Monday, March 22, 2004

Smokers Phased Out... Again

It's coming, and coming soon. The dreaded smoking ban begins April 1st in Connecticut, and I, for one, am upset.

Yes, I'm a smoker. That states the obvious reason, but in reality, there are so many others.

I have no dilemma with not smoking in a restaurant. I can fully understand the aggravation of a non-smoker trying to eat and chewing down a large cloud of carbon monoxide. I don't have a problem with it at all, but I do find it odd to ban it in a bar.

New York City has done this. I've been there numerous times since the ban, and it sucks. I've read all kinds of articles about the economical windfall following the law, with losses, on average, of 30% of customers according to NYNewsday.

This brings to mind the days of Prohibition and the Speakeasy. Making a law that forces people to give up something they enjoy generally doesn't go well when they already have a well established lifestyle. The motivation, is of course, the health of non-smokers and employees. First of all, half the people that don't smoke light up at a bar. I've seen it, and many times. I'd say that at least half of bartenders in the places I frequent smoke themselves. A good bar owner will have an impressive ventilation system that removes the majority of smoke. Besides, come on, booze and cigs are like bread and butter.

But what kind of precedent does this set? If I'm allergic to perfume, is it going to get banned from a bar? I have sensitive ears, hooting and hollering and laughing loud: banned. I'm agoraphobic, so when I go to a bar, everyone has to leave. Ridiculousness.

I would say there are much smarter, slower methods. Consider, perhaps, taxing smoking bars. Let the owners decide what kind of losses they want to take, and let employees pick where they'd like to work. Already you have a financial option that the government might be a bit more interested in. Make a law that these bars also have to have a ventilation system that rotates through the air n-times per hour. Stop selling packs of cigarettes at bars. There are many options that are seemingly ignored. Even if you wanted to be really drastic, implement a law that cigarettes cannot be sold to anyone born after April 1st, 2004. Phase things out slowly... it's the way to institute change without rebellion.

I considered writing my congressman, governor, etc., but I know it isn't worth the time. Perhaps business will be the ones who really control the attention of the aforementioned representatives of the people.

But I'm betting against it.

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