This is the most draconian legislation applied to the hapless, wheezing, over-charged, over-taxed, broken-winded, bronchitic, catarrhal, modern smoker.
January 1, 2004 5:59 AM   Subscribe

The Death of the Irish Pub? "The smoking ban is the work of one man, Michael Martin, the Minister for Health and Children, and one of nature's killjoys... He is generally thought to regard the banning of nicotine from Irish pubs as a personal crusade, explaining that he once tried smoking but didn't enjoy it."

The ban was scheduled to start today, but has been delayed until March. It's one thing to have smoking banned in California and New York, but what's the point of pub that's not dark and smoky? And Scotland might be next...
posted by grabbingsand (121 comments total)
Smoking is stupid, here or there.
posted by john m at 6:21 AM on January 1, 2004

"what's the point of pub that's not dark and smoky?"

I guess the point is to not get cancer.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:25 AM on January 1, 2004

but what's the point of pub that's not dark and smoky?

There isn't any. If you don't like it, don't go. Taking away the right to choose to participate in a legal activity is a far more dangerous prospect than smoking.

Hitler's Anti-Smoking Campaign.
posted by hama7 at 6:42 AM on January 1, 2004

So where is not ok to smoke? How about on the street? People do it every day, disturbing others and spewing second-hand smoke into the air.

Also consider this. A lot of establishments share air control systems with other establishments. So in one building, a deli and a pub might be sharing the same air control system. I might be going to the deli, but second hand smoke and cancer-causing particles might be traveling in the air system to the deli.

Finally, if you make something illegal, that means it isn't a legal activity any more. Sex is a legal activity, but it doesn't mean we can do it in public. Picking the gunk from under your toenails is a legal activity, it doesn't mean we do it in a Pub. In the same way, smoking is harmful to others, not just the person smoking, and therefore, should be able to be regulated. The board of health says I have to wear shoes to go into a restaurant, they should be able to see whether I should be able to smoke in a restaurant as well. Which one is more likely to cause someone else to get cancer?
posted by benjh at 6:59 AM on January 1, 2004

Wow! So it's the smokers I should worry about out on the street? And there was me worrying about the emissions from the cars. What an idiot.
posted by squealy at 7:08 AM on January 1, 2004

What's the point of pub that's not dark and smoky?
So that I don't have to have to have my clothes permeated with smoke and reeking for days afterward.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:13 AM on January 1, 2004

On the other hand, some of us go to those very pubs to avoid people like planetkyoto.
posted by RavinDave at 7:19 AM on January 1, 2004

Any Irish MeFites out there want to weigh in on how the general Irish populace feels about this, if you have any idea? I was in Ireland for a bit a couple months ago and the subject came up in a conversation I was having in, of course, a smokey pub and one of the guys I was talking with (a native Dubliner) said a lot of people there do support the ban.

On a side note, I was amazed by the size, directness, and variety of the warnings on cigarette packages in Ireland (in the States it's some small thing that the surgeon general says something might do, wheras there it's stuff like "SMOKING KILLS"). I thought it was rather cool, although I don't think it would change my attitude towards smoking but at least it's cut bullshit.
posted by DyRE at 7:26 AM on January 1, 2004

What an idiot.

Wow. Now that's the intelligent discourse I love from MetaFilter.
posted by benjh at 7:29 AM on January 1, 2004

"but what's the point of pub that's not dark and smoky"

Have you considered there are some of us who wish to go to a bar and be able to breathe?
posted by MrLint at 7:30 AM on January 1, 2004

Yes. I agree with you all. Smoking is bad. Smoking causes cancer. Second-hand smoke can infest your clothing with a reek that lingers for most of a week.

But we're talking about pubs here. Not a bistro, or bar, or even a family-friendly eating establishment. If you go to a pub, you expect to encounter a certain atmosphere, perhaps even literally. What's this? They serve Guinness here, too? I had no idea!
posted by grabbingsand at 7:32 AM on January 1, 2004

Hama : that link about 'Hilter's anti-smoking campaign' has a rather nasty typo early on. Perhaps this guy could bother to stop his rant to bother to proofread?
posted by MrLint at 7:36 AM on January 1, 2004

Glad to be of service benjh. :)
posted by squealy at 7:37 AM on January 1, 2004

It's also banned in public- and workplaces in the Netherlands as of today. Though bars and restaurants have apparently been given a reprieve in order to have time to come up with a "compromise," whatever that means.

Good riddance I say, expecially given how many people roll their own here, which I've found makes my lungs raw and eyes burn the second some idiot starts waving it around in my face.
posted by rocketpup at 7:37 AM on January 1, 2004

One suspects that if a bar owner sensed a demand for a smoke-free environment, that he would instigate one himself without the (how shall I say this?) probing fist of State intervening. Why aren't we seeing non-smoking bars popping up in such numbers to push out traditional competition if the demand is as high as the fun-sucking Puritans wants us to believe? This is just a trendy issue in search of a problem.
posted by RavinDave at 7:42 AM on January 1, 2004

Some counties in New York State are now giving exemptions to bars that can prove they lost more than 15% of profit due to the ban, and there's talk of creating a new smoiking license, like the sidewalk cafe and cabaret licenses, for NYC, that will allow bars to apply and go back to normal...all the people I know who were laid off or had shifts cut because of the law are hoping it happens. Also, Giuliani, our hardline and hardass former mayor, is even against it, for here and for Ireland.
posted by amberglow at 7:45 AM on January 1, 2004

make that a smoking license : >
posted by amberglow at 7:46 AM on January 1, 2004

Boozing will kill you too. I say we ban drinking in bars. Also socializing and flirting, which only lead to heartache and thrown dishes in the end.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:51 AM on January 1, 2004

hama7 - Thanks for that link to "Hitler's Anti Smoking Campaign" , typo or not. "Secure and sanitary utopia" - heh, heh.

But the death of the pub? I don't think so yet, at least until the "Alcohol Reduction" acts of 2012 : those won't make the mistake of banning alcoholic drinks altogether. They will just incrementally decrease the alcoholic strength of beer, wine, and hard liquor year by year, little by little, until it's just not worth it to spend the small fortune for a dozen pints of Guinness to catch a buzz. Sobriety will overtake the equation with people's realization that regular, heavy pub drinking is a major, needless financial drag. So pubs will slowly dwindle in number and - eventually - they will cease to exist anymore, as we have known them in the past - for their fights and sloppy expressions of heartfelt sentiment. They'll become places where mother will feel safe to bring young children, where ice cream, tea, seltzer, organic juices, and healthy snacks of all sorts have mostly replaced fried foods and ale.

Alcohol is carcinogenic too, BTW.

Squealy was on to something there - auto emissions are also carcinogenic, particulates - such as from diesel engines - particularly so. But plain 'ol carbon monoxide isn't especially healthy either. There's a reason that deeply depressed people sit in running autos, in garages with the doors shut. And the CO level in urban areas exerts a measurable drag on the health and well being of hundreds of millions worldwide, especially on children.
posted by troutfishing at 8:06 AM on January 1, 2004

As someone who spent years working in a smoky restaurant: people who work in bars should enjoy the right to a safe workplace, same as everyone else. Insofar as this ban furthers that goal by eliminating the day-in, day-out exposure of employees to second-hand smoke, I think it's proper. And don't give me that "they're free to work elsewhere" argument - it doesn't fly.
posted by stonerose at 8:06 AM on January 1, 2004

But restaurants are different, stonerose--no one here is calling for smoking to be put back into restaurants. It's the banning of smoking in bars that's seen as wrong and draconian, especially given the proven harmful effects of alcohol--on individuals and society.
posted by amberglow at 8:15 AM on January 1, 2004

Taking away the right to choose to participate in a legal activity is a far more dangerous prospect than smoking.

It is legal to drive a car, too, but not in a way that endangers other people.

***fill in the other 999 examples I could cite here for yourself***
posted by rushmc at 8:20 AM on January 1, 2004

How do you define a bar as opposed to a restaurant. Many restaurants have bars in them, but are generally open-ended buildings with flow between the two areas.

Yesterday I ate a local "Irish Pub" with some co-workers. It was a restaurant they called an Irish Pub. Does that make it a bar?
posted by benjh at 8:22 AM on January 1, 2004

In fact, the NYT just ran a story on the ban's effects, and all the positive reaction came from restaurant owners and all the negative from bar owners.
posted by amberglow at 8:23 AM on January 1, 2004

Smoking was depicted in posters as the vice of"capitalists,Jews,Africans,degenerate intellectuals,and loose women
sounds good to me ! happy new year all !
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:28 AM on January 1, 2004

I don't think the distinction between a bar and a restaurant is material: every employee, regardless of where he or she works, should enjoy the right to a safe workplace, regardless of what it's called. People can drink in moderation in a bar without directly endangering the employees. This is a lot more difficult to achieve with regard to smoking. Bar owners are understandably pissed off because their patrons smoke more than restaurant-goers. If it were only the patrons that we had to worry about, I would oppose the ban, because patrons are free to go elsewhere. But it's not about the patrons: it's about the employees.
posted by stonerose at 8:30 AM on January 1, 2004

I'd say a bar is a drinking establishment without a kitchen. And the employees and managers of every bar i go to smoke themselves--many bar workers do. They're not concerned about their health and used to love the business. They weren't the ones calling for these bans.
posted by amberglow at 8:33 AM on January 1, 2004

I was just going to say - 90% of the bartenders I know are smokers.

I just don't fathom why we have to be so draconian. There should be smoking bars and non smoking bars and everyone can be happy. It seems so obvious.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:40 AM on January 1, 2004

Sure, lots of barworkers smoke. But what about the quiet few who don't, and are pretty much powerless to demand enforcement of their rights? On issues of workplace health and safety, I don't think it's sufficient to say "well, the majority of workers don't seem to care." This risks tyrannizing the minority, and it ignores the fact that we have workplace health and safety laws in place precisely in order to look out for employees who might be under pressure from management not to demand a safer working environment.

I think we have to keep in mind the balance that we're trying to strike here. On the one hand, we have people who want to enjoy themselves recreationally by lighting up - something which they can do outside, or at home. On the other hand, we have the health and the rights of workers. It seems pretty clear to me where the emphasis should be.

On preview, CunningLinguist, that idea might make sense in large cities, but what about smaller places? Does every smoking-bar-owner have to ensure that there is a competitor with a non-smoking bar?
posted by stonerose at 8:46 AM on January 1, 2004

People can drink in moderation in a bar without directly endangering the employees. This is a lot more difficult to achieve with regard to smoking.

Well, it would be, if ETS had any demonstrated negative effect whatsoever — if, say, the EPA report attempting to prove that it did hadn't been dismissed as fraudulent and rigged by a federal judge.

I'll stop smoking when you stop driving, and wearing perfume/cologne (hey, guess what, there are studies linking 'secondhand scent' to awful diseases too!). And yes, employees can go elsewhere — some jobs entail hazards, get over it. When I worked on re-rigging a rusty and rotting ship I accepted the risk of plummeting to a bloody and gruesome death. If you expect perfect safety anywhere you're in for a rude awakening.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:49 AM on January 1, 2004

It's only the first day of the new year and I've already exhausted my quota of patience for dealing with anal-retentive anti-smoking nazis. It's a trendy issue and there is no point in trying to work out a reasonable compromise because they want neither "compromise" nor do they want to be "reasonable". First, smoking is banned from most public buildings, and smokers abide by this in the name of civility and getting along in society. Then the AR's immediately bitch about smokers congregated outside (Duh!!!). These people personify Menken's definition of Puritanism by their irrational fear they someone somewhere is having fun. I don't trust the government to install parking meters rightside-up -- I don't want them playing political games with the local economy and I certainly don't want them to be my nanny. Free market forces can (and should) handle this imagined problem quite handily. Support and patronize existing non-smoking bars. Show the smoking bars that there's a sizeable market, if indeed there is. Most of all, stop wrapping your AR jihad in the mantel of caring about the employees. That's simple BS you're resorting to in lieu of substantive arguments. It's a cheap rhetorical tactic to make shrill fun-suckers sound noble and caring. But we all know, if employees were taken out of the equation, these self-deluded zealots would merely glom onto another specious rationalization to justify their obsession to thrust their nose into other people's life styles.
posted by RavinDave at 8:57 AM on January 1, 2004

Today was the day Maine's smoking ban went into effect too...and what RavinDave said--An unemployed bar worker may be safe from secondhand smoke, but at what cost?
posted by amberglow at 9:06 AM on January 1, 2004

This risks tyrannizing the minority

I think the whole concept of those poor souls forced to work in smoky bars is being a tad overstated.

CunningLinguist, that idea might make sense in large cities, but what about smaller places? Does every smoking-bar-owner have to ensure that there is a competitor with a non-smoking bar?

I'm a big city girl and have little truck with small towns, but really, this is a nonsense argument. 1/why should the deprivations or mores of a small town dictate big city laws? 2/ how many places are there really with just one place to imbibe? and 3/couldn't the community - or better yet, the market - decide? If there is such a demand for non smoking bars, then there should be some. But if there is also a demand for smoking bars, there should be some of them too. Why is this hard?
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:13 AM on January 1, 2004

RavinDave - Great ravin' rant!

Free market forces will - sooner or later - produce ways to force smokers to take on the increased health care costs, from lung cancer deaths, which they currently offload onto society at large. This is the current rational for high taxes on cigarettes and alcohol - the additional health care costs (not to mention the attendant social mayhem and human suffering). Don't get me wrong. I'll happily knock back a half dozen good pints and stagger home (as long as I can walk there, that is).

In the town in which I grew up, a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants was recently enacted save for one pub which I used to drink at. The barmaid didn't smoke except - she told me - she actually did for the 'passive' smoking and the owner wouldn't spend money for anything but the appearance of an air filtration system. She was a single mother working to finish her college degree so she could get a better job, and she needed to work at that bar. But, she said, her throat hurt every night after work.

Still, I don't see what's wrong with specially ventilated smoking sections in bars and restaurants, especially for the fact that city dwellers - infants and children even - are compelled to breathe car, truck, and bus exhaust every day of their urban lives (which are measurably shorter for it). Smoking bans seem hypocritical to me, for this.
posted by troutfishing at 9:24 AM on January 1, 2004

Trout --

Locally, an anti-smoking crusade was just slapped down. In the course of the debates, a whole slew of inventive ideas were floated to avoid outright draconian prohibition. Ideas like giving tax breaks to non-smoking places (along with other economic inducements), forcing them to expend considerable extra money to erect sealed-off areas, provisions that allowed employees to avoid such areas (ie: you come out to get your drink at the counter and go to the smoking area), increasing Health department restrictions, etc, etc. Ideas that the business owners endorsed. ALL of these were vehemently opposed by the anti-smoking crowd. Why? Because it gutted 99% of their arguments and left them with no grounds to bitch. This is an explicit demonstration of the fact that they don't really seek a reasonable solution. It makes them liars.
posted by RavinDave at 9:38 AM on January 1, 2004

What RavinDave said. In triplicate.

Support the non-smoking establishments if you don't like the smoke. In a free market, the non-smoking hospitality workers would do the same, and thus, everyone is happy.

The fact is, that the meme of second hand smoke is infinitely more powerful than is the research behind it.
posted by dejah420 at 9:55 AM on January 1, 2004


> increased health care costs, from lung cancer deaths... is the current rational for high taxes on cigarettes and alcohol

In the UK, the annual tax take from tobacco taxes is GBP 9.6 billion. The cost to the national health service of smoking related disease is GBP 1.5 billion. Those figures are for the year 2000, don't have more recent ones I'm afraid (source: BBC).

Also from the BBC:

27% of adult men and 15% of women drink over the recommended safe levels

One in six people attending accident and emergency departments have alcohol related injuries or problems

One in seven people killed on the roads are involved in drink-drive accidents

920,000 British children have one or more parent who misuses alcohol

More than a quarter of 11 to 16-year-olds drink alcohol at least once a week

60% of employers experience problems due to employees' drinking

50% of the rough sleeper population are dependent on alcohol

According to the Home Office in September 2003, alcohol abuse costs the UK economy GBP 20 billion annually: "17m working days are lost to hangovers and drink related illness each year - costing employers £6.4bn. One in 26 NHS "bed days" is taken up by alcohol related illness, the report adds, with an annual cost to the taxpayer of £1.7bn. The cost of clearing up alcohol related crime is a further £7.3bn a year. Drink leads to a further £6bn in "social costs", the study found."
posted by Kasino72 at 10:03 AM on January 1, 2004

Ravindave says "they want neither "compromise" nor do they want to be "reasonable".

Probably because we're sick to death of compromise, which is what we've been putting up with for decades due to the lack of anti-smoking laws.

I live in Toronto, where we have a ban and were subject to the stupid arguments posted above--bars will go out of business, free market, second hand smoke is fun, i like the smell, yadda yadda yadda--you know what? I've not heard of a single bar closing because of the smoking laws. Going out is actually pleasurable now. You can go to a concert and actually see the performers. You can spend the evening out and not have to spend $20 to get your clothes dry cleaned the next day. There are just as many people at the bars and venues as there always was. Business slumped for about 3 weeks till the smokers realized they were behaving like spoiled children and accepted that that life didn't revolve around their cigs. Is it really that difficult to accept responsibility for your actions?
posted by dobbs at 10:17 AM on January 1, 2004

One of the great joys of Irish pubs - specially in Dublin - is the uninhibited drinking and smoking (and sometimes singing) by both sexes equally, in all combinations: women together; men together; men and women together. I can't imagine them without smoking.

Besides, that delightful brownish patina on the walls and ceilings which took centuries of tobacco to create are the Lascaux cave paintings of Irish interior decoration.

I know we'll all come under the harsh hygienic fascism of the health nannies sooner or later (only last week the first ever Portuguese cocktail party to have smokers and non-smokers segregation took place, causing a mighty row), but it's very sad that easy-going Ireland is so soon for the chop.

In quite a few Lisbon bars and clubs hi-tech ventilation and air-conditioning installations seem to suck up every whisp of smoke the moment it's emitted. And no smoker would ever be rude enough not to put out their cigarette if someone next to them complained. Though I'm aware that in profoundly healthy countries like the U.S., an example to the world, this courtesy could easily be abused. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:19 AM on January 1, 2004

re Toronto: They apparently have designated smoking rooms in bars, and those aren't banned---a reasonable compromise, given the the serious economic impact that smoking bans can have on foodservice and hospitality operators. Something we would have liked in NY, and CA and Delaware and Maine.
posted by amberglow at 10:29 AM on January 1, 2004

Going out is actually pleasurable now.

For you. For many other people, it has become distinctly less fun to go to bars.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:35 AM on January 1, 2004

Yesterday I ate a local "Irish Pub" with some co-workers.

Next thing you know, you'll be eating guitars.
posted by kindall at 10:47 AM on January 1, 2004

BC banned smoking in bars and restaurants, and it is so goddamned nice to go out now.

Having had it in place for a few years now, there's no way in hell I'll ever walk into a smokey bar if the law were ever rescinded.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 AM on January 1, 2004

If smoking is outlawed,
only outlaws will sm... ah, nevermind.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:12 AM on January 1, 2004

fff: all you have to do is go to a bar that has a No Smoking Site sign (from the Canadian Hospitality industry). There you go, and no one is inconvenienced.
posted by amberglow at 11:19 AM on January 1, 2004

RavinDave is my new hero.

on a personal note, i've been a smoker for about 20 years now and i'm well aware about the health effects to me and those around me. that's why when i go out to restaurants and bars with coworkers i always excuse myself from the table and have a smoke outside. i just wish they would show me the same courtesy, when i arrive at work the following day and hear comments about how bad i smell. i certainly don't go into a rage over their hummers and anal-retentive power-hungry lifestyles.
posted by poopy at 11:27 AM on January 1, 2004

I don't go to bars very much any more. I drink very little alcohol -- it doesn't take much of the stuff to make me ill -- but I do smoke. In the past I enjoyed the social aspect of going out to bars, along with maybe a beer or two, but due to the bans I pretty much avoid bars completely now.

While I don't represent the most profitable customer, there are surely a good number of people like me who would go out, but don't bother any more. I can appreciate that there are now some people who get greater enjoyment of such venues because of antismoking laws, I do wish those same folks would at least recognize that there are now people who get no enjoyment at all from them.

At least Vegas is still holding out. When Nevada eventually gives in, I'll probably have to move to Russia or something. They still permit adults to smoke in Russia, right?
posted by majick at 11:40 AM on January 1, 2004

I wish I could masturbate in bars. I mean, I'm addicted to orgasms, and it feels so good, and dammit, only a killjoy would deny me that right. Whatever diseases I might have, there's no consensus that anyone's going to get sick from my coming into contact with my copious deposits of protein. And if I hit a bartender in the eye, I'll just apologize and wipe them off. What's the big deal? Besides - spooge leaves such a nice patina on the walls.
posted by stonerose at 11:44 AM on January 1, 2004

by that rational stonerose, bars themselves should be banned.
posted by poopy at 11:53 AM on January 1, 2004

I seriously wonder how long it is till there is a push to tell me what I can eat in a restaurant (banning foods too high in fat? obesity's cost to the healthcare system, etc).

There is no end to this.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:55 AM on January 1, 2004

You can use a stall in the bathroom for that, stonerose. Problem solved. Can we light up again? ; )
posted by stifford at 11:56 AM on January 1, 2004

and stonerose, if it was always legal for you to do that in the past, and all of a sudden you couldn't, then you might have a point.
posted by amberglow at 12:00 PM on January 1, 2004

"anti-smoking nazis"

Let's see, if you don't want to be exposed to cancerous smoke you're a nazi. So what does that make you if you think everyone who goes to a bar should have to be exposed to your cancerous smoke? Very confusing.

I think what we need is a special bar for the smokers, chronic farters, non-bathers, projectile vomitors, and others who have special needs. The Fart Bar.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:00 PM on January 1, 2004

I'm from Dublin and like Irish pubs more than any other drinking venues in the world. Seriously, what people outside Ireland call "bars" or "pubs" are pretty weak.

Anyway, when I'm in Ireland one of the main things that tended to dissade me from spending too much time in a pub is the smoke and the reality of having to wash all your clothes afterwards.

Some pubs are worse than others. Dublin's McDaids or the Stag's Head were prime examples: nice, "authentic", small, cozy, and could easily have doubled as WW2 gas chambers.

People want to smoke, fine. Let them do it without poisoning others, outside or in their homes.
posted by meehawl at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2004

god damn, arent there enough laws

i love how nowadays if you step on someone's toes you become a something-nazi, jesus christ they arent outlawing smoking, just moving it away from those that want to keep their lungs healthy while they destroy other organs.

and comparing this to prohibition or civil rights, martin luther marlboro light will lead you all the the yellow stained hazy promised land im sure. ok get rid of non-smoking places but make pot legal so i can get stoned as shit at my house and avoid the nicotine-sauna.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:09 PM on January 1, 2004

The dynamic of this debate is fascinating.

1. Anti-smoker claims that smokers are "poisoning others," killing poor innocent bartenders, etc.

2. Smoker points out for the nth time that, in fact, passive smoke is not dangerous, and that many more uncontroversial activities — use of internal combustion engines, wearing scents — present greater health risks to bystanders.

3. Anti-smoker completely ignores these claims without making any effort to refute them and accuses smokers of not caring about the health of those around them.

4. Rinse, repeat.

Really, I'm terribly envious of the kind of mind that is able to simply refuse to contemplate any facts which might disrupt one's narrow view of the Way Things Are. It must be nice.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:25 PM on January 1, 2004

there's always singapore where smoking in pubs is still allowed. just don't mess around with chewing gum or drug trafficking.
posted by poopy at 12:31 PM on January 1, 2004

Having been a member of the smoking-ban task force recently created in Austin, Texas as a compromising response to the city's attempt to enact a total smoking ban ordinance,

and being opposed to no-smoking laws forced upon bars,

and having read more evidence and seen more documentation and study and precedent and researched more about this issue than most folks who want to weigh in all self-important with their anecdotal "evidence" in favor like "a deli might share a ventilation system with a bar, so let's make a law,"

and having our side emerge victorious, in that the smoking ban that was approved by the City Council in May 2003 was never actually put into effect, and then finally was repealed in October 2003,

I'd like to respectfully say that most of you weighing in from US/Canada? Have no bloody idea what you are talking about. stonerose's "arguments" in particular leap to mind. Unless I missed a memo, there still exists free will on this continent for adults, and nothing (I repeat, nothing) forces a hospitality worker to work in a smoking establishment. Anyone who can serve drinks can serve those drinks in a non-smoking section of a restaurant, which there are plenty of in any community you could care to use as example.

There is always one squeaky wheel of a bar worker who says "Save meeee! Save my lunnnnnngs!" -- but I challenge any of you to take a poll of hospitality workers. Smokers tip better, and there's the rub. Plenty of non-smoking hospitality workers oppose this ban because it will affect their take-home pay.

And? If environmental second-hand smoke were as deadly as anti-smokers would have us believe, it would be banned by OSHA. It's not. OSHA declared in 2001 that the health risks are just not that severe -- not enough to outweigh the irreparable financial damage that would be served on small businesses nationwide.

Further, a 30-year study out of UCLA earlier this year concluded that most "research" to date on the effects of secondhand-smoke has been biased and inappropriately conducted, and do not provide actual scientific data. I guess that's not hard to imagine when you realize that anti-smoking special interests funded the studies -- yet the public takes those numbers as gospel.

Let the market decide. We don't need to make laws for this. If non-smokers spent enough to support bars and clubs on their own, then smoke-free bars would be successful -- yet, they aren't. In an economy built on capitalism, and one seeing all-time record low numbers, we cannot afford to be closing small businesses because some people think they know what's better for me than I do.

The anti-smokers have become the equivalent of "Why do you hate America?" neocons, with their "Why do you hate HEALTH?" refrain. Health isn't the heart of the issue here -- money is, and for both sides. Don't like smoke? Stay home, or patronize the non-smoking alternatives in your community, or go out and open a non-smoking establishment if you feel so strongly... but quit waving your hands and meeping in faux anguish. Taking care of your own health and avoiding secondhand smoke is your own responsibility; don't make it someone else's, and for chrissake don't make it some sort of law.
posted by pineapple at 1:03 PM on January 1, 2004

ishmael, i see it more as

1. anti-smokers point out multiple reasons why they hate smoking (the smell, the way it affects their clothing the next day and the cost of getting them cleaned, the smoke in their eyes, the way it affects the taste of food, etc.)

2. smokers keep saying second hand smoke isn't harmful and ignore all the other reasons.

3. rinse, repeat.

Really, I'm terribly envious of the kind of mind that is able to simply refuse to contemplate any facts which might disrupt one's narrow view of the Way Things Are. It must be nice.

Pot, meet kettle.

CunningLinguist, For you. For many other people, it has become distinctly less fun to go to bars.

You fail to ignore the fact that it has been the reverse of that for eons and smokers were just as arogant with their "I should be able to do whatever I want" attitude then as they are in this thread.

Also, back when bars allowed smoking, I never once had a companion who smoked offer to go to a smoke-free venue to be courteous without being prodded to do so. However, every non-smoker I know has had to put their personal feelings aside and go to the smoking establishment. Smokers have always been blind to the comfort of non-smokers whereas non-smokers have never had a choice.

amberglow, They apparently have designated smoking rooms in bars, and those aren't banned---a reasonable compromise, given the the serious economic impact that smoking bans can have on foodservice and hospitality operators.

Toronto bars "apparently" have designated smoking rooms, but I can't name one of them. The places I frequent (which used to be thick with smoke) don't have them. Perhaps you just have to be a smoker to know where they are.

I've never heard anyone say, "I'm not going to that bar because I can't smoke." I'm not saying these people don't exist, but I don't know any of them. On the other hand, I used to hear people say over and over again how they wouldn't go to such and such a place because it's so smoky there.

As for the financial link you provided, the operative word is "can". As I've said, the places I go to are just as full as they used to be, this includes bars, restaurants, and concert venues. (But then again, I don't doubt you could dig up a link to prove me wrong.)
posted by dobbs at 1:05 PM on January 1, 2004

You can smoke on me but I can't pee on you? How is that fair?
posted by nicwolff at 1:07 PM on January 1, 2004

Pineapple, Anyone who can serve drinks can serve those drinks in a non-smoking section of a restaurant, which there are plenty of in any community you could care to use as example.

Wait a minute, you're suggesting that an employee can tell their boss "I'll work but only serve in the non-smoking section" and still keep their job?

I'd comment on the rest of your thread but that statement is so ignorant that it seems kind of pointless.
posted by dobbs at 1:11 PM on January 1, 2004

Smokers have always been blind to the comfort of non-smokers whereas non-smokers have never had a choice.

So the obvious answer is to remove the choice for smokers. I get it now. This isn't about health. It's about vengeance for all those dry cleaning bills.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:15 PM on January 1, 2004

dobbs, it's already been brought up here, but what do you think about the effects of alchohol on society? you've already stated that you frequent bars. it's known that alchohol has numerous detrimental effects on the rest of society. what do you suggest we do about this?
posted by poopy at 1:20 PM on January 1, 2004

IshmaelGraves - Thanks for that analysis. Me? - I'm not a smoker, but I just love pointing out the ridiculous inconsistency of the fact that internal combustion engines can pollute city air and degrade everyone's health but they're legal. Carbon monoxide is just plain bad for oxygen breathing creatures. Kids, adults, dogs, cats - all get forced to breathe CO and carcinogenic particulates spewing out of internal combustion engines.

Meanwhile smokers can't smoke - even in well ventilated environments.

Thought experiment : You could probably run an internal combustion engine, quite legally, about a foot away from an open restaurant window while blowing the exhaust gasses in through the window at the patrons inside. But walk in with a cigarette............

I love this issue because it cuts across normal lines of political divide. So Steve_at_Linnwood and I would have much to agree on here - he for libertarian reasons, I believe, and I more for the inconsistency and hypocrisy of anti-smoking regulations.

Steve_at_Linnwood - Here's a free market solution for you : soon, we will have the technology to monitor blood levels of - well, virtually anything. So : it's easy to detect saturated fat "spikes" which indicate that someone has been snacking on fatty foods......

Health Insurance providers can require (on a voluntary basis, of course) that those they insure wear tiny sensors to check for various "unhealthy" behaviors and - the upshot would be that when you engaged in unhealthy behaviors, your premiums go up. Not in a crude way either, but adjusted hourly according to the best available statistical research on how human behavior effects health.

So legislation would be unnecessary, in general. The only legislation really necessary would be laws which "leveled the playing field" to account for the fact that humans aren't responsible for their own DNA. So everyone would start from a baseline point which would disregard any known genetic weaknesses - in terms of setting an initial health care premium price. But, by the same token, if such individuals with known genetic weaknesses insisted on engaging in behaviors which hit their genetic "weak spots", well........$ Kaaaaching! $ Since everyone has genetic weaknesses, everyone would have their own idiosyncratic "forbidden fruits", behaviors which would jack up premiums.

Good? Bad? - It sounds totalitarian, but it would be a free market solution based on personal responsibility!
posted by troutfishing at 1:21 PM on January 1, 2004

and should achohol be banned in restaurants because of the potential harm?
posted by poopy at 1:24 PM on January 1, 2004

Setting aside the morality of the issue, can't everyone at least agree that the market can support both smoking and non-smoking establishments?

Well, then there is no need for legislation. If the politicos can't restrain themselves, perhaps they could offer small tax breaks or one-time subsidies to encourage new non-smoking businesses.

Surely providing both alternatives would be best for the local economy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:31 PM on January 1, 2004

1. anti-smokers point out multiple reasons why they hate smoking (the smell, the way it affects their clothing the next day and the cost of getting them cleaned, the smoke in their eyes, the way it affects the taste of food, etc.)

2. smokers keep saying second hand smoke isn't harmful and ignore all the other reasons.

Err, no. If you read the thread you will notice that it's the anti-smokers who brought up, and keep harping on, the health issue. At least you have the decency to admit it's simply a matter of legislating your personal preferences. While we're at it, I don't like loud bars — can't hear anything afterwards for hours — so I think we should pass a law mandating only quiet conversations, ideally with lots of nice pleasant sibilants. And live music is right out — there are many places I am kept from enjoying because they always have too-loud crappy bands and loud fans. And I don't like crowded bars, so I think we should limit attendance to one person per four square meters. And I can't abide the smell of melted cheese — it makes me nauseous — so clearly nachos, pizza, and the like should only be served in specially-ventilated sections of restaurants and bars, if at all. And the smell of grease gets in my jackets for days, so clearly frying can't be tolerated. For that matter, I'm sure my vegan friends would prefer not to be exposed to the scent of bar foods made from dead livestock and poultry, either.

The only upside to these laws is that it will be so damned satisfying in another ten years or so when the neo-Puritans win this one and start to go after non-smokers' favorite indulgances.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:36 PM on January 1, 2004

I've never heard anyone say, "I'm not going to that bar because I can't smoke."

"I'm not going to that bar because I can't smoke," said elwood as he slowly lit his cigarette.

Happy now?

Seriously, Ravindave has nailed this one down - it's not like non smokers have to go to bars that allow smoking, they choose to. Then, however, they decide to enforce their paradigm on the whole room. Just go to a non-smoking bar, for god's sake, they exist in nearly every town. My city has quite a few non-smoking bars that look quite busy. As i walk past I see all kinds of yuppie looking suburban lemming-volk sipping on fancy-ass "micro-brew" and girly drinks. I go to a real bar, smoke till I'm sore and drink PBR and whiskey. I go to bars to avoid all the puritanical white-breads that run this world. Now they want my little corner to. People say "I'd go to bars if there wasn't smoking." Yeah, you people would go to bars, order a coke and tip a quarter. I go to bars to drink and smoke. You people can just suck it up, literally.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:45 PM on January 1, 2004

I'm a non-smoker. In fact, I hate being around people who are smoking and I am mildly allergic to cigarette smoke. However, smoking bans in bars, in particular, seem to me to be too far reaching.

When I and my non-smoking friends go out, we typically go to a bar or restaurant that is either entirely nonsmoking, or has distinct smoking and nonsmoking areas. On the occasions we try new places, if we find that there is too much smoke, we leave and give our business to an establishment more to our liking. Besides, all you smokers are going to die eventually, and then those of us with clean lungs will take over!

On preview: I'm the flipside of elwood. We both have bars we enjoy. He has his PBR with a side of cancer, and I have my fancy-ass yuppie microbrew. What's wrong with that?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:49 PM on January 1, 2004

oh, to be god for a day...
posted by poopy at 1:50 PM on January 1, 2004

Is there any fundamental difference between an Irish and English pub? Enlighten me.
posted by ParisParamus at 1:54 PM on January 1, 2004

*Raises a glass to monju_bosatsu*
*strains already underfunded for-profit medical system*

Paris: Irish lasses are cuter ;)
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:00 PM on January 1, 2004

Interesting discussion.

I have one question: why isn't this a simple majoritarian issue?

There is no fundamental right at stake here; no cognizable entitlement or civil right to smoke.

So if the majority of Americans (and, yes, non-smokers are the vast majority and do not care to breathe second-hand smoke) decide they don't want smoking in bars, how can there be any ground to complain?

Isn't it the function of a representative form of government to give people what they want as long as it is reasonable?
posted by Seth at 2:03 PM on January 1, 2004

I love it when people coyly suggest we "let the market decide," so as to appear even-handed, when they know full well that the market will decide in their favor. It's probably a bit more politic than saying: "hey, rather than discuss this issue on its merits, let's just do what I say," but it's essentially the same thing. The market is a tool to maximize economy; it's not an end in itself. And we already know what the market will do: 99% of all bars will allow smoking, and the rest will be ridiculously overpriced and filled with anti-smoking nazis who probably themselves don't like hanging out with themselves.

That said, I don't think these smoking bans make very good policy. Sure, you don't have to worry about the next table blowing smoke at you, but instead you have to run the gantlet of smokers standing out front just to get inside. We'd all be better off with separate smoking sections for people you want to smoke.
posted by electro at 2:16 PM on January 1, 2004

For what it’s worth, I did a cursory, imperfect, unscientific review based on abstracts gleaned from a Medline search on “passive smoking” (2002-2003). I have every confidence that I’ll be accused of selection bias, and that the medical establishment will be accused of being influenced by its desire to deliver bad news. Whatever. Anyone out there with Medline is welcome to find and present contrary evidence. For those of you who are skeptical of the entire medical establishment – there’s not much I can do to convince you. Hopefully, a few of you out there will recognize this as a good-faith effort, and assess the evidence accordingly. Here are the findings I saw as important – and, no, I did not eliminate ‘unfavorable’ findings arbitrarily. I did try to focus on results that were relevant to working-age, passive smokers.

Again - I'm interested in employee health. I don't buy the argument that all at-risk bar-workers can leave their jobs without considerable cost; nor do I think they should have to do so, given existing laws about workplace safety. This isn't a debate about creating a perfectly safe workplace, as someone above suggested. It's about the rights of smokers to indulge a trivial habit that they are free to pursue elsewhere, vis a vis the fundamental rights of workers to health.

Before presenting these abstracts, I would point interested readers to the debate in BMJ Volume 327(7413) 30 August 2003 – this is too lengthy for me to abstract, but it’s good reading.

Passive smoking and vascular disease. [Review] [26 refs]
Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 18(1):69-74, 2003 Jan-Mar.

Passive smoking, or environmental tobacco smoke, is a causative factor in cardiovascular disease. A 30-minute passive smoking exposure was found to affect coronary flow velocity reserve in nonsmokers, indicating endothelial dysfunction in coronary circulation. This article summarizes empirical work on passive smoking and heart disease. Clinically relevant findings include a dose-response relationship between passive smoking exposure and heart disease and partial reversibility of physical effects after eliminating passive smoking exposure. Appropriate assessment of passive smoking exposure in a variety of settings is warranted, as well as recommendations to avoid such exposure. Policy-based public health initiatives to eliminate passive smoking in the workplace and other public areas are needed. [References: 26]

Association between passive cigarette smoking and the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes: the CARDIO2000 study.
Heart & Vessels. 16(4):127-30, 2002 May.

Although the effect of smoking on human health has been established as a major risk factor, the effect of passive smoking is controversial. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between passive smoking and the risk of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) among nonsmokers. Eight hundred and forty-eight patients with the first event of ACS and 1078 cardiovascular disease-free matched controls completed a detailed questionnaire regarding their exposure to environmental smoke. Two hundred and ninety-seven (35%) of the patients and 259 (24%) of the controls were defined as nonsmokers and passive smokers, respectively. After controlling for several potential confounders, the results showed that nonsmokers exposed to cigarette smoke increased the risk of ACS by 51% (odds ratio = 1.51, 95% confidence interval 1.21-2.99) compared with nonsmokers not exposed to smoke. It was estimated that 34 coronary events per 134 subjects would occur as a result of passive smoking during their lifetime. Consequently, this study supports the hypothesis that passive smoking increases the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes. Given the high prevalence of cigarette smoking in many developing societies, the public health consequences of passive smoking with regard to coronary heart disease may be important.

Passive smoking and its impact on employers and employees in Hong Kong.
Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 59(12):842-6, 2002 Dec.

AIMS: To estimate the prevalence of passive smoking at work in the whole workforce in Hong Kong (population 6.8 million), the characteristics of the passive smokers, any extra use of health care among passive smokers, and who pays for that health care. METHODS: A random sample of 14,325 households was contacted by telephone; 6,186 responding adults who worked full time were asked about their employment, their most recent use of health care and the cost of that care, their medical benefits, and their exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace. After weighting the sample for sex, age, household size, and income, 4,739 subjects were included in the analysis. RESULTS: Of 1,961 full time workers who did not smoke, 47.5% were exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace compared with only 26% exposed at home. Exposure at work was associated with being younger, male, married, less educated, and having a lower income. Those exposed at work were 37% more likely to report having visited a doctor for a respiratory illness in the previous 14 days. Employers were paying 28% of the cost of these visits, the government paid 8%, and the individuals paid 63%. If extrapolated to the 3 million workers in the Hong Kong population, employers would pay just over US$9 million per year, while the affected workers would pay around US$20 million. CONCLUSION: As well as the costs of active smoking, the cost of extra health care utilisation associated with passive smoking is an additional cost being paid by those employers who have not established smoke free workplaces and by their employees.

Environmental tobacco smoke and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 28 Suppl 2:41-51, 2002.

Disease risk due to smoking is not limited to smokers only. Passive smoking, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, is associated with adverse health effects, and it increases the risk of several diseases. This paper summarizes the cardiovascular effects of tobacco smoke and the current data on the effects of environmental tobacco smoke on the development of cardiovascular disease. According to the results of epidemiologic and experimental studies, environmental tobacco smoke has marked harmful effects on the cardiovascular system. It is estimated that it increases the risk of an acute event of coronary heart disease by 25-35%. Even though the number of studies conducted in the work environment is small, there is no reason to assume that the cardiovascular effects of environmental tobacco smoke differ markedly between the home and the workplace. Firm and timely actions are needed to protect people from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, both in occupational and other environments.

Active and passive smoking and risk of breast cancer by age 50 years among German women.
American Journal of Epidemiology. 156(7):616-26, 2002 Oct 1.

Recent studies suggest that both active and passive smokers have an increased risk of breast cancer compared with women who have never been either actively or passively exposed. Data on lifetime active and passive smoking were collected in 1999-2000 from 468 predominantly premenopausal breast cancer patients diagnosed by age 50 years and 1,093 controls who had previously participated in a German case-control study conducted in 1992-1995. Compared with never active/passive smokers, former smokers and current smokers had odds ratios of 1.2 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.8, 1.7) and 1.5 (95% CI: 1.0, 2.2), respectively, and ever active smokers had an odds ratio of 1.3 (95% CI: 0.9, 1.9). The risk increased with duration of smoking and decreased after cessation of smoking. Among never active smokers, ever passive smoking was associated with an odds ratio of 1.6 (95% CI: 1.1, 2.4). Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke during childhood or before the first pregnancy did not appear to increase breast cancer risk. At greatest risk were women who had a high level of exposure to both passive and active smoking (odds ratio = 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.7). This study strengthens the hypothesis of a causal relation between active and passive smoke exposures and breast cancer risk.

Passive smoking exposure: a risk factor for chronic bronchitis and asthma in adults?.
Chest. 122(3):1086-90, 2002 Sep.

OBJECTIVE: The effects of passive smoke exposure on respiratory health are still under debate. Therefore, we examined the risk of respiratory symptoms related to passive smoke exposure among German adults within the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. METHODS: The questionnaire data of the population-based sample (n = 1,890) were analyzed. Multiple logistic regression models were carried out for current asthma (asthma symptoms or medication), chronic bronchitis (cough with phlegm for > or = 3 months per year), and wheezing as dependent variables, and self-reported exposure to passive smoke at home and at the workplace as independent variables after adjusting for city, age, gender, active smoking, and socioeconomic status as well as occupational exposure to dusts and/or gases. RESULTS: The relative odds for chronic bronchitis were significantly higher in subjects reporting involuntary tobacco smoke exposure in the workplace (odds ratio [OR], 1.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16 to 3.11). Likewise, the adjusted OR for asthma was slightly elevated (OR, 1.51; 95% CI, 0.99 to 2.32). The risk of chronic bronchitis (OR, 3.07; 95% CI, 1.56 to 6.06), asthma (OR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.07 to 3.97), and wheezing (OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.25 to 3.58) increased significantly with a daily exposure of > 8 h. CONCLUSION: The control of passive smoke exposure in the workplace might reduce the risk of respiratory symptoms independently of exposure to other airborne contaminants.

Active and passive smoking and the risk of stomach cancer, by subsite, in Canada.
European Journal of Cancer Prevention. 11(1):27-38, 2002 Feb.

This study assessed the influence of active and passive smoking on the risk of stomach cancer by subsite. Mailed questionnaires were used to obtain information on 1171 newly diagnosed histologically confirmed stomach cancer cases and 2207 population controls between 1994 and 1997 in eight Canadian provinces. Data were collected on socio-economic status, lifestyle and passive smoking status. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were derived by logistic regression. Compared with those who had never smoked, there was strongly increased risk for ex- and current smokers among subjects with cardial stomach cancer. For men with cardial cancer, the adjusted ORs were 1.9 (95% CI 1.2-3.0) and 2.6 (95% CI 1.6-4.3) for ex-smokers and current smokers, respectively, with a similar pattern among women. Among men, the adjusted ORs were lower for subsites of stomach cancer other than cardia. These findings suggest that active and passive smoking may play an important role in the development of cardial stomach cancer.

Health effects of tobacco use and exposure. [Review] [99 refs]
Monaldi Archives for Chest Disease. 56(6):545-54, 2001 Dec.

Tobacco is still widely consumed in a variety of different ways, mainly as smokeless tobacco and cigarette smoking. Four traits characterize tobacco use whatever the way of using it: 1) addiction linked to nicotine is behind all the tobacco hazards; 2) individual variation in tobacco susceptibility; 3) dose-response relationship; 4) time-lag effect. Smokeless tobacco, chewed or snuffed can lead mainly to inflammation of the oral cavity and oral cancers. Cigarette smoking accounts for 65-85% of global tobacco consumption. Active smoking can cause: 1) respiratory disorders culminating in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema; 2) cardiovascular hazards by way of increased vascular spasm and atherosclerosis leading to acute and chronic myocardial events, cerebral and peripheral vascular diseases; 3) cancers: twelve types are caused or related to cigarette smoking. Lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in most high-income countries where data are available. An excess mortality is associated with smoking, with a 2-fold greater risk in smokers than in nonsmokers throughout middle age. The exposed pregnant woman subjects herself and her pregnancy to risks, and her fetus to growth retardation and perinatal morbidity and mortality. Passive smoking implicates 20-80% of the whole population. It can be nearly as harmful as active smoking depending upon risk factors, and can lead to short as well as to long-term effects. Children are the most vulnerable population particularly during the first years of life. Passive smoking increases risks for higher and lower respiratory tract illness but a smoke-free environment improves all these disorders. Ischemic heart diseases and lung cancer are the main risks for non smoking adults exposed to cigarette smoke. Tobacco use and exposure is the single most important source of preventable morbidity, disability and premature mortality. But giving up smoking helps at any time, the sooner the better. Health professionals should be the key advocates in tobacco prevention. [References: 99]
posted by stonerose at 2:22 PM on January 1, 2004

It's fun to see all these arguments again. We had this set of arguments a few years ago in California. Strong arguments on both sides.

Those against the ban argued effectively that tobacco is a legal substance, and the momentary fancy of the mob must not be allowed to trump the rights of the individual. Either make it illegal (thereby doubling production and eliminating taxation), or let people decide for themselves the environments that they inhabit.

The argument that ultimately won the vote was a labor argument, and a good one. Proponents of the smoking ban argued that a class of owners had no right to set the minimum health standard of the work environments they create. "But what if the workers don't care?" The opponents argued. Doesn't matter; to take that into consideration would be coercive. Owner operated businesses without employees were excluded, and the ban passed by landslide.

Actually, the argument that probably really won it was not an argument, but a position. The TV exposure for the opponents was terrible, classist. Fair or not, the news media portrayed it as lower-working class vs. middle class. And, gosh, who doesn't fancy himself middle-class?

All those opposing the ban were filmed in dank bars with bad lighting, for example. Who's going to win this debate? A single floodlamp blinding a table of smokers at late evening versus chipper lawyers on sun-drenched vistas explaining their concerns while tossing a frisbee (made of recycled 2-liter bottles) for a vibrant labrador.

People saw that and said to themselves, am I with the smokers? Even smokers voted for the ban. Anyway, it has had a real chilling effect on all public smoking, which has made the remaining smokers even more leathery, God love them. I smoked for 15 years, and now I go for weeks without even seeing a cigarette, far less thinking of one.
posted by squirrel at 2:33 PM on January 1, 2004

Here's some references for those that don't have a medline subscription. These are from respected medical associations, rather than the vehement pro and anti lobbies. It seems to me that smokers groups are in the same type of denial that they originally adopted about any medical influences of smoking.
For the record, I am for smoking bans as they mean that my partner won't be forced to endure smokey business lunches and then suffer from several days of increased asthma attacks.
Ontario Medical Association (with numerous onward references), American Heart Association, BMA Scotland, USA Lung Association

"Secondhand smoke involuntarily inhaled by nonsmokers from other people's cigarettes is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known human (Group A) carcinogen, responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in U.S. nonsmokers." (from the US Lung Association)
posted by daveg at 2:36 PM on January 1, 2004

Thanks for doing the leg work, stonerose.

But I am still confused about why it is important to the discussion whether it is or is not a health risk.

Assuming, arguendo, that it is perfectly safe, doesn't the majority retain the right to ban something?
Couldn't we just as easily have a new law that says roller skates are now banned? Or pink shirts?

IMHO that seems to be the issue. Can't the majority ban smoking whenever they want for whatever reason they want? (or for no reason at all)

Also, on the solution front: is it possible under these new laws to make your establishment a "private club" and sell memberships for a quarter. Does making it a private club thereby take it out of the "public" realm and allow the owner to do as he pleases?
posted by Seth at 2:36 PM on January 1, 2004

I love it when people coyly suggest we "let the market decide," so as to appear even-handed, when they know full well that the market will decide in their favor.

Not at all. Since as has been pointed out, we are in the minority, it seems obvious that there is a strong demand for non smoking bars.
All I ask is that there also be one or two dives where I can actually smoke with my scotch. Call them smoking clubs or whatever but don't make me move to the third world.
I don't understand why non smokers find this compromise so abhorrent.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:45 PM on January 1, 2004

I don't understand why non smokers find this compromise so abhorrent.
I don't either, at all.

And as for the health risks, the laws are always presented as protecting the workers. Why did the employees work in bars anyway, pre-ban, in those smelly, smoky, and unsafe environments? They made a choice to, I believe. The employees know what kind of environment they work in, and aren't ever the ones who call for this ban--in fact they're the ones hurting from it, from loss of work or curtailed hours and tips. It seems odd that they need to be protected from something that was a rational choice they willingly made, and that they're not advocating to begin with. So you have customers who didn't want the bar ban and employees who didn't want the bar ban, and owners who didn't want the bar ban, along with liquor distributors, etc. who also didn't want it.

And it's true--cigarettes and cigars should just be made illegal if they're such a danger.
posted by amberglow at 3:07 PM on January 1, 2004

Wait a minute, you're suggesting that an employee can tell their boss "I'll work but only serve in the non-smoking section" and still keep their job?

I'd comment on the rest of your thread but that statement is so ignorant that it seems kind of pointless.

No, I never suggested that, but thanks for illustrating my point about anecdotal evidence and desperate insult being the favorite tools of the uninformed. A hospitality worker who doesn't love his or her work atmosphere can find another job, give notice, and walk right out the door -- just like employees in any of the dozens of other industries currently comprising the American work force. Implying otherwise is condescending and elitist.

Okay, okay... maybe in your town there is only ONE bar and only ONE restaurant -- feel free to go get some ordinances enacted. (See, that's what drives me the craziest about you "Why Do You Hate Health?!?" people: you assume that your particular opinion is what's best for everyone everywhere. The ban works in California? Super. Works in Tucson, Arizona? Super. Work to effect change in your own space, but leave the rest of us alone.)

Tangentially, I can say with certainty that if the proposed Austin ban had contained even one or two of the dozens of exemptions/loopholes included in the CA and Dallas bans, it would have been more palatable and would likely have passed. But the American Cancer Society had to try and take a mile, and would only accept "zero exemptions."

Alaskan king crab fishermen? One of the most dangerous jobs in the world -- and they accept the risk because they like the money, and they have that right. Same for oil-rig workers. Why are the rest of you so much smarter than the worker who has the option to choose to change (or not) his or her work environment? The U.S. already has a federally-funded government agency in charge of supervising healthy working conditions. You might have heard of it.

stonerose, I'm sure everyone appreciated scrolling past your piles of abstracts. I saw a whole lot of epidemiological study, and that just confirms my point. I'd like to recommend trying this article on for size, for perspective, and then maybe taking a gander at the actual statistics in the actually scientific UCLA study (Enstrom & Kabat).

At risk of redundancy: it's not about health. It's about money. Painting anti-smokers as the Caring and Helpful Health Hippies and the smoking-rights advocates as Selfish, Mindless Pawns of Big Tobacco is the crudest naiveté. If you don't think anti-smokers coalesce into special interest groups, wake up and smell the ashtray.
posted by pineapple at 3:15 PM on January 1, 2004

like CunningLinguist said, call them smoking bars if you must, but to ban them outright then you're opening up a whole new can of shit. people like stonerose and daveg have presented information that secondhand smoke is potentially harmful (yes, and...?), yet they conveniently forgot to address any of the other arguments posted here, and i would guess that they will still decide to sideline these arguments.
posted by poopy at 3:26 PM on January 1, 2004

amberglow: Do you believe in any health and safety regulations for the workplace, or is it just smoking that's all right. After all, construction workers could just go get another job if employers stopped providing harnesses for working at height, protective helmets, etc.

Pineapple: The Enstrom & Kabat study has been widely discredited (primarily selection bias, but also it assumes a homogenous population despite the obvious heterogeneity of the data) and I am unaware of a single medical association that supports its findings. Where is your evidence for money being the underlying issue? I can see that you're trying to paint some grand anti-smoking conspiracy - I just don't see where the money is!
posted by daveg at 3:26 PM on January 1, 2004

I think I'm gonna start smoking again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:31 PM on January 1, 2004

poopy: I'm not sure what issues I have 'sidelined' - passive smoking causes the death of people working in the entertainment sector and I believe in inacting effective health and safety legislation that protects people. What are the other issues ?
posted by daveg at 3:34 PM on January 1, 2004

city dwellers - infants and children even - are compelled to breathe car, truck, and bus exhaust every day of their urban lives (which are measurably shorter for it). Smoking bans seem hypocritical to me, for this.

Or, viewed with the other eye, a first step. Or would you (or anyone in the thread) really argue that someone has a "right" to vent dangerous carcinogens from their tailpipe? Just because the problem hasn't been resolved yet doesn't mean it won't or shouldn't be.

It seems to me that smokers groups are in the same type of denial that they originally adopted about any medical influences of smoking.

Surely that is obvious to any halfway objective observer. The shrill whine of the petulant smokers is way too off-base to consider seriously at this point.

Recent study citations:

Link 1: "University of Minnesota researchers found that levels of a tobacco-specific lung carcinogen increased in nonsmokers when they visited a public setting where smoking is allowed. The carcinogens, metabolites of NNK, could increase their risk of lung cancer. The study is published Dec. 22 by the American Association for Cancer Research."

Link 2: " TWO new studies have confirmed the potentially deadly effects of passive smoking, says the Cancer Council. The reports, published in leading international journals, showed non-smokers' risk of developing lung cancer jumped 32 per cent if their work, social and home lives were not smoke-free."

Link 3: "Study after study has confirmed exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can harm the health of nonsmokers. Among other things, exposure to smoke affects the way the blood handles oxygen, leading to a vast array of problems."
posted by rushmc at 3:38 PM on January 1, 2004

amberglow: Do you believe in any health and safety regulations for the workplace, or is it just smoking that's all right. ...
Of course i do, and there are plenty of them, even for bars. To slice lemons in a bar in NYC, you need to have a certificate, for example. People who work in bars aren't helpless ignorant children that need to be protected--they walked into their jobs knowing the risks (smoke, fights, drunks, etc). A bar can be a very dangerous place for an employee--not because of the smoke, but because of the alcohol. And a construction worker walks into his or her job knowing the risks of being around heavy equipment and heights and also knowing that hopefully there's insurance in case something happens--I think people so concerned about worker safety in bars might want to fight for benefits/insurance for them instead of reducing their livelihoods by alienating customers. It might make you guys happy because you can walk into a smoke-free bar, but the costs are higher than people realize.
posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on January 1, 2004

The problem with "Let the Market decide" is that the market is irrational. There has been demand for non-smoking bars in New York City for a long time, but I don't know of any bar that ever went non-smoking voluntarily. Why? Well, the only explanation is irrational fear of risk. Bar owners must be so afraid of losing the smoking customers they had that they universally refused to gamble with making their bars no smoking, despite the reality that in most cases the risk was tiny and the rewards could have been overwhelming. There must also be a social aspect there as well - the owners are too embarrassed to do something against the status quo. It's the exact same phenomenon as football coaches who refuse to go for it on fourth down and baseball managers who constantly have their players use the sacrifice bunt.

And even most of the non-smoking public is too embarrassed to push specific bars to go non-smoking. People feel more comfortable as part of a very large group making smoking illegal in every bar. I don't want to belittle the importance of protecting workers, but i don't believe for a minute that's why these laws were passed. The reality is that most people here don't like smoking these days, and they wanted to have bars around that were non-smoking, and this was the only way to accomplish that. Personally, I think that it's kind of sad, because there clearly were other ways to accomplish what was needed, but nobody wanted to step up to the plate.
posted by gspira at 4:01 PM on January 1, 2004

I can cite studies too; the UCLA study, mentioned above, observed 118,000 spouses of smokers over 39 years, a larger statistical universe by far than anything cited above. The EPA report that's been cited here relied on other studies whose original data has conveniently disappeared; the WHO study called the increase its study found in cancer cases statistically insignificant; Judge William Osteen reviewed the EPA study and wrote in his decision:
After choosing a portion of the studies, EPA did not find a statistically significant association. EPA then claimed the bioplausibility theory, renominated the a priori hypothesis, justified a more lenient methodology. With a new methodology, EPA demonstrated from the selected studies a very low relative risk for lung cancer based on ETS exposure. Based on its original theory and the weak evidence of association, EPA concluded the evidence showed a causal relationship between cancer and ETS. The administrative record contains glaring deficiencies.
There are plenty of studies to support whatever point of view one wants to argue here. What there is not is a consensus among the medical community, which one would hope would be a prerequisite for legislation. (Not having MEDLINE access, I can't speak to the methodology of the studies you cite, stonerose.)
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:02 PM on January 1, 2004

FWIW, I do a lot of work in the bar/nightclub scene here in Ottawa, where we have a total ban on smoking in restaurants/clubs/etc. Since the ban (august 2001), revenues are down at nightclubs across the board (with losses of up to 60% in many cases), and 38 bars/clubs have had to shut down as majority of their clientele were smokers, and they're just not coming out anymore.

Several pool halls and clubs have tried to get around this ban by instituting a members-only policy, so that the club is exclusively patronized and staffed by smokers, but the city has repeatedly fined, harassed, and arrested those responsible.

Simply put - the city is not allowing a reasonable alternative for the owners/staff/patrons who wish to have a smoking-friendly environment, and many of Ottawa's finest places have had to close their doors.
posted by Jairus at 4:04 PM on January 1, 2004

daveg asked: Do you believe in any health and safety regulations for the workplace, or is it just smoking that's all right. After all, construction workers could just go get another job if employers stopped providing harnesses for working at height, protective helmets, etc.

See above re: OSHA. Your comment here is a red herring, albeit a favorite one of anti-smokers.

The Enstrom & Kabat study has been widely discredited (primarily selection bias, but also it assumes a homogenous population despite the obvious heterogeneity of the data) and I am unaware of a single medical association that supports its findings.

Feel free to give us some links. The majority of the folks who are "widely discrediting" Enstrom/Kabat are orgs in the health community (not the science community, mind you, and you have to acknowledge the difference) who have a vested interest in smoking bans, being unwilling to actually tackle the criminalization of tobacco and wanting instead to chip away at smokers' rights. A medical association doesn't have to "support" the study's findings for them to be valid.

Where is your evidence for money being the underlying issue? I can see that you're trying to paint some grand anti-smoking conspiracy - I just don't see where the money is!

Dave, nice try, but I'm actually not wearing my tin foil hat today.

According to James Bennett, a professor of economics at George Mason University who tracks charitable organizations, the American Cancer Society (ACS) held a fund balance of over $400 million with about $69 million worth of holdings in real estate, office buildings, and equipment in 1988. ("How raw land helps us find a cure for cancer or helps cancer victims is an enigma I can't fathom," says Bennett.) Of that money, the ACS spent only $90 million—barely a quarter of its budget—on medical research and related programs. The rest covered "operating expenses," including about 60 percent for salaries, pensions, executive benefits, and overhead. By 1989, ACS cash reserves had reached over $700 million.

And, can you please show us some data that supports this: "passive smoking causes the death of people working in the entertainment sector"? Thanks.

Because, I don't know what the "entertainment sector" is (Hollywood? exotic dancers? clowns?) -- but kidding aside, I think your sentence is an example of why I usually find anti-smokers' arguments so egregious: your statement is inflammatory and factually inaccurate. But, by all means, "boogedy boogedy boogedy!" your way to a clear conscience.

I'm filing your Link 1 study under D for "duh", since its premise is that nonsmokers who go into a casino come out having breathed more ETS than when they went in. In that same article, I found interesting this comment by the lead researcher (emphasis mine):

"However, further studies are needed to examine the long-term health effects, on employees and patrons, of transient exposure to ETS."

The popular argument by anti-smokers is that exposure alone, regardless of the lack of conclusive scientific data demonstrating actual danger, is enough to justify the legislating of behavior. I simply think it's not. No one is saying that smoking is healthy. I'm saying that adult humans make many small decisions every single day that result in more healthy or less healthy choices, and they don't need to be legislated. ETS exposure is another one of those.

re: Link 2 -- Wow, talk about propaganda. An Australian newspaper refers to the (boogedy boogedy boogedy!) recent findings of two studies (not named), conducted by some organizations (not named), published in "international journals" (not named), and proceeds to recap a couple of data bits in the study, and then points out how it aligns with current state government plans to enact anti-smoking legislation.

Link 3 -- that article is also going under D for "Duh." You pulled the most general and scary quote to link, but the article's actual point is a study showing that children already prone to sickle cell anemia are more likely to develop it when exposed to ETS. Pretty weak tactic. Since children aren't allowed in pubs, I don't think we have to worry about forcing sickle-cell anemia on them if we don't enact a no-smoking-in-bars ordinances worldwide right this second.

This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about -- how are these links or those articles even relevant to the conversation? Am I the only one who sees that the emperor's nekkid?
posted by pineapple at 4:08 PM on January 1, 2004

Well, I don't think there's much use arguing whether second hand smoke kills or not - the point is, to non smokers it's nasty. And I totally sympathize with customers who don't want it around. But my enjoyment in boozing is severely diminished by not being able to smoke so why can't we have both?

Anyway, I've said this now about eight times to the utter disregard of the health scolds. I'm off to a wonderful dive here in DC where you still smoke - thank you lord - and I plan to have a ball while I still can. If any DC mefite smokers happen into the Big Hunt in Dupont, I'll be the chain smoking blonde with the happy grin.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:22 PM on January 1, 2004

I'm surprised that Ireland has jumped into this while England hasn't seriously considered a ban.

I have to admit to feeling quite ambivalent about a ban in pubs. I used to smoke quite heavily and I remember feeling very isolated once when I was in a pub with some people and the only seats available were in the non-smoking section (where nobody was sitting of course). I was up and down the pub constantly and couldn't get involved in any conversations. Having said that, if all pubs were like that I may have given up earlier.

I was in a pub this week having a great time. But the next morning I was coughing up half a gallon of phlegm and my parka smelled like a fucking kipper. On mornings like that I really don't give a toss about my health and second-hand smoke because you then feel that smoking is a nuisance equal to dog shit. Step in dog shit and do you care if it's unhealthy - no, you just want to kick the owners head in.

I remember when I was a kid, you'd go to the cinema and it was divided in half into smoking and non-smoking. Seeing the smoke clouds lit up from the light of the projector, ash trays attached to the seat in front of you with fag butts and chewing gum in them. And remember, this is when I was watching The Fox and The Hound or something. Smoking was banned in cinemas and cinemas seemed a much much nicer place.

I remember when smoking on buses was allowed on the top deck. A winter bus full of smokers really made the eyes water, but again when it was banned the world seemed a more pleasant place.

I reckon we need smoking bars where people can smoke - no booze, just cigarettes. Because if ciggies are so fucking great then they'll be packed to the doors with people.
posted by dodgygeezer at 4:23 PM on January 1, 2004

dodgygeezer: There was one in Ottawa, briefly, and it was packed to the doors with people 24h a day. There is little more I miss than being able to go into a place where I know the patrons and staff, and sitting for a coffee and a cigarette.
posted by Jairus at 4:27 PM on January 1, 2004

I have no background in medicine or science, but how do they determine that someone in harmed from second hand cigarette smoke or if they are being harmed by other environmental factors? When I hear things like "X amount of people died of smoking" what do they mean? Smoking related causes or lung cancer? Are they counting all lung cancer as "cigarette deaths?" It seems that there are so many things in our environment that are actively killing us, how do we differentiate one cause from another?

And, on a second point, would any of the non-smoker, pro-ban people tell us why having smoking and non-smoking bars is not a good option? People keep suggesting it, and there are many examples of non-smoking bars, but the anti-smoke crusaders don't seem to want to address that idea.

My opinion of the anti-smoke folk is that they don't go to bars enough to really have any idea what being in a bar means as an activity. As has been stated, smoking bans are bad for business - the non-smokers are either not going out and drinking, or they are ordering diet cokes and tipping a quarter. Since there are a clear majority of non-smokers, why does everyone in my local pub smoke? Because many (not all, but enough of a percentage that bars do not benefit financially from a ban) non-smokers are non-drinkers.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:50 PM on January 1, 2004

pineapple: If you're talking relevance, OSHA is completely irrelevant as the legislation has been inacted in Ireland.

As for conspiracy theories, who is the "health community" that you distinguish from the "scientific community" - any vested interrest that the dissenters from the Enstrom & Kabat paper is either based on public health (based on the damage caused by passive smoking) or is due to some conspiracy that isn't at all apparent to me.

A follow up to the original paper raises serious issues with the research, which have never been answered by the authors.

dodgygeezer: England as a whole is not considering such bans, but it is likely to come into effect in London after the next election (assuming Ken gets back in).

elwoodwiles: The whole point of scientific study is that it neutralises all of the factors that are not of interest, e.g. the effect of other carcinogens on study participants should be taken into account when calculating the effect of cigarette smoke. This is exactly the problem with the Enstrom & Kabat - they have no information on any background influences.
posted by daveg at 5:03 PM on January 1, 2004

elwoodwiles - Maybe everybody in your pub smokes because non-smokers can't stand being in there? That would certainly apply to me; the last time I went to a bar with friends in a smoking city (Chicago) I spent 80% of my time alone outside the bar because the smoke made me feel very ill. I've established that I'm no crusader and that I think the laws passed were clearly overkill, but I think it's clear that many bars are full of smokers because the smoke long ago drove out many of the non-smokers. I probably would have drunk a ton more in my early youth if there had been smoke-free bars.

Also, I think the majority of bars in NYC will benefit financially from a ban. Certainly, there has been no evidence yet of significant problems at 99% of the city's bars. Other cities with different cultures will, of course, react differently based on their own standards.
posted by gspira at 5:09 PM on January 1, 2004

stonerose, I'm sure everyone appreciated scrolling past your piles of abstracts. I saw a whole lot of epidemiological study, and that just confirms my point. I'd like to recommend trying this article on for size, for perspective, and then maybe taking a gander at the actual statistics in the actually scientific UCLA study (Enstrom & Kabat).

Well, you've left me in a spot, haven't you? "Piles" of information are objectionable and tedious. A pop-sci article (yours) is good, but articles written by the "health" community (as opposed to the "science" community) aren't. Apparently, you'll only trust Enstrom & Kabat. Okay, here they are: "Finally, we too are in favour of the strongest possible protections for non-smokers."[BMJ 327(7413), pg.505]

For anyone who cares about the flaws of the Enstrom & Kabat study, there are 10 or so critiques of it in the above-cited issue of BMJ. If anyone is really interested, let me know and I'll email them to you. [on preview: daveg linked to one of them - I'm not sure if it can be accessed by folks without institutional subscription access...?]

CunningLinguist said "Well, I don't think there's much use arguing whether second hand smoke kills or not - the point is, to non smokers it's nasty. And I totally sympathize with customers who don't want it around. But my enjoyment in boozing is severely diminished by not being able to smoke so why can't we have both? Anyway, I've said this now about eight times to the utter disregard of the health scolds."

Unbelievable. As I've said repeatedly, whether it kills (or sickens) employees is the whole point. If it doesn't, then we are the bunch of scolds you potray us as.
posted by stonerose at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2004

I'm not going to read the entirety of this thread; it's well in excess of fifty messages for me to catch up from my last post. I did read a couple dozen, though.

(A) "Non-smokers can just go to a non-smoking bar, let the market decide." Until it was legislated there were no non-smoking bars/pubs available to me.

(B) "Passive smoke isn't harmful." Bullshit. I'm nearly stunned speechless that anyone could make that ludicrous claim.

(C) "Workers can choose to work in a non-smoking environment." See (A) above, and (B) yeah, right, the boss is gonna go for that.

(D) "Well, alcohol causes problems, too!" Right. If you want to go down that path, we're going to have to go down the legalize-all-drugs path, too.

Face it, smokers: you're engaged in an unhealthy, annoying habit that the majority of us don't wish to share with you. You smoke your cigarettes at home, I'll smoke my weed at home, and we can both meet in the smoke-free pub for eats.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on January 1, 2004

gspira and everybody: there are smoke free bars in most cities. There are also many cafes and restaurants that serve alcohol as well. There are many options for the drinking non-smoker that do not involve legislation of other's behaviors.

I am making a generalization, I realize that, but I do so as someone with extensive knowledge of bars and the people who frequent them. I would suggest that on average, non-smokers drink less and that this would explain the loss of revenue seen in bars that were forced to go non-smoking.
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:00 PM on January 1, 2004

five fresh fish: thanks for the additional anecdotes! And for not bothering to read what the rest of us took the time to post. But, the fact that there is not enough demand in your community for non-smoking bars is no one else's problem. Really. Truly. If I want a movie theater that only shows Disney cartoons seven days a week, do I just deserve it because I get 20 other people to write letters to the City Council demanding it?

stonerose: No, the whole point is that, as elwoodwiles so elegantly illustrated, anti-smokers have no middle ground, nor are they ever willing to seek or concede one. It's "our way or the highway", despite the fact that "our way" is bad for business and for workers immediately. Anti-smokers are advocating "trickle-down health", but not bothering to put cash in the pockets of the people who will be financially harmed by their actions. How very Republican of them.

And, deride "pop-sci" if you like, but epidemiological studies are the whole problem. Let's have some scientific study. When it comes to real live negative health effects of occupational ETS, the bulk of the epidemiological studies have been the equivalent of taking MeFi comments and collating them into a document and calling it research. BMJ was one of the first most vocal detractors of the UCLA study -- because of the funding. Conflict much? Argue methodology if you want; that, I can stomach.

daveg, frankly, I don't even understand what you are saying anymore. We are talking about a political issue that affects the US, Canada, and Western Europe. Sorry we passed you by.
posted by pineapple at 6:08 PM on January 1, 2004

Bars and restaurants in Niagara County estimate at least a 17 per cent loss of business since the smoking ban went into effect.

I wonder where all the non-smokers are drinking? Not at the bars, that's for sure.
posted by elwoodwiles at 6:09 PM on January 1, 2004

elwoodwiles: The bars here in Ottawa would kill to have only lost 17%. The average is around 45-50%. At least in my city, the bars previously frequented by smokers are still frequented by the same crowd, only less of them. Not to mention, going out for cigarettes cuts down on drinking time, as alcohol from the bars is not allowed outside due to city law, so even the smokers that still go to the bars are spending less. Not to mention, it's Canada. It gets very, very cold outside, so a lot of smokers are just staying in and inviting friends over. It's cheaper, and warmer.

The non-smokers seem to be staying at the same bars they were previous to the smoking ban -- namely, the ones that were at least partially non-smoking, and they've all been doing very well for years.
posted by Jairus at 6:38 PM on January 1, 2004

Smoking, in this day and age, is a filthy habit that smokers have made a matter of course instead of the defiant act it should be.

Smoking is a vice, or at least it was. At one point it was rude to smoke in public, and the vice was kept to smoking rooms, speakeasies, pubs, and long private walks down dark alleys. It was uncouth, dirty, and even sensual. Watch some classic examples of film noir from the thirties. That sultry starlet slowly taking a drag from her cigarette? That's sex. Going to a bar was a vice. It's not a box social or a Sunday morning at church, it's a place of drinking, smoking, and other vices.

By the latter part of the twentieth century, smoking was commonplace. Office buildings of the 1970s were stained yellow with cigarettes. Employees sitting at their desks chain smoked while frantically trying to keep up with deadlines. The smoking break was called a smoking break. It wasn't a social lubricant, a vice, or even dirty. It was just there. People no longer light up a cigarette after a pleasing meal. They smoke while waiting, while eating, and before the check arrives.

It stands to reason that smoking is being chased out of restaurants and the like. It's still dirty. I don't spit on your dinner table, so why the hell should my smoke hang over it. And as for the bar, well... that's been long ruined. I can't speak for the rustic pubs of Ireland, but going to a bar is pretty standard fair for the times.

Smoking is no longer cool. Maybe driving it underground will bring back some credibility. The camaraderie of the oppressed rebels. Perhaps it's time to stop acting oppressed, because that doesn't sound cool. But, the rebel. The smoking.
posted by mikeh at 9:38 PM on January 1, 2004

I'm a non-smoker, but I just don't understand the hysteria about smoking in bars and restaurants. These laws hurt businesses, and expose people on the streets to more second-hand smoke because they force smokers to congregate on the sidewalks. And I hope the anti-smoking crusaders don't moonlight as anti-noise crusaders, because they're going to be hearing a lot more drunken revelry, now that the lawmakers have moved it out on the streets.
posted by subgenius at 10:17 PM on January 1, 2004

eldwoodwiles - You keep talking about these no-smoking bars as if they exist everywhere. Maybe they are common on the west coast, but they aren't on the east coast. Again, I'm curious if anybody knows of a bar that did not permit smoking in New York City before the no-smoking laws passed.

And as far as these polls, I'm sure if you poll bar owners you'll find most of them saying they're losing money because of the ban. And then when the newspapers go interview the bar owners they'll say that things are even worse than the poll indicates. But then why is the demand for alcohol licenses rising? Where are all the bartenders who've been laid off? Why aren't the tax receipts from these bars down? I'm sure some bars are hurting, but there are other bars that are benefiting.

pineapple - you say that "anti-smokers have no middle ground, nor are they ever willing to seek or concede one." Well, I consider myself an anti-smoker, and I have opposed the laws passed in New York State as massive overkill, and I support the sale of smoking licenses to bars. And most people I know who are "anti-smokers" agree with me. So I have to believe you are narrowly defining anti-smokers as people who "have no middle ground" and then declaring that all anti-smokers have "no middle ground" because that's how you define them in the first place.
posted by gspira at 10:42 PM on January 1, 2004

Here is how this cookie is crumbling: most people don't like their evening's entertainment spoiled by someone boor's nasty smoking. Most people do not smoke.

Just like gobbing yellow loogies on the sidewalk is prohibited in some cities (see also, China, SARS), just as septic tanks are banned in most cities, just like those with tuberculosis are quarantined from public, public indoor smoking is going to be prohibited.

Cue the Matrix line regarding the sound of inevitability.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:26 AM on January 2, 2004

I'm inclined to think that some of this crap is all an excuse to not install decent ventilation which benefits everyone.

One of the nicest things I've found in Europe (I'm American) is cities with large car-free areas. In urban settings (and many non-urban settings!) cars do FAR more to detract from the quality of life than a few idiots like myself who smoke. If it isn't the exhaust its the noise and the traffic hazard. When was the last time someone had to be rushed to the hospital because they encountered a bit of second hand smoke? A split-second encounter with the bumper of a car can cause death. Children are killed by cars every year. How many children die from a bit of second hand smoke?

Surely it is clear that smoking is a problem, and all effort should be made to ban it everywhere. Lets focus all our energy on that task! Don't worry about cars and oil and wars and instant death or dismemberment. Or high blood pressure caused by noisy environment from rubber tires on pavement. (the list could go on, but these are my favorite complaints).

I guess this sums up as:
Smoking is stupid and unhealthy.
Cars are much more stupid and far more unhealthy.
I smoke and take the bus/subway/tram/walk
I guess I am playing half-wit to the next guy's no-wit.
posted by Goofyy at 2:04 AM on January 2, 2004

Well fucking said, mikeh. I wish I'd said it.

Without ritual, without some kind of sense to it, whatever glorious vice 'it' is, it's just wirehead-monkey-button-hammering. Which is pathetic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:46 AM on January 2, 2004

I'm pretty sure of one thing: it's not going to work anywhere else than the larger, more popular pubs in the main cities like Dublin, Cork and Galway. The new law simply isn't going to have much effect on a group of old fellas in their local bar somewhere in Mayo or Wexford or the like.
posted by digiboy at 3:33 AM on January 2, 2004

Perhaps the solution would be to tax bar owners who want to allow smoking, and use that money to subsidize non-smoking bars?

Or, perhaps bars could rotate. Smoking on some days and not on others, but staggared so that smokers and non-smokers can party their herts out.

Now, if there were only a way to entice 'sexualy warm' and accomidating young lassies into the holds of the non-smokers.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 AM on January 2, 2004

Many moons ago, when the Earth was young and you could still say "dot-com" and "startup" in the same positive sentence, I developed an interest in cigar smoking. Not the machine-made abominations you find in your local drug store, mind you, but the hand-rolled variety. Dominicans, especially. I think my favorites were those tapered beauties made by Avo. Good taste, good draw, perfect with a good drink in a good bar.

My favorite place to partake of my indulgence was a club/bar in Chattanooga called the Chattanooga Billiard Club. They had two locations, one in downtown and the other off of I-75. The suburban location, called CBC East, had a rather open floor plan with the pool tables over to the right and the bar to the left. Above the bar and each orbitting table hung these quietly humming contraptions that we were told were smoke eaters. Amazing devices, they inobtrusively lifting the smoke from your cigar up and out of the way of the patrons at the next table over, or those over near the tables.

We all know how potent the scent of a cigar can be, for good or for ill, but these ventillation systems are so effective that on visits when I didn't smoke, I barely registered that someone at the next table over had lit up at all.

So why aren't such systems entering into our discussion?
posted by grabbingsand at 5:09 AM on January 2, 2004

As a non-smoker I certainly notice the difference in the smell of my clothes when I have been in a smokey atmosphere, they need a wash.
I don't like to be in a smokey atmosphere when I am eating.
However, this is not what we are talking about.
Most pubs that I know of have a non-smoking area. The vast majority of chain pubs have them, as well as many small real-ale pubs that I have visited. My friend's pub in Donegal has a non-smoking area.
As a non-smoker I feel well catered for.

My smoking friends can also find a place to relax in a pub, in fact the same pub as I am in. I may smell of smoke if I choose to sit with them, but at least I can interact with my friends, everyone's happy.

I realise that some people feel that they cannot go into smokey atmosphere's due to medical reasons, there is an increase in the diagnosis of asthma AFAIK. Can they not explain this to their friends and attempt to reach a compromise?

What Goofyy said.

If I felt that smoking in sanctioned areas in pubs constituted a major health risk to me and my society, so much so that it would have to be banned completely, I would hope that other problems such as poverty would have been completely eradicated first. Following a pragmatic approach to societies health in general rather than a piecemeal, unscientific and seemingly random approach.

It seems ironic to me that LA may have a smoking ban, but it doesn't limit private vehicle use at the same time.

Compromise is required for the good of society, would people voluntarily leave their cars at home to cut down on pollution? Will there be a time when the government feels that public opinion gives them the impetus to limit hydocarbon-burning private vehicle use in built up areas?
What about the myriad of other sources for this type of pollution?

How does the support of individual liberties by society balance with the restrictions of individual liberties for the benefit of society?

Can people feel a responsibility to society in the same way they feel a responsibility to their family?

Question, questions, always with the questions...

It seems to be the case that the quality of air on long distance plane flights has dropped since the complete banning of smoking on flights. Aparently, the air is recycled more and less fresh oxygen introduced as there is less 'need' to. The airlines save money as they do not have to carry extra oxygen cannisters.
Cabin staff have been complaining of feeling faint, headaches and nausea, on long flights with a high proportion of recycled air.
'Air-rage' events may not be related to the low quality of air, or the banning of smoking on long flights, but reports of air-rage only started when smoking was banned.

Banning smoking can have counter-intuitive effects on the health of service staff.


One way to give up smoking is to do it exclusively. No smoking and drinking/reading/waiting/driving, just smoking.
Sure limits the enjoyment, just FYI.
posted by asok at 5:14 AM on January 2, 2004

Again, I'm curious if anybody knows of a bar that did not permit smoking in New York City before the no-smoking laws passed.
Nosmo King, for one famous (and famously named example--now closed), and i'm sure there were others.

And as for ventilation systems, many restaurants installed them (along with separate rooms) pre-ban, but to no avail.

Where are all the bartenders who've been laid off? Why aren't the tax receipts from these bars down?
I know 9 so far, and 3 of them were paid off the books. And all bars in NYC operate by underreporting tax receipts to my knowledge--it's a cash business.
posted by amberglow at 5:41 AM on January 2, 2004

What's the purpose of the ban ? That of protecting non-smokers from puffs of smokers. So far that's perfectly acceptable because it doesn't matter if the cigs smoke is carcinogenic (it is) or it isn't, they just don't want to receive
the byproducts of our combustion choices.

Maybe it's a good idea: if i can ban people from puffing around me in a zone in which I can't avoid the smoke,then I can also ban people running companies from intoxicating my environment: atmosphere doesn't let the toxics escape in "outer space" (afaik) as much as an almost airtight doesn't let much smoke out.

Demonization of smokers ? Gimme a break. Usually the demonizers are the ones who never smoked in their life so they don't understand how deeply unpleasurable is smoke-quitting, probably as hard as alcohol quitting.

Segregation of smokers isn't going to do the majority of them any good, as nicotine addiction is far more powerful then fear of being segregated. Neither demonization of smokers is going to make them quit (same goes for alcohol)
Also it makes smokers feel like their freedom to smoke themselves to death is being challenged.

I guess one possible strategy is that of imposing that product X can't contain more then n% of *addictive ingredient*. For instance, if cigs couldn't contain more then x milligram of nicotine, you'd need to smoke 60-90 cigs a day to inhale a certain amount of nicotine ; I don't pretend to know how much is enough for addiction to start, but that may be determined by an "open-source" investigation based on scientific method.

Same method for alcohol: after a few pints of beer usually one fills "full" ; not necessarily drunk, but so full of liquid that there's no room for more. It probably is the sensation given by our brain to tell us "your stomach can't take anymore, stop drinking". That's unlikely to happen with vodka because one is (usually) drunk well before the _quantity_ limit of stomach is reached.

So if we imposed a ban on industrial production on more then n% of alcohol in beverages, or maintain a proportion between quantity of liquid and quantity of alcohol, we could at the same time reduce the amount of alcohol that is possibly ingested in one day and the same time make production of vodka or other beverages with a strong alcohol content more expensive.

That still wouldn't be prohibition : individual citizen could always produce is own vodka, but not sell it. Production Industries couldn't producte but beverages with a certain ratio of alcohol , Sales industries couldn't sell alcohol produced by individuals.

What do you think of this strategy ?
posted by elpapacito at 8:35 AM on January 2, 2004

Despite the desperate anecdotal whining by passive smoking advocates, I've yet to find many people who can address the substantive issue here: the Irish pub as a smoke-free venue embedded within its local community. I've seen some paternalistic complaints from tourists who visit Ireland and want to imagine it as some sort of bucolic, smoky paradise with nicotine-patina pubs that hearken back to some earlier era. It seems many people prefrer their performing Leprechauns to smell of smoke and turf and to cough up green phlegm. Really, my heart bleeds for the loss of your illusions.
posted by meehawl at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2004

I like your strategy, elpapacito, but there isn't the social stigma against drinkers (even though it causes far more deaths--and violent behavior--each year--to other people and the people drinking) that there is against smoking. I don't see any single councilperson or state government official making the moves against alcohol the way they feel free to do so against cigarettes.

Maybe the alcohol lobby is stronger than the tobacco lobby? We've even seen the return of hard liquor ads to the airwaves here recently (they were banned for many years), while cigarettes are now airbrushed out of old movies and photos, and Whoopi got shit for smoking in her new sitcom.

I've yet to find many people who can address the substantive issue here: the Irish pub as a smoke-free venue embedded within its local community.
We've all been addressing the issue in a multitude of ways, as citizens of places where smoking has already been banned, and we've been reporting on the effects, meehawl--you can't report on Ireland until the ban goes into place, but Ireland can learn from what's happening in other places.
posted by amberglow at 8:45 AM on January 2, 2004

I am left with one question and Five Fresh Fish has been the only person to address it, even obliquely.

You smoke your cigarettes at home, I'll smoke my weed at home,

Once all legal forms of smoking have been thoroughly banned and taxed out of existence, how will one ever be able to smoke pot without attracting suspicion. Why would a store sell papers, if not for illegal activity? As it is now, smoking tobacco provides a convenient cover for marijuana, but in our hygienic world of tomorrow won't the scent of any smoke be suspicious and a reason to report your neighbor?
Seems like this might end up being one of the only successful battles in the war on drugs.

Just a side argument for the not-necessarily-corresponding pot and tobacco smokers.
posted by milovoo at 8:54 AM on January 2, 2004

gspira, I'm sorry that you see me as generalizing, but I don't see you as an anti-smoker. If you are a person who advocates more practical applications of non-smoking laws, then I see you as a non-smoker who is also reasonable in expecting change via compromise. Big difference, to me.

grabbingsand, I can only provide info on the ventilation system issue as it was considered here in Austin, Texas:

The bar owners as a group investigated installing the HVAC ventilation systems that are widely considered the best for cleaning air of ETS. They researched products and costs and also heard from energy professionals as to whether it would be a feasible alternative.

The average cost (purchase of equipment, retrofitting and construction, installation) was going to be $20,000 - 25,000. Per establishment.

Further, local officials predicted the additional power usage if every bar were required to install a new HVAC/ventilation system. When considered alongside the 9 months of the year that Austin bars have to run air conditioning, and because of the compact nature of the two downtown entertainment districts, it was theorized as highly likely that legally requiring HVACs for smoking bars would cause city-wide brownouts.

So, I guess the answer in re ventilation systems is going to be a complex one with varying geographical factors, but the most common answer I've heard is that installing new ventilation is too expensive a proposition for small business owners to contemplate.

While we are looking at numbers, I feel it's worth pointing out that the anti-smokers use monthly liquor sales figures to show that, after a "brief dip", sales go right back up to "normal", presumably as people adjust to the law and non-smokers come out from their hidey-holes into the clean new world, to enjoy their nightlife.

But, a document that our task force received from a group of New York City bar owners, which compiled facts and sales records for bars and clubs in cities where bans had been enacted over the last five years, proved the anti-smokers disingenuous: sales go back to "normal" after the "dip" because a number of bars always end up closing their doors completely, after which the X% of remaining establishments splits up the reduced sales, providing an illusion of a return to proportionate business.
posted by pineapple at 10:06 AM on January 2, 2004

milovoo: vapouriser.

"It seems ironic to me that LA may have a smoking ban, but it doesn't limit private vehicle use at the same time.

Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't the smog in LA basically the reason California has forced auto manufacturers to improve their emissions-control systems? I don't see much irony in California banning polluting vehicles, and banning smoking in public spaces.

I suspect California is also the leader in the high-occupancy vehicle lane laws -- another example of limiting private vehicle use.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:05 PM on January 2, 2004

After reading thread see why a businessman would open up fast-food franchise(s). Dallas has a no-smoking policy at restaurants (think bars exempt) yet the city of Addison found within its borders does not.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:25 PM on January 2, 2004

« Older Time   |   Clamato, Canada, Caesar Cocktail Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments