2009-10-20

I'll tell you where you can smoke

I have smoked one cigarette in my life--because I wanted to blow smoke rings--but I reserve no ill-will for people who smoke. I reserve all of my ill-will in this regard for people who smoke in the presence of others without regards to their wishes or their health. And, yes, smoking in public places has a negative effect on health, according to a[nother] recent study.

The argument about smoking bans is fairly polarized, but there is some middle ground. My own opinion lies in this middle ground, actually, where I have the right to a large selection of smoke-free public places such as restaurants and bars, and where those inclined to smoke also have a reasonable selection of places where they might be allowed to do so. I firmly believe that people should be allowed to harm themselves given that they accept all risks, and they don't impose on others.

The options for partial smoking bans range from the very lenient mandatory "non-smoking section" to the banning of smoking everywhere except in private establishments such as cigar clubs. I don't know how many countries or U.S. states enacted which versions of bans (I wish I had the statistics) but I know that my home state of Ohio went whole-hog. I think that's stupid.

People have a right to smoke, but they don't have a right to blow it in my face. The city and local governments should be able to issue a fixed number of smoking licenses, in much the same way that liquor licenses are distributed. There would be enough licenses for, say, 10% of restaurants and bars to be able to allow smoking. Maybe there could be more. There must be a fair method of distribution. Mechanisms for alcohol and possibly also carbon emissions might be used as models.

The last hurdle would be smoking opponents who say that workplaces engulfed in smoke are not safe for employees. There must be a solution for this problem, whether it be simple monetary compensation, heavy-duty air filtering, or rotational employment between smoky and fresh-air locations.

Smoke definitely bothers me, to the point where sometimes I believe I have an allergy. But then again, some people like that sort of thing, and I'm not above letting them participate.

2 comments:

RM said...

Before the ban in Baltimore, I didn't even like going out at all. There were a few places that were less obnoxious, but on the whole it was not enjoyable. Red Star was great because it was smoke-free well before the ban.

Particularly if I'm trying to eat a dinner and enjoy it, I think it's absurd that smoking can be allowed.

But I understand that these places need to make money, and that a pretty large number go out so they CAN smoke and then DO smoke.

It's not the worst thing that people now have to go outside to do it, and certainly it may make them rethink their decision when it's cold and rainy and they have to go outside. But I do feel kind of bad for corner bars, establishments that have been there forever. They've lost their core customers because they can't just sit at the bar, drink a beer and smoke. Combine that with the changing demographic in certain areas, and if you're not on the Square, on Cross/Charles or in downtown Fells, you're going to take a hit.

For instance, I would never go into Grundy's down the street from me. I feel like if they want to smoke, go ahead. But somewhere like Claddagh's, well it gets crowded and I would rather not have lit cigarettes roaming around. That place could light up pretty easily I feel.

So I don't know. They'll never be able to end smoking, and smokers are people too - but there really should be designated areas to smoke. Also they should be made to wear something that indicates they are a smoker. Then we should treat them differently and send them to camps, maybe non-smoking camps, together.

fbg said...

I have to laugh every time I'm at an airport and I pass the smoking "lounge". Sometimes it's a little glass box off to one side, and at least once it was a glass box in the middle of circulating people, but every time there are nearly more people than there are seats, and no one looks like they are having fun. It's like watching the gorillas at the zoo. They just sit there pretending that there aren't dozens of people staring at them from the other side of the glass.

You're right, Ryan. We should make one big glass box in the middle of every country and send all the smokers there, so they can be with their own kind. That would be nice of us, wouldn't it?