No smoke for you

I said I would write about the Jersey smoking ban, so here it is. Yeah, I know I say I’ll write about a lot of things, but I actually meant it this time.

HOORAY!

Really, that’s all that’s necessary. There’s nothing more to be said. It’s a GOOD thing. And there’s absolutely nothing you can say that can change my mind. Go ahead, try all of the arguments:

  • Businesses will lose money – Oh really? So New York restaurants and bars are shutting down? New Yorkers suddenly thought it was hip to go into New Jersey when their ban was imposed? I really want some stats that show me that people suddenly stopped going out because they couldn’t smoke anymore. Hell, just find me one person. On the other hand, I count myself and Lisa among many who have gone out less and less due to the prevalence of smoke. Are there some losses? Of course, but there are also some gains.
  • Smoking is a personal right – Sure, so go exercise your right at home, where it doesn’t infringe on my personal right to breath. Seriously, since when are your personal rights more important than mine? Smoking affects EVERYONE AROUND YOU. This isn’t some corny PSA, this is an unavoidable fact. When you smoke, that smoke goes into the air that all the people around you are breathing. And that’s the stuff so bad even you want a filter on it.
  • Bars and restaurants are private businesses and should be allowed to make the decision themselves – This one almost makes sense. ALMOST. But once again, the right of the private business does not extend beyond that of the individual. Or should we do away with fire codes? Afterall, if a business owner and his clients are willing to pack 200 people in a 10′ x 10′ room, why shouldn’t they? What about health codes in general? Why should employees have to wear hairnets? You don’t want to eat bad meat or deal with a potentially dangerous occupancy, then go somewhere else. It’s as simple as that.
  • Smoking doesn’t really cause cancer, you’ve just been brainwashed – I seriously saw this one on a forum. I cannot believe someone that ignorant could figure out how to use a computer.

I know everybody loves to whip out analogies for these types of arguments and point out how banning smoking is like banning alcohol or something like that, but it’s not. All of you analogies suck. How do I know? Because they do. Seriously, I’ve read them all, and they all suck. Smoking is not like alcohol or fatty foods or any other substances you would like to claim can slowly kill you but are considered “okay” in public. Last week when I downed 4 or 5 Guinness and a couple Maker’s Mark, not a single drop harmed anybody around me. Maybe my liver suffered a bit, but I did not risk injury or disease towards anyone but myself. The smokers in that same bar, however, did damage to my own lungs along with their own. There was no way to avoid it. Even my friend who made sure to blow her smoke away from us hurt me. Maybe my clothes didn’t smell as much because she was considerate, but eventually that smoke did make it’s way up my nose and into my lungs. I can assure you, however, that every drop of the Maker’s Mark went through my own liver.

Listen, I’m all for personal freedoms. You want to go kill yourself? Fine, be my guest. We all have our poisons and we all make our personal choices as to how to handle them. But that’s only hunky-dory as long as those choices don’t affect others around you. As long as you keep blowing smoke out at other people, it is no longer strictly a “personal freedom.”

10 thoughts on “No smoke for you”

  1. Wroteth Thom:
    “Bars and restaurants are private businesses and should be allowed to make the decision themselves – This one almost makes sense. ALMOST. But once again, the right of the private business does not extend beyond that of the individual. Or should we do away with fire codes? Afterall, if a business owner and his clients are willing to pack 200 people in a 10? x 10? room, why shouldn’t they? What about health codes in general? Why should employees have to wear hairnets? You don’t want to eat bad meat or deal with a potentially dangerous occupancy, then go somewhere else. It’s as simple as that.”

    I do have to chime in my two cents here, even though I agree with you overall. I generally believe that we should let businesses do what they want, and allow marketplace forces determine what choices they should make. If they want to allow smoking, let them. Eventually, “Smoke free” bars will open, and the marketplace will decide if they are to be successful.

    The health and fire codes serve a good purpose, since I have neither the time nor the knowledge to properly evaluate the fire safety or health condition of the resturants I visit. Personally, i would love to see both the fire codes and the health codes replaced with a mandatory notification of current conditions and government recomendations.

    That is, every place of business should have a big sign on the outside that says, “the local municipality recommends there be no more than XX people in this establishement. There are currently YY. If YY is greater than XX, enter at your own risk. The sign should also be inside so I can decide if I should leave.

    Further each resturant should have the results of their latest health inspection, as well as the government recommended maximum finding for each category as part of their menu.

    The front page should be in the format:

    Finding Recomended Max
    Rat Droppings: 3 4
    Cockroaches 17 2

    Decide for yourself if it is safe to eat or enter a business. That would be a viable analogy. After all, I can always enter a resturant, look around, see 4 smokers, and decide whether or not to stay.

    Why shouldn’t I have the same type of choices with the fire and health codes?

  2. I think that would be a rather fun way to deal with health codes.

    As for leaving the smoking decision up to the marketplace, that’s great in theory but has shown very little change in practice and that’s why I fully support the law. I started to poke around for sites that listed smoke-free places and was surprised at how many options there were. The I started to read the names: Panera, Chuck E Cheese, Bagel Junction, etc. It was largely chains, some pizzerias, and breakfast places. It’s not like an Irish pub or some good local restaurants have tried to get rid of the smoking element on their own.

    The problem is that in most places it’s too risky for an owner to make such a radical move because of the competition. Take Hoboken for example – outside of chains, delis, and bagel shops there wasn’t a single smokefree environment before the ban. Why? Because they know that almost every group of friends has at least one smoker in the midst. And that one person is going to insist on a place where they can smoke. That isn’t an absolute certainty, but it’s going to be really hard to compete in a city with high rents and a big turnover in new businesses.

    That takes the marketplace out of the equation. I didn’t have a choice while there – unless driving 30 minutes outside of a city with 150 bars to go drink is really considered an option. I’d like to think that the marketplace would eventually catch up, but two decades ago we pretty much all saw the same slides of diseased lungs and watched aunts and uncles wasiting away from smoke and people our age still picked up cigarettes. So I don’t really have much confidence that it will change on its own in my lifetime.

  3. And yet, allergy sufferers, which I will state once again that anaphalactic shock causes instantaneous death have to play russian roulette in restaurants.

    I guess it’s only important when it affects you, but when it infringes on your ability to get pad thai, nobody cares.

    Sigh.

    I give up. Apparently nobody cares about the rights of business owners. It’s a wonder that anyone starts a business these days… and yet people bitch about the Walmarts and the Best Buys taking over.

  4. I never said anything about allergy sufferers. I am in favor of laws that require restaurants to specify what may have been used in food and, if they claim to not have any nuts in them, to make sure they are cooked on a separate surface, etc. But there are two big differences in the situation:
    – allergies only effects a portion of the population – smoke effects everyone.
    – non-smoking requirements only directly effects consumers – allergy-related requirements can dramatically effect how a business works

    Similarly, I didn’t mention the exemption for casinos – which I think is bullshit. And the bars in that area are really going to get screwed. But I’ll take what I can get – afterall, it’s not like any of them ever cared about the nonsmoking patrons getting screwed.

    And just because I don’t feel that one particular “right” of business owners is not legislatable does not mean I don’t care about them at all.

  5. Well Thom, you made two statements that I have to comment on. First, that every group of friends has one smoker in it, and second, that they will insist on a place where they can smoke.

    From that, we can infer the following: people care to little about their own health to inconvenience their friends that do smoke, by insisting they go somewhere that does not allow smoking. Hence, the marketplace has spoken, and the health risks of smoking are not significant enough to bother the majority of people.

    The way for this to go the other way is for the people who don’t smoke to insist, as forcefully, that the group go someplace smoke free. Stand up, and be as annoying as the smokers. Don’t cave in and just go along with it.

    If the concern of the majority of people was to avoid smoking, and still go out with their friends, more smoke free businesses would be established. Until then, the right mix exists now. So the smoking ban is counterproductive to a free marketplace economy, and should not have been passed.

  6. I get to deal with Eva’s allergies all the time as well, and it left me wondering how nice it would be if the government/medical community had an ever-growing database of known allergies, and if makers of products and restaurants were required to post or otherwise make available any ingredients that are on that list. I also began to wonder why that hasn’t already be done, but then again, I see plenty on a day to day basis that reminds me that this is probably a long ways off.

    I’ve seen a lot more warnings in recent years if something contains nuts, but it still sucks when you find a new one, or something that isn’t in the ingredients list. And by find, I mean find the hard way.

  7. @ Steve – We’ll probably just have to agree to disagree. While technically the marketplace may have spoken, it was somewhat fixed to begin with. I use Hoboken as an example, because I basically would have had to drive out of the county in order to find a smokefree bar. That’s not really much of an option. It would be like offering a hybrid car that only goes 40 mph and then claiming that poor sales show people aren’t interested. Sure, I could drive slower – but it would be impractical and hinder my ability to travel.

    At the very least, I can’t remember the last time I actually sat in a smoking section regardless of who I was with.

    @ Mark – The big problem is, there’s a wide variety of allergies and a much smaller portion of the population that is effected. It’s really good to see that some companies are pushing forward with warnings (I know Panera puts info up, and recommends people to ask for specifics), but I honestly don’t know what else can be done. Perhaps creating some designation for restaurants that are most careful with keeping food products separate and reserving certain cooking surfaces for specific meal preparations. I don’t know – but it would really have to be somewhat voluntary

  8. And having no bars in either New York or New Jersey where smokers can smoke hinders their abilities as well. And forcing all private business owners to obey an unjust law that shits in the face of free market economics is impractical and hinders their abilities to make money the way they best think they can.

    Of course, they’re the abused minority in this scenario, so I guess it’s “right”

    And smoking doesn’t affect anyone. Even if you believe that secondhand smoke has an effect, it still only affects those who go to places that allow people to smoke. Nobody is forcing anyone to go to a bar.

  9. Quite frankly, a truly “free market” is impractical in and of itself and doesn’t exist here in the U.S. Cigarettes are the perfect example of that – they are already heavily taxed and regulated. That, in and of itself, pretty much removes them from the concept of a free markt.

    And don’t expect me to feel sorry for this “abused” minority. Smoking is not a right. If you want to paint the law as unjust, I really don’t care. The inconvenience will be good for them. You’re right, no one is forcing me to go to bars – and fortunately nobody will be forcing the smokers to do so either. But then again, they could simply choose not to smoke while out – I cannot choose not to breathe.

  10. “Smoking is not a right. If you want to paint the law as unjust, I really don’t care.”

    Smoking is not a right, but the ability for a private business owner to decide whether or not they want to allow smoking in their establishments is… or should be.

    And really it’s a shame that people, if they feel so strongly about this, cannot stand up to their “friends” and tell them that no, they will not accompany them to a place that allows smoking and would rather pussy out on their convictions and then have the nerve to demand that the government make this ridiculous nanny law. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    As for their not being a free market right now, you’re correct. That doesn’t make it right, though.

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