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Should the Legislature pass a statewide smoking ban?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on March 1, 2005

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Photo of J. Roe

“No way. I don’t smoke, but it’s not fair to the business owners.”

Photo of Kell Sturgis

“I would say yes for employee health reasons. I guess they have the choice to work there, but they also have the right to breathe clean air.”

Photo of Troy Jarrett

“No, because a lot of business owners are losing money here. I think they profit more if people were able to smoke. I think every business should have a ventilated section, so people can smoke without offending nonsmokers.”

Photo of Courtney Grimwood

“Absolutely. I cannot stand indoor smoking. I have been happier and healthier since the smoking ban, and it makes me want to go out more.”

Comments

muteboy13 9 years, 9 months ago

Stop the Insanity! Stop the Smoking! It is bad for you and me! Keep the lung disease, dry skin, bad health, cancer causing sticks outside. Hell...stop smoking all together. It is bad for the environment. No smokers seem to be able to a) respect non-smokers b)walk the butts to the trash can 2 feet away c) respect their own health. Kick the habit and good luck to you all.

ive_got_my_ascot_n_my_dickie 9 years, 9 months ago

I propose a fart ban in public establishments. That's just as bad, perhaps worse, than smoking.

JHAWKGURL 9 years, 9 months ago

No WAY!!!! WHy should smoking be banned? Smokers have the same rights as everyone else....Lawrence is just weird....glad I moved.....

Jayhawk226 9 years, 9 months ago

...either way, a smoking ban for restaurants is a whole hell of a lot different that an official statewide smoking ban EVERYWHERE

jonas 9 years, 9 months ago

HKP: As you're drinking your beer, you say? As you're eating resteraunt food, you say? Well, as long as you're choosing to live cough healthily. . .

craigers 9 years, 9 months ago

I have thoroughly enjoyed the smoking ban and I think it would be awesome to go statewide. It would actually give us a chance to see how much it would hurt businesses to be non-smoking when the Kansas residents have no choice but to go to a non-smoking establishment. Oh yeah, a little alcohol once in a while is healthy actually. However a cigarette once in a while isn't. Ban smoking everywhere, not just Kansas. I figure if we are going to go for it, we might as well want it all.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 9 years, 9 months ago

Heck yes! I love the smoking ban! I no longer have to worry about going out for a beer and having to take a shower when I get home to get rid of the stench. Bars and restaurants are for booze and food. Period. I should have the right to go out for a beer (which is why bars exist) and not have to suffer, literally, because somebody else wants to have a beer and suck on a cancer stick.

Example: I went into Kansas City this past weekend. I haven't been out there since the smoking ban went into effect. I didn't realize how much of a difference it really makes. I felt nauseous and had some breathing difficulties. Obviously, it's bad for you or your body wouldn't make a person cough when they start smoking! You are causing harm to my body because of your poor choices which, if I'm not mistaken, is an infringement upon my rights.

So stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it...

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Our family is very pleased with the local smoking ban. We go out more frequently. The outdoor part of this new discussion will never see the light of day...it's DOA.

Jayhawk226 9 years, 9 months ago

I don't smoke and frankly, hate smoking...

...but let me guess--God must think smoking is a sin, and therefore this KS legislature will strongly consider a statewide smoking ban?!!?

  • Ban gambling
  • Ban Sunday liquor
  • Ban teaching of evolution
  • Ban gay "civil union"
  • Ban smoking?

Sometimes I feel after I moved here to KS that this state hasn't evolved, er...I mean, changed from the 1950s. I am embarassed to live in a "red state," but man....this is the red of the red!

jonas 9 years, 9 months ago

Crap, sorry bowhunter. That tag was supposed to be Bradhart.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

As far as drinking not being good for your health....in moderation it's just fine. In excess... of course not. However when one is drinking alcohol it does not affect anyone else in the bar. The ban has eliminated at least one form of pollution on the inside.

Since the ban movement we have been made keenly aware of the problems second hand smoke can cause for folks with respiratory ailments. The cancer risks are not something to mess with considering the pain, agony and money during treatment. Frequently the insurance companies will not stick by their patients which has forced many into bankruptcy. Doesn't seem worth it to me.

Then there are the few with exceptional genes who might not be affected by tobacco however until we die we don't know. I've always been curious how many tobacco executives do not smoke while encouraging others to do so.

Liberty 9 years, 9 months ago

It would be illegal for the State to try to pass a smoking ban. The State does not have that authority under the Constitution of Kansas. There would have to a statement specifically listed in the Kansas Constitution giving the State the authority from the people of Kansas and a smoking ban statement is not in the Kansas Constitution. The question is made to stir up the people against one another. It has no other valid or legal point.

Ember 9 years, 9 months ago

Banning smoking is the lastest in the current fashionable trend of jumping on bandwagons.

Remember back in the 70's it was DDT?

The 80's gave up the hubris over the CFC's in hair spray. Suprised they didn't try to ban hair metal because of that.

The 90's gave us gays in the military, but that ended up being overshadowed by Billy and his Willy.

I dare you some day to take a look at the math behind the this nonsense of how dangerous smoking is for you. Yeah, it's not good for you, but this is being fanned by fanatics who insist that it is their way or the highway. If you want, I'll be more than happy to post some of the basic math that really casts a lot of shadow over the statistics.

Oh, and a nationwide ban would incite riot against the government. If nothing else, big tobacco has enough pull that it will NEVER happen. Too many jobs and too much income comes from those fine folks.

wichita_reader 9 years, 9 months ago

Following up on Bowhunter's comments. My uncle has been a daytime bartender at a Lawrence establishment for the past 15 years. He works the lunch shift, so these numbers differ from dinner numbers, but he tells me overall lunch sales are down 30-40%. Is that crying wolf?

Anyone who has ever smoked regularly or known a smoker knows a smoke is enjoyable after a meal. Why would a smoker want to go pay $6-$10 for lunch at a restaurant/bar (where they can't smoke), when they can pay $4-$6 for lunch at a fast food franchise, when they can eat in the car and smoke?

squirrel857 9 years, 9 months ago

ok you non smokers ok you say that we voilate your rights, but what about ours. you made the choice not to smoke and we made the choice too. we smoke for the pure pleasure and to pee all non smokers off. you go in a bar a have a drink or 2, but thats not healthy for your body and its not healthy when u start your car up and drive home. no i don't drink but i smoke. so what . that dosen't mean i have the right to say close the bars. i don't think that we the ban, i think we need to give these non smokers there own little cell block off to the side.

wichita_reader 9 years, 9 months ago

I am not a smoker, but regardless I don't support smoking bans by the government. Right to smoke . . . right to breathe clean air . . . what about the business owner's right to operate their business in a manner of their choosing?

If a business owner chooses not to allow smoking in her or his establishment, that's great--I'll be more likely to eat and drink there. But like many posters have answered when this same substantive question has been asked in different form, it should be a business decision reserved to the private sector.

The part banning outdoor smoking is ludicrous. I'm aware of nothing in cigarette smoke that can't already be found in the "clean air" that so many want to breathe.

As to Liberty's post--I don't know if any laws banning smoking have been challenged, but if they haven't I'm sure they will be soon. I can envision them being upheld under a state's police powers, implicitly reserved to the states by the 10th Am. of the federal constitution, which trumps state constitutions.

Any thoughts?

BradHart 9 years, 9 months ago

There is a lot of confusion here...the so-called "ban" is not an overall ban on smoking. It is simply a law that requires a smoke-free environment in workplaces.

Today, we fly on airplanes, ride on trains, go to grocery stores, and go to movie theatres, all of which are smoke-free environments.

This is not about business rights; it's about health.

Think how silly the "business rights" argument is, anyway. Restaurants have many, many laws they must adhere to, from how and where they prepare food to fire codes governing how many people can be in one establishment. Are you suggesting we do away with laws that prevent rats from living in a restaurant's kitchen?

Those laws and regulations exist to protect both workers and patrons. The smoke-free law is no different. 100 years ago restaurant owners protested against the removal of spitoons in their establishments. Today, we know that diseases can be spread by spitting in and around food.

Finally, to the poster who suggests smoke doesn't kill, I'd like to introduce you to a friend who lost both parents to smoking-caused disease. And his mom was never a smoker. The only people who say smoking isn't harmul are tobacco executives.

BradHart 9 years, 9 months ago

That's nonsense, "Wichita reader." One example does not prove a point. For all we know, the chef may have changed there and the food got worse.

There are dozens of studies around the country that show smoke-free laws have no negative effect on bars and restaurants.

You would think if a smoking law were to hurt business anywhere, it would be in disgusting, dirty New York city. But the opposite is true there. I read an article that cited the Zagat's survey for NY that said business is doing better BECAUSE of the smoke-free law.

That survey looks at interviews with thousands of restaurant goers, not just one anecdotal example based on one bartenders "observations."

acg 9 years, 9 months ago

Oh really bowhunter? Well I'm a smoker and a partier, that spends quite a bit of $$ when I go out with friends to have a night of fun. Since the smoking ban I haven't been to Lawrence establishments once, and won't go back. I can think of a dozen friends off the top of my head that also haven't been to a single bar or club or restaurant (not counting fast food) in Lawrence since the ban was implemented. And that's not hurting their business? I have one friend who's a non smoker and she called me from a club in Lawrence the other night, a notoriously packed club, and said there were more people standing outside, smoking and not buying drinks, then there were in the club itself. Hmm, wonder what that means? I seriously can't wait until they ban something the do gooders care about. Then it will be a totally different story. They'll be screeching from the rooftops about the injustice of it all. What no one wants to discuss is how dangerous banning ANYTHING is, because no one knows where it stops. I'm, personally, am thoroughly offended by organized religion. I say we BAN THEM ALL!!!!

jonas 9 years, 9 months ago

I assume, Bowhunter, that your friend's dad was a smoker, then? So the question, as I see it, is: has anyone met or known someone who died from secondhand smoke who encountered it only in bars and resteraunts? It's a logical conundrum (I don't know if that's the right word, but I like it so I'm using it anyway). We have statistics for SHS deaths that are being used to push this ban, but there is no deliniation between secondhand smoke encountered through housemates or family (which would be a lot, on a day to day basis) and encountered in a bar or resteraunt (which would be much, much less, encountered on a far less regular basis, I would guess, or odd's are you'd die of obesity related problems first).

Second, in regards to health codes, etc, the comparison only goes so far. The dividing line is simply a case of known versus unknown risks. You are not allowed to go into the kitchen or food storage/prep areas of a resteraunt, so there is no way that patrons would be able to know, without safety codes, whether the environment they were entering into, or the substances they were ingesting were safe, or what the associated risks were. What if resteraunts were simply made to put signs up that truthfully showed the condition of their prep areas, or were made to have a visible kitchen that the customers could see for themselves? The result would be the same as the health codes (for that reason, I don't particularly advocate this particular idea) you can bet that if such was the case, they would have clean and healthy kitchens that passed any standards needed, or they would have no business.

Smoking in resteraunts is an entirely known risk. You know, from the second you see a sign on the door, or the ashtrays on the tables, what hazardous substances you will then choose to come in contact with. Thus, it's not about health at all, it's about want. You want to eat the food, you don't want to have to go somewhere else, and you don't want to have to ingest the smoke. You don't want to make any sacrifices, you want other people to make them instead.

pistachio 9 years, 9 months ago

LIBERTY: Whew! It took me about 3 tries before I managed to decipher what you were saying.

I'm not sure who misinformed you about the workings of state government, but...

It would NOT be illegal in any way for the Kansas legislature to pass a state-wide ban on smoking in places of employment. The legislature has the authority to pass such a bill, and it will be upheld unless it clearly violates the US Constitution or applicable Federal statutes. The "police power" of the state is just that: the right of the state to police whatever behaviors it deems necessary. THAT INCLUDES SMOKING. If you think I'm making this up, take a moment to think about why you can't buy liquor after 11pm, why you must be 21 to purchase it, why you must pass a vision test before getting your driver's license... these are all examples of LEGAL police-power regulations designed to aid the common good.

If you are that incensed about the possibility of a state-wide ban (keeping in mind that not every Kansan is gung-ho about the idea), write to your congressman.

wichita_reader 9 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Hart:

Generally, calling the opponent's argument nonsense won't earn you many points.

Which do you think carries more weight regarding the smoking ban's effect on Lawrence restaraunts and bars, 1.) a survey on the effect of a smoking ban on NYC restaraunts and bars, or 2.) testimony from a Lawrence bartender who can give a first-hand account of the effects of the smoking ban on his establishment's sales? I would argue that the NYC survey, although maybe tangentially relevant as to the effects of a smoking ban in restaraunts and bars in Lawrence, Kansas, carries much less weight on the topic.

It's not nonsense or "observations". I'm not an accountant, but I think it's called "sales," which show up on a computer, or maybe a computer printout and figure into "accounting".

It is about health. Health vs. Business. If you'll read my posts again, you'll see that I argue that in my opinion, the smoking bans will likely be upheld under the states' police powers, which allow a state to pass laws in order to protect the health and welfare of its citizens.

glide625 9 years, 9 months ago

I fully support the ban because I've seen the consequences in towns that have passed such laws; stand alone bars fold up. Large venues which attract younger crowds don't seem to be adversly affected. Restaurants typically see their bar busines dry up but are otherwise unaffected. The ultimate message is that if people want to enjoy themselves by smoking and drinking and enjoying the company of others, they can go somewhere else or stay home with friends. I'm a smoker and thats what I and my friends do and have done so volontarily because we no longer feel comfortable around non smokers in bars and restaurants, even where smoking is allowed. And....we're saving a boatload of money doing so.

italianprincess 9 years, 9 months ago

I'm a non-smoker, but don't fully agree with the whole ban.

I agree with a ban on smoking in resturants because smelling smoke while you eat is simply nasty.

As far as bars, night clubs that don't serve food - they should have been given the right to choose what they wanted for their own establishment.

Just my thoughts here.........

BradHart 9 years, 9 months ago

Wichita -- I was not intending to insult, so if you took it that way, I apologize. I was simply trying to point out that anecdotal evidence does not stand up to real research. That is what I meant by nonsense, not you personally.

I have come across many, many studies that look at exactly what you are talking about -- sales data. In every case, independent research has shown that smoke-free laws do not hurt business. This is all over the country -- CA, FL, NY and many cities in between.

But for me, that is just a bonus. This is NOT about health versus business; it is about health period. Fire codes cost businesses money. Sanitation costs businesses money. But we wouldn't suggest doing away with those just because they might reduce income. They are there to protect us.

MapMadeMind 9 years, 9 months ago

Jonas, thank you for making your point so well. I no longer feel the need to say the exact same thing (albeit in a less articulate way).

This is one time when I am glad to live in a red state...and these moments are few and far between.

Pointer 9 years, 9 months ago

Smoking Ban --- YES, TAX SMOKERS--YES --- whatever it takes to stop causing senseless health decline, STOP long term illness and STOP increased health care costs for non-smokers too! WE ALL PAY HUGE $ FOR THE CARELESS STUPIDITY OF SMOKERS. Allowing smokers is NOT a kindness to anyone.

cbuzz5832 9 years, 9 months ago

If we are to stop all things that are not healthy and that can easily be avoided then there are more things important than cigarette smoke.
How about red meat? Red meat can cause all sorts of problems and heart disease are the biggest cause of death in the U.S.
Eggs make people sick; get rid of them.
Chickens - better do away with them.
I am not saying do away with the ban, just change it. Don't smoke in resteraunts, fine. Bars - lets say after 10 pm. Partial smoking bans are called a compromise. I know people forgot about those.

dcjhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Yes, by all means ban smoking. Many of the local establishments here in DC, VA, and MD already ban smoking. It hasn't hurt the businesses at all.
Who wants to breathe someone else exhale of nasty smoke?

missmagoo 9 years, 9 months ago

I think it would be much better for Lawrence since the claim is that business is going to KC or Topeka but I don't support a state-wide smoking ban. You can't possibly legally consitute a bill that bans something perfectly legal, can you?!?

BradHart 9 years, 9 months ago

Jonas -- Yes there are many cases where a non-smoking worker got cancer or another smoking-related disease from a work environment. Remeber the stewardesses who successfully sued because they had to work on airlines when smoking was allowed.

As far as your comments on comparisions with other health standards, it seems as though you are a libertarian at heart, which I can both respect and understand. In most cases, I am fairly conservative on business issues.

But in this case, this is entirely a health issue. The reason businesses cannot decide which health regulations to adhere to and which to ignore is because to do so would present a threat. It's not about letting the market decide, it's about basic standards of protections for workers and patrons.

It's not like the state is deciding what color tablecloths restaurants have to use or what type of wood to make the bar out of.

This is about protecting workers who have to breathe in smoke for hours on end, and patrons who visit the establishments. Did you know that if you have heart disease, you're risk for a heart attack increases dramatically even after 30 minutes of exposure to smoke? Many kids with severe asmtha can't go to a restaurant, even if they are in the non-smoking section because of the fear of a serious attack.

For everyone who is swearing off going to bars now that the law is in place, have you also sworn off movie theaters or airplanes? Do you refuse to go shopping at the supermarket?

Everyone should have the right to decide if they want to smoke. But everyone should also have the right to work in and visit public places without risking their health.

spongiform 9 years, 9 months ago

This is an attempt to further stigmatize smoking and push it to the fringes of our society; not unlike illegal drug use. I'm all for the ban, cause those little things are so addictive. I'll bet tobacco will be as illegal as cocaine withing 50 years.

Ember 9 years, 9 months ago

Yes, let's do away with smoking. It's a vile, nasty habit that benefits no one, except for those of us who have children in school, drive on paved roads, enjoy the parks and recreational facilities, and other such community services.

A smoking ban can effect the following list of generalized businesses:

Restaurants Bars Entertainment Venues Gas Stations Grocery Stores Retail Cigarette Stores

Adding all of those up in just Lawrence gives you roughly 72-75% of all the prevalent businesses on that short list.

Restaurants will increase prices if they continue to lose any bar business.

The 10% tax on all single serving alcoholic beverages in this city will vanish if just half of the stand alone bars fold.

A lower amount of cigarette sales in gas stations, retail cigarette stores and grocery stores will force an increase of prices, plus reduce the amount of funds in the city and state coffers.

Would you rather property taxes increased about 25% to offset the loss of those funds?

It really comes down to an issue of money, as do most things in this country. Can we, as a city or as a state, afford to lose any more money than we already have?

The state of Kansas is in a budget crisis, and has been for a while now. Do you honestly think that less money will cure this problem?

Face it, you benefit from cigarettes, or at least the sale of them.

"An estimated 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are not current smokers" - American Cancer Society.

"the number of deaths has remained at or above 700,000 per year." - Center for Disease Control

0.05% of the estimated deaths per year are from second hand smoke.

0.05%??

This is what has you up in arms? Oh, for the love of mudd, get a grip on reality. You have a better chance of choking to death on a Big Mac than you do from dying of heart disease from second hand smoke.

Face it, it's just not a big killer.

You want a big killer, how about obesity. Obesity is the largest killer in this country, pun not intended. Let's do something about that, like, oh I don't know, get up from in front of the TV, turn off American Idol, and go for a walk. What a quaint idea.

How about stopping McDonald's from being the 5th food group? Huh? Think we can do that?

Stop and think just a little bit. I know it has to be a strain, but eventually, you will have to.

Just look at the numbers and divide the smaller number by the bigger number. That will give you the percentage of any of these statistics you want to use. Just look at the numbers, and do the simple math. More people are killed every year from falling off their house while jumping rope, more than likely.

It's not a big deal. It's not all that dangerous. Hell, do some researching on just some of the preservatives in your food. That should scare you more than a cigarette ever should.

Jim Fisher 9 years, 9 months ago

A while ago I was at an establishment informally known as the North Lawrence Country Club on a Friday for the lunch buffet. The place was filled to the gills, the line out the door. As the place is outside city limits, smoking was allowed, but one would not have known unless you actually saw a patron in the act of smoking. A person at the table next to me was, but as best that I could tell is there was some high-powered ventilation system working, cleaning the air. A perfect example of what can be done, given the circumstances. I am an ex-smoker, you know, the worst kind. But after 26 years of it,it was time to quit. I set a date and just quit, but I just sometimes had to go to a smoky bar to get my second-hand nicotine fix. If I didn't have that opportunity, who knows, maybe my quitting may not have been successful. My job takes me out of town often, my joke is 'I go out more often in Independence, Ks more than Lawrence'. But, never have not gone into a place just because there was smoking allowed there. I guess what I want to say is owners should be allowed to run their businesses as they see fit, and people should be allowed to make the choice to patronize the places they want to. Until the powers that be come to their senses and not make these choices for ourselves, please keep your messes off the sidewalk.

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