Live Smoke-Free or Whine

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Last week the New Hampshire Senate narrowly rejected a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. "I believe it should be a decision that the business owner and restaurant owners make on their own," said Sen. Carl Johnson (R-Meredith). "I'm surprised that a lot of the 'Live Free or Diers' who usually confront us with statements like 'stay out of our life' or 'we don't need more legislation' were the ones asking us to ban smoking."

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  1. 12-11? I’m starting to question my decision to move back to Cow Hampsha.

  2. Reason stands in NH! Cheers!

    Compromise plan for smoke-banners:
    1) Business owners decide if they wish to allow smoking.

    2) A few incentives to not allowing smoking would be having to build a seprate enclosed room on seprate ventilation (applies to resturaunts, but not bars, qualification being on pecentage of business done through food service over alcohol service), higher insurance premium (which I think already stands), and higher tax.

    3) Businesses allowing smoking must place an easy to ready sign stating that smoking IS allowed within; prominently displayed outside entrances so a non-smoker can make an informed decision as to if they want to do business with the establishment or take their business elsewhere.

    How is this not agreeable?

  3. I don’t see how point number 2 can be seen as agreeable in the least. Perhpas you think that capital is free, and that restaurant owners make tons of money they can spare, and with low risk?

    If you don’t want to go on someone else’s property because there is smoking going on, you don’t have to. Why do people have a hard time understanding this?

  4. Coyote: The “higher tax” part. Having seperate ventilation is reasonable because it can at least be pointed at as a safety thing for the customers, whereas adding higher taxes on top of that is just financial punishment. Both involve force, but considering there are already zoning codes it’s less of a leap to say “sure, just keep the smoke with the smokers”.

  5. I am with juggler on point 2. Point three also disagrees with me; there is no need to resort to force. A potential patron merely has to walk into the establishment to see whether or not there is smoking….

  6. Point 2 is hopefully appeasing to anti-smokers. Deleware tried this for about a year (I think without the taxing, though), but didn’t give it a chance before completely banning smoking. The businesses that DID opt to build a new section expected that they would make up for the loss as more smokers do business there, but were SOL when the ban was passed. So it’s not that businesses wouldn’t take the risk, but rather the idea wasn’t given a chance to pass or fail. Details of allocation of money collected from taxing would have to be worked out, or could be dropped altogether.

  7. Anywhere there’s a significant market for smoke-free venues, i.e. anywhere there are people who want to go somewhere smoke-free, smoke-free establishments spring up all over the place (or businesses switch over to nonsmoking). Before the WA smoking ban, you could find literally thousands of smoke-free restaurants and bars in online directories. If customers are so afraid for their own lungs that they need a sign so that they don’t have to poke their heads inside and take a sniff to see if there’s smoke in there, they can easily check such directories. Besides, how much of your time going out is to new places? You find some places you like and tend to go back, so it’s not like you’d have to figure out where it was safe to hang out more than a few times.

    If smokey environs are actually less desirable (which they certainly are to me), then employers will have to pay workers more to work there (workers in turn get to excercise their individual human agency and decide where to work), and eventually may risk turning their businesses into establishments centered around smoking if their customer base ends up being people who come there specifically because they get to smoke rather than because they want to have a good time in general (assuming very few people in the market want to be around smoke).

    Point 2 as a whole, “incentives to not allowing smoking,” is ridiculous: the government has no business deciding for us that we need to be incentivized to make the right choices. If we want to smoke we will Goddamnit, you dirty government. Thanks for your help anyway though. My diaper could use a change…

    The idea that owners of smoking establishments owe people anything is ludicrous. I’m definitely disheartened to hear that NH almost banned smoking…

    [apologies if this double-posts]

  8. Comments been acting weird lately, first it doubles everything now it’s cutting off.

    I had another paragraph about how if you had that requirement you’d basically be forcing smaller places to either ban smoking entirely or go out of business, effectively giving larger-scale resturaunts & chains an advantage, but I was assuming based on your remark that you’d be OK with that.

  9. If you don’t want to go on someone else’s property because there is smoking going on, you don’t have to. Why do people have a hard time understanding this?

    I had this exact argument with a co-worker yesterday. His basic argument seems to be that most people would prefer a non-smoking environment, but it isn’t that high on the priority list that they would refuse to go to a place merely because smoking is permitted. And that because people wouldn’t boycott it, there will never be a market driven incentive to go non-smoking.

    He also seemed to imply that no place will voluntarily go non-smoking because they will lose business. The thinking is that a place that goes non-smoking will lose its smoking customers, and non-smokers, who are unwilling to boycott, wont replace the lost smokers, they will instead continue to patronize their favorite places because they prefer staying with a place they know and like, rather than going to a potentially less enjoyable place whose only offer is a non-smoking environment.

    My wife, who hates smoking, also feels that since there are virtually no nightclubs who are currently non-smoking, her options are either suck it up and deal with it or don’t go to nightclubs.
    She feels that it is fair to force the smokers to go outside and have the smoke and then come back in. She feels it it the place for government to regulate because second hand smoke kills people.

    Whenever I took the position of don’t go to a bar that allows smoking, its met with “why should I have to limit my choices because other people’s smoke puts my health at risk. Let the people who are creating the risk go outside.” Neither was very sympathetic to the whole “let the owner of the bar decide what is best for his clientele” nor did they feel it inappropriate for the government to regulate since it involved a “public health” issue.

    Very frustrating conversations

  10. This is great. Now someone in a few years can compare cancer rates for states with bans on smoking and states without bans and see which states are healthier.

  11. If you don’t want to go on someone else’s property because there is smoking going on, you don’t have to. Why do people have a hard time understanding this?

    Mainly because people confuse preferences for rights.

  12. By the way, thanks for helping to shape and flesh this out. Once this is reasonably worked out, I may present it to my congessmen and representatives.

  13. I wonder what other carcinogens NH legislators are in favor of spreading around bars and nightclubs. Dioxin maybe?

  14. Jacob, how has your previously admitted acceptance of tobacco money for your work influenced this post?

  15. Ok, drop the taxing (or apply it to bars since I’m not calling for reneuvations on them). Add building open air smoking areas off airport terminals (having to go out baggage claim to smoke and come back through security is seriously BS.)

    The signs would replace no-smoking signs since it’s almost a given anymore that a resturaunt is non-smoking.

    Yes, this plan is set up to encourage non-smoking establishments without actually banning smoking.

    The real problem is most smokers are self-centered, weak-willed, and/or oblivious of others (myself included in one or more of those). I do however ask if non-smokers that I am with mind if I smoke near them, including in my own car (if someone is pregnant, I don’t ask, assuming no.) I (almost) never toss my butt from my window. If walking and not near a trashcan or ashtray, I knock off the burning portion, stomp it out, and save the butt until I find a trashcan.

  16. Forget building a fence along the Mexican border…NH needs to build one to keep Massholes out.

  17. Now someone in a few years can compare cancer rates for states with bans on smoking and states without bans and see which states are healthier.

    I’m thinking smoking ban proponents will react to such studies in the future, the same way that gun control proponents react to studies on the effect of concealed-carry legislation now.

  18. Chicago–

    Interesting conversations. The obvious question for your co-worker is: if having a smoke-free experience “isn’t that high on the priority list that they would refuse to go to a place,” then why in the name of pandas is this such a big issue for those exact same people? If they’re so lazy or apathetic about this issue in their own lives, with their own health, with their own money, and their own time, then WHY oh WHY is it something we need big brother to enforce on us all? If anyone seriously told me to my face that they didn’t care enough to avoid a smokey room but that it was a problem requiring immediate, strict government address, I’d laugh at them without being able to control myself.

    Moreover, your friend also said, “because people wouldn’t boycott it, there will never be a market driven incentive to go non-smoking,” which is demonstrably false. I had a similar conversation with a good friend of mine, and it turned out she assumed the exact same thing BUT HAD NEVER TRIED LOOKING FOR SMOKE-FREE PLACES. I hadn’t ever either, actually, but armed with my faith in market forces I asserted that many such places would exist. We went to Google straightaway, and found multiple huge directories of information on smoke-free venues (restaurants, concerthalls, bars, etc.). Of course, if you try to go find them nowadays, all you get is some glib message about how the glorious WA gov’t has gifted us all with a pleasant lack of autonomy, so such directories are unecessary and are no longer posted on the web.

    Your wife’s position is more interesting, but based on the same reasoning: the non-smoker wants everything, so why not force smokers to make sacrifices. “Why should I have to limit my choices because other people’s smoke puts my health at risk?” This statement only makes sense under a certain sense of ENTITLEMENT, in which your wife is somehow entitled to enjoy all the bars and nightclubs in your area and so any disturbance to that enjoyment (such as a health risk) is not her problem but someone else’s. Other people’s smoke doesn’t put her health at risk — she chooses to put herself at risk by going to a place with smoke.

    “Let the people who are creating the risk go outside.” Let the people who won’t tolerate the risk go outside. There’s no reason people can’t choose to accept risks in their lives, for example to freely associate (as in the First and foremost Amendment to our nation’s Constitution) in a private* place and partake of private activities.

    Your wife brings up another interesting idea, the idea of “public health.” While there are clear philosophical-legal grounds on which to reject this argument, it’s easiest to look at it by taking simple logical extensions of the reasoning it uses. Regulating smoking on public health grounds is based on the idea that if private activities (like smoking or associating with smokers), undertaken voluntarily and freely, have a health impact on only the people who undertake them, then it’s the government’s job to regulate them in our own interest. This means that it’s also the government’s job to tell us what to eat (sorry, no more milk chocolate), how to dress (everyone needs to wear goofy UV-protectant hats all summer), how to excercise, what our hobbies should be, who to marry (psychological health you know), how many kids to have, whether or not to even try having children … there’s no end to how much of our lifestyle could be regulated on account of protecting our health. Part of being human is getting hurt and dying in the process of doing all the OTHER things that make us human. People should get to choose what level of health risk they want in their own lives. Draconian public health measures deny us humanity and turn us into well cared-for pets.

    *The notion of private/public is being redefined quite starkly. If you read the WA initiative that banned smoking, they unabashedly and explicitly (re)defined public not in terms of ownership but in terms of use: if “the public” uses a place — i.e., if a business wants, uh, customers — then the place itself is public. Hmmm.

  19. Thanks, Ventifact. I was having trouble adeqately stating the “government regulation of public health” points you mentioned.

    Your last statement in that paragraph reminded of the song “Pets” by Porno for Pyros.

  20. “(re)defined public not in terms of ownership but in terms of use”

    I think this gets at the crux of the disagreement between the H&R crowd and the majority on this issue. For most people, public IS defined in terms of use, not ownership. There will be many here who feel that that is flat out wrong, that ownership is the defining parameter that distinguishes between private and public. This is an easily refuted position. Consider whether there is a difference between private and public behavior. It does not, so much, depend upon place, but upon who is available to interact with that behavior (a nice romp in the bushes at the park can be private if no one is around to see). It is this definition of public that is involved in the indoor smoking bans… people are banning a public activity, not regulating a public space.

    For this reason, a more reasoned approach to the problem (if you believe it is a problem) would be to sanction the smoker rather than the business that allows smoking. Enforcement, however, is much easier if you implement based on the location because you turn business owners into smoking cops. This is done in other arenas (e.g., having to ID for booze sales, collect taxes via employers and sales tax). Since it works out in these other areas, communities have used the businessman as enforcer model here.

    I think a ban on indoor smoking enforced like they do bus fare in Rome would work as well. In Rome, you can get on a bus without a fare, but you risk having to pay a huge fine if a cop happens to get on the bus and demand to see everyone’s ticket. This sets the bias towards most people not running the risk and most people having their ticket when they get on board. In the smoking ban situation, complaints of smoking might attract the cops, but if no one around complains, then it is unlikely that enforcement would take place.

    If the majority of the public in a particular community wants to ban the public behavior of indoor smoking, a democratic process allows for this. Claims of the right to be free from such restrictions are dubious, but if a community is going to implement a ban they should do it in a way that respects the distinction between public space and public behavior. Conflation of the two just makes it so that people can argue past each other.

  21. MainStream–

    I don’t like to be rude, but I must ask if you’ve read the actual points on this page, or if you’ve ever thought about the fundamental philosophical guidelines of our country’s legal system.

    Of course you are right, and I was too black-and-white in my remark about “public”/”private.” There are multiple meanings of each word, and you rightly point out that what people means depends on what they consider important. Perhaps it would be better for me to call attention to the very fact that people consider the “publicness” of a place to be determined by the activities that happen there. If this isn’t busibodiness, I don’t know what is.

    “If the majority of the public in a particular community wants to ban the public behavior of indoor smoking, a democratic process allows for this.”

    Well again, the definition of a word (“democracy”) could be brought up, and you are in some way correct. Democracy at its purest is majority rule. However, if you look at the Bill of Rights, by far the most important representation of the values our government is set up to uphold, you will find that our government is actually dedicated twofold to the rule of the majority and to the rights of individuals to resist that rule to a considerable extent.

    This is actually really really really really important. It is important because policies based on a dedication to group mentality fail to provide benefit to the group or the individuals making it up (think of life in China). Only by adherence to individual rights can we garuntee (sorry, sp., I’m rushing) that the group will receive benefit as well.

  22. I got home this evening and wanted to enjoy this sudden burst of beautiful spring weather by sitting out on my patio and enjoying a glass of wine with my wife. Unfortunately, our enjoyment last all of four minutes, since the people beneath us are smokers, and decided to stand out on their patio and foul our air, causing to have to retreat into our apartment and shut the patio door and all the windows. This, of course, means I can look forward to another sky-high air conditioning bill this summer, since having windows open means I have to choke on their foul stench and have all my clothes and furniture stink as well. And I get deprived of the use of my patio, in an apartment that I pay more than $1,500 a month for. So you’ll pardon me if I think that smokers can pretty much go fuck themselves, and that I’m not even remotely interested in what they think their “rights” are.

  23. Phil, in my apartment in Texas, I signed a standard Texas Apartment Association lease. My lease has the following provisions (your lease may have similar provisions):

    Section 19 (Limitations on Conduct): “We may regulate: (1) the user of patios, balconies and porches…”

    Section 20 (Prohibited Conduct): “You and your occupants or guests may not engage in the following activities: … behaving in a loud or obnoxious manner,; disturbing or threatening the rights, comfort, health, safety or convenience of others…”

    You should in any case immediately send your complaint in writing, return receipt requested, to the apartment office and, if applicable, cc: the management company. Texas law allows them a reasonable time to respond to this.

    Been there myself so I sympathize; I don’t hate smokers, but darn it, I can’t breathe the pollen around here and the smoke just does not help. Good luck to you.

  24. Damn Phil, what a whiner you must be..complaining about how a puff of smoking rolling in your general vicinity outside on your deck ruined your day.

    Here’s some advice – don’t move into an apartment if you can’t handle living around other people. I hear they have a whole town for sale on ebay, you should check it out!

  25. Yeah, Phil living around other people really sucks.

  26. Yeah, Phil, living around other people really sucks.

  27. Ventifact-

    It is not rude to disagree with someone. Really. We all think we are above average drivers, and we all think we have a better handle on the issue than the other guy. Not a problem.

    I am well aware of the arguments you are making. I was trying to point out a different perspective on the issue. I see a lot of people arguing past each other because they miss the distinction between public space and public behavior. Your comment that WA was redefining the terms seemed a perfect example. To be fair, I think the WA law does conflate the issues in ways that complicate coherent thinking on the issue.

    As for the balance between majority and individual rights— it is really really really really really (that’s 5 to your 4 :~) important to recognize that it is a balance between the two concepts. The nice thing about our system, as you point out, is that it has mechanisms built in to help find the appropriate balance. Individuals have ways to engage the majority when they feel their rights are being trampled.

    The WA initiative is a good example of how these things can be worked out. The law was a voter initiative. It can be countered with another, or a legal challenge. Nothing stopping anyone from helping shape the final compromise.

    Where I differ with many libertarians is on an insistance that the issue of what is a right is settled before the debate begins. Rights are not, I would say, platonic ideals inherent in the universe (yes I know about positive and negative obligations yadda yadda). Rights are cultural artifacts that emerge out of community interactions. Your rights do not flow from god, but from cultural evolution. The US has a fairly robust set of mechanisms to assure that the right set of ideas are considered so as to bias the evolution in ways that balance individual rights against the desires of the majority. It ain’t a perfect system, but it works as well as any other I can think of (would do better if we had more political parties involved, but that is a side issue).

    My earlier comments were aimed primarily at Coyote1284 who seems to want to put together some sort of compromise bill. Making the distinction between public activities/behavior and public/private space is important if you are actually wording a proposal.

  28. MainStream —

    I am afraid I did slightly misinterpret you originally. I always think it’s really^6 useful to inject other points of view into a conversation to consider.

    My opinion about the WA initiative would be that it does not leave much real room for political challenge. Clearly no initiative will pass that reverses it. Legislators have no real reason to go against their constituents (and probably hold the same view anyway). I don’t have any reason to believe that court decisions would give any real support to pro-choice (i.e. pro-smoking-choice) positions. To be fair, this situation certainly demonstrates that this issue appears to be fairly resolved in the political sense, and is therefore hard to claim was unfairly resolved since our political system is supposed to offer fair chances to everyone with a valid point of view. Unfortunately I still find the smoking ban unfair, and the fact that our political system offers no recourse does not make the ban more fair. It just means that the majority is so hellbent on getting their way that they have allowed the convenience of legislating other people’s activities seduce them away from respect for people’s individual agency.

    Phil —

    I sympathize with your situation; I don’t like smoke either. But what about the guy smoking? What if all day he was looking forward to coming home and relaxing with a cigarette on his patio?

  29. Phil, why dont you move to an apartment that is non smoking and then you can go fuck yourslef.

  30. Gee, if all you potty-mouthed kindergarteners live a floor down from Phil, no wonder he has problems with your juvenile disregard for his comfort and health.

  31. Those who want smoking bans say that the employee’s at the bars and nightclubs shouldn’t have to breath smoke, i.e. worker safety.

    But they don’t have to work there. They could, for example, get a job in a welding shop, a foundry or perhaps a coke plant at Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp.

  32. Aaaaaand it’s nice to see revealed the people who obviously feel that I should not even be allowed to be smoke-free in my own home. So, if that’s the case, explain again why I shold give a shit about smoking bans?

    But what about the guy smoking? What if all day he was looking forward to coming home and relaxing with a cigarette on his patio?

    Who cares? Should I be allowed to, say, empty my cats’ litterboxes onto his patio? Or just toss my garbage over the rail? Or urinate onto it? If he can put smoke in my apartment, then why should I be limited from putting things in his?

    Damn Phil, what a whiner you must be..complaining about how a puff of smoking rolling in your general vicinity outside on your deck ruined your day.

    Fuck you, assface. These people moved in three weeks ago, after I’ve lived here for three years, and they’re chain smokers; they’re out on the patio about every ten minutes, and they’re directly underneath me. If I don’t want my apartment to smell like a goddamned dive bar, I have to keep all the doors and windows closed all the time. (Not to mention my wife is asthmatic, so it’s even more important to keep it away from her.) So fuck you and your “puff of smoke” and “general vicinity” bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so why don’t you fill your mouth with a tall glass of STFU?

    Notice how you people think that everything is incumbent on the nonsmoker. Nope, smokers never have to exercise any politeness, or responsibility, or anything of the sort; it’s all up to everyone else. Screw that. I should not have to put up with that crap in my own home.

  33. Phil-

    Riiiight, because we have total control over weather. With your logic, why should people be allowed to operate motor vehicle when they can put the toxic fumes from their cars in your apartment?

    So, I already can’t smoke inside this apartment I just moved into. Has my upstairs neighbor actually politely explained to me that smoking on my balcony is offensive to him? Has he suggested an alternative? -No? Then why do I have to assume that there IS a problem? -Yes? Than I just really don’t care about your shit any more than you care that I had a ham sandwich for lunch. The old-fashioned sence of neighborlyness went away decades ago. I haven’t said more than 3 words to each of the residents of the other 3 apartments in my building. How am I supposed to know if my alarm going off at 5:30AM to wake me for work wakes someone else and it annoys them because they work evenings and went to bed at 4AM?

    Yea, let’s ban annoyances. Make it illegal to wear prefume and cologne. It burns my eyes and nose when I have to be near someone that liberally applied their fragrance (seriously). I can’t simply “go somewhere else” when they are on the same elevator or in the next cubicle. I should not have to be discomforted because of them.

    Sound familiar? There seriously are those lobbying for “fragrance-free” zones, on the same basic poins as what created smoke-free areas. What’s next? A war on B.O. and flatulance? We must always care for the delicate nostrals of the next person!

    -Main
    Ammendum:
    “Public” bars will be smoke-free, with an outdoor smoking area (patio with tables and outdoor service optional). “Private” clubs are not subject to smoking regulation. Distinction being that “private” clubs have a membership, with cards and fees.

  34. Oh, and drop the taxing with that.

  35. Riiiight, because we have total control over weather.

    Smoking is not “weather.”

    With your logic, why should people be allowed to operate motor vehicle when they can put the toxic fumes from their cars in your apartment?

    I have never once encountered auto exhaust in my apartment.

    So, I already can’t smoke inside this apartment I just moved into.

    Wait, what? Who said he can’t smoke in his own apartment? I want him to smoke in his own apartment. I prefer that he smokes in his own apartment. On this point, however, most smokers are revealed to be hypocrites: “If I smoke in the apartment, all my stuff will smell like smoke.” So they go outside, and make all my stuff smell like smoke.

    Yea, let’s ban annoyances. Make it illegal to wear prefume and cologne.

    “Wearing prefume [sic] and cologne” is not anything like smoking. Constantly dispensing a perfume atomizer into your face would be like smoking.

    So, aside from one person, it’s pretty much everyone else’s opinion that even my apartment should not be smoke-free?

  36. Riiiight, because we have total control over weather.

    Smoking is not “weather.” And even retarded children know that smoke travels upwards. Dick Van Dyke did PSAs about it and everything.

    With your logic, why should people be allowed to operate motor vehicle when they can put the toxic fumes from their cars in your apartment?

    I have never once encountered auto exhaust in my apartment. In any case, you agree that he can put stuff in my apartment but I can’t put stuff in his? How is that fair?

    So, I already can’t smoke inside this apartment I just moved into.

    Wait, what? Who said he can’t smoke in his own apartment? I want him to smoke in his own apartment. I prefer that he smokes in his own apartment. On this point, however, most smokers are revealed to be hypocrites: “If I smoke in the apartment, all my stuff will smell like smoke.” So they go outside, and make all my stuff smell like smoke.

    Yea, let’s ban annoyances. Make it illegal to wear prefume and cologne.

    “Wearing prefume [sic] and cologne” is not anything like smoking. Constantly dispensing a perfume atomizer into your face would be like smoking.

    So, aside from one person, it’s pretty much everyone else’s opinion that even my apartment should not be smoke-free?

  37. “Uptight” Phil writes:

    “..Fuck you, assface…I don’t want my apartment to smell like a goddamned dive bar..So fuck you and your “puff of smoke” and “general vicinity” bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so why don’t you fill your mouth with a tall glass of STFU?”

    Geez Phil – look at what you’re writing..everyone was indeed right about you, you are one uptight asshole!

  38. “Uptight” Phil writes:

    “..Fuck you, assface…I don’t want my apartment to smell like a goddamned dive bar..So fuck you and your “puff of smoke” and “general vicinity” bullshit. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so why don’t you fill your mouth with a tall glass of STFU?”

    Geez Phil – look at what you’re writing..everyone was indeed right about you, you are one uptight asshole!

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