"He's killed over a smoke"

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NYC's smoking ban leads to death of a bouncer at a Manhattan nightclub. The NY Daily News report is here.

One question, Mayor Mike, will the guys who killed 32-year-old Dana Blake be allowed to smoke in prison?

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  1. I can recall the only smoking bar in O’Hare airport a few years ago – it used to overflow right across the concourse. The barmen would be hopelessly telling people they had to buy a beer to be in there, but since most people weren’t actually in there, their cries went unheeded.

    There was something very comical about the whole affair – from a distance it looked the place was on fire with everyone trying to get in!

  2. Thanks fyodor for making the same argument more succinctly. I need to work on that…

    Personally I find it more difficult to avoid unwanted cigarette smoke now because most workplaces and retail businesses have banned indoor smoking entirely (instead of providing a smoke break room to contain the smokers and their byproducts) so every doorway to every building in America reeks of smoke. Now they’re talking about banning it within 500 feet of doorways. Where are they going to put the ashtrays? I see a big littering problem resulting that will probably lead to banning smoking outside of one’s home completely. It’s bound to get stupider before it gets better….

  3. “The death is a tragedy, no question about it. But blaming it on a smoking ban is a bit of a stretch.”

    The difference in this case is that people who are not cops are being asked to enforce the law against nominal criminals. More of the blame for this murder should go to the government than would be the case if it were more coincidental. Of course, the murderer should still spend the rest of his life in prison.

  4. A distinction should be made here. This situation is not very closely analogous to a bouncer responding to a patron on patron assault. In that case, no one would suggest that the govt fine the establishment if it just called the police (a civil suit by the assaulted patron would be a different matter).
    This situation is more closely analogous to a customer with bare feet in a restaurant (in many places), another health code violation. If the establishment does not enforce this government rule, they run the risk of being fined by the govt. The burden on the establishment to enforce this rule is minimized by local social norms. The number of people who walk around non-coastal cities is extremely small, so it isn’t difficult for the business to police for this behavior. With the smoking ban, particularly in bars (where most casual smokers tend to light up), the business must now police a behavior previously done by 20-35% (higher end includes casual smokers) of the population and perhaps even higher numbers for certain individual bars. This is a lot of people to police. Even if most of the would be offenders, know of the rule and play along, there remains a number of new potential problems the business must deal with. This case was one of those.

  5. Libertarian argument against gun control: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.
    Libertarian argument against tobacco control: People don’t kill people, smoking bans kill people.

  6. When smoking is outlawed only outlaws will smoke.

  7. None of this matters, guys…

    If you believe Stanton Glantz, this smoking ban will prevent about half all heart attacks in NYC. Since there were nearly 26,000 deaths due to heart disease in NYC in 1999 (according to the city dept of health), the smoking ban could save as many as 13,000 lives per year.

    Surely that’s worth a bouncer or two, right?

  8. God, some days I really miss cigarettes…

  9. Hey, I disagree with the smoking ban as much as anybody (although it was nice to come home saturday night reeking of merely booze) but trying to argue that the ban caused the murder is ridiculous, no matter what kind of sophistry you resort to. Yes, were there no ban, there would have been no murder. But the guys were Chinese. So, if there were no immigration, there would have been no murder. So we’re all for locking the gates at Ellis Island, right?
    There are plenty of arguments against the smoking ban. That it will lead to more death and destruction is not one of them.

  10. Does this mean we need a War on Smoking to prevent brutal smoking-related killings?

    If violent people who also use drugs can be used as a justification for a War, why not violent people who smoke?

  11. See? Another death caused by smoking! How much more proof do you need?

    Oh, wait a minute…. This was caused by government regulation of smoking. Can we have a war on regulation?

  12. The death is a tragedy, no question about it. But blaming it on a smoking ban is a bit of a stretch. The ban didn’t kill the bouncer; the patron with a knife did. People get kicked out of bars for all kinds of reasons — responding by killing the bouncer is hardly an excusable action, ban or no ban.

  13. “The death is a tragedy, no question about it. But blaming it on a smoking ban is a bit of a stretch. The ban didn’t kill the bouncer; the patron with a knife did. People get kicked out of bars for all kinds of reasons — responding by killing the bouncer is hardly an excusable action, ban or no ban.”

    The proximate cause of this killing was the ban. No ban and he wouldn’t have been removed from the club. Sure, other factors entered into it, including the fact that he was high on nicotine, an addictive drug that alters the way the brain works.

  14. My brain works better with nicotine than without. I become testy (though not murderous).

  15. “No ban and he wouldn’t have been removed from the club.” Sure … but, as I said, people are removed from clubs all the time for other reasons. Isn’t there just as much a risk that they’ll pull a knife and stab the bouncer? (High on nicotine doesn’t alter the brain nearly as much as, oh, say, high on alcohol). Does that mean that we should make it illegal to ever throw anyone out of a bar? If this person were kicked out for hitting another patron on the head with a pool cue, and then stabbed the bouncer who tried to eject him, would we decry the dangers of assault laws?

  16. It is important to make two distinctions here:

    1) The behaviour of the perpetrators should always be considered their individual responsibility. We would still hold drug dealers who kill their competitors or customers liable for murder regardless of our opinions on the wisdom of banning narcotics, and

    2) We can still recognize that government actions create incentives for modes of behavior that are violent or antisocial and be opposed to laws that create such incentives. It is logical to also believe that absent such incentives, there would be less violent behavior.

    In this particular case, it is uncertain whether this really has anything at all to do with the smoking ban. Perhaps if the event had occured in a location that did not permit smoking before the ban (as some bars and restaurants are already doing recognizing a significant non-smoking clientele), the outcome would be the same. On the other hand perhaps the Chan brothers were incensed about the smoking ban, knew they were being kicked out because of it, and reacted violently. Only time will tell (and even then we can’t be certain because they surely will be looking for a way to blame something or someone else for their bad judgement).

    One thing is for certain – making judgements about a law based on a single incident is risky at best.

  17. Switching planes at O’Hare after a six hour flight and finding the whole fucking place non-smoking makes me a bit assaultive, too. I wonder if that’s a defense?

  18. Of course Hal is right, technically. There’s an infinite number of causes for anything in the universe to happen, so one can always deflect “blame” by citing other causes among the infinite available.

    The fact remains, however, that the smoking ban contributed to this particular tragedy, whether or not you choose to lay the entire “blame” on it. Looked at another way, the more reasons bouncers have to kick people out, the more people will likely get kicked out. The more people who get kicked out, the more chances for angry bouncees to seek revenge. The more chances for this to happen, the more it *will* happen.

    Looked at yet another way, the libertarian way, when you criminalize activities that result in no tangible harm, you create a market for crimes that do result in tangible harm. If you think that’s okay, well, you got it. If you realize that that’s not okay, you may wanna rethink them old victimless crimes.

  19. Rauscher,

    Clever analogy. I can’t pin down the fallacy precisely, but allow me address it in a more general sense…

    First, as I alluded to earlier, “blame” is a subjective thing because there’s an infinite number of causes for any particular result. So when we assign blame, we’re picking out a particular cause that we feel is significant–and reprehensible.

    As for blaming immigration when an immigrant commits a crime, the logical extension of that argument is to remove all humans from an area, then the crime rate would be zero! The problem with blaming immigration is that while it’s true that immigrants commit crime, that’s just because that’s one of the inevitable hazards of humans. Immigrants do lots of good things too. And it’s an insult against our whole value system to retroactively pin the blame on some action that we have come to know would have prevented a crime IF there was no way of knowing at the time that it would do such a thing. For instance, we can say that we should have locked up the parents of a criminal before they could have had the sex that produced the birth of the criminal, but of course, who would have known?

    The difference with the smoking ban is that anytime you restrict people’s behavior, you piss people off. We *should* know that this will lead to more violent behavior. Now, as one of the posters seemed to claim (not sure if he or she was serious or sarcastic), if such violence is worth it because of the general health benefits, well then you have your desired trade-off. But it’s not out of line for libertarians to point out that the illegalizing of victimless activities often leads to more violence, and is this what we really want?

    Having said all that, however, I’ll agree witht the poster who said that one shouldn’t try to make too much out of one incident.

  20. >> If you believe Stanton Glantz . . . the smoking ban could save as many as 13,000 lives per year.

  21. G-o-o-o-d-bye to all New York STARBUCKS !!!

  22. G-o-o-o-dbye to all New York. I will henceforth, when I must go to that area, stay in New Jersey and drive back and forth.

  23. >> anytime you restrict people’s behavior, you piss people off.

  24. I am wanting to know if there are any bouncers out there that have been working through when the non smoking laws have come into play? i am wanting to know if there has been an upsurge in arguements and violence when enforcing these laws. cheers

  25. This is defently one of the weirdest things I have found on my look on facts on an essay. Thanks for all of your opions on here. =D

  26. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://organize-digital-photo.online-photo-print.com
    DATE: 01/20/2004 04:58:18
    Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favors.

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