Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oregon's Smoking Ban Sucks

The smoking ban sucks, just like bicycle -- and motorcycle -- helmet laws suck.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a smoker and I hate the smell. Pubs and bars are not going to go out of business because of the ban. I'm looking forward to spending more time at the Horse Brass after January 1st (assuming it really adheres to the ban).

So why am I against the ban? Because this is a free country, and we put up with nuisances caused by other people so that they will put up with ours. Want to live a tranquil, nuisance-free life? Move to Singapore, or Saudi Arabia, or some other country where morality is legislated, so that you don't have to be inconvenienced by gum chewing, loud music, embarrassing jokes, or women drivers. I would rather chew gum, listen to music, tell jokes, and let the wife drive.

Beer lovers should be especially alarmed, because the neo-Puritans are coming after us next. Some people smoke in bars because it brings them pleasure. They can have their vices and I can have mine. But there are other people out there who think the world can and should be rid of all vices.

They have found a fetching shade of lipstick to put on their morality-legislating pig: public health. It's how the smoking ban got sold, it's how helmet laws get sold, and -- as Jay Brooks regularly reminds us -- it's how they're attacking alcoholic beverages. There was a letter to the editor in the Oregonian today that said beer and wine should be taxed more heavily to fund health care (can't find a link -- websites as terrible as the Oregonian's should be against the law).

The thing is, there are some things that are fun to do that carry a certain element of risk. Any of these things can be hazardous to your health: smoking, drinking, riding a bike, driving a car, swimming in a river, climbing a mountain, shooting guns. Sure, smoking also has a negative health impact on other people, but so does driving a car -- really, that has an even bigger impact. Are you ready to ban private automobiles? (I am, but that's just the Puritan in me talking.)

Choose freedom. Oppose helmet laws, smoking bans, sin taxes, drug wars, and encroachments on the Second Amendment. Outlawing fun things to do only decreases the amount of fun in the world, and punishes law-abiding people. Like Graham Chapman says in the video above, the only way to bring the crime figures down is to reduce the number of offenses!


  1. I like to kill's fun and sometimes profitable!

  2. I can understand what your trying to get across but lets be honest people smoking around us effects you in a direct way. Sure if someone hits me with their car it's more dangerous than taking a drag off of a cigarette but you can see where if I worked in an establishment that allowed smoking I could be adversely effect by second hand smoke. Also just because it erks me helmet laws are good, I ride motorcycle and would never think of riding without one. Sure I could let your head explode on the pavement with no effect to me but think of the emergency personnel and family members you will effect for being an idiot.

  3. Couldnt agree more. Cheers to those sentiments!

  4. Dave: is it as fun as smoking?

    squeaks: There are lots of dangerous jobs. For the most part, people do the jobs not because they love the risk, but they're willing to accept the risk because there's something else rewarding about the job. Don't want to work in a smoky bar? Work someplace else.

  5. Bill: That depends on what you're smoking.

  6. Let's face it, we live in a country where people can tell us what is allowed or not allowed in the privacy of our bedrooms (gay rights or lack their of), what is "acceptable" to put in our bodies (abv limits, tobacco, marijuana, etc), what is "acceptable" to wear on our bodies (helmet laws, etc), and what we can choose to do to our bodies (pro-life vs pro-choice).

    "The land of the free . . . whoever told you that was your enemy."

    - Rage Against the Machine

  7. Sorry I missed you the other night, Bill.

  8. Enjoy your blog. I appreciate where you were trying to go with this rant but have to disagree. While I certainly can connect the dots between cigarettes and beer as far as taxation for health care costs, my beer drinking does not bother the person next to me at the cafe.

    Like I tell my friends, it should only be okay to smoke where it is okay to masturbate (i.e. not in public). You would not like it if I went to business next to you at the local watering hole whilst you were trying to enjoy your cancer stick, would you?

  9. Bob: thanks for taking the bait here.

    I want to reiterate that I am not a smoker, and I mostly eschew smoky places in favor of non-smoking establishments.

    You're right that I would not like it if you "went to business" on the next barstool, but there are places in town where even that is accepted! And my point is, that if a business wants to allow that outlet to people -- even if there are health risks attached -- let them do it.

    You and I will stay away from it, but it doesn't mean we should join the busybodies of the world in bringing everything down to the lowest common denominator.

  10. This is an old debate, and the sides are well-established. Consider me a pro-ban guy. The libertarian argument is potent, but when you have to balance principles, I can't see putting it at the top.

    Smoking sucks. It's bad for the smoker, bad for the people around him, and very, very bad for a society that has to absorb the medical bills. I know there are some people who genuinely like smoking, but there are at least as many who dislike it. Society serves not only non-smokers by doing everything to reduce the incentives to begin, but also potential smokers.

    I know a raft of smokers whose habits were established in the bars. Future generations won't have that lure. On balance, a wise law.

  11. Jeff: it's easy for those of us who don't like smoking to accept the ban.

    There are lots of words I could plug into your argument instead of "smoking". My own cross to bear is "driving", let's try that:

    Driving sucks. It's bad for the driver, bad for the people around him, and very, very bad for a society that has to absorb the medical bills. I know there are some people who genuinely like driving, but there are at least as many who dislike it. Society serves not only non-drivers by doing everything to reduce the incentives to begin, but also potential drivers.

    Except that people driving everywhere in cars has far higher societal costs than smoking, and a far higher percentage of the population suffers from that particular addiction.

  12. Bill, I think your argument is stronger when you just stick to plain libertarianism. The analogy with driving doesn't work at all. Driving doesn't suck. It has enormous personal and societal advantages. Our economy would instantly shut down if we stopped driving. The masturbation analogy is closer because it's a personal behavior--driving isn't.

    As I said, I know the battle lines are drawn, and rarely does a person cross them. It's a debate about priorities, and that's why we won't convince each other: I don't share your priority to protect the individual over the needs of the society. You think they're worth protecting. It's not a right/wrong debate we're having, it's one of principles.

  13. Monica: you sound like more fun than ol' Bob.

    Jeff: Hmm... I don't like it that I'm coming off as a Thatcherite individualist. I agree with you that sometimes society trumps the individual.

    The question is, where do you draw the line? Smoking is an easy target, but drinking is next in line. To make my point clear, maybe I should have swapped in "drinking" instead of "driving".

    P.S. I'm astonished that you think our car culture has societal advantages. We fight wars and proxy wars to support it; it is altering the planet's biosphere; it contributes to a slew of health problems; it has destroyed the sense of community in many places. Even so, I wouldn't ban anyone from driving wherever they want.

  14. Bill, you can have my beer when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. And even then, you'll never find my homebrew.

    As to cars--they're not the problem. It's the internal-combustion engine. if we had the political will to change that, we could be off oil (at least as an energy source) in two decades. And MAN would I be all for that. You can have half my paycheck in taxes to get that done. (Not that others will chip in, but....)

  15. Bill - I agree with you...Monica's idea is better

  16. Bill, as usual I think you're right on the money here. All of the do-gooder geniuses just keep watering down the herd. Please stop trying to save the stupid people from themselves. The world is overpopulated and family reunions are already too big.

  17. Todd: I tried to conceal my real agenda, but you've found me out.

  18. I used to smoke and if alcohol induced, may sneak a couple puffs...still.

    That said, I don't really want to go into a bar, pub, tavern and restaurant, and smell smoke! It just ruins what I'm enjoying, whether that be food or a beverage. I'm all for separate smoking rooms for smokers.

    When I lived in CA, the smoking ban wasn't gradual, over a 10-15 year period.

    First, you had Smoking Sections, where smokers got put off into one HALF of the restaurant. That lasted about 5 years.

    Then, the smoking section got smaller over the next 5 years and many Restaurants went smoke-free.

    Soon after this, Restaurants were banned from smoking.

    Finally after about 15 years of ramping up the public to get used to nonsmoking in public establishments, smoking was banned from bars and the like. There was a little bickering, but most where used the concept by the time it happened.

    My point is.... Why does it have to be so Black and White in Oregon?? Today you can SMOKE, tomorrow NO Smoking!

    I don't blame people for being pissed off! This just ass backward, dumb ass politics with no foresight or consideration.

    Lets take away all the politicians perks overnight, see if they don't get pissed off! ;-}

    BTW.... Hearsay and sheep followers! The actual reports on second hand smoke actually states:

    "According to the report, the government's most detailed statement ever on secondhand smoke, exposure to smoke at home or work increases the nonsmokers' risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent."

    This report was based on LONG TERM exposure to Second Hand smoke in the home and work setting!!!

    Going into a pub and being around smokers for 2 hours maybe one to two times a week is going to increase your health risk so minutely, you have a better chance of getting cancer from all the crap they put into our food or get hit a MAx Train that jumps the rails!

    People need to use their heads... ;-}

  19. Sounds like we're in vehement agreement, Doc.

    I'll play devil's advocate for the safety Nazis, and point out that the ban was promoted as necessary to protect employee health.

    But I'd rather let the employee decide if they wanted to quit a job in a smoky bar.

  20. It sees rare that people want to agree with me, but I'm just posting the facts.

    Thanks, Bill!

  21. America is dead. This is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. It's now the land of the over regulated, over taxed and over incarcerated and the home of the sniveling whiner.

    This law is like pouring gasoline on the fire of our economic downturn. Soon Oregon will be just like California. Hugely in debt. What goes around comes around. Oregon legislators should be ashamed.

  22. Everyone is missing the point. No one is LOSING anything. It's only WHERE you can smoke. Wonder what all you smokers would do if they said NO SMOKING.. and actually meant it... everywhere......

    No one is losing anything here.. only gaining. Now, if they said you are not allowed to smoke ever again anywhere.. I could understand.

    Cheers to oxygen in bars!

  23. Hooray for the smoking ban!

    Just because smoking is being banned does not mean drinking is going to be banned next. You are making a fallacious slippery slope argument. Smoking is deadly like DDT. It kills thousand of innocent people every year that never elected to take up the smoking habit. You can ask the American cancer society about the effects of second hand smoke if you need additional information.

  24. Your argument is flawed and not logical.

    I am very happy that smoking is banned now in Oregon. Having lived in other places that banned smoking years ago, I can tell you that after a few months of some people bitching, everyone else forgets what it was like to be in smokey bars and most won't ever go back to one.

  25. Ed: I got tired of this bickering after I went off the deep end and started ranting about people driving everywhere in cars.

    But you can't blithely tell me that my argument is "flawed and not logical". You might disagree with it, like several of the other commenters. That doesn't make it illogical.

  26. Laws should be created to protect rights not prevent them. As a non-smoker I know that my rights have been observed in that I have a choice whether or not to go into an establishment that is smoking. To observe the rights of the employee it should be made clear that they are going to be working in a smoke filled environment. If they don't want to work around the smoke there are other jobs. What this law does is restrict the rights of the owners.

  27. I am a member of a Fraternal Organization. I am a smoker. I do not like smoke to hover around me. I am polite about my smoking. I generaly went outside anyway to smoke. My argument is for the owner of a private bussiness or a private club that is ran by paying members.

    It should not be dictated to an owenr what and how they can run there legal bussiness. Smoking is not illigal and if there was a demand for non-smoking establishments that could be ran profitable there would be some. It is my belief that many bars and restaurants are non-smoking to cater to such crouds.

    I am an office with a Fratenal Organization. Our member dictate our rules and way of doing bussiness. If the majority wants something they will win the vote and they will get it. Instead we are currently down 72% since January first. I don't expect it to stay that high but it will remain at a level that will be damaging to our bussiness.

    As a nonprofit charitable organization, our loss of revenue will directly affect charity we donate to on a yearly basis. Last year we donated $60,000 to local charity including

    Camp Ukando
    St Vincenst Hospital
    Special Olympice
    National Blind dogs of America
    Visiting Nurses
    and many others

    This does not include the christmas basket that were handed out by our lodge. The money will donated to Little League baseball and many other things to help our community.

    Are charity list this year will look more like this

    Northwest Natural
    Garbage Company
    Building Maintanance

    Thank you for giving us the inlightment of not smoking. I will be glad to let our charities know that we will all be alive a little longer (exept the kids at the cancer camp that learn to manage thier meds because of our contributions to charity)


  28. I am a smoker; non smokers have a lot of places they can go that is smoke free before the 1-1-09 ban. Now it doesn’t matter where I go to eat or drink my beer and when a bunch of us are 10 feet outside the door purposely smoking out the door way...don’t forget why. We will not be pushed out in the cold and rain treated like a second class citizen without getting a little pissed. My family grew tobacco until they were run out of business. My families were never smokers and upstanding citizens. It was not right seeing the farm sold that provided jobs to help build this country early on. My family traded with England along side of other exports that help made this country. When you do drive down the road, buy food and walk in a building, remember a cigarette smoking, hard working, Joe six pack brought, built or laid what you take for granted. Welcome to the new world socialism..Oh and by the way, we are no longer in a bar with other smokers...we'll be sitting next to you now.