The mercifully retired King Larry K. couldn’t conjure the legislative energy necessary to extinguish the flames, so now it’s up to a newly configured council to bizarrely ignore more pressing items of business – of which there are literally dozens – and consider anew an indoor smoking ban, a topic that runs second only to abortion in transforming otherwise placid individuals into rhetorical Tasmanian devils.
New Albany City Council to discuss possible smoking ban, by Daniel Suddeath (News and Tribune).
A topic that usually drives high emotions on each side of the issue, the New Albany City Council will tackle the idea of implementing a smoking ban during a public hearing Monday.
Readers, do any of you have a feeling about what the county might do if such a city ordinance came into being? Would a matching ordinance be enacted? If not, would there be mass nicotine flight to smoking lounges established in suburbs and exurbs just outside the city’s boundaries, or by New Age squatters amid the opulent villas of the foreclosure-plagued Woods of Lafayette?
I can see the hand-lettered signs now (and most of them illegally erected):
Smoke free or die
Bubba’s ciggies and fireworks
Smoke ‘n’ swill @ “My Cold Dead Hand” air conditioned lounge
But, seriously … readers, please note that if you are planning on attending this hearing, and if you are opposed to the idea of an indoor smoking ban, you should carefully peruse this passage of the Tribune article for strategic guidance:
“This survey shows that the people of Floyd County overwhelmingly support a smoke-free workplace law for the city of New Albany that covers all workplaces,” stated Meribeth Adams-Wolf, Floyd County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation member, in a news release.
Ms. Adams-Wolf is referring to a “poll conducted recently by the Survey Research Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (in which) 68 percent of adults in Floyd County said they would support a universal smoking ban in New Albany.”
I’m not sure what the margin of error was in the survey. It doesn’t matter; instead, pay close attention to the language used in the news release. It is not a coincidence that the word “workplace” is deployed twice, because the gist of the anti-smoking lobby’s numerous successes of late is its ability to define the issue not as a personal liberties debate, but as a question of workplace safety.
Why? That's easy. Because when it comes to workplace safety, American society has long accepted a tradeoff, in the sense that personal liberties are fair game for modification when one is on the job.
Chronic smokers suffer from shortness of breath, so don’t waste what little remains by arguing about your rights and freedoms. Rather, your rebuttals must come in the form of documented refutation of the dangers of second-hand smoke in the atmosphere of the workplace -- and the workplace alone. Diatribes about liberty are appreciated in their time and place. They are also irrelevant to the discussion that is about to occur, so don't make it easy on the proponents. Make them work for it.
As such, perhaps at-large councilman John Gonder is waxing prophetic in Sunday's Tribune article.
Gonder feels most residents will want an all or nothing ruling. Though Louisville has banned smoking across the board, Jeffersonville still allows it in bars.
“If people are going to insist on an all or nothing approach, it’s pretty much going to set the stage for a nothing approach,” said Gonder, who doesn’t think the council would ban smoking for every type of establishment.
Gonder may be right, but for the wrong reason. In terms of logic, it’s all very simple.
As I wrote some months back, if the premises of the anti-smoking bloc are correct, and "there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke", then there should be absolutely no exceptions. If the premises are incorrect, there should be no ordinance. Gradualism and exceptions are meaningless; it should be all, or nothing at all, or else it’s an exercise in hypocrisy.
Naturally, you can expect plenty of patented council dithering, starting with inevitable exemptions for the VFW and American Legion as “private clubs” (ones bound by all other prevailing regulatory laws and workplace safety rules), maybe including bars (can’t wait for the council's new extralegal definition for them), and finally, some way for Kaiser’s Tobacco to be granted an exception.
Come to think of it, Kaiser's deserves a grandfather clause. Any business that has cheated death for 175 years probably should be given a pass.