If the Bus Is A-Smokin', Don't Come A-Pokin'

|

Edmonton bar owner Tony Burke has found a creative way around the city's new smoking ban: a remodeled bus where customers can go to light up out of the cold. Since the bus has wheels instead of a foundation, it's not covered by the smoking ordinance. (Just to be on the safe side, Burke registered it in his own name, rather than the business's.) "Despite the loophole," reports the Globe and Mail, "Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has told reporters that bars should comply with the spirit of the law."

As Scott McCormick notes over at Northern Exposure, the spirit of the law is the spirit of intolerance:

The standard "public health" argument seems dubious in this case…People entering the butt bus are clearly making the decision to go in knowing it is specifically designed for smoking, and the bus serves no other explicit purpose except as a venue for smoking (you can't bring a drink on it). Of course, if your real goal is to stop people from deciding how they use their own bodies, you're failing–which is why this case nicely exposes the fact that the public health argument isn't the true motivation for many of the anti-smoking nannies.

To be more precise, it exposes the fact that the activists and officials who support smoking bans do not distinguish between public health and private health. Their main goal has always been to discourage smoking, which they believe directly threatens "the public health" by exposing smokers themselves to the risk of disease. According to this view–which, unfortunately, has become "the standard 'public health' argument"–everything you do that might lead to disease or injury, from driving unbuckled to eating too much, is the government's business.

NEXT: Light Cigarettes and Compensation

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I love it… who knew the Canucks could be so sneaky…

  2. According to this view–which, unfortunately, has become “the standard ‘public health’ argument”–everything you do that might lead to disease or injury, from driving unbuckled to eating too much, is the government’s business.

    Well duh. Since you and everything you do is interstate commerce, the government’s had that base covered since Wickard v. Filburn.

  3. According to this view–which, unfortunately, has become “the standard ‘public health’ argument”–everything you do that might lead to disease or injury, from driving unbuckled to eating too much, is the government’s business.

    It is because they pay for our health care and they have a right to save us money on taxes by making us live healthy.

  4. Welcome back, Juan(ita).

    I hope you get cancer.

  5. Yes, Juan, the “government” pays for our healthcare. They harvest the fresh dollar bills each spring.

  6. It is because they pay for our health care and they have a right to save us money on taxes by making us live healthy.

    Who are “they”? I pay the taxes that they use to fund health care. They don’t pay for anything. All they do is run the (crappy) system.

  7. Thanks Juan for pointing out a major negative of public healthcare. It gives politicians the perceived right to control just about everything you do.

  8. jaydee-

    I’m pretty sure Juan is a caricature. There’s no need to argue with him.

  9. I love the story’s punchline:

    “I’m not one to care about civil liberties and all that, but this is getting out of hand.”

  10. A private solution to a government imposed problem. I’m sure the mayor will find a way to get Tony off his butt and on his toes again. Give ‘im hell Tony!

  11. I think it was good when the federal government made cigarette companies use prominent warning labels. They should have done that sooner. After that, people should be free to choose. Risks are great, so long as they are disclosed. They oughtta leave the butt bus alone.

  12. So, are we gonna have a H&R “Smoke-In” down in DC soon, considering the council’s latest great idea? Holla, holla.

    I’ll bring the matches.

  13. I, for one, look forward to a future where I will be able to board a bus in order to partake of foodstuffs that have corn syrup in them.

  14. mediageek-

    Maybe I’ll run into you on the Corn Syrup Express.

    I’d just better be sure to leave my firearm at home. It might go off when I bump into you.

  15. Unfortunately most of America looks at smoking the same way Canada does (at least it seems like to me). Smokers are looked at as second class citizens, and I don?t think that will ever change. All we can do is make sure the government does not go too far with nanny laws that tell people how to live their lives.

  16. I support this smoking bus idea so long as the people who run it allow me to bring my children on board and don’t expect me to keep them quiet while they are on there. I mean, I HAVE to bring them. It would be irresponsible to leave my 5-year-old sitting at the bar byhimelf for so long.

  17. I’d just better be sure to leave my firearm at home. It might go off when I bump into you.

    Wouldn’t you be able to use the twinkie defense in this case?

  18. If I wanted to enter the bus and enjoy the company of friends, I have a right to a smoke-free atmosphere, and others have no right to endanger my health.

  19. “All we can do is make sure the government does not go too far with nanny laws that tell people how to live their lives.”

    Hey Zeiner, how are things up there on Mars?

  20. “If the Bus Is A-Smokin’, Don’t Come A-Pokin'”

    Pokemon is a Rastafarian proctologist.

  21. If I wanted to enter the bus and enjoy the company of friends, I have a right to a smoke-free atmosphere, and others have no right to endanger my health.

    When I was teaching I had a colleague explain this to me in all sincerity: the reason she supported state no-smoking laws was because her non-smoking self should be allowed to go into ANY bar she pleased, without having to smell cigarette smoke. (Hell, by that token, maybe *I* should have the right to go into any bar I wish without having to listen to country music.)

    Not that this has anything to do with anything else, but at the time she was a 35-year-old ex-lawyer who had yet to move out of her parent’s house. (And I suspect she may have been a virgin, though I cannot prove this.)

  22. I also have the right to never be exposed to karaoke.

  23. thoreau,

    Will that be after you tell us the long and boring tale of what you did at work today?

  24. “I also have the right to never be exposed to karaoke.”

    Correct-a-mundo. I retain the right to not be exposed to women who won’t put out after five drinks.

  25. I retain the right to not be exposed to women who won’t put out after five drinks.

    Unfortunately, Jamie, this conflicts with my right to not be exposed to men who think five lousy drinks are worth sex with me. Whatever shall we do?

  26. “Unfortunately, Jamie, this conflicts with my right to not be exposed to men who think five lousy drinks are worth sex with me. Whatever shall we do?”

    Get a bottle of Jack, come up to my condo and stick in some porno. “King Schlong” do for ya?

  27. I love the butt-bus idea for a temporary solution but I was thinking someone should invent something like a plastic bubble connected to a vacuum system, kind of like the Cone of Silence, for smoking in bars. It would need to connect to your neighbor’s so you could invite someone to join you. Actually, having a limited number of multi-person cones might even be a great way to get people socializing – hey mind if I join you in your cone of cancer? For tables perhaps a large “umbrella of silence” type device would work (scroll down at the above link for a prototype 🙂 kinda looks like that is what it’s being used for in the picture, actually…).

  28. When I lived in DC, there was a “Smoke-In” every July 4th. Don’t tell me they’ve done away with that Vincente. Of course, it wasn’t really for cigarettes, but that’s neither here nor there.

  29. Brian, it is funny that you should mention that.

    Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan had installed a $300,000 ventilation system designed to pull smoke up and out of the club so that people could see the stage unobstructed by smoke and also so that secondhand smoke wouldn’t be much of an issue. Despite their petition, they were not exempted from the NYC smoking ban.

  30. This reminds me of the recent nude dancing bus incident in Tampa. The city passed an ordinance requiring nude dancers to be six feet or more from patrons. However, the ordinance was based on the city’s zoning authority. Buses aren’t real property, so there’s some gray area for the defense counsel to play with. I wonder if they were smoking inside the bus, too?

    Maybe Libertarians should scrap the Free-State Project and just start living in RVs.

  31. Correct-a-mundo. I retain the right to not be exposed to women who won’t put out after five drinks.

    Absolutely. That’s where a warning label is truly needed.

  32. Women have the right to not be exposed to men so icky that even five drinks won’t render them attractive.

  33. Women have the right to not be exposed to men so icky that even five drinks won’t render them attractive.

    Heh heh. True enough Jennifer, but at least you don’t need warning labels to let know know who those guys are. 🙂

  34. At Hillsdale College, even our “boo government” stances are swaying when it comes to smoking. Smoking was still allowed in classrooms up until about 1999-2000 (when ashtrays were still in the rooms), but no one lights up in class anymore.

    Though we still allow smoking in the student union, a new student union is being built (smoke-free), and they’re tearing down the old one.

    It’s a travesty. My once-libertarian college is now unabashedly right-wing-Christian and takes in loco parentis far too seriously.

  35. What H&R needs is more references to cupcakes and corn syrup. I’m serious. It cracks me up every time I see them. I’m not kidding.

  36. But I’m hot.Smokin’ hot. Even after only two drinks.

  37. Did anybody besides yours truly think James Thurber’s War Between the Sexes series was funny?
    (Judging by the immediately foregoing, smoking leads to sex, or, at least, thoughts thereof.)

  38. “But I’m hot. Smokin’ hot. Even after only two drinks.”

    I’m sorry, there’s no smokin’ allowed in here.

  39. “When I was teaching I had a colleague explain this to me in all sincerity: the reason she supported state no-smoking laws was because her non-smoking self should be allowed to go into ANY bar she pleased, without having to smell cigarette smoke.”

    I should be able to go into anyone’s HOUSE I please, etc. etc …

    Jennifer, this story about your colleague made me want to whack her straight in the forehead with a nine-inch stiletto heel, but it sounds like her life is already pathetic enough. That thought alone will just have to comfort me.

  40. I retain the right to not be exposed to women who won’t put out after five drinks.

    Heh. I think most women will put out after 5 drinks…given the right man.

  41. Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan had installed a $300,000 ventilation system designed to pull smoke up and out of the club so that people could see the stage unobstructed by smoke and also so that secondhand smoke wouldn’t be much of an issue. Despite their petition, they were not exempted from the NYC smoking ban.

    Obviously, this piddling effort had nothing to do with protecting the health of innocent bar-goers, which was the purpose of the smoking ban.

    (Why, yes, I’m being sarcastic and have a burr up my ass…)

  42. Jennifer, this story about your colleague made me want to whack her straight in the forehead with a nine-inch stiletto heel, but it sounds like her life is already pathetic enough. That thought alone will just have to comfort me.

    True story, Pirate Jo: after she said this, and after I explained to her my libertarian reasoning for letting business owners decide for themselves whether or not to allow smoking. . . . she accused me of being selfish.

  43. “Maybe I’ll run into you on the Corn Syrup Express.

    I’d just better be sure to leave my firearm at home. It might go off when I bump into you.”

    Corn Syrup Express to Accidental Discharge Town!

    /that was a lot funnier in my head.

  44. she accused me of being selfish.

    So, your point is that you beat Pirate Jo to the stiletto heel-punch? 😉

  45. mediageek,
    Did you mean to say, “Corn Syrup Express to Premature Discharge Town!”

    yuk yuk

  46. Ruthless, I’m not sure what I mean any more…

  47. So, your point is that you beat Pirate Jo to the stiletto heel-punch? 😉

    I would have, if I hadn’t been suddenly paralyzed by a crippling attack of cognitive dissonance.

    Plus I was dressed in a very teacherly way: sensible shoes, not stilettos.

  48. Plus I was dressed in a very teacherly way

    Ahhhh! Stop teasing us. :)~ Ok, so I know it wasn’t your intention – but it just reminds me of my crush on my 7th grade health teacher who was, well, “smokin’ hot” yet always dressed very teacherly.

  49. They tried the bus trick in Ireland when the smoking ban came in but the authorities were having none of it.

  50. “she accused me of being selfish.”

    (Insert lawyer joke here)

  51. (And I suspect she may have been a virgin, though I cannot prove this.)

    Jennifer, she’s no longer a virgin. She’s here with me… smoking a cigarette.

  52. Ruthless,

    James Thurber was a genius!

    Mrs. Glitt doesn’t like him at all but she married me so how discerning can she be?

  53. I also have the right to never be exposed to karaoke

    West Virginiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    Moutain mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
    Take me hooooooooooooooooooooooome
    Country rooooooooooooads

  54. Brian Courts:

    I love the butt-bus idea for a temporary solution but I was thinking someone should invent something like a plastic bubble connected to a vacuum system, kind of like the Cone of Silence, for smoking in bars.

    I like this idea but I think the bubbles should be for the non-smokers.

  55. For those who voted or would vote for banning smoking in privately owned establishments I have just one question.

    Say there was a ballot in your city requiring all privately owned establishments to allow smoking with no restrictions.
    If it passed and all bars and restaurants were thus forced to allow people to smoke where they wanted, would you rethink the whole idea of voting on what other people can and can’t allow on their property?

  56. Full disclosure: I don’t smoke but I am beginning to wish that I did.

  57. Bobster,

    C’mon, man! Don’t make them be intellectually consistent. That’s just plain mean.

  58. Bobster,

    I like this idea but I think the bubbles should be for the non-smokers.

    Perhaps, but I might have to take up smoking if that happens. 🙂 Actually I’ve had a few cigarettes (average less than 2 per year, hence my non-smoker status notwithstanding) in bars over the years because, well, it can actually enhance a good drink. Though for long-term health and fitness reasons I severely restrict my indulgences to very rare occasions.

    But back to the cones, maybe we can call them Cones-of-Safety and they can be sound, smoke, and fire-proof, opaque and padded. That way nobody has to hear karaoke or country music or cheesy pick-up lines; nobody has to look at ugly people in ill-fitting attire; nobody has so smell (or smell like) cigarettes; and nobody will get hurt if they fall down or are involved in a car accident on the way to the bar. They can leave home and have a perfectly sterile, safe and boring evening without requiring that everyone else do so as well. 😉

  59. Better get another name for the butt-buss. In Frisco they might get the wrong idea.

  60. Andy:
    People have actually called me ?mean? when I ask them questions like this. I always tell them that I am indeed about average.

    Brian:
    Sounds like a great idea. The problem may be that
    we don’t have the technology to make this work. Don’t worry I have a back up plan.

    Everyone who wants to exist forever, never being offended, or hurt or having any fun what-so-ever can opt for the “Padded room under guard” option. They can simply sit in the padded room being fed by tubes full of healthy food with no taste. The guards will make sure nobody comes near the room to disturb or upset the occupant. Man, that would be sweeet!

  61. NoStar: LOL

    Not a problem. My Cone-Of-Safety will protect me from their wrong idea!

  62. Smokers didn’t use to be considered second-class citizens, but then we used to have Jimi Hendrix, and now we got 50-Cent.

    Studies were done a long time ago that showed smokers cost government less than non-smokers, because non-smokers live longer on average and collect more Social Security, which is greater than what smokers cost in increased medicals. The problem has been that the states have to share Medicaid costs, but do not reap the savings from SS. Which is why the big lawsuit was state-instigated.

  63. As long as there’s publicly funded healthcare, there will be the question of what to spend the money on, since there are more possible medical procedures than there are neccesary/desirable ones. So you’ve got 3 choices:

    1) Fund everything, allow everything, nonsmokers get soaked by smokers
    2) Don’t fund lung cancer treatment for smokers (and insert other procedures brought on by sinfulness), get voted out of office
    3) Fund everything, ban sinful activity

    Clearly, (2) isn’t an option for an elected official. So they’re trying (3).

  64. TPG, you just crossed a line. I just sent the moderator an email about your violation of my rights.

  65. bigbigslacker,
    If you had purchased a Cone-of-Safety you would not have noticed your rights being violated. It seems to me that any rights violations that occurred are your own fault for paying attention. Turn yourself in to the authorities immediately! 🙂

  66. C’mon, man! Don’t make them be intellectually consistent. That’s just plain mean.

    Yeah, they hate that.

  67. Always gotta have a nigger. Black people had civil rights and King, so now it’s smokers and gays.

  68. Cone of Freedom

  69. “Always gotta have a n—–. Black people had civil rights and King, so now it’s smokers and gays.”

    If smokers are treated like gays, when will the Supreme Court issue a decision upholding a right for consenting adults to smoke? When will government officials start presiding at commitment ceremonies between smokers and tobacco companies?

  70. For some reason I’m freaked out by all the sex talk from people on this blog. I’m used to thinking of all of you as faceless talking heads. Now I’m picturing numerous people going up to random women in bars and saying “Hey baby, I’d like to privatize *your* social security,” or many other pseudo-libertarian pickup lines.

  71. “. . . or many other pseudo-libertarian pickup lines.”

    How about “You must be with the Federal Reserve, because you’ve raised my interest.”

  72. “Their main goal has always been to discourage smoking, which they believe directly threatens “the public health” by exposing smokers themselves to the risk of disease”

    Discouraging smoking may have been their original intent, but now that they have cushy public-sector jobs and no marketable skills, their main goal will be to keep their silly, busy-body jobs.

  73. money quote:

    ?This city is becoming so . . . communist. You’d think we lived in freaking Toronto or something.?

  74. Brings a new meaning to bumming a smoke on the butt bus.
    Surely the cancer-getting fans abord the bus should be drinking too!
    I mean, let’s speed up the suiciding effort in there, eh?

  75. Back in Novemer a comprehensive smoking ban was passed here in Washington state. It’s really stupid. Obviously, a downtown Seattle Starbucks has a different product and customer base than a Pioneer Square area bar in Seattle. This law is not going to change who patronizes the bar I frequent after professional sporting events in the Pioneer Square area. So people who used to smoke in the bar, with no other customers complaining about it, are now forced to go outside and smoke because of the Health Uber Alles Partisans. People don’t go to bars to get healthy and this is something the Health Nazis don’t get.

    A few days ago a neighbor of mine was having her customary smoke in the doorway of my apartment building in the Belltown area of Seattle. I then realized that she was violating the smoking ban’s requirement that smokers be at least 25 feet from the doorways of public buildings to have their smokes. I then jokingly started reminding her to get at least 25 feet away from the buildings main doorway, or that I would call in the Health Police to cite her for her violation.

    I think a good joke initiative to put on the ballot would be to call for the construction of concentration camps for smokers, since it is the only way non-smokers can be guaranteed that they won’t be exposed by even the sight of a smoker. Actually, that might not be such a good idea. The Health Nazis would all vote for that one and see to it that is zealously enforced also.

  76. Butt Bus is Leaving:

    In the newspaper this morning, the City told him to get rid of it because “It hasn’t been Approved”. By-law officers delived a letter to him citing “a number of concerns.”

    Got him by the short ‘n curlies. I swear, this country is going Communist. 🙁
    The sad part is, I’m not suprised…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.