Saturday, December 10, 2005

A few thoughts on the recent smoking ban. I quit smoking about 5 years ago now and when I go out to places that allow smoking it really bothers me but I plan for it. I try to get a table by the door/window and wear clothes I don't mind smelling like an ashtray for 3 washings. if it gets too unpleasant, I go home. I have lots of friends who smoke and I would not want them to stay at home or be forced outdoors every time they wanted/needed a cigarette. Perhaps it is not always the case but smokers tend to be people with a more cavalier attitude towards life and in my opinion are often the life of any party.

The argument has been made that this will protect the bartenders and waitresses in these establishments from second hand smoke. I think that is somewhat logical but is really just an argument used to break down the opposition's argument that people can choose to go to a bar or resatauant that allows these things or choose to go to a place that chooses not to allow smoking on their own. The idea being that the employees do not have a choice. Fact is, they new they were going to be working in a smoky environment. Drinking and smoking go hand in hand. I know many people who only smoke when they drink and others who chain smoke when drinking who usually smoke very little. Anyone who does not expect a smoky environment when they apply for work at a bar must never have been in a bar in Chicago.

I also wonder how this will effect other businesses aside from bars. One in particular is the obligatory smoking lounges at funeral parlors. I know it is a little grim to think about, but can you imagine having to tell a grieving person that they need to go outside to smoke in the rain (15 feet away from the building no less) when a loved one has just passed? I would not have the nerve to do it.


Sheesh said...

My mom is a smoker, so this doesn't specifically apply, but I'm sure the argument holds for others in similar situations - as a life-time server and bartender, she didn't really have many other "career" options. Given the choice of having a job that pays the bills and puts food on the table, and subjecting herself to second hand smoke or not working in a bar or restaurant because of the cigarette smoke, she would have had to deal with the smoke. Not really a choice there.

I've lived in Brookline (borders Boston), where bars and restaurants are all smoke-free, and it did not seem to affect the businesses. I'm not sure this argument really holds much water.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm in favor of a smoking ban.

humanist said...

I'm all for people being healthy but I wonder what reasoning there is behind this idea that only second hand smoke has given everyone lung cancer or asthma.

I believe it would be fair to say that the exhaust produced by the acceleration of one CTA bus could easily affect someone's lungs way more than ventilated exposure to second hand smoke.

If the city wants to ban smoking to protect workers that's fine, but it is a little hypocritcal to say we don't want to see you but we want to fund everyone's city services wit the draconian taxes we collect from you.

Little known is the fact that when taxes are raised on cigarettes they are literally raised on cigarettes not tobacco products. Does that mean cigar and pipe smoke do not have the same ill effect? Or does that mean they are the tobacco products of choice used by the rich and powerful, once again putting the tax burden on the little guyand giving the wealthy a pass.

The Lung Association went on a huge campaign to limit the amount of time diesel producing vehicles such as trucks and buses could sit idling on the street. Diesel fumes have also been proven to cause severe respiratory ailments and diesel particles are known carcinogens. In light of this knowledge, should we ban buses and trucks from idling next to sidewalk cafes? Or should we reuire that these cafes cannot be located within 15 feet of a bus stop? Or to protect everyone's health should we ban them altogether?

What I question is the motivation. Doing nothing about diesel fumes, giving tobacco stores with cigar smoking rooms a pass on the ban (so we don't care about the health of smokers only non-smokers?),and not assessing taxes on tobacco products across the board is strangely hypocritcal and incongruent with their supposed motivations.

I have much more respect for the mayor of Elk Grove Village who said that if they vote to ban smoking in the village, they will also ban the sale of tobacco. He thought it unfair to banish the people and treat them as lepers then collect taxes from them the benefits of which would be shared by all.

I don't think Daley has the b---- to do that.

Paradise said...

It seems to me that if we have banned smoking because of the risks of second hand smoke to restaurant workers, that we must now ban all businesses whose workers are exposed to a variety of hazards that are much more unhealthy to work around.

Workers in a variety of services and industries are exposed to pathogens, poisonous fumes, and/or are placed at extreme risk of serious injury from accidents as a result of their work.

Will we now ban coal mining, which is one of the most dangerous and unhealthy occupations in the world? I mean, consider the hazards inherent in it- black lung disease and mine collapses come immediately to mind.

What about plastics manufacturing? Workers are commonly exposed to poisonous chemicals and fumes.

I no longer smoke, and try to be in places where no one else does. However, I believe that business owners should be permitted to run their businesses as they please as long as they do not create a neighborhood nuisance or hazard. We who don't wish to be around tobacco smoke were, prior to the ban, free to patronize the majority of restaurants that did not permit smoking before the ban.