Monday, July 07, 2008

There's a smoking ban hearing tonight, and the words "workplace safety" will be uttered more than once.

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.


Or wrong?


Unknown said...

There has never been a single study showing that exposure to the low levels
of smoke found in bars and restaurants with decent modern ventilation and
filtration systems kills or harms anyone.

As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non-smokers
can be reached, through setting a quality standard and the use of modern
ventilation technology.

Air ventilation can easily create a comfortable environment that removes not
just passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious
contaminants that are independent from smoking.
Smoke from tobacco is a statistically insignificant health risk.
The vast majority of adults do no or very seldom patronize the hospitality industry on any given day.
Why should they have a voice on the issue that owners should or should not use or permit a legal product on 'private' property.

Thomas Laprade
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Ph. 807 3457258

Christopher D said...

I would like for "them" to produce and display LEGAL medical documentation of "victims" who have been diagnosed with illnesses/injuries that have been from a direct and unquestionable result of being exposed to SHS, or ETS,specifically from their working environments.
They triedm they were beaten, and now they come back with the sanme arguments, under different pretenses.

B.W. Smith said...

For what it's worth:

CDC Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet

Tommy2x4 said...

wonder why there's never a wait to be seated for the smoking area?!...hmmmm let me guess, becuase a majority of people don't smoke.

you can't put your nicotine addiction on hold for just one hour while you eat?! sheesh...

"Almost 8,000 people in Kentucky will lose their life due to tobacco related diseases."
-CDC MMWR 2006

also from the CDC
-440,000 Deaths from cigarette smoking related disease.
-Cancer 159,600
-Fetus and Infant Death 970
-2nd Hand Smoke 38,000
-Respiratory Disease 98,000
-Heart Disease 142,600

Nicotine is in the same drug class as Cocaine, Strychnine and Morphine.

Side Stream Smoke Contains over 4,000 toxins...that's the part that comes off the tip of the cigarette...

the evidence is out there Snowbird supporting the fact that 2nd hand smoke kills(period)

most people DON'T smoke. if an establisment would rather cater to the minority here, fine...but i'm pretty sure that in the end, business owners would rather have the majority happy in this case.

i just don't understand how educated people can debate on an issue so blatantly unhealthy like this.

John Alton said...

I'm a non-smoker, but I don't think a "bill" that only lets the council vote for and, if passed, dictate to people if they are allowed to smoke or not should even be considered. Instead, why not introduce the issue as a referendum, put it on the ballot for the next city elections, and allow the people to vote on it? This past weekend we celebrated our Freedoms, and to let a council just produce a "bill" ordering people, if passed, to stop smoking, is violating one of the basic Freedoms...the Freedom of Expression. In the last Council election, many, including myself, pushed for "change". This is the time to show a "change" that we all talked about by not just taking the stance of dictating to constituents, but by including them in the process, by putting this issue on the ballot and letting the People vote a ban in or out. This way, even if the ban would be voted in, it would be the decision of the majority of the People obtained in an open, fair election, and not something that was just introduced, and passed into law by the council.

Roger said...

Tommy, Snowbird is not the only one who thinks they can make the science go away with simple denials. There are over 1,000 studies that support harm from secondhand smoke, and here is a study that draws from many of those studies:

A short list of diseases caused by secondhand smoke include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, middle ear infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, heart disease, lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, low birthweight, asthma, and breast cancer in younger, pre-menopausal women.

So the smoke from the south end of a cigarette causes the same kinds of diseases as the smoke from the north end of a cigarette. And that's a fact that needs no science because a child can figure it out. Imagine that.

Tommy2x4 said...

i watched some of the reactions last night. a m a z i n g!!!

i think new albany should borrow the tag line "Keep Louisville Weird."

The New Albanian said...

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