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Smoking Ban Affects On Local Business

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The smoking ban interferes with local commerce. For those of you that don't get out much or watch TV or read the newspapers or talk to people, there has been a rash in the last few years, in the U.S and around the world, of cities banning smoking in public places. OK, fine, it makes sense -- no smoking on airplanes, offices, public buildings during the day, restaurants, etc. Those are places where people have to be and work, in relatively confined spaces, both smokers and non-smokers. And of course I'm especially for a ban on smoking on a place where there's kids around. It hurts no one for smokers to have to go outside and smoke during the day (although I have known some smokers who have gotten sick from having to stand outside in the rain or freezing cold to smoke. Now if that's n ot irony then I don't know what is.

I believe the main reason these bans are going into effect is not based on health concearns, that's just the platform being used, but it's because cigarettes smell icky. If they smelled like flowers, there would be no smoking bans. "It's icky. Let's ban it!" Most people say that health risks are the main reason for banning smoking in bars. But this is arguable if you are anti-smoking you believe it is very harmful. If you are pro-smoking, you believe the effects are negligible. Basically, we shouldn't believe data that says secondhand smoke is "bad, bad, bad" when it's put together by the "Smoke-Free America" people, any more than we should believe the Philip-Morris cigarette company bigwigs when they present us data that says it's not very harmful. Yes, if you totally saturate a lab rats' lungs non-stop for days on end with cigarette smoke, it will die. So, given that the effects of secondhand smoke are arguable at least, why hurt people's income because of it? Why alienate and belittle a huge sector of people for an arguable cause? It's not just about the health risk, don't let them fool you. It's the fact that they think it's icky, they don't like it, they just don't like to be around it, and feel that everyone, even those in a majority (smokers in bars), should cater to their wants. Ask a non-smoker sometime if he/she would be in favor of banning smoking in bars if cigarettes smelled like a fresh spring meadow. I have. Watching the contradiction and indecision work over their face is really entertaining.

Here's an odd analogy/question: Should cyclists be banned on public roadways? "Of course not!" you say defiantly. And rightfully so. They are healthy people, doing a good thing, right? True. But they are a public health risk just the same. They do this by putting motorists' lives in danger by riding slowly down busy thoroughfares, disregarding stop signs and red lights, causing accidents, and holding up traffic which causes more traffic accidents. What bicyclists don't understand (or choose to ignore) is that roads, and the laws that govern them, were made for functional, traveling automobiles, and bicyclists are using them for convenience and exercise, rarely for travel. If cars were taking over designated bike paths, then cars should obey bike path rules, like a maximum speed limit and other courtesies that cyclists have designated for their paths. Truthfully, it's just a mentality of: "What I'm doing is more right than what you are doing, so you should cater to me." However, they are a definite threat to the health and lives of the hundreds of people they come in contact with every day. The same argument can be made for non-smokers. They waltz in and stipulate what's right and what's wrong with establishments they don't frequent. Non-smokers have found a vehicle to push their views on others by using a politician who is only motivated by their own political agenda.

So let the individual business owners decide what's best for their business, and let people enjoy their nights out however they please, wherever they please. Smokers have been flexible by not hollering too much (they don't have the lung capacity for it, really) about smoking bans in restaurants, offices, and other public places, because, although they don't like it, it is the fair thing to do. Non-smokers should be willing to be a little flexible too, and not directly cause musicians and clubs to lose money, your favorite bars to lose their character especially with our economy the way it is right now, and the fact that most bars only last a year or so to begin with. Not to mention making people give up their traditions, addictions, or simple pleasures because of personal agendas backed up by sketchy facts.

"A restaurant owner who does not permit smoking will see it as a violation of his property rights if a coalition uses the political arena to create legislation forcing him to permit smoking. It is no less a property rights violation in reverse. If a restaurant owner wishes to permit smoking, he might put up a "Smoking Permitted"



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