we should begin with Asbestos. If you want asbestos on your private property and other people, including children freely choose to expose themselves to your asbestos, then so be it.
    Also, we should reverse the recent conviction of Vang for shooting and killing those hunters in Wisconsin. He shot them on private property and they were there to be shot because they wanted to be exposed to the possibility of death from bullets.
    So, now we are up to the B's in your list.
    Let's see...C?
    D anybody?

    Public. Safety. Issue.

  • At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry PMB, but you've lost me on this one.

  • At 3:11 PM, Blogger pinkmonkeybird said…

    No surprise there, buddy. Please know that there is no reason to apologize for your position.

    Let's bring back spitting on bar floors. Let's just heap all the filth we can in our privately owned bars and allow smoking and spitting on the floors.

  • At 12:13 PM, Blogger marcus aurelius said…

  • At 3:10 PM, Blogger Chad said…

    PMB- There were plenty of smoke free establishments before the ban. You may not have frequented them, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. While it's true that no one has a right to smoke, you have to realize that it's also true that you don't have a right to a smoke free environment every where you go either.

    I don't particularly like loud music anymore. And it certainly is not good for your hearing (public health issue). But I don't want the government to ban it in places like First Avenue. Why should my preferences be imposed on others in that way?

    Your complete disregard for the property rights of the bar owners is frightening. As long as the cause is just (in your mind) and the greater "public good" is served, you don't mind trampling down the minority. Sounds like a blueprint for a brave new utopia.

  • At 9:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Chad the Elder said: "...There were plenty of smoke free establishments before the ban."

    Restaurants perhaps, but that's not true of bars. Outside of the airport bars, and one gay bar downtown, I am not aware of any smokefree bars in Minnepolis before the ban. Can you name any smokefree joints before the ban, Chad?

    Sometimes the "free market" needs a kick in the pants to do the right thing and create a indoor environment that healthier for hospitality workers and patrons. That's just what the smoking ordinances have done.

    Good for you, Scott, for sticking to your guns on a subject you know you are the right path. Ignore marcus -- everyone else does!

  • At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can name two smoke free bars prior to the ban, PMB. Doubletree hotel next to MOA went smoke free in their bar. Also Le Meridian's bar. I'm sure there are more. (Consider I don't even live in MN.)

    I understand that you want to avoid smoke at all costs.

    But, good people who have invested everything in their businesses and their employees are losing their lifes work. They paid the money and took their chances, spending years building a clientele.

    Now the government changes the rules and they lose everything?

    It's not right. You do not have the right to put them out of business, when you are in no way required to patronize them.

    How can you abandon the free market on this issue? Non-smoking is becoming much more prevalent on its own. We don't need the nanny state to make this decision for business owners.


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