Bans in Bars

Last week, two state legislatures voted on smoking bans. The bill in Kansas passed, but a similar bill in Indiana failed. With the new Kansas law, 38 states now restrict smoking in some public places, and 28 states forbid smoking in bars.

Proponents of anti-smoking legislation argue that second-hand smoke is dangerous and that state residents have a right to breathe clean indoor air. While medical evidence demonstrates that in fact second-hand smoke is a risk, these activists ignore that individuals are free not to patronize businesses that allow smoking, and businesses are free to ban smoking if they choose to do so.

A Michigan restaurant owner explains:

“Eleven years ago, there were 2,200 smoke-free restaurants in the state,” Deloney said. “Now there are more than 6,000. That’s a 174 percent increase.

“They know exactly what their customers want,” he said. “It’s not rocket science. To believe that because there is no state law there are no choices for smoke-free dining is ignorant.”

A study conducted by the National Restaurant Association suggests that smoking bans significantly hurt sales for many restaurants. This finding is unsurprising, since presumably restaurants design policies to maximize their profits. If they think that the majority of their profits come from people who prefer non-smoking areas, restaurants would voluntarily adopt such a ban. In Ohio, some taxpayers are disturbed that the state has spent over $2 million to enforce smoking bans in a time of massive state budget shortfalls.

Smoking bans limit options for smokers and profits for those who wish to serve them. A current debate is raging in Brooklyn about whether or not bars should allow parents to bring their babies in. At present, this decision is left up to bar owners and market forces. Hopefully it will not be the next issue taken into the hands of state lawmakers.

8 thoughts on “Bans in Bars

  1. snowbird

    If the public was honestly and truthfully informed about the effects of second-hand smoke, there would be fewer no-smoking laws in this country.
    A little smoke from a handful of crushed leaves and some paper that is mixed with the air of a decently ventilated venue is going to harm or kill you?

    There has never been a single study showing that exposure to the low levels of smoke found in bars and restaurants with decent modern ventilation and filtration systems kills or harms anyone.

    As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern ventilation technology.

    Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious contaminants that are independent from smoking.

    Thomas Laprade
    Thunder Bay, Ont.

    http://thetruthisalie.com

    1. emilywashington

      Good point, Thomas. Many of the studies that demonstrate harmful effects of second-hand smoke are based on children who live in the homes of smokers rather than on people who spend time in bars and restaurants. The EPA's famous 1994 study of second hand smoke was widely criticized for its poor statistical methodology.

  2. shrimp

    We have turned into a nation of pink bubble sissies. If you need protecting, and can't figure out how to NOT walk into a smokey bar, you need more than a ban law, you need some serious analysis. Do we have to follow you to the bathroom and make sure you wiped and washed your hands properly?

  3. snowbird

    Government Power the real health hazard

    The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling from sea to sea
    has nothing to do with protecting people from the “threat of second-hand
    smoke” but are themselves symptoms of a far more grievous threat: a
    cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic,
    reaching even the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the
    only real hazard involved – the cancer of unlimited government power.

    The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom
    menace but rather, if it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction?
    Should anti-smoking activists satisfy themselves with educating people
    about the potential danger and allow them to make their own decisions,
    or should they seize the power of government and force people to make
    the “right” decision?

    It seems they've made their choice. Loudly billed as measures that only
    affect “public places,” they have actually targeted private places: restaurants,
    bars, nightclubs, shops, and offices – places whose owners are free to set
    anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't
    like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers outdoors.

    The decision to smoke or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, should be made by
    each individual according to his own values and assessment of the risks.
    This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of
    their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or love, whether
    to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

    All these decisions involve risks; some may have harmful consequences or
    invite disapproval from others. But the individual must be free to make these
    decisions because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own
    judgment can guide him through it.

    Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are
    a minority, practicing a habit often considered annoying and unpleasant to
    the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of
    government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

    That is why these bans are far more threatening than few stray whiffs of
    tobacco smoke while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The
    anti-smoking crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those tiny wisps while
    they unleash the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.

  4. shrimp

    We have turned into a nation of pink bubble sissies. If you need protecting, and can't figure out how to NOT walk into a smokey bar, you need more than a ban law, you need some serious analysis. Do we have to follow you to the bathroom and make sure you wiped and washed your hands properly?

  5. snowbird

    Government Power the real health hazard

    The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling from sea to sea
    has nothing to do with protecting people from the “threat of second-hand
    smoke” but are themselves symptoms of a far more grievous threat: a
    cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic,
    reaching even the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the
    only real hazard involved – the cancer of unlimited government power.

    The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom
    menace but rather, if it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction?
    Should anti-smoking activists satisfy themselves with educating people
    about the potential danger and allow them to make their own decisions,
    or should they seize the power of government and force people to make
    the “right” decision?

    It seems they've made their choice. Loudly billed as measures that only
    affect “public places,” they have actually targeted private places: restaurants,
    bars, nightclubs, shops, and offices – places whose owners are free to set
    anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't
    like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers outdoors.

    The decision to smoke or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, should be made by
    each individual according to his own values and assessment of the risks.
    This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of
    their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or love, whether
    to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

    All these decisions involve risks; some may have harmful consequences or
    invite disapproval from others. But the individual must be free to make these
    decisions because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own
    judgment can guide him through it.

    Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are
    a minority, practicing a habit often considered annoying and unpleasant to
    the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of
    government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

    That is why these bans are far more threatening than few stray whiffs of
    tobacco smoke while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The
    anti-smoking crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those tiny wisps while
    they unleash the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.

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