Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The other side of the coin

Smoking bans in bars have a cost that often get ignored by the Mommy crusaders: Smokers stop going to bars, and the entrepreneurs suffer.

Before you say " no one cares about them anyway, those filthy cancer-spewing polluters," think about this: you are going to a bar to drink a poisonous mind-altering substance, and, if you are lucky, to have the shot at contracting a sexually transmitted disease, but you still want to be free from second-hand smoke? Protect those lungs from cancer, never mind the liver and genitals!

As for the "overall results positive" section of the linked article, I don't buy it because it is speculative and vague. Furthermore, even if it turns out to be a good thing for businesses (doubtful), there is no need to use the power of government to help out the bars. I thought lefties were against corporate welfare.


matthew said...


I agree with you, and as a fellow libertarian I completely understand your reasoning.

So let me make a confession: when I leave a bar nowadays, and I don't smell like smoke, sometimes I secretly am glad that smoking was banned.

Just had to get that off my chest.

Dying in Infamy said...


as a "going-to-hell-leftie," I thought it only proper to spin this post the way it should be spun. First of all, by "kicking out" the smokers, you fail to realize the other side of the coin - non-smokers will once again flood to the establishments, and in the case of restaurants, families will go to restaurants that are known to be smoke-free.

Furthermore, sex is a good thing. Every doctor will tell you that. STDs are easily avoidable will certain precautions, and alcohol is actually good for your system in measured doses.

As to government interference, I'll take the stance that sometimes people don't know what's good for them. It's painful sometimes, but in the end, it's for the best. That said, I do agree that interference can be a bad thing, but protecting the health of non-smoking diners and drinkers is a proper function of government.

Dying in Infamy said...

p.s. I miss you, and your insatiable appetite for wine.

Pink Elephant said...

Dying, dying, dying. Please note that I am focused on bars. I will grant that smoking in restaraunts is different from smoking bars. However, non-smokers are perfectly welcome to frequent the independently smoke free restaraunts that have popped up regardless of smoking bans. Even in tobacco producing states, I am amazed at how often my "non-smoking section please" is met with a "we're all non-smoking." If it's good for business, it catches on: thereby creating an opportunity of niche smoker's allowed restaurants. Works out for everybody without the need for oppressive and paternalistic regulation.

Bars are a different animal. No matter how you try to spin the health beefits of alcohol consumtion in moderation, you can't escape the fact that few people go to bars to drink in moderation. Drinking in moderation is more like having a glass of wine along with dinner, not patronizing an establishment with the sole business of providing alcohol. It seems more than a little hypocritical to drink four glasses of poison and then bitch about "second-hand smoke."

Finally, by your "save me from teh unhealthy habits of others" argument people should be fined for not washing their hands after using the bathroom. Maybe we should make it a law that people with strep throat or pink eye should be quarentined, forcibly if necessary. When in your view does this kind of regulation become oppressive? To paraphrase Uncle Milty: the market gives people what they want instead what a small group thinks they should want; a lack of faith in the market is a lack of faith in freedom itself. I think I'll go have a scotch and a cigar before they're taken from me for good. Denny Crane.

Icon said...

Some miscellaneous thoughts and opinions:

Philly, NYC and Delaware have banned smoking in bars (except for outdoor areas such as decks.) In my opinion, their business doesn not seem to have been hurt; still pretty lively places at the times I visit. I'm not sure how important the smoking element might be, but there is certainly a large element of the gay population that does not frequent bars and therefore becomes less accessible. Sure wish I were more successful at meeting these men.

I local bar in Harrisburg was tolerable, as far as smoke was concerned. They recently renovated their air handling. Now there are spots that are downright drafty and places where smoke scatters unpredictably in eddy currents. If more attention was paid to HVAC design, perhaps there would be less pressure to ban smoking.

I have never smoked. (As a result, casual/occasional use of pot has never appealed to me, even though I am not fundamentally opposed to it.) I object that my closet smells awful from my contaminated clothing the morning after a night out. It is often (not always) objectionable to kiss a person who is a smoker. Sometimes it's like sticking my tongue into an ashtray.

I have discovered a down side to smoking bans. I am used to being able to survey the patrons of a bar, noting the smokers by their supplies lying on the bar. Under smoking bans, it's more difficult to identify smokers.

As a medical professional, I'm torn between my defense of individual liberties (and responsibilities) and my recognition of the cost imflicted upon society in general by many of our "bad habits." When The Clintons were proposing their health care reform, it occured to me that perhaps registrants might be offered a choice: a card entitling one to broad healh care coverage or one to purchase and use tobacco products, but you can't have both! Of course, my desire is that I be able to be rewarded for my conscientious attempt to maintain a healthful lifestyle. In a relative sense, perhaps this means that those who do not should pay more.

I note that there has recently been some sharp discussions behind which the participants have avoided the placard of anonymity. Kudos to all!