Archive for Monday, December 26, 2005

Private choice

December 26, 2005


To the editor:

Who was it who said, "if we are willing to give up enough of our freedom, we can be perfectly safe"?

Although I am a nonsmoker, I support Mr. Steffes' efforts to overturn the city's smoking ban.

If city officials think it necessary to ban smoking from legitimate public places, then so be it. However, taverns, bars and restaurants are not public places. They are privately owned and operated businesses, open to the public at the owners' invitation. If they choose to allow smoking in their establishments then I am left with the question: What part of "if you don't like it, go somewhere else," do the smoking ban proponents not understand?

Since there seems to be a great deal of differing opinion over what constitutes public versus nonpublic facilities, let's make it perfectly clear: Privately owned facilities generate tax revenue, public facilities are consumers of tax revenue.

Mr. Steffes' business, and others like it, contribute to the very existence of public facilities through taxes on sales, liquor, property, franchise fees, income, etc. To say that it's OK for him to go out of business not only defies common sense but sends a very scary message to other business owners.

At best it might be appropriate to require Mr. Steffes to post a sign: "This is a smoking-allowed establishment. If you are offended by smokers or secondhand smoke, we respectfully suggest you exercise your freedom of choice and find a place more agreeable with your personal convictions."

Gary Hamon,



just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

Smoking isn't banned in "public spaces"-- it's banned in places of employment, which has the secondary effect of preventing exposure of secondhand smoke to patrons.

Perhaps Mr. Hamon thinks all workplace safety regulations should be limited to "public spaces" which consume tax revenue.

And perhaps we should end all inspections of restaurants and bars. The owners could post signs saying "eat at your own risk."

KayCee 12 years, 3 months ago

Once again bozo misses the point. Gary said 'public PLACES', not 'spaces': and nothing was mentioned of the 'working place'.
I found the letter quite logical.

rtwngr 12 years, 3 months ago

A business serving botulism or ptomaine would soon find its doors closed for lack of patrons. The problem I have with restricting smoking in bars and restaurants is that smoking is a legally taxed activity. I have misgivings about a legal activity being restricted on private property. I feel it cuts to the heart of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Again, if a person does not choose to work in a smoke friendly environment the so be it. Waitresses and bartenders are not "entitled" to those jobs. Patrons are not "entilted" to spend their money in these establishments. I am a non smoker and hate sitting next to a smoking section of a restaurant. I love going to a bar and leaving without the smell of tobacco on my clothes. I say lift the ban.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

Didn't miss anything, Kaycee. You can quibble on the semantic difference between "space" and "place," but it doesn't change the fact that the law deals with smoking in the workplace (or workspace,) not smoking in bars and restaurants.

As far as pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, as with many issues of this sort, where do one person's rights begin and another one's end? I agree that smokers' ought to have the "right" to smoke and drink and have a conversation with someone else doing the same thing. But how do you balance that with the right of both patrons and employees not to be subjected to pollution of second-hand smoke that any rational person would have to agree is unhealthy?

The present law shifts the balance towards protecting the vast majority of people who don't want to be subjected to second-hand tobacco smoke, as opposed to the previous status quo which meant that going out meant you had tolerate it, or you just stayed home.

Is this the right balance? Maybe not, but I suspect that ten years from now anyone wanting to have a smoke won't have a second thought about going outside-- just like you go to the bathroom if you want to take a pi**. The law is just a little ahead of the game.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

It's about worker's health, which I suppose is a right, isn't it? The government intervenes all the time to promote worker safety. Which other of those myriad measures do you want to see repealed? I mean, after all, if they want to be safe on the job, they can just find another job-- somewhere. In Sweden, maybe?

Richard Heckler 12 years, 3 months ago

Or if workers would rather work in a smoking environment don't work in a non smoking establishment. Outside jobs allow smoking.

Terry Jacobsen 12 years, 3 months ago

Smoking benefits no one. There is no up-side to smoking so why all the outrage at banning it. Personally, I love the smoke free environment in Lawrence and as of yet, no one has shown that the smoking ban is actually hurting business. Thats what the judge said. Mr. Steffes has not shown that the smoking ban has negatively affected his business.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

TJ, most bars in Lawrence sold cigarettes. Most of the liscences renewed 3-8 months after the ban was implemented.

Sales of those cigarettes has dipped quite sharply. Selling less of a product than previously noted would be counted as a dip in business.

I and my friends have all decided to spend as absolutely little time as feasible in Lawrece eateries these days, due to this ban. That's roughly 15-20 people right there. We all have friends that visit regularly from out of town, most of which are smokers, and they adamantly refuse to go out when they come to town.

Now, on a broader view of the issue.

Why would it not be allowed to open a smoker's only establishment, with employees that sign a legal waiver stating that they have no objections to working in such an environment?

Is there some kind of law that dictates a, employer absolutely has to hire anyone that applies to his/her establishment?

Perhaps there is a law that states a place of business is not regarded as private property that the public is allowed access to, but is instead a public establishment that the people allow someone to operate for their conveinence.

Flat stated, this law removes the right of a business owner to effectively decide the type of customers that he/she would like to see frequent their business.

"No shoes, No shirt, No Service."

No one complains about this business rule.

"We reserve the right to refuse service."

No one complains about this rule either.

Perhaps if one of the business owners were to start a program in which only smokers, who proved that they did in fact smoke, could congregate within the confines of the business, people might take notice.

The health risks of second hand smoke are overblown, and yes the pun is intended.

If a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day does not contract cancer for at least 5 years, and they injest roughly 90-95% of the contaminants in any given cigarette, how does it prove that there is a dire threat to the livelihood of the employees?

An 8 hour shift breathing roughly 5% of the chemicals, which would be further diluted throught he ventilation system, doors opening and closing, as well as the other patrons breathing, simply does not amount to any great, life threatening hardship.

This law is about comfort, pure and simple. Some people are not comfortable with smokers, so instead of allowing them their choice, they'd rather force them to go outside.

Simply mind-boggling.

Ember 12 years, 3 months ago

Such faulty knowledge you have, also, TJ.

Do you honestly think that the majority of the three bucks a smoker pays for a pack of smokes is actually profit for Big Business?

About 85% of it is pure taxes. Federal, state and local taxes. How about we do a little bit of fun mathematics.

Take the projected number of cigarette sales for the state of Kansas, multiply it by the appropriate amount of taxes.

Take that sum and subtract it from the total revenue for the state of Kansas in the most current fiscal year.

Take notes on how little funding goes to a number of worthwhile facilities, like road construction/maintenance, education, and medicare coverage as it is provided by the state.

It does benefit you for me to smoke.

If that tax money was not available suddenly, property taxes would increase roughly 12-15% across the board. If you think I am joking, do the math yourself.

Smokers in this state amount to roughly 22% of the population. We also pay between 1/5 and 1/4 of all the taxes brought in by the state.

But I suppose this is perfectly acceptable since it's just us dirty smokers anyway.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 3 months ago

Ember, for all your complaining, you'd think that you'd been thrown out of these restaurants and bars. But you haven't, have you? You and your friends can still go there whenever you want-- you just can't light up. And for those who would be injured by your second-hand smoke, (and despite your denial, you do injure other people with your smoke) life is much better.

But on the bright side, you do get to display your martyr complex.

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