Off Topic Messages

The War on Smoking

Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:44 pm

New Jersey today has become the latest state to place a ban on smoking inside restaurants, bars and other public gathering places. I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, don't like them around when I'm eating and find them generally disgusting strewn around the floors of a bar or jammed by the dozens into an ashtray. Plus, I know all to well the health hazards that come with continued exposure to smoke. However, to me laws like this just go too far. There's a very important issue at stake here: personal freedom, responsibility and control.

It's one thing for the government to control the emissions coming out of a factory that pollute the air of everyone whether you like it or not. It's another thing though to so thoroughly regulate what goes inside of a private establishment and affects no one except those who are inside the establishment. To me, it's extremely ironic that it's become infinitely easier to pollute the air at large for profit than it is to pollute the air inside for pleasure.

The proponents of the ban claim that they are on firm ground because the smoke affects everyone who frequents the establishment as a worker and as a patron whether they like it or not. The flaw in this type of thinking is that it ignores the rather obvious fact that you don't have to visit these establishments ever. The theory that there is no such thing as non-smoking section in restaurants with a smoking section is kind of erroneous in that I have been to many larger diner type buildings and the no-smoking section or smoking sections are well enough separated that smoke is not an issue. I have also been places where the separation is not good or a non-smoking section is not even offered. My solution is I don't go to those places. Plus, there are many restaurants that don't allow smoking on their own. However, in those cases the choice is made by the proprietors. There are enough choices though that no one suffers. After one visit you can tell if a place is for you or it's not in these terms. If it's not your kind of place and you elect to return, that's your problem. I see this as a particular problem with bars especially blue collar type bars. If you go to one of these places you know there's going to be smoke. It's not really fair to complain when you know that going in.

The workers have a more legitimate beef. After all jobs are not always plentiful but I don't think many in the waiting profession are often forced to work in a smoke only environment. There are at least some choices including a different career. My brother in law works in a large industrial pipe factory with steaming hot molten lead. In the summertime, the heat is unbearable. There are far more potential immediate hazards on his job than there are for any waiter or waitress exposed to smoke. The air there can't be good. But the job pays well. So, he decides to stay. The government and employers do the best they can to make sure things are as safe as possible but potential hazards come if you want the pipe. While I think there are many mitigations that could come into play for the wait staff, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

This is where the really important part of this comes. That's being able to choose your own destiny and control your own life. It may not be that big a sacrifice to ask someone to go an hour without a smoke (though smokers don't believe that). However, if you want to set up a place where people can come and relax with a cigar or a cigarette and have a bite to eat or play some pool or have a drink, you should be able to do that. The request is simply that you want to control your own life and give others the opportunity in the privacy of your own building to do the same. I can see making you give the public notice like say a sign on the door: "This is a smoking restaurant". If you let people know what they're getting into that's all you can ask.

The people who smoke do so because largely they get pleasure from the act. To them, the pleasure that they receive for whatever reason outweighs the potential health risks. It is absolutely against the freedoms the US was founded upon to take that decision making power away. I'm not talking about in government buildings. If it's there's they have every right. But if it's your building and your body the choice should be yours alone. If the government makes the choice for you, it largely eliminates the benefits of the better health they are trying to give you.

This is a very alarming trend in the culture at large this desire to protect ourselves from ourselves. I even extend this to something like hate crime legislation. As much as I deplore the thoughts and deeds of these people and wish they would eventually become extinct, the fact that we force a a certain style of thinking upon them makes their choice to think our way worthless. The same could be said about taking away our choices to spend our lives or health in a bad way. You're giving us life but what is it worth?

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:00 pm

I don't want people smoking at the table next to me any more than I want them climbing up on that table and taking a squatter on the centerpiece.

If we can restrict where people take a dump, which is a necessary biological function, surely we can restrict where they needlessly spew noxious, toxic smoke.

I consider myself something of a libertarian on the personal-freedoms front, but smoking isn't a constitutionally protected right -- and a person's right to slowly kill himself surely can leave off where my lungs begin.

The flaw in all this "personal rights" point of view is that we long ago decided that restaurants, bars and such can be regulated.

If we can let a city inspector in to make sure there aren't rats nesting in the produce, then a city inspector can be allowed to regulate other aspects of the business. After all, both are public health issues.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:14 pm

Stop the presses.........LTB and Scatter are in absolute agreement!!!!! :shock: :lol: have the option of a "No Squatter" section, or go to "Squatting Free" establishments.

YOU decide where your lungs begin and end. Don't like it...........don't go.

It's private damn property, the Gov't has NO business interjecting itself in these matters.

Workers who smoke can work in smoking establishments, and vice-versa.I feel the same way about seatbelt laws and helmet laws. For children, it should be mandatory..........for grownups, it's no one's business.

I don't smoke........have never smoked........WILL never smoke...........HATE smoking.

But I HATE the nanny-state and the extra-Constitutional invasions of our formerly guaranteed rights even more.

There are larger Constitutional issues here.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:27 pm

Glad you'll be helping to repeal city inspections on day-care centers. Why should anyone be checking to see whether unlicensed felonious molesters are caring for your children. Government, butt out now!

In other words, I don't actually believe you can live up to what you're saying. I think if some guy's out there exposing himself to schoolchildren, you're probably going to want to restrict his right to wiggle his dick in public.

There's a huge range of behavior the Constitution protects, and that's great. There's a huge range of behavior it doesn't protect, and that's great, too.

On the former, let's be as close to absolute as we can stand. On the latter, let's let democracy -- remember that? -- work its magic.

For my part, I'd appreciate somebody checking in to make sure no one's pooping in my refried beans at Taco Bell.
Last edited by elvissessions on Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:31 pm

I'll be days getting the straw out of my hair from the ridiculous straw man you just concocted.

Children MUST be protected from others........that somehow correlates in your mind to the Gov't stepping in to protect us from OURSELVES and out OWN decisions??? :roll:

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:37 pm

I don't find it so ridiculous. Both of you are suggesting the government can't regulate, but I'll bet I can list a few thousand regulations you'd be sick to live without.

You seem to be proposing an absolute standard on "private property," but if somebody builds an open-air gay bathhouse next door to your home, I have a feeling you'll be checking the city code for a way to shut it down.
Last edited by elvissessions on Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:44 pm

I don't really see that helmet and seat-belt laws are really in the same category, though the financial liability problem is a real one.

I don't give a crap if someone smokes away from me. Frankly, I'd like them to. Natural selection and all that.

They can suck on a smoking gun, if that's their choice.

But if somebody expects me to believe that he has a right to blow smoke in my baby's face, then we're going to have some trouble.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:21 pm

Your examples are hyperbolic and, frankly ridiculous.

Your Taco Bell one is particularly inane, and has NO correlation to the subject.

Try to follow me here........the Gov't certainly has a resposibility to shield the public from health hazards. No one suggested otherwise except you.

It is patently obvious that the reason the Gov't does this is so you will not be exposed unknowingly to hazards. You the Taco Bell guy pooping in your food behind your back..

That is NOT what we are suggesting here. We are talking about having designated and clearly marked establishments that can, at the owner's discretion, be smoking establishments.

You can walk to the non-smoking establishment down the street and never be exposed.

So, in order to make your twisted example actually correlate, the Taco Bell would have to be clearly marked as such (pooping/not pooping).

In other words, there would have to be a sign outside stating clearly that Raul the tortilla-roller may very well crap in your steaming hot chalupa.

At that point, if you are still unable to decide for yourself whether or not to dine at that particular restaurant without the nannystate providing you with direction, you have a lot bigger problems than whether Joe Schmoe is puffing a Pall Mall across the friggin street from you. :shock:

If you need the Gov't to shake your Johnson for you every time you take a leak, so be it.

The rest of us can decide for ourselves whether or not we want to go into smoking establishments without any outside help.
Last edited by Scatter on Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:22 pm

It's nice that there are more places we can go without the disgusting smell of smoke!!! :P


Sat Apr 15, 2006 3:24 pm wrote:
But if somebody expects me to believe that he has a right to blow smoke in my baby's face, then we're going to have some trouble.

What part of this don't you get?? DON'T BRING YOUR BABY WHERE THE SMOKERS ARE.

That's YOUR responsibility.........not the smoker's........not the Gov't.

Unless you feel you would HAVE to bring the baby in the clearly marked smoking establishment.........if the Gov't told you so.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:43 pm

I too hate cigarette smoking. I do occasionally enjoy a good cigar, but very rarely, and I've only started to partake over the past 2 years or so. But I agree with LTB and Scatter on this issue. Too much government intervention for my liking. At the rate we're going we'll end up like the Eloi in the Time Machine with all our needs taken care of - but little more than sheep tightly controlled by a big teet government entity. And make no mistake, to go down this path is to allow for totalitarianism to take root!

Elvisessions: I empathize with what you've said, but I'd still rather have the freedom to make the choice rather than the government taking that option away from me.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:49 pm

You're drawing the line where you like it, but no matter where you arbitrarily decide to make the split anyone can come in and offer examples of regulations everyone supports that "infringe" on private property rights.

It's easiest to work with examples in the areas of alcohol and sex as those are the most regulated legal activities -- or even better, businesses that combine the two, such as strip clubs.

But you can also apply it to every single zoning and building ordinance in the United States, some of which are quite arbitrary and have nothing to do with public safety.

It kills me when fellow conservatives who fight against the liberals' idea of a penumbral right to privacy in the Constitution all of a sudden start imagining that things like smoking should have some kind of protected status. If I'm going to start making up things in the Constitution, surely we'd all pick privacy before smoking. Unfortunately, neither one is in there.

Sorry, but cee-gars weren't on the Founding Fathers' minds when they wrote the Bill of Rights. Maybe it should have been; maybe we should work on an amendment.

But in the meantime this is one of those thousands of things in the public sphere that -- thank goodness -- people realized a long time ago can be regulated.

That's why these smoking ordinances withstand legal scrutiny at every level. The government can and does regulate businesses every day in hundreds of ways that infringe on such "precious liberties" and I've never heard a peep about them.

Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:07 pm

The smoking ban in public places came into effect on 26th March in Scotland. Since that day I haven't smoked a cigarette. :) :) Pubs and bars in Scotland were worried about a drop in takings because of the ban, but in actual fact the opposite happened. :shock: :D :D

Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:42 am

Yogi wrote:The smoking ban in public places came into effect on 26th March in Scotland. Since that day I haven't smoked a cigarette. :) :) Pubs and bars in Scotland were worried about a drop in takings because of the ban, but in actual fact the opposite happened. :shock: :D :D

Not across the board, but initial signs are quite positive. People are staying longer and spending more on both food and alcohol in many pubs. People might end up fatter and with an elevated alcohol intake, but at least they aren't smoking :wink: It will be interesting to see whether the trend holds up in the colder months when people won't want to be stood outside having a cigarette.

Personally I'm against a blanket ban. I think non-smoking areas are usually an efficient solution in pubs and restaurants. I can't think of a single local restaurant where smoke from the smoking area is a nuisance. A better solution would be to introduce minimum standards for ventilation and extraction. Where these can't be met, smoking should not be permitted on the premises. If they are met, there's really no problem with a designated smoking area.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:20 am

Of course the ban is a good thing.

This idea that it's a 'choice' to be exposed to the unhealthy smoke is a myth.

Other diners/drinkers/customers/employees get exposed too.

And to say the workers 'don't have to work there' is harking back to Victorian times.

Back then, they could have said about all the dangerous working conditions "Oh well, if people don't like it, they can work elsewhere".

That's no way to treat a workforce.

And then there are the entertainers.

In the UK, we remember the non-smoking trumpeter, Roy Castle, who died from lung cancer after years of performing in smoke-filled clubs.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:52 am

I'm not against government regulating issues that affect the public at large. You use the case of a man wiggling his member in public as an example as an example. However, if a person owns a privately owned club that you have to pay to frequent I don't think the government has the right to tell someone that they can't be naked in that club.

It's the same with smoking. The case with the bars and clubs and restaurants is that if you are a non-smoker you have to SEEK these places out. You have to pay to eat there or drink there. The don't work there option works because there are plenty of places in the same field that don't have smoking. I have no objection to banning smoking in a government building. It's government owned and operated. People often have to come there out of necessity. There is every right to regulate those buildings. But when it is inside your own building and the only people being hurt are the GROWN ADULTS who CHOOSE to be there it's just overreach. I'm not saying you have the right to smoke any damn where you please but you certainly right to smoke in doors in a privately building with the consent of the owners. I don't even object to the government offering incentives for non-smoking businesses.

And if a person who is non-smoker chooses to work at a place where there is smoking sometimes you have to make a sacrifice to get a greater reward. That's just life. Two weeks ago I ran myself ragged working. I would have rather have not done that. It was not good for my health, not good for my mental well being. But I wanted the extra money. Very seldom do you get to have your cake and eat it too.

The economic issue of it potentially hurting business is secondary to me in importance to being able to control your own destiny.

I think the Founding Fathers would be very disappointed to see how far the government has gone into sticking its hands into our individual lives.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:14 am

likethebike wrote:The don't work there option works because there are plenty of places in the same field that don't have smoking.

It doesn't work, though.

Any employer with any unsafe working conditions could say 'If they don't like it, they can always work elsewhere'.

As I pointed out, that is a Victorian attitude.

The employers' responsibility is to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

The government's responsibility is to provide legislation to achieve this, and to monitor employers to see they abide by it.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:56 pm

I am glad it is prohibited on airplanes and lifts or elevators.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:05 pm

This war on smoking is a total waste of time, everytime you go outside you breath a lung full of traffic fumes in. And no I'm not a smoker never smoked in my life

Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:19 pm

It's not a valid comparison Colin because unlike in that era there are so many options in that field. And more the safety issue is not great as many, many jobs are far more dangerous. Even more, it is very rare for a place not to have a non-smoking section and a non-smoker's exposure to smoke can be effectively limited. My point is that no one is denied a career in waiting because of this.

You can never be completely safe from any health hazard. To me the risk of eventually contracting a disease by occasional contact with smoke is worth it for the freedom. I just don't want the government telling me what to do.

Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:33 pm

Where I live in Ontario, Canada, we are going smoke free as of June 1st. No smoking anywhere is allowed and working in a casino, we have no idea how this ban will effect our business, not to mention employees who cannot smoke in our building. What sickens me is the goverment has issued this ban, but will continue to sell smokes in stores.

Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:11 am

Think of the many problems that we wouldn't have if no one smoked.
I say ban smoking altogether. Just look at what it does to a person (and their families) and the cost to the health system. Driving along the road and this Mother has a child in it's car chair and the mother is smoking. The poor child has to breath it all in. Everywhere you go we have to breath it in because people want to harm there bodies by smoking. Cough Cough!!!
There have been many cases of people getting sick because others smoke. Oh yeah they could get a new job where there is no smoking!!!!
Not that easy!!!
Ban it altogeter and have a helthier world I say!!! :P


Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:17 am

You are going to die someday. Nothing and no one can stop that. We're on the verge of sacrificing for living for a longer existence.

The cost thing is not that big an issue to me because you are going to sick and die one of these days.

Hot dogs are unhealthy. Why don't we place a ban on them? Eggs?

It is way easy to get a job in a smoke free environment. Most malls don't permit smoking. Many restaurants don't permit smoking. The difference is these places did it on their own. I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to want to go someplace where they can smoke. Let grown people decide for themselves.

Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:14 am

sam wrote:Just look at what it does to a person (and their families) and the cost to the health system.

Smokers contribute vast sums to the UK Government via taxation every year. This tax revenue exceeds the estimated cost to the National Health Service of smoking-related illnesses by a massive margin. Obesity is in fact a much greater burden on the NHS, so perhaps the next step is to ban or tax the hell out of fatty foods?

Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:53 am

likethebike wrote:I don't think it's unreasonable for someone to want to go someplace where they can smoke. Let grown people decide for themselves.

Yes but a lot of them don't really care about the non smokers, as to the where.

The back porch!!! :wink: