Illinois Smokers Put on Their Coats

This New York Times story about the Illinois smoking ban, which took effect on Tuesday, is striking for what it leaves out: In close to 600 words, there's no mention of protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Instead the emphasis is on protecting smokers from themselves:

"The country has really become quite aware of the dangers of smoking over the past five years," said Kevin B. Tynan, an official with the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. "We've had a thorough discussion. And even smokers recognize the real dangers."

Given all the publicity the hazards of smoking have received in the last four decades (you may have noticed warning labels on cigarette packages, for instance), it's weird that Tynan thinks the great awakening has occurred so recently. Still, he's talking about "the dangers of smoking," not the dangers of secondhand smoke. He and his fellow activists expect that smokers, left with virtually nowhere indoors to light up in the dead of winter, will be driven to quit:

Health advocacy groups are providing quit-smoking help, including squeeze balls to relieve stress. The Respiratory Health Association offered 25-cent bounties for unwanted ashtrays; 350 had been collected by Tuesday.

Advocates of strict bans said they had been shown to help reduce smoking and had not, generally, resulted in slowdowns for businesses, as some had feared.

For anti-tobacco activists and public health officials, the main goal of smoking bans has always been to reduce cigarette consumption. This is where the real "public health" payoff is, since the risks associated with smoking are much bigger than the risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke. Most Americans, however, are not eager to save smokers from themselves, although they don't like being around tobacco smoke. Smoking ban promoters therefore have emphasized the bystander protection rationale, which makes these laws look like a classic public health intervention (especially if you conflate "public places" such as bars and restaurants with public property). It seems they no longer feel a need to pretend.

Another sign of the times: The story notes that "smoking is still allowed in homes," which is not something you can take for granted anymore.

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  • Episiarch||

    For anti-tobacco activists and public health officials, the main goal of smoking bans has always been to reduce cigarette consumption.

    It has always amazed me how many people don't see this.

  • Jennifer||

    Yes, nothing will improve a smoker's health like making him go outside in subfreezing weather.

  • ||

    Here, health advocacy groups are providing quit-smoking help, including squeeze balls to relieve stress.

    If a government agent took my cigarettes and handed me a "squeeze ball" I would look at him indignantly for a second or two, and then kick him in the balls (or vage, if it's a woman).

  • Rhywun||

    It is presently 15 degrees in NYC. Can't wait to step out for a smoke! (Smoke 'em while they still let ya.)

  • The AntiHumanist||

    I now understand why I smoke: to decrease my life expectancy. Anti-smokers simply do not comprehend that being old and healthy while doing nothing at work for 40 hours-per-week is NOT preferrable. Moreover, in a Christian nation, is not being nearer to meeting God ideal?

  • ||

    Switch to chew. It's better for you, you don't need so many teeth anyway, and nothing is sexy like a lady with a wad in her lower lip.

  • New World Dan||

    It's sad that people need the government to tell them that this is antisocial behavior. I enjoy going to the bar much more now. Yes, I oppose the ban on principle, but in practice, I rather enjoy it. If there had been a non-smoking bar on campus back in college, I would have gone there to the exclusion of all others. I really wish someone would have tried that without government intervention first. If there had been smoke free options, I think the smoking bans might have been avoided.

  • New World Dan||

    It is presently 15 degrees in NYC. Can't wait to step out for a smoke!

    Lightweights. Minnesota smokers are hardcore. They go out in -10 weather when the wind is blowing.

  • Rhywun||

    I enjoy going to the bar much more now.

    I don't. Net gain: zero.

  • ||

    For anti-tobacco activists and public health officials, the main goal of smoking bans has always been to reduce cigarette consumption.

    Anti tobacco activists, I encourage you to continue your noble efforts to persuade people to quit smoking.

    Public health officials, kiss my ass.

  • ||

    Anyone who says smoking is antisocial behavior has never known the joys of a casual bull session with friends of a pack of cigarettes.

  • Rhywun||

    Actually, I always thought the main goal of smoking bans was to dehumanize smokers, at which they have been a resounding success.

  • ||

    _over_ a pack of cigarettes, that is

  • ||

    AntiHumanist,

    I'm with you on that one. I'd rather enjoy the years of my youth than be a prude for 50+ years and die going "hiking by accident."

  • ||

    If the bill to ban smoking in restaurants passes in Virginia, the smoking capital of the universe, then we will know for sure the end is near for legal tobacco.

  • ||

    The State of Illinois is also considering another tax hike on cigarettes to pay for the budget shortfall in the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). The $1 a pack tax would raise illinois cigarette taxes to the highest in the country if passed.

    I hope not too many smokers quit. Or die. Cause then they will probably come after my bad habits.

  • ||


    I hope not too many smokers quit. Or die. Cause then they will probably come after my bad habits.



    That is my big reason for defending tobacco smokers. I think its a disgusting habit, but God knows if their bad habit isn't safe none of mine are either.

  • Rhywun||

    The $1 a pack tax would raise illinois cigarette taxes to the highest in the country if passed.

    Bloomberg won't stand for that--you'll see.

  • ||

    I enjoy going to the bar much more now.

    Don't worry, the nannies will eventually take care of that naughty pleasure too. You've never heard of second-hand boozing?

  • Brandybuck||

    There are times I wish I didn't quit, just so I can light up and blow my opinion in their faces.

  • ||

    Don't forget "second hand" obesity crimethink! That will take care of any tasty pub food.

  • ||

    It's really saddening that the most prophetic work of film over the last century has been Demolition Man...

  • What the..?||

    "If there had been a non-smoking bar on campus back in college, I would have gone there to the exclusion of all others."

    Good idea. Save the lungs...go for the liver instead.
    Duh??

  • Paul||

    For anti-tobacco activists and public health officials, the main goal of smoking bans has always been to reduce cigarette consumption.

    Right, so why don't we just take the next step and ban it, like pot, heroin and cocaine?

  • highnumber||

    15 degrees in NYC, eh? Oh, you're so tough!

    It was 4 degrees here in Chicago when I went for a walk at 10:00 AM to have a smoke. It's not that bad. Stay in the sun, but avoid the wind. Keep moving and you're OK.

  • ||

    Stay in the sun, but avoid the wind

    In Chicago, avoid the wind???

    HAHAAHAHAHA thats some funny shit right there.

  • Rhywun||

    you're so tough

    Heh. I'm from Rochester/Buffalo but 10 years in NYC has really spoiled me.

  • ||

    For anti-tobacco activists and public health officials, the main goal of smoking bans has always been to reduce cigarette consumption.

    Right, so why don't we just take the next step and ban it, like pot, heroin and cocaine?



    Cuz that have work so goodly.

  • ||

    Uh, I've lived in both, and aside from the snow, Rochester and Buffalo are tropical paradises compared to Chicago in January.

  • ||

    15 degrees in NYC, eh? Oh, you're so tough!

    It was 4 degrees here in Chicago when I went for a walk at 10:00 AM to have a smoke. It's not that bad. Stay in the sun, but avoid the wind. Keep moving and you're OK.


    Wimps. I'm in Detroit where it's more pleasant smoking outdoors when the mercury falls. The muggers and beggars stay indoors then.

  • Jennifer||

    Smoking bans serve a useful purpose: hating gays and blacks is no longer socially acceptable, and people filled with hatred need SOMEONE on whom to dump it.

  • Franklin Harris||

    With the wind chill, it was zero last night. In Alabama. (Global warming my ass.) Breathing that freezing air was worse on my lungs than a new toxic chemicals are.

  • Terry Ton||

    Right, so why don't we just take the next step and ban it, like pot, heroin and cocaine?

    I'd rather switch (to pot) than fight.

  • Jennifer||

    To paraphrase something Fran Lebowitz once said: people used to believe in fighting injustice, standing up for the little guy and increasing human freedom. Now they believe in Not Smoking.

    Maybe the creationists are right. This shit can't be proof that we're evolving.

  • ||

    Smokers - the 21st century's lepers.

    Next up - trans and saturated fats.

    When I am prohibited from a Malnati's Buttercrust w/ sausage, life will no longer be worth living. Fortunately, I will be dead before we are all forced to go Vegan.

  • ||

    Wind chill is a myth. It's the humidity and it's for the children.

  • ed||

    Politicians with balls would simply ban the sale of tobacco products. The emasculated prigs who rule us prefer to do it through the back door, i.e. keep it legal to sell but make it illegal to use.

  • LarryA||

    If there had been a non-smoking bar on campus back in college, I would have gone there to the exclusion of all others. I really wish someone would have tried that without government intervention first. If there had been smoke free options, I think the smoking bans might have been avoided.

    Nope. Here in Kerrville we have about 80 restaurants. Every one of them has a nonsmoking area. Only two or three still have (completely separate) smoking areas. The anti-smoking zealots are forcing a referendum to shut them down.

    It's sad that people need the government to tell them that this is antisocial behavior.

    The true anti-social behaviors involve having a stick up your ass about other people's choices.

    Speaking of choices, it got so cold here yesterday I almost had to put on a windbreaker.

    Politicians with balls would simply ban the sale of tobacco products. The emasculated prigs who rule us prefer to do it through the back door, i.e. keep it legal to sell but make it illegal to use.

    Politicians with balls would simply ban the sale of tobacco products. The emasculated prigs who rule us prefer to do it through the back door, i.e. keep it legal to sell but make it illegal to use keep spending the tax money tobacco products raise.

  • josephdietrich||

    People like Tynan make me want to take up smoking.

  • ||

    Where I live, there are many smoke-easies. Word gets around to the smokers, and they can congregate there. I've found the smoke-easies are more fun. It turns out whenever the self-righteous and the do-gooders are not present, the rest of us have more fun.

  • ||

    Government is antisocial behavior.

  • ed||

    keep spending the tax money tobacco products raise

    Oh yeah, the nanny prohibitionists want to have it both ways, making them all the more odious.

  • Paul||

    Where I live, there are many smoke-easies. Word gets around to the smokers, and they can congregate there.

    Really, I was wondering when these were going to start up?

    You guys gonna get picketed by the Temperance League?

  • ||

    Terry Ton

    Excellent reference!.. although I must admit that quote was introduced to me through Public Enemy. I would say that most of my heros don;t appear on no stamp, but they came out with Yoda stamps and they already had Ayn stamps.

    On a serious note, are we headed to a world with legal pot and illegal tobacco? Or will we continue to decriminalize pot and continue to criminalize tobacco until the graphs intersect?

    (not_saying- last time I was in San Fran I was in a smoke-easy bar. I kept expecting the door to be kicked in by the jack-booted thugs.)

  • ||

    Kool,

    "On a serious note, are we headed to a world with legal pot and illegal tobacco?"

    The last party I was at pot was smoked inside, while tobacco was smoked outside. It used to be the opposite, so we may be headed to such a world. I know one adamant anti-smoker who smokes pot.

    I've talked to the bartenders in these amoke-easies, and have been told there are very few complaints. The truth is, it's a very small minority that are concerned about smoking in bars. In my city, it's the Health dept.that passed out the tickets, not the cops.

  • ||

    Smoking bans serve a useful purpose: hating gays and blacks is no longer socially acceptable, and people filled with hatred need SOMEONE on whom to dump it.

    Jennifer, you may be more right than you realize. That's my explanation for the current societal treatment of "sex offenders". Society coheres by directing its collective wrath against sexual deviance of some sort, and with every type but pedo- and ephebophilia protected by some law or another, the randies get the full brunt of it.

  • Jennifer||

    Jennifer, you may be more right than you realize

    I know. I wasn't kidding when I made that post.

  • ||

    "Yes, I oppose the ban on principle, but in practice, I rather enjoy it."

    Mwahahahah, your assimilation has been complete!

  • R C Dean||

    the risks associated with smoking are much bigger than the risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.

    Since anything is much bigger than zero, this is certainly true.

    However, phrasing it this way makes it sound as if there is some legitimacy to the secondhand smoke scam.

  • ||

    You have no idea how refreshing it is to see reasonable dialogue about this. I realize this isn't the place to advocate big government, but if they MUST pass legislation to protect air quality and public health you'd think there would be a move to limit fossil fuel use or dumping in Lake Michigan.

  • ||

    The whole pro-pot, anti-tobacco people make no sense. I smoke tobacco and pot mixed joints. Rare in the US, but very common in most of the world. These people seem to believe that tobacco smoke is very dangerous and pot smoke is not. Both are dangerous to some extent from the combustion process. I don't think there is much difference to the lungs however which one you smoke. Cigarette smokers just tend to smoke 10 to 40 X times as much a day as pot smokers.

  • Joey||

    This is indeed the most refreshing conversation I've seen about smoking bans.

    I've actually compared the idea that if abortion is legal under the premise that a woman's body is her property, then why is a private business owner being held to a different standard?

    Metaphorically speaking, the woman's body is the business-owner's business. The woman owns her body, and the private-property owner owns his or her tavern or restaurant. With current legislation banning smoking on private property - it is still legal to smoke, just as it is to have an abortion - isn't it a little backwards to take away one entity's rights to allow the use of a legal substance inside of their business, yet at the same time allow another entity to end a life inside of their body?

    The argument is that secondhand smoke kills people, and this is why business-owners and smokers are being forced to stop contributing to a deathly cause. And abortion isn't contributing to death? It certainly isn't contributing to life, and certainly isn't nearly as "safe" as secondhand smoke.

  • ||

    NWD-

    I really wish someone would have tried that without government intervention first. If there had been smoke free options, I think the smoking bans might have been avoided.

    I remember multiple attempts at "Smoke-free" restaurants and/or bars in Columbus, OH between 1980 thru 2000... Each and every one closed within a year due to "lack of business".

    Yhen, they passed a "law"...

  • ||

    in my opinion, the government has stepped on its face as far as the constitutional rites.....a business owner should be allowed to have a say whether he allows a legal substance in his place or not...his or her choice...i believe the government has no business what so ever to intrude. whats next...we are not allowed to fart?

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