Saturday, November 25, 2006

Agitaters Wanted

Sustainable Racine is seeking anti-smoking zealots. Here is the plea:

Committee members are needed for the Smoke Free Committee of Sustainable Racine. Meetings are held at Sustainable Racine at 9:30 on the second Monday of the month. Volunteers are also needed to do telephone surveys to restaurant managers either from your own home or from the Volunteer Center.

I will make one slam dunk prediction. The results of the telephone survey will confirm that restaurant managers favor a smoking ban.


Wade said...

I don't get it, if Sustainable Racine finds out that a manager favors a smoking ban in their restaurant then that manager should ban smoking in that restaurant.

I am with you on this Denis, it should be up to the Business owner if smoking will or will not be allowed in their business. You are also right this survey will find out exactly what Sustainable Racine already wants to believe. We have a smoking ban headed our way in Racine, that is clear. Or at least an attempt at one.

eric ... sending smoke signals said...

According to the American Lung Association, "Cigarette smoking has been identified as the number one preventable cause of morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Smoking is responsible for approximately one in five deaths in the United States. From 1997 to 2001, smoking killed an estimated 438,000 people in the United States each year. This includes an estimated 259,494 male and 178,404 female deaths annually. Among adults, the three leading specific causes of smoking attributable deaths were from lung cancer (123,836), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (90,582) and ischemic heart disease (86,801)." The other "legal" act that causes huge fatality rates, abortion (but I digress, since legally they don't count). Let's encourage smoker patrons to puff harder and longer while their business hosts should lean closer for a better sample of that second hand smoke. Smoking is legal, and Darwinism is periodically revalidated. I have lost my addiction to government. Those folks need to exercise their addictions, oops, I mean rights, while they can. The same public that overwhlemingly supported public place and work place smoking bans is the driver to the market force that has already begun to eliminate smoking in eateries and pubs. Between Darwin and the market, smoking's days as a widespread addiction are numbered. Another ban would only hasten what market forces are already setting in motion.

Denis Navratil said...

Or we could let the market work its magic. Some places would allow smoking while others would not. Why is this a problem?

eric said...

Denis, I think the market is working its magic in the case of banning smoking in areas where groups of people congregate. But all markets are not efficient all the time - otherwise you could invest in index mutual funds only and be confident you were always earning the top returns. The majority of the population expresses a desire for smoke-free environments and governments respond with smoking bans in public places, businesses like some airlines, hotels, and restaraunts go smoke-free, and whole cities and countries (Scotland and England) go smoke-free. The managers of some portion of the entertainment market may honestly feel a smoking-ban would negatively affect their business, but one might argue they are the inefficiency in this particular market - that already instituted smoking bans have proven they either have neutral or positive impact on revenues. I do concede there will be some businesses for which catering to smoking only customers will become their niche, and therefore on principle I agree with you. But this market is moving too slowly towards what I'm pretty sure is an ultimate destination of 75% or more non-smoking establishments. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, there are literally millions of smokers each day in the USA who after legally sharing their smoke with others, proceed to illegally liter public and private areas with the remnants of their cigarettes. I don't see market forces handling the 'after-smoke' aspect of the smoking habit.

Denis Navratil said...

Eric, should there be limits placed on the wishes of the majority? Suppose the majority wanted to prevent Jews from living in the city of Racine? To me the greatest threat posed by a smoking ban is the loss of freedom. Presently, owners of bars and restaurants are free to make decisions that best suit the interests of their patrons. Everyobe's freedoms are still intact. You may frequent the private business if you choose, or you may seek out other businesses that cater to your preferences. By supporting a smoking ban, you are undermining the freedom and property rights of bar and restaurant owners.

I think we understand each others argument, and of course reasonable people can disagree on things. But I would like to know who's rights are being infringed when a restaurant allows smoking. If we have a right to breathe smoke free air, then where does this stop? Should there likewise be a ban on automobiles, factories, coal burning utilities etc... and what about the costs associated with these decisions? If we are entitled to smoke free air, then smoking should be outlawed in the home, shouldn't it? I mean, even if you live alone, there may come a time when the police or medical personell must enter your home. Why must they be subjected to second hand smoke? Where do we stop this Eric? Is there any place for freedom from the tyranny of the majority?

eric said...

It goes back to balancing the rights of the majority, minority, and individuals. The government already regulates quite a bit regarding our bodies and what can transpire on our property. Do we want more regulation? Usually not, but as population density increases so does regulation. All those other air pollution causes you mentioned are already regulated to some extent (catalytic converters, exhaust filters, etc). I take your argument as a lot like the 'change the TV channnel', don't sensor or fine the broadcaster - but in that example too, we put limits, and the FCC has program content guidelines and sometimes fines broadcasters. Again, idealogically I agree with you on this one, but I also find myself sympathetic to an argument that if a business invites the public in their doors, a reasonable person should not expect to be harmed by the behavior the host allows and facilitates. It strikes me as odd that a host would welcome me in, then let me know he condones behavior that could harm me. Just let us know you're a smoking facility before we arrive or set up seperate sealed areas in your establishment. Bottomline is that you're right, the owner has the right to decide, but after decades of ill considered behavior towards non-smokers, the backlash is in motion.

Anonymous said...

>> Denis said...
Or we could let the market work its magic. Some places would allow smoking while others would not. Why is this a problem? <<

AH, the marketplace solution. Sorry, Denis, but "no smoking" is the wave of the future because:
--we're getting tired of the 450,000 smoking deaths annually in this country (one in five deaths)
--the $82 Billion in annual productivity losses due to smoking
--the annual $75 Billion in annual health care due to smoking

We agree on one thing: it's unlikely restaurant managers will WANT a smoking ban.


At some point, the welfare of the majority ought to be taken into account, even if the marketplace is too stupid to do it on its own.

And the final truth is that it would be better for all -- consumers, smokers AND restaurant/bar owners -- for a countywide or even nationwide public smoking ban.

Denis Navratil said...

anon. Most elites think that they are smarter than others, and you seem to fit the bill. And here is the problem that you cause. In order for society to do as Anon wants, Anon has to become empowered, thereby taking power away from individuals. I will fight you every step of the way.

wade said...

I don't understand some of the anti-smoking complaints. We are all going to die eventually, and the closer we get to that death the more we drain healthcare resources (unless it is some sort of sudden death). So if smoking kills people quicker don't smokers save us money by not sucking up healthcare for an extra 20 years.

I do agree with ANON, non-smoking is the way of the future. I see less people smoking 20 years ago and it is less accepted by non smokers. Also, childeren are drilled with anti-smoker propaganda at schools so I am sure the numbers of smokers will continue to decline in the future. I do not, however, think we need a public smoking ban to help along smokings demise.
Finally, I find it funny how angery and militant anti-smokers get in the name of caring for other people's health and welfare.