Who's Crying Now?

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New Jersey's new smoking ban, which includes exemptions for casinos and cigar bars, takes effect tomorrow. The casinos say they need an exemption to maintain a level playing field with competitors in other states, while New Jersey bar owners complain that the exemption gives casinos an unfair competitive advantage. According to The New York Times, 11 states now have "comprehensive smoking bans" that apply to all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants, while "six others have less comprehensive smoking restrictions." The Times seems to have overlooked Arkansas, where Gov. Mike Huckabee last week signed a law that bans smoking in restaurants (unless they exclude custiomers under the age of 21) but not bars.

"There's probably some crying towels being passed out in the tobacco industry today," Huckabee said upon signing the bill. In truth, the tobacco companies have pretty much thrown in the towel when it comes to smoking bans, except when they own businesses covered by the laws. And if they should be crying because smoking restrictions will encourage smokers to cut back or quit, thereby reducing cigarette sales, Arkansas and the other states should be shedding even more tears, since the combination of excise tax revenue and lawsuit settlement payments makes them the industry's main shareholders.

NEXT: Golly

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  1. Tonight some bars in Jersey will be doing a near re-enactment of the scene from Casablanca where Rick and friends enjoy their last evening in Paris by trying to consume all the remaining champagne. Tomorrow, the Wehrmacht takes over, and Paris will only be a bittersweet memory.

  2. Just remember, folks, there’s never anything good about a smoking ban in bars, and the market would have solved it anyways, as it did with airlines and restaurants. Anybody who says otherwise is an evil statist nanny.

  3. “…they need an exemption to maintain a level playing field with competitors….”

    Every time I hear this expression, I want to dive through the TeeVee screen and stab the utterer in the eye with my mechanical pencil.

    Maybe I should stop watching TeeVee.

  4. [SCENE: A restaurant in New Jersey]

    WAITER: Mr. Giancana, sir, I, uh, hope you’re enjoying your meal?

    GIANCANA: [grunts]

    WAITER: There’s one thing, sir, uh, I’ll have to ask you to put out that cigar.

    GIANCANA: My what, now?

    WAITER: Your cigar. By law, this is a no-smoking establishment.

    GIANCANA: Sure, I’ll put out my cigar. Lean forward a little.

    WAITER: Ow! My eye! You blinded me!

    GIANCANA: It’s out now.

  5. Hello,
    I just wanted to correct some misinformation in an earlier comment posted by “Smokin Reason Man.” The comment was:

    “Just remember, folks, there’s never anything good about a smoking ban in bars, and the market would have solved it anyways, as it did with airlines and restaurants. Anybody who says otherwise is an evil statist nanny.”

    The market did not solve the problem of smoking on airlines. In fact, smoking was banned on airlines as a result of a class action lawsuit initiated on behalf of flight attendants suffering from lung cancer and other serious respiratory illnesses as a result of having been exposed to secondhand smoke on planes. As a result of the lawsuit, which the flight attendants won, smoking was banned on all flights entering/leaving the U.S. and the flight attendants were awarded a $300 million dollar settlement. The flight attendants used the money to establish a medical research institute that conducts research for the early detection, prevention, treatment, and cure of diseases and medical conditions caused from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
    For details, see http://www.famri.org.

  6. Jacob Sullum’s conclusion that states lose money by enacting smokefree workplace laws is incorrect.

    Cigarette industry settlement payments to each state average about $.40 per pack, and are based upon nationwide cigarette consumption, and not on cigarette consumption in that state.

    Thus, states that reduce cigarette consumption more rapidly than the national average benefit financially, while states that reduce cigarette consumption less rapidly than the national average lose financially.

    Also, states that increase cigarette excise taxes are financial winners, while states that don’t increase cigarette excise taxes are financial losers.

    That’s because state cigarette tax increases nearly always result in an increase of state tax revenue. At the same time, cigarette consumption alwasys declines in states that increase cigarette excise taxes, at the rate of about 4% for every 10% price hike.

    States can and have been financial winners at the same time cigarette consumption declines.

  7. No, C. Austin, I’m sure you’re wrong. And there are tons of non-smoking bars in your own town, too. Not just those that had to go non-smoking because they were attached to a restaurant business which had to, but a veritable swarm of market-responding non-smoking bars. It has to be true, I tells you!

    And as for the airlines, if only those flight attendants had waited another 15 minutes or so, I’m sure the market would have solved their problem too. Stupid, stupid flight attendants.

  8. Woo-hoo, new smoking thread. I’ll pick back up where I left off working toward a compromise resolution that allows smoking in resturaunts and bars, but under tighter regulation.

    So far:
    Reasturaunts have a choice, but must reconfigure their smoking section as a seperate room on seperate ventillation. Detail on regulations on bars were still being hashed out while we were trying to come to agreement on “public” and “private” spaces. “Public” bars/clubs will be non-smoking indoors, but patios and sidewalk tables could be smoking areas if the bar so chooses to designate the area as such. “Private” bars/clubs (designation being that there is membership required to enter) will be unrestricted, if the owner wishes to have smoking inside, so be it.

    Allow me to also pose a question.
    If you agree that a business, like a bar, is public because of use and therefore smoking should not be allowed, are you also be fine with people being arrested in a bar for “public intoxication”?

  9. I am curious, is smoking the only use for tobacco?

    Cannot you get a good dye from it, for example? Or serve in salad? After all, hemp has a thousand uses, even if we do not smoke it. Same thing with the peanut. I wonder how many uses one could find for the tobacco plant if one tried.

    (You could also get some really addictive drugs out of cacao, but we prefer to take them in Godiva samplers – pardon me while I go on a bender…)

  10. If you agree that a business, like a bar, is public because of use and therefore smoking should not be allowed, …
    I don’t agree that private businesses are public.

    are you also be fine with people being arrested in a bar for “public intoxication”?
    A barbaric practice, but I’ve heard of happening in a few instances.

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