Friday, January 18, 2008

Restaurant Smoking—A No Brainer

The General Assembly is fighting out the public smoking battle again this year. At issue is legislation that would ban smoking in all public places including restaurants and bars. Unfortunately, the battle is set up as an “I win—you lose” contest so people on both sides will fight this one out to the bitter end. In my opinion, the end does not need to be bitter.

One side says that second hand smoke makes them feel sick and that therefore smoking should be banned in restaurants or bars that they may wish to frequent. They say that dividing establishments into smoking and non-smoking sections does not provide them with the protection from smoke that they need. This side is clearly right.

Another side says that they have the right to smoke when and where they choose. They argue that non-smokers are already protected by non-smoking sections. This side is also clearly right.

A third side (I love three sided coins), the restaurant/tavern owners, argue that in a free country the government has no business telling them whether to allow or prohibit smoking in their own establishment. In my opinion this side is also clearly right.

We have a situation in which one or more of the sides, which is obviously right, will end up losing. If smoking is banned, the smokers and the owners will feel that they have lost. If smoking is not banned, the non-smokers will have lost because they will continue to be assaulted by second hand smoke in public places. So how do we turn this into a win—win situation?

I propose a law that requires restaurant or bar owners to choose whether their establishment is to be a smoking or non-smoking place. If it is smoking, there will be no “non-smoking” sections; smokers will be able to sit (or stand) wherever they choose. If it is non-smoking, there will be no “smoking” sections; smoking will be prohibited throughout. Whatever choice the owner makes must be made clear by signs both inside and outside the establishment.

If this proposal becomes law, everybody wins. Non-smokers will be free of second hand smoke because they will only go to non-smoking businesses. Smokers can puff and inhale to their heart’s delight because they will only go to smoking businesses. Proprietors will be free to choose whether their business will be smoking or non-smoking. And, I trust that in the end the market will determine which facilities end up smoking or non-smoking. Restaurant or bar owners will decide whether to allow smoking based on what is best for their business.


Mephisto Phil said...

Your take on this is much too logical and makes way too much sense! It will never fly. It leaves us with nothing to bitch about and takes way too much authority from our lawmakers who would have nothing to do if it weren't for our carping and whining over trivial issues such as this one.

Anonymous said...

I haven't thought through all the ramifications, but your proposal sounds like a good idea!

Paul Hammond said...

"I propose a law that requires restaurant or bar owners to choose whether their establishment is to be a smoking or non-smoking place. "

Why do we need a another law when we already have one, the law of supply and demand?

I just started smoking so I could be a part of a persecuted minority. Plus there's all those cool things you can do with cigarettes like flicking your ashes, inhaling through your nose, blowing smoke rings and acting cool. I hear chicks really dig that.

Anonymous said...

Your proposal is an elegant solution to the Tobacco War. Another is to require ventilation of indoor areas where people gather. Why do politicians ignore this kind of thing and proceed directly to universal bans?

Because the World Health Organization bribes them. It's shocking to realize that such a corrupt organization has this kind of power. God help us.

Dean said...

I don't completely agree. Sitting in a non-smoking section of a restaurant is much more desirable than sitting in a restaurant where smokers can roam as they please. This would just cause me and other non-smokers to stop patronizing restaurants that turned into "smoking" restaurants. Smokers, in turn, might stop going to "non-smoking" restaurants. Good luck to restaurant owners if that happens...

Anonymous said...

In a true free world, a business owner can decide whether to have a smoking or non-smoking restaurant or a restaurant with sections for smoking and non-smoking.