Give it time

It’s way too soon to declare Kansas’ statewide smoking ban a failure.

December 22, 2010


Kansas legislators discussed and examined various statewide smoking ban proposals for years before approving such a ban in the 2010 session. The law they passed has been in effect only six months. It’s way too soon to declare it a failure.

Last week, Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, announced that she will promote a bill that repeals the ban that took effect on July 1 prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces and other indoor public spaces. The ban, she says, has been hard on business, especially the bar business.

Her plan is to replace the current law with a statewide law that mirrors a Wichita city ordinance that allows smoking in businesses that pay a fee and build separate rooms with special ventilation systems. However, Landwehr’s plan not only ignores the proven health hazards of smoking and secondhand smoke, but it is also unfair to many of the businesses she supposedly is trying to help.

Large chain restaurants and drinking establishments would be far more likely to have the space and financial means to pay the smoking fee and build a separate ventilated space. As one Lawrence bar owner pointed out, meeting the Wichita ordinance’s requirements to allow smoking would be unrealistic for his business and most other small establishments. If allowing smoking gives a business a competitive advantage, the Wichita law would give an unfair advantage to larger businesses.

The impact of a smoking ban on businesses has been debated in Lawrence ever since a city ordinance instituting such a ban went into effect in 2004. Sales tax receipts have been used as evidence that the ban hasn’t hurt local bars and restaurants, but some owners say otherwise. In the highly competitive Lawrence bar scene, it’s hard to know how much of a business swing to blame on the smoking ban and how much might be attributed to other factors.

For a great many Lawrence residents and visitors the city’s smoking ban has been a welcome change. Whatever impact it has had on local businesses has to be weighed against the health benefits of eliminating secondhand smoke. There’s also the possibility that business at some local establishments has actually improved because patrons appreciate a smoke-free environment.

Landwehr makes a valid point that state legislators were hypocritical in exempting state-owned casinos from the smoking ban, but a better way to solve that problem is to include the casinos, not drop the rest of the ban.

Lawrence’s experience has shown that, despite some initial concerns, a law that bans smoking in most public places can work. Legislators need to give the statewide ban a chance.


cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

I don't smoke and consider individual smoking unhealthy. As for "second-hand smoke," however, I have observed for years that because of the absolute ubiquity of cigarette smoking in the '40s, '50s, and '60s, virtually every baby boomer alive today was literally bathed in tobacco smoke of one kind or another from infancy on, and there's no evidence whatsoever that all of that exposure to "second-hand smoke" hurt any of them. If a significant number of them had died from their exposure to "second-hand smoke" during the first two decades of their lives we wouldn't be facing the national fiscal crisis we presently face as to how to take care of all of them over the next 30 years.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

You don't die in the first two decades from it, any more than cigarette smokers do.

However, having grown up in a smoking household, I can say that it had a definite effect on my respiratory system.

Let's just hope it doesn't show up later on as lung cancer, which my mother died from, or an aneurysm, which my father died from.

Fossick 7 years, 5 months ago

It's not too late for them to start smoking now. SocSec can still be saved for their grandchildren.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

Jafs, that isn't what I said. My point was that after three solid decades of growing up around virtually constant, intense "second-hand" exposure to cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke, there's no evidence that such exposure has in any way decimated a generation that is still the most populous we've ever seen. Bear in mind that the very youngest "baby boomers" are now 46 years old, and the oldest are 64.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 5 months ago

The matter is complicated by the significant decline in smoking rates. As fewer people smoke themselves, cancer rates have declined. It is not at all clear from that decline, however, that harm from second hand smoke did not ocur.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

Never try to convince a liberal with common sense. They have none.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

Sorry - I misread the first two decades reference.

But, does it have to kill you to be bad for your health? What if it just causes chronic problems or contributes to a general decline of your immune system? Or creates a weakness and susceptibility to respiratory infections?

Is it ok if I do something that hurts you but doesn't kill you? Punching someone in the face doesn't kill them, generally.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

If you have scientific evidence that a majority of the baby boomers I've cited have suffered a general decline in their immune systems or are overly susceptible to respiratory infections, I'd like to see it.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

I haven't done such a study.

Do you think it's reasonable to conclude that breathing in cigarette smoke which contains carcinogenic substances for twenty years has no effect on one's health?

If so, why?

And, if you feel like taking the time, I suppose you could search the web for studies on the subject. As somebody who grew up in a smoking household, I know first-hand that exposure to all of that smoke affected my health, so I feel no need to look for studies.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

Well, it didn't affect mine or that of any of the other non-smokers I know who were bathed in tobacco smoke from infancy on. Again, while smoking tobacco products is clearly unwise, if second-hand smoke were as dangerous as some people claim then half of all baby boomers would be dead or disabled by now.

jafs 7 years, 5 months ago

That's an illogical conclusion.

People smoke until they're quite old before dying from lung cancer.

There's no reasonable reason to conclude that second hand smoke, if dangerous, would kill or disable anybody faster than smoking does.

The proposition that one can breathe in carcinogens for twenty years, during one's formative years especially, without any harm is simply not reasonable as well - using your "common sense" criteria.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 5 months ago

Jafs, I'm still waiting for you to show me the specific harm to any of the bathed-in-tobacco-smoke baby boomers whom I've described. Statistics from a reputable scientific source (not Al Gore, please) will be fine.

emceelean 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm inclined to agree with Philip Morris and other tobacco conglomerates in their assessment that second-hand smoke is, in fact, a serious detriment to a person's health.

Review the racketeering case from a decade back.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 5 months ago

My compromise: Smokers can smoke in restaurants, but non-smokers get to spit in their food.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Removing the smoking ban will provide the medical insurance industry another opportunity to increase their rates. This industry believes tobacco smoke does endanger health thus creating the need to treat one of the most expensive diseases aka cancer.

Dumb politics and dumb economics.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 5 months ago

Removing the ban will not be an attraction to new industry. It will cost all employers located in Kansas more money for medical insurance.

Liberty275 7 years, 5 months ago

Government infringement on private property rights is always a failure.

Sheila Martin 7 years, 5 months ago

Let Lawrence keep their smoking ban. If it's working for you, terrific. Businesses are closing across Kansas. Adults only businesses. Outside of Lawrence, long term small TAX PAYING businesses, are trying to survive until we can get this matter fixed. I have done my own meta analysis study, (just as scientific as the ones done by the pharma grant funded school marm nannies) and the result is that 100% of people who own small businesses feel they have a right to decide WHOM they wish to cater to. If no one wants to come in due to smoke, the owner will decide what he/she wishes to do about it. It's called the free market. Perhaps you have heard of it? All these businesses are perfectly willing to post signs on all entrances which will notify the public that smoking is allowed. If you are so addicted to second hand smoke, that you feel you are forced to enter, then perhaps a different sort of analysis is needed! You may rest assured that businesses who wish to allow smoking, do not want YOU to enter, anymore than YOU want to enter them. So, get over your fine self, and go on down the road to a place that fits what you want, and try real hard to leave others in peace! You grant spongers up at KU will still get your money from nicotine replacement to produce your slanted science, and the little bars and their friends and families and customers will pay their bills and find some small enjoyment in this otherwise fairly dull existence. Can't we all get along, little doggie? No? Against your grantors' demands? Well, perhaps so many Kansas schools and politicos should not be taking the money from nicotine replacement for all this garbage.

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