Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I read the news today. Oh boy.

Is it any wonder why I want to leave Cowtown? The election results came in last night and Columbus voters defeated Issue No. 2, which would've struck a compromise in the city-wide smoking ban by providing an exemption for bars that get 65% of their revenues from alcohol. Just some points that are rarely brought up in this debate:

-The whole issue is framed as a public health one. It's not. It's a private property rights issue. The public health issue flies out of the door when you realize that the anti-tobacco crowd rely on fudged, sometimes outright deceitful, data. I can accept a smoking ban in public places. But why should the government be granted even more intrusion into the rights of private citizens?

-Every day the notion of assumption of the risk is eroding in this country. Only an idiot wouldn't know that smoking unhealthy. When you go to a bar, you expect to be exposed to second-hand smoke. If you don't like it, you can choose to stay home or go elsewhere.

-If there's enough of a demand, the free market will create smoke-free options. Just look at Applebee's and their decision to go smoke-free. This decision wasn't based on a governmental mandate, but from a business standpoint.

-Take a look at the most vocal anti-smokers: do these busybodies seem like the people that would frequent a bar? No. It is the perpetuation of the Nanny State - "I know what's best for you."

-For those with rallying cry "Think about our children!" I say: CHILDREN DON'T GO TO BARS.

-Smokers actually derive enjoyment from smoking. Some even make a trade-off: pleasure for health. This is a hard concept for the anti-tobacco crowd to grasp.

-People don't go to bars to be healthy. Alcohol's not good for you either. They tried prohibition for that and you know the outcome.

I thought that Issue No. 2 would be a fair compromise, even though I am completely against trampling on the rights of private property owners. After all, bar revenues in Columbus are down 35% since the smoking ban took effect. But it was voted down. I sure hope that all those in favor of the ban go out to bars a lot more often, if not to sustain business, then to save jobs.

Columbus City Council President Matt Habash was quoted in today's Columbus Dispatch as saying, "We're going after the statewide next." *shudder* Anti-smoking zealots, neo-prohibitionists, busybodies, and other members of the Fun Police...assemble!

And am I the only one annoyed by the self-righteous little shits in The Truth commercials?

Full disclosure: I am not a smoker, except for the periodic fine cigar. And occasionally I'll bum a cigarette from a friend at a bar to jokingly "look cool." But I don't inhale. :)

29 comments:

Kristen said...

This was truly an upset victory for the anti-smokers. The Issue 2 people were talking like they were going to win as late as yesterday afternoon.

Micah said...

Yeah, that surprise me, too. Guess the anti-smoking folks were able to spurn their Nervous Nellies to vote.

Michelle said...

I'm here via panthergirl but I think I've been here before. just wanted to say that my hubby (a former smoker) gets highly annoyed at those the truth commercials too. so you're not alone there!

ps - he's also annoyed by the whole smoking ban thing.

Micah said...

Thanks for stopping by, michelle. I like your husband already!

The Law Fairy said...

I'm what people call a "social smoker" (you know, one of those annoying people who rarely buys her own cigarettes but bums them off of unsuspecting strangers at bars). The whole anti-smoking thing gets on my nerves. I know it's bad for me. So is my excessive drinking. Kindly f* off.

I think smoking bans are okay in places where the weather is nice (e.g., my future home, LA), because going outside to smoke isn't as horribly inconvenient (as long as the drink nazis don't make you leave your drinnk inside. I HATE that). But anywhere in the midwest? Come on, haven't you heard of winter? That's like cruel and unusual punishment.

Micah said...

law fairy - You smoke, yet you realize it's bad for you? And you're not hooked on nicotine? Clutch the pearls! HOW CAN THIS BE?!

You're not kidding about having to step outside in the freezing cold. And it's not just winter in the Midwest. Hell, it freakin' snowed last week and we tied a record low of 31 degrees yesterday. At least the empty bar stools won't get cancer.

spydrz said...

Sounds like more reason to return to the land of cheap cigarettes.

panthergirl said...

I love the Truth commercials. I hate smoking and smokers. I'm not sure how I feel about no-smoking laws for private establishments, and would probably be happy if there were enough smoke-free bars for people to socialize at, and so that bartenders wouldn't have to get sick.

It's not a matter of babysitting, Micah. We ALL pay for smoking-related illness and death. We pay in the high cost of health insurance, and we pay when our children lose a parent.

It's like the seatbelt law. If you are injured or killed in a car accident because you're not wearing a seatbelt, you are not the only victim.

Micah said...

panthergirl - I'll have to respectfully disagree with you. Personally, I don't like cigarette smoke, either, but who am I mandate my wishes on others? What about the person drinking? Or eating too much? Or having sex? Or skydiving? Or using a chainsaw? Everything can kill you and these people choose to engage in this behavior. Like I said, I have no problem with smoking bans in public property. But bars are not public areas. The property owner should be able to dictate whatever policies he wants on his property.

As for the bartender, that's his choice to work in that environment. If he feels it is unsafe, he can find work elsewhere. He assumes the risk.

Regarding smoking costing society, smokers actually pay above and beyond what they take. Allow myself to quote...myself. This is from a law school paper about the anti-smoking zealots:

"The Justice Department claims that it costs the federal government more than $20 billion per year to treat smoking related diseases. In its 1993 report, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the U.S. Congress estimated that the social cost of smoking were $68 billion, or $2.59 per pack. Most of the costs included in the OTA’s report are those assumed by the smoker, such as lost earnings caused by illness and a shorter life span, though. One report has the state governments of Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, and Virginia spending 1.7 to 6.8 cents per pack on medical care.

These estimates may seem to justify the federal and state government’s a efforts to deter smoking, but the truth is that what smokers pay in taxes more than make up for an medical costs associated with smoking. At the time of the study of the state governments, Mississippi had a tax of eighteen cents per pack, which was more than ten times the state’s cost of smoking-related medical care. New York’s fifty-six cents per pack tax was more than eight times its medical care costs. Even Virginia, which had the lowest cigarette taxes in the nation at 2.5 cents per pack, still managed to take more in excise taxes than what it spent on medical care.

The reality is that smokers die earlier than non-smokers, which create savings for taxpayers. Smokers pay an average of fifty-three cents per pack of cigarettes. By spending less time in nursing homes and collecting a lesser amount of their retirement pensions, smokers save taxpayers the equivalent of twenty cents per pack in nursing home care and $1 per pack in lower pension and Social Security costs. A New England Journal of Medicine article estimated that if every smoker were to quit immediately, medical costs would drop in the short term, but then rise even higher in twenty to thirty years because of their increased life span. Based on the thirty billion packs of cigarettes sold in the U.S. each year, smokers pay $15.9 billion more than necessary in costs imposed on others. Essentially, smokers are paying taxpayers for the right to smoke in addition to creating savings for them by dying earlier."

(If you want, I can e-mail you the whole paper)

As for The Truth kids, when did members of the Fun Police become so young?

KPMD said...

As a fellow libertarian, you know that I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a doctor, I understand the astronomical costs of treating smoking related disease (btw, the most common smoking related disease is actually atherosclerois, not cancer). However, Micah is right that smokers do not live as long and thus do not create a drain on the health care system. As to the children without parents, people choose to smoke and choose to have children, perhaps the responsibility lies with the individual to choose between the two?

And those Truth kids (right or not) are so goddamn self-righteous - they make me want to start smoking just to piss them off.

Micah said...

Word, babe. Glad to have you back in the Colonies.

KPMD said...

Glad to be back, on soooooooo many levels (except for the "being on a different continent from my husband" one).

spydrz said...

Welcome back. Which weird potato chips did you try?

KPMD said...

Only the best...Walker's Crisps, Salt & Vinegar. I don't mess around, my friend.

Micah said...

Damn. I should've had you bring me back a case of ketchup or cheddar & onion crisps. And some Tizer. (Wonder if that make a diet version)

spydrz said...

I bought a six-pack of Sainsbury's Sausage and Tomato chips for 89p. That's like $10 in real money.

KPMD said...

I would have gladly smuggled foodstuffs back for you. However, my suitcase was a bit full with four bottles of wine. Just a little more tasty than sausage and tomato crisps.

downtownlad said...

The smoking ban isn't so ban. You get used to it. Plus, you save a lot of money on dry cleaning.

spydrz said...

English wine? Is it "savoury" like everything else there? I guess you couldn't try the sausage and onion on ciabatta sandwich at Albert's. Best English food I've ever had.

panthergirl said...

KPMD, this topic is very close to my heart, because my ex-husband, my son's dad, died of lung cancer when my son was 8. While he may have chosen between smoking and having children, my son had no choice in the matter.

Call me biased, but I am living with the effects of smoking every day, on those left behind.

Again, I am not saying that I'm sure smoking should be "banned" in public establishments, just expressing my passionate disdain for the tobacco industry and smoking in general.

Micah said...

downtown lad - Believe me, I hate coming home from a bar, reeking of smoke. But it's not about what I prefer.

panthergirl - I'm truly sorry for your loss and I'm sure it must be hard for you and your son. But most times emotions tend to cloud reason. Not just in the "smoking ban" thing, but in pretty much every issue.

panthergirl said...

Micah, as I posted on my blog...I know that it's hard for me to be objective. No question. And of course, no hard feelings. xoxox

KPMD said...

panthergirl - I too am sorry for your loss. I have seen many people die because of smoking and it kills me every time I see it. My Dad is a long time smoker who quit the day my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unfortunately, when he started smoking he didn't have the kind of info (as I'm sure your son's Dad didn't either) to steer him away. I just hate the idea that we are seen by government as incapable of making our own life and death decisions. As much as it would be wonderful if it could, the government cannot save us from ourselves.

PB said...

I have mixed Emotions about the smoking ban, I have issues with telling people they can't smoke on the off chance I might be stopping by, but on the other hand I'd be lying if I didn't say that I enjoyed bars alot more now that they are nonsmoking.

Cigar Jack said...

I used to be a 2 packs/day cigarette smoker and I know a 2 or 3 cigars a week cigar smoker. We are trying are hardest to keep this from happening in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is trying so hard to revive the downtown area, and a smoking ban would crush it. All they would accomplish is driving more business across the river into Kentucky. Where most of the downtown crowd goes after work already. All you need to do is look at Buffalo, NY and see what the smoking ban had done there. I believe this is something that should be left up to business owners.

Also I'm happy to find another Ohio Blogger and will be Blog Rolling you. :)

Kevin said...

First off, The Truth campaign is funded for the most part by the tobacco companies as part of their settlements when idiots sued them and other idiots awarded. Second, I'm inhaling deeply on a Winston right now, loving every minute of it. Something has to kill you and I personally abhor fast food. As for statistics on secondhand smoke, Twain says that there are "lies, damned lied and statistics". They've been force feeding us skewed statistics on divorce rates being 50% for years (in actuality it is lower as not one survey so far can possibly take into account all existing marraiges so they base it on weddings in a year and divorces for that same year). My grandfather, greatgrandfather and uncle died from Heart disease, Diabetes and a car accident respectively. I chose to drive and smoke, but avoid sugar (I am also diabetic) and a crappy diet. we chose our deaths, but only to some extent. When that ticket gets pulled, you're out. Carbon is hungry for carbon and we're all gonna go. All respect to everyone involved, but fuck all this legislation. Shouldn't the proprioters be able to decide and in turn patrons where they invest? Isn't that less government and free choice stuff part of the idea of having a republic?

Tracy said...

Smoking in public places has been recently been banned in Mpls.

I'm a happy guy.

I'm also a scientist and would be quite happy do debate the legitimacy of such bills, as it pertains to health and physiology.

Pearl said...

It's counterintuitive isn't it? People who drink often also smoke. To have a bar with no smoke is close to a bar with no beer. But the ban has been working in Ontario for business. Sales and business are actually up since the majority of people don't smoke or are smoke aversive.

Micah said...

Thanks for your input, everybody. It's great to see some many different perspectives, even though I KNOW that I'm right. :)