Monday, November 14, 2005

Chicago Smoking Ban

There has been a big media push in the last couple of weeks for the city of Chicago to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars. I feel that passing this law or similar laws is not only a big mistake, but is another step in government's interference with individual rights. Such laws are not about protecting the population as they claim, but they're actually another means of putting control into the hands of the corporate aliens that run our local governments.

Let's look at the proposed smoking ban. First let me tell you that I'm not a smoker. I've quit 35 years ago and have not touched a single cigarette since. I don't particularly like secondhand smoke but I dislike stupid laws even more. Most of the restaurants and bars involved are not owned by the city. Essentially, they are privately owned places with public access. That being the case, the restaurant or bar owner should be the only one to say whether or not to allow smoking on his/her premises. You, as a consumer, don't have to frequent a restaurant if you're against its smoking policy. The restaurant or bar owner is in a better position to make this decision than some politician who has no idea of the conditions and clientele of the establishment. For example, a restaurant owner can allow smoking but use one or more ionic air purifiers to filter the air in the smoking section. In such a case it is possible that the air in the smoking section would be cleaner than polluted city air outside. Under these circumstances, it would be hard to evoke the secondhand smoke argument.

I sometimes go out with friends who smoke and sit in a restaurant's smoking section. Most of the restaurants I've been to have large rooms allotted for their smokers, so I hardly even smell the secondhand smoke. I doubt very strongly that sitting in a restaurant's smoking section for one hour every two or three months is going to be a significant threat to my health. In fact, it could be that small amounts of toxin from the secondhand smoke may help improve my immune system against cigarette pollutants. Then I could argue that a smoking ban would be detrimental to my immune system and would actually be increasing my chances of getting cigarette related diseases.

Ten years ago I worked for a large insurance company. They decided not to let employees smoke in their building. This is as it should be. It's their building and if you want to work for them, you should either give up smoking or smoke outside. In my opinion, this is the only way smoking issues should be resolved: by the property owner and not the government. This was ten years ago. By now the owners of Chicago's public places should have already made up their minds about how to handle smoking in their establishments.

Even if secondhand smoke is as deadly as they claim, which I seriously doubt, it can't hurt you if you stay away from the places that allow smoking. You're only exposed if you want to be. So why a new law? The more laws the more federal and local governments can exert control over our lives. The more frustrated we become. They are conquering us one issue at a time. Practically any law can be passed in the name of public safety. Tomorrow they could be banning french fries because they contain too much saturated fat that causes a significantly elevated risk for heart attack.

The next step in the smoking battle will be to make cigarettes illegal. They've just about went as far as they can raising cigarette taxes. Now when they ban cigarettes, we'll see a resurgence of street gangs shooting each other trying to gain control of the lucrative underground cigarette racket.

If you think that Chicago politicians know what they're doing, let me relate what happened a little over ten years ago. Because there were some deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, the politicians, in their infinite wisdom, passed a law mandating every home to have a carbon monoxide detector by October 1st, 1994. Maybe this law was passed in a genuine effort to save lives or it could have been the result of some deal made with the First Alert Company. In any case, the carbon monoxide detectors were new technology and quite error prone. Because of threats of fines, many people complied with the law. Then a funny thing happened. By December 20, 1994, the Chicago fire department had logged some 8,500 calls from carbon monoxide detector alarms, and found that 86% of them turned out to be false alarms! Then, on December 21, 1994, Chicago experienced a temperature inversion which led to a smog problem. All hell broke loose: more than 1,800 calls were made to "911" within 24 hours, almost all of which turned out to be false alarms. Since then, even though the law may still be on the books, no one mentions it or tries to enforce it. Carbon monoxide detectors work much better now. I don't think too many people have them for fear of false alarms.

I have come to believe the word "politician" is synonymous with "dumb ass". If we continue to let them try to save us from the hazards of the world around us, all our remaining freedoms will surely be lost.


At 8:29 AM, Blogger Orikinla Osinachi. said...

There are no NO Smoking sections anywhere in Nigeria. So, the British-American Tobacco Company is having a ball in my country.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger ria said...

That sucks. Here in Davao City, we have a no smoking policy which states that smoking is strictly prohibited in ALL public places including bars and restos. Every bar/resto has to have a designated smoking area. Usually, that smoking area is too small and crowded. That policy is the main reason why I quit smoking, it's just too much hassle.

At 5:35 AM, Blogger Technicolour Nightmare said...

We have no smoking in resteraunts, which I think is great, but banning it from pubs is a little insane. Its not about taking away rights but protecting others. Its not saying that you cannot smoke, just not in those area, it certainly makes for an more pleasant environment because not everyone wants to inhale someone else's second hand smoke.
I agreed with this even as a smoker.

At 6:59 AM, Blogger ladydaria said...

I agree. I don't think the government has ANY RIGHT to tell individual establishments and/or businesses whether or not they can allow smoking. People who think we are such a free country, better take a good hard look at this kind of thing. Their claim is they hope to save lifves and encourage people to quit smoking. Well, thats all well and good, but it makes you wonder why they don't try to ban alcohol in public places too. Look how many lives that would save as well. Of course in IL, they are super tax hungry so that will never happen. I am in Peoria (originally from Florida) and I expect them to try that here soon too.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger ladydaria said...

Oooops, apologies for the above typo "lives", its too early yet and the caffeine has not kicked in, lol.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Lauren said...

Connecticut just passed this exact law a few years ago, and it is awful. Bars and restaurants are losing business, people are staying at home where they can be freed from this stupid law.

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Nichole said...

I see where you are coming from...and you have a valid point. However, I am definitely for smoking bans. Even IF second hand smoke isn't harmful (which, I firmly believe that it is) there are some of us who are allergic to smoke and have adverse reactions to it. None of the areas where I live have a ban on smoking, so if I ever want to go out to eat...I have to endure the side effects of being around a smoky environment. My eyes water, I have trouble breathing (because of my asthma) and it makes my head hurt. So it basically makes me miserable when I am trying to enjoy a nice evening out.

I suppose I am also against smoking because the majority of my family smokes and everyone in my family winds up with cancer (usually lung, but also other forms of cancer) and I just wish that they would stop increasing their risk of cancer since they are already at risk because it runs in the family. Another reason why I am not opposed to the raised taxes on cigarettes. But...once again--I have my opinion and you have yours ;)

Just thought I would throw my two cents in.


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