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Another freedom goes up in smoke

Before I begin, let me get one thing clear: I don't smoke. I never have smoked. I never will smoke. I loathe cigarettes with a deep and abiding passion, fueled in large part by my mother's death from complications of smoking. I can't stand the smell of cigarettes, I think anyone who smokes is at least seventeen kinds of idiot, and under no circumstances will I ever do anything to help someone smoke.

That being said, I want to voice my disgust at Massachusetts lawmakers yet again (this could be a standing headline for me) with their latest efforts.

A while ago, Massachusetts passed a sweeping anti-smoking law that forbade lighting up in any public place. Restaurants, bars, night clubs, nowhere was spared.

(The really beautiful irony was that it was only a few years ago that Massachusetts required businesses invest in some heavy-duty equipment to keep the air clear between the smoking and non-smoking areas. Businesses sunk tens of thousands of dollars into those machines, only to find them utterly useless within a couple years when the state said no smoking areas, period.)

The sole exception from the iron fist of the legislature were private, members-only clubs. There, the members could continue to puff away to their (distressed) hearts' content.

Some places got around this ban by becoming "instant" private clubs, where membership for the evening could be had for a buck or so. Other groups, like the Elks or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, found themselves under the legislators' eyes because they rent their halls out to the public. With that as their excuse, they're now looking at redefining just what a "private" club is in regards to the smoking ban.

Now, personally, I happen to favor smoking bans. When restaurants had smoking sections, I preferred to sit as far from them as possible. And when I wish to visit certain locations renowned for their male-oriented entertainment (and also usually very smoke-filled), I either put on old clothing that I don't mind if they end up reeking or not go (and find another use for my one dollar bills). I think I'd like such places to forbid smoking, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

And I certainly don't want the state making those decisions. There is absolutely NO compelling public interest in micromanaging businesses to that degree. Let the people decide whether or not they wish to patronize places that welcome smoking, and let the free market decide which places will succeed and which will fail.

New Hampshire has such a system, and it seems to work. A very popular 24-hour diner here in Manchester decided to go non-smoking a few years ago, and everyone expected it would fail miserably. Instead, business actually picked up, and the Red Arrow is now more popular than ever.

But that's New Hampshire. We're the "Live Free Or Die" state. We're talking about Massachusetts, "The Cradle Of Liberty," and anyone who chooses to live in a cradle shouldn't whine when they're treated like a baby by the Nanny State.


Comments (32)

In my short time of reading... (Below threshold)

In my short time of reading the Wiz, I find my self identifiying more and more with you J. Some day I am sure we will part company, but for now, Right On!

Speaking of hypocrisy, smok... (Below threshold)

Speaking of hypocrisy, smoking remains legal and the state of Massachusetts still collects a large amount of money in taxes on cigarettes.

As a former smoker (16month... (Below threshold)

As a former smoker (16months free) I heartly agree with you Jay... even though the habit is as disgusting as licking a toilet seat, I disagree with what Mass. has done.... now if i could just kick the booze....

There's something paradoxic... (Below threshold)

There's something paradoxical about smoking. At once a bad, stinking habit, and yet I identify all that good Virginia tobbaky smoke with something uniquely stick-in-the-eye American.
I hate to see our great nation sissified to the point where we can't fill our freedom loving lungs with home-grown tar, nicotine and other carcinogens.
Of course, the French love smoking more than we do...

You have pretty much perfec... (Below threshold)

You have pretty much perfectly summed up my own feelings on the matter. I hate smoking and everything to do with it - but the government needs to get out of our lives.

I recall being amused while watching Sex in the City. In the earlier episodes, Cari was always whining about how she could never find a safe place to smoke her Marlboros, all the while intimating it was due to "Giuliani." She was always whining "Giuliani" this and "Giuliani" that.

We all know how far from the truth that tripe was. It is the Left which wants to control virtually every aspect of our lives - from what we can eat to what we can drive to what toilet we can use.

I live in So. Cal....we've ... (Below threshold)

I live in So. Cal....we've been "smoke free" business establishments for sometime. I've always been a non-smoker, but it hasn't stopped with businesses. No one can smoke within 20 feet of the entrance to any government building (state, county, city) no smoking on any school property and there is advocates for banning smoking from beaches and parks.

This is no longer about health.

...argh..long day...please ... (Below threshold)

...argh..long day...please excuse typos and glaring grammar errors.

Darleen's right, this is no... (Below threshold)

Darleen's right, this is no longer about health. But, then, it never was, really. Smoking bans and cigarette taxes don't keep dedicated smokers from smoking, and it's dedicated smokers who're really at risk. (Yes, the incidence of smoking has dropped over time, but that's because the older generations of smokers are dying off and because people generally are more health-conscious than they used to be.) Smoking bans are a modern form of "shunning." In this case the shunned are those who pursue a socially inferior form of recreation. If the anti-smoking zealots could ban NASCAR racing and bowling, they would, because the zealots are really trying to "educate" the unwashed in the proper forms of behavior. The anti-smoking zealots are no more than contemporary versions of Carrie Nation. I say this as a former smoker (it's been 12 years) who once upon a time purposely misused the flimsy evidence about the dangers of second-hand smoke to rid his company's offices of the offensive smell of burning cigarettes.

I would prefer a market app... (Below threshold)

I would prefer a market approach, with some bars going non-smoking and some not. The problem is, a large amount of income comes from cigarette machines in the bar.

The way it becomes a public health concern is second hand smoke affecting the employees of the establishment. Going to a smoke-filled bar once every couple of months isn't going to affect my health; working in one might.

Oh but Darlene, there are c... (Below threshold)

Oh but Darlene, there are communities here in MASS where it is already illegal to smoke on a public beach or in a public park.

And to think we'd have it over on Socal.

The truckstop in Lebanon, N... (Below threshold)
Governor Breck:

The truckstop in Lebanon, NH (Fort Harry's) recently went non-smoking and I must admit, the atmosphere is much nicer in there now. While I'll miss having a smoke and a cup of coffee at the counter, it's probably for the best.

Unfortunately, smoking rate... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately, smoking rates don't drop until there is significant societal pressure (bans public smoking), no matter how many ad campaigns or warnings are posted on packs.

Mass., of course, is getting a little extreme.

Here in CA I saw a recent quote that only about 10% of folks here smoked. While the reporter meant tobacco, she didn't say it, and I had to chortle at the inaccuracy of the statement as it was presented. Typical CA hypocracy. Tobacco smoking bad and unpopular, pot smoking bad but popular.

I haven't seen any attempts to promulgate medicinal uses of tobacco, but if this were to happen, would it be more likely any where else but Massachusetts or California?

Jay,I'll stop smok... (Below threshold)


I'll stop smoking when you can outrun me in a mile.

I train at 7:00 min/mile btw and I'm 42.

Spending a few days being "shunned" in NYC, beautiful weather, all the more appreciated by my little trips outside to enjoy the clean air that I am about to pollute

I would probably have quit long ago, if not for all the weenies.

Anyway, I agree with your commentary, keep up the good work.

Where's the personal tip jar?

/pat on back.

Strangely enough you all se... (Below threshold)

Strangely enough you all seem to miss the snake in the woodpile. The behavior bans (such as the ones on smoking) are said to be supported by "compelling public interest". Why do you fall for this argument?

At what point did "compelling public interest", i.e., the government's desires, trump the Bill of Rights?
King George III felt he could define "compelling public interest" in a way that let him do anything he wanted. Our Founders disagreed, and fought a bloody revolution to make government subordinate to the citizens.

Why do we fall for this tyrannical rationale today?

To think this used to be a free country.


ALL smoking problems should... (Below threshold)

ALL smoking problems should be smokers' problems.

Smokers don't agree with that notion, and that's why such rules and laws get passed. Smokers bring it onto themselves, and they'll get no sympathy from me.

This is my "since they're g... (Below threshold)

This is my "since they're going to do it anyway" opinion...

Former smoker (quit 4 months ago due to pregnancy)...

I work in a cigar bar. We all smoke there. Colorado is talking about the statewide smoking ban as well, and surprisingly enough, everyone I have talked to in the service industry about it supports it. Yes, we all smoke, but it's just so much smoke all the time. We absolutly stink when we get home. We feel like crap in the morning. It's awful.

The thing with the state wide ban is that it's much better than the by-city bans. For example, Boulder, CO., currently bans smoking in public. So Boulder smokers just drive the 25 minutes to downtown Denver so they can smoke in a bar. Great for us. Terrible for Boulder. At least if it's banned state wide, we all take the small hit on business instead of one city going under because of it.

Boulder deserves to go unde... (Below threshold)

Boulder deserves to go under.

Hey DJI just bet y... (Below threshold)

Hey DJ

I just bet you love the efforts to regulate the food industry due to the compelling public interest of stopping the fattening of Americans.

I mean, fatties bring it on themselves and deserve no sympathy from you, eh?

Ladies and Gents, behold the modern Carrie Nation.

Darleen, you jump to conclu... (Below threshold)

Darleen, you jump to conclusions as if it were a virtue, and instead of trying to show something wrong with what I wrote, you simply heaped abuse on me.

Shame on you.

The truth is that I do NOT care what people do to themselves, but I DO care what people do to ME.

Smoking is VOLUNTARY. It causes REAL problems. Because it is voluntary, the problems it causes should be SMOKERS' problems, and nobody else's. The only way that happens is when rules are passed which, in effect, say that smokers can pollute the air all they want ONLY if they are the only ones breathing that air. Where others have equal right to be there and breathe that air, smokers lose.

It is the attitude of smokers, in general, which has led to this state of affairs. They have nobody to blame but themselves.

Did you get it this time?

dj, drunks need a place to ... (Below threshold)

dj, drunks need a place to smoke...inside a bar, as smoking goes hand in hand..if you do not like smoke, do not enter..end of story. Thank God for NH...I agree with charlie32

Pancake, the 3/4 of the adu... (Below threshold)

Pancake, the 3/4 of the adult population who do not smoke need a place to drink without breathing smoke, which is inside a bar, as drinking without breathing smoke is a natural thing to do. If you want to smoke, go outside and downwind of the world. End of story.

The problem, in easy to fol... (Below threshold)

The problem, in easy to follow steps:

1.) We, as a society, can't stomach to watch people suffer and die.

2.) We, to prevent the above problem, create private (HMO) and public (Medicare/Medicaid) health care programs.

3.) Smokers give themselves cancer.

4.) Said smokers burden the health care system, and, ultimately, you and I the non-smoking taxpayers/insurance-premium-payers.

The above estabilshes a)why I, a non-smoker, have an interest in stoping you from smoking; b) why it's "in the public interest" to discourage smoking; c) why smokers damn well should have to pay high vice taxes and giant insurance premiums. I know I'll never convince anybody to say "Fuck that old bastard, he brought it on himself", so I have a vested interest in keeping you from giving your ass lung cancer in the first place.

Prove me wrong?

You're right, James, but th... (Below threshold)

You're right, James, but the reason these laws are passed is not to protect smokers from themselves, it's to protect US from THEM. I say, "Fuck 'em. They brought it on themselves." Meanwhile, I don't want to breathe their smoke and I don't want to pay any of their expenses. I shouldn't have to, and I shouldn't have to go hide in a hole somewhere to avoid it. DJ is right.

If you ask most bartenders,... (Below threshold)

If you ask most bartenders, they would gladly take the risk and take the tips, as they are the ones paying for the government sticking their nose in where it does not belong. It should really be up to the business owners to decide to allow smoking or not. They tax up up the ying yang and then tell us we can smoke. It is worse than prohobition..there really has to be a compromise despite the anti-smoking Nazi-zealots out there. In a recent survey conducted of Boston bar employees, the majority both smoked and opposed the ban. Statements are often made by restaurant workers indicating that they feel secondhand smoke is a threat to their health. Currently, the majority of restaurants in the Boston area do not permit indoor smoking. This would seem to leave plenty of choice for those concerned with the health risks of secondhand smoke.

Being in the presence of tobacco smoke is a choice that we all make. If you feel wisps of smoke are dangerous to you, you should not work at or go to establishments where smoking is present. Many people also feel that smoking bans will help them quit smoking, which is quite possible. However, many of us feel that we do not need legislative action taken for us to control our personal habits.

pancake, the laws are not "... (Below threshold)

pancake, the laws are not "legislative action taken for us to control our personal habits", they are legislative action to keep you from imposing the side effects of your habits on others. You just don't give a shit about those side effects, but we do. If there is a "compromise", then non-smokers lose. We're fed up with losing.

You, and other smokers like you, are just barely beginning to experience the discomfort, the irritation, and the indignation, all due to non-smoking laws, that we non-smokers have experienced due to the lack of non-smoking laws. You're just beginning, and we've had 500 YEARS of experience. Get used to it -- it's gonna get worse for you.

I have the same sympathy for you smokers that you have have exhibited for us non-smokers, which is precisely ZERO.

Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, pres... (Below threshold)

Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, states on the Council's web site that the association between secondhand smoke and chronic disease is disputed and controversial. In response to New York Mayor Bloomgerg's claim that one thousand New Yorkers die each year from secondhand smoke exposure in bars and restaurants, Dr. Whelan asserts that there is no evidence that any bar or restaurant employee or customer has ever died from such exposure.

The World Health Organization has even conducted a study which concludes that secondhand smoke poses no health hazards.

Tobacco reformers use the unscientific fear of secondhand smoke to justify bans and depict the habit as not one of individual decision, but as an act which has harmful consequences for others.

Lessee, now -- tobacco smok... (Below threshold)

Lessee, now -- tobacco smoke contains arsenic, cyanide, radioactive polonium, and over 30 known carcinogens. You would have me believe that breathing it is not harmful to me? Is that all you got left? For every "expert" you provide to dispute that it is harmful, I can provide ten who state that it is, including the U. S. Surgeon General. I'm not impressed.

The simple truth is that one smoker in three (read that again -- that's ONE SMOKER IN THREE) who smokes for a lifetime DIES from it. And you think that it causes me no harm to breathe that same shit?

If a bar owner gave "permission" for one of his customers to put arsenic in YOUR beer, cyanide on YOUR buffalo wings, and radioactive polonium on YOUR popcorn, do you think that it would be HARMLESS to you? Would you think you would have no grounds for complaint? Do you think that a bar owner has the authority to give such "permission"? Why, then, do you believe the bar owner has the authority to give one customer "permission" to put arsenic, cyanide, and radioactive polonium in the air that another customer breathes?

You bear out my observation that the cause of the problem is that smokers just don't give a shit about the side effects of their smoke. They are perfectly willing to "compromise", which means that smokers keep smoking and non-smokers keep taking it in the ass. But smokers will NEVER admit to understanding the problem because that constitutes an admission that the problem exists, and that leads to the realization that there is no excuse for not solving the problem, and, finally, to the realization that the ONLY way to solve the problem is for smokers to stop fouling the air that other people breathe. That's why these new laws are being passed. You had 500 years to be nice guys and you just couldn't do it.

While it is true that stat... (Below threshold)

While it is true that statistically smokers die younger than non-smokers, one can not take this at face value. Smokers often have less healthy habits such as poor diet and lack of exercise than non-smokers. Smokers are also poorer than non-smokers. Each of these characteristics associated with smokers on its own results in a lower life expectancy. Do not let the presentation of data fool you.

For an excellent example of our point, consider the Japanese. Japanese people smoke considerably more than Americans, yet have longer life expectancies. The same goes for the French and Greeks.

Much is made about all of the toxic chemicals contained in cigarette smoke. The first rule of toxicology, however, is that a substance is only poisonous in a high enough quantity. This goes for any substance, from water to arsenic. The supposedly dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes can be found in the air we breathe every day, even in the absence of secondhand smoke. Their mere existence alone does not make them dangerous.

Many medical doctors, even some of which work for government funded public health groups have admitted that when it comes down to it, they simply do not know what causes lung cancer.

About 96% of people who get... (Below threshold)

About 96% of people who get lung cancer are smokers, and very few of those non-smokers who get it are never exposed to smoke. And you think we don't know what causes it ...

Yup, you just don't give a shit what your smoke does to others. You live in denial. THAT'S WHY THE NO-SMOKING LAWS ARE BEING PASSED.

n 1998, US District Court J... (Below threshold)

n 1998, US District Court Judge Thomas Osteen voided the EPA's report that claimed smoking was a "Class A Carcinogen" and responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year. He said that the EPA fraudulently modified established scientific procedures so that its claim would be supported.

So, a judge is a better "ju... (Below threshold)

So, a judge is a better "judge" of carcinogens than scientists are? And so are tobacco industry shills?

Here's a big ole' clue stick for you. The issue has been studied to death and the evidence is overwhelming that tobacco smoke is harmful to anyone who breathes it. It's not "disputed" and it's not "controversial" except in the minds of smokers, those who sell tobacco products, and their shills. The tobacco industry's own documents proved long ago that they paid for phony research for MORE THAN 40 YEARS to try to discredit real research, and you think I ought to believe the phony research over the real research? Do you think you'll convince me, or anyone else, by cherry-picking the shills?

Here's another big ole' clue stick for you. It's about RIGHTS.

Rights are not unlimited. For example, the right to say what you please does not include the right to yell "fire" in a crowed theatre or to incite a riot. The right to write what you please does not include the right to libel or to violate someone else's copyright. The right to swing your arms in the "pursuit of happiness" ends at the other guy's nose. The "right to smoke" is simply the right to subject YOURSELF to anything YOU'RE willing to put up with. The problem with smoking is that you cannot smoke without subjecting everyone who breathes the same air to that smoke. As with the right to swing your arms, that right ends at the other guy's nose.

What's happening is that the laws are catching up with reality and recognizing that the right to smoke is not unlimited. It's about goddamn time.

Good luck to you...really. ... (Below threshold)

Good luck to you...really. I respect your passion. It is about time that the health conscious know their place, and stay out of bars that allow smoking....like the State of NH.






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