October 12, 2004

IT WORKED FOR CAPONE

AAP reports:

State governments in Victoria and New South Wales today unveiled plans to go smoke-free in pubs, clubs and licensed premises within three years.

In related news, underworld identity Tim Blair today contemplated the millions he will earn from a chain of smokeasies he plans to open within three years.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 12, 2004 01:55 PM
Comments

We have several in NYC. They are now some of the most crowded bars around.

Posted by: Dave at October 12, 2004 at 02:04 PM

The pubs in Ireland are rebelling outright against the ban.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at October 12, 2004 at 02:06 PM

Nanny government again. I don't smoke, but if people want to suck on tobacco, feel free to do so. I'll just go outside, or to another establishment.

Free enterprise is so simple.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 12, 2004 at 02:16 PM

One wonders why, given smoking bans, smokers are apparently able to congregate in special places in sufficient numbers, but given a lack of a smoking ban, non-smokers aren't capable of doing the same.

Seriously, don't tell me there wouldn't be at least one smoke-free bar that advertises as such in any mid-sized city...IF the demand was there. Since that's apparently not always the case, I'm forced to conclude that the demand for smoking bans is probably much larger than the demand for smoke-free bars.

(No, I don't smoke, but blanket bans are just ridiculous.)

Posted by: PW at October 12, 2004 at 02:19 PM

Question to Bracks: Is the health of the staff in the Crown Casino "high rollers" room less important than the health of my staff? Or if the staff at high rollers are safe, why cannot I be allowed to install similar technology in MY pub? (P.S. my clientele is forming into an angry mob, & suspicions are that they may come at night for Bracks et al with flaming torches & howling dogs!)

Posted by: Steve at the pub at October 12, 2004 at 02:35 PM

"similar AIR FILTRATION technology" (preview would be my friend too)

Posted by: Steve at the pub at October 12, 2004 at 02:36 PM

Well we will all have to go to Holland where smoking tobacco is banned but smoking pot is allowed!
ireland BAA! they even have no smoking sign at the bottom of public swiming pools.
No Nimbin will be tha place when the time comes.

Posted by: davo at October 12, 2004 at 03:10 PM

Don't be harsh on the ALP for this.If they can't save us by eliminating passive smoking,what is left for them to do?Lefties will be reduced to adjudicating between children playing tiddly winks.

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 12, 2004 at 03:23 PM

Freedom versus health, litter-free streets etc.
Sorry, the second option wins hands down.

Also, do smokers realise (because they think they look cool) that smoking is akin to fornicating with goats?
Both of them are equally cool...

I especially find young people with ciggies revolting. The data, linking smoking with every sort of ugly diseases, has been around for decades.
With this level of awareness they belong with the Greens or the Socialist Alliance.

Posted by: CiggieHater at October 12, 2004 at 03:46 PM

Maybe the smokeasies can open up next door to the sweeteasies.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at October 12, 2004 at 03:58 PM

What is left for people to do with their hands and mouths other than EAT?

I ask statisticians to investigate the correlation between rising *obesity* and the popular decline in smoking.

People used to be able to stave off hunger, take their minds off food, by smoking. It was part of the culture for centuries and contributed to a balance of activities we took for granted. Taking it away, in less than a generation, surely has unforseen consequences *for our health*.

The fallacy is to think it is a zero-sum game, that smoking, or drinking, is just a self-contained modular part of our life which can be dropped. Wrong. Centuries of cultural practices form an interrelated whole. If this is true for Trobriand Islanders, is not also for us 'moderns'?

Posted by: Om at October 12, 2004 at 04:00 PM

If tobacco is so bad, it should be banned. Shouldn't it Mr Bracks? It wouldn't cost you anything, would it Mr Bracks? 18-carat hypocrite. Tim, you'd sell buttleg at your smokeasy?

Posted by: slatts at October 12, 2004 at 04:00 PM

Gubbaboy Are you kidding? Excessive playing of tiddlywinks can cause unhealthy bone curvature in young thumbs! You must report this activity immediately!

Posted by: richard mcenroe at October 12, 2004 at 04:05 PM

Bring on the ban!

I can live with "smoke-easies" (morons crowded together killing each other, yay).
I endure hell with the current imposition of smoke.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 04:05 PM

They want to blame McDonalds for obesity.

The real cause of obesity is smoking bans.

In the future those suffering obesity illness will sue the anti-smoking campaigners.

Posted by: Om at October 12, 2004 at 04:09 PM

I've noticed some people here actually agree with the smoking bans. What's wrong with the owner of the business deciding on what type of clientele they want to cater for. Surely the owner of the premises has that right. If they want to cater for a smoking clientele then good for them. If you're a non-smoker and you have objections then don't go in. Really, what is unreasonable about this?

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 04:22 PM

Richard Mcenroe
My bad.
I will take myself off for re-education.

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 12, 2004 at 04:50 PM

Smokers currently have a monopoly. After the ban, they'll always be able to go to "smoke-easies", they just won't be able to inflict their lethal filth on others.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 04:51 PM

Issues like this always cause problems for me - as I usually fall on the side of libertarianism, and despise most forms of government intervention. That said, I look forward to smoking bans, and would not weep at the end to smoking altogether.

To all those who maintain their right to smoke, I also maintain my right not to have to subsidise your health care. The ill effects of smoking (both directly and in causing related complications) are well known. Someone can smoke a pack a day for 30 years, and they will pay the same health insurance premium, and have the same access to subsidised health care, as a non-smoker.

There is also the issue of workers. In a perfect market, a 'smokers club' would have to pay a higher wage to attract staff, to compensate them for the increased risk of dying that they would face. Unfortunately, it isn't a perfect market, and most pub/club workers are young people, often students, with limited employment options (try finding good jobs that will fit around uni hours) They are forced to work at these places, for shitty wages, and suck in second hand smoke for hours on end.

Cheers

Posted by: attila at October 12, 2004 at 04:52 PM

>"Smokers currently have a monopoly. After the ban, they'll always be able to go to "smoke-easies", they just won't be able to inflict their lethal filth on others."

Not being a smoker I can't speak with first hand experience, but I would say smokers hardly have a monopoly. Smoking is unfashionable, politically incorrect and already outlawed in many places. They're even banning it in open air public places such as beaches here in Sydney.

But fine, public spaces are one thing. We wouldn't question a smoker lighting up in their own home, because that's their property. Why do we question a business owner who wants to provide for a smoking clientele? You say that smokers will always have "smokeeasies", and non-smokers just won't go to them. Fine. Why can't the "smokeeasy" be a restaurant or bar?

I find it interesting that people who read this type of blog would be so keen to force their morality on others. Its up to the business owner if they want to sell fatty steaks and chips instead of health food, or a club owner who wants to play their music really loud instead of soft and 'hearing-safe'. If you don't like it then don't go to the venue.

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 05:17 PM

Banning smoking in pubs I may accept. Banning it in clubs impinges upon freedom of association.

I believe there is a Amerindian religion that uses tobacco ceremonially. Call your smoke-easies places of worship and the constitution will protect you. Also, in Victoria, anyone criticising your business religion gets a short stay in prison.

Posted by: 2dogs at October 12, 2004 at 05:44 PM

I'm yet to go to a club or bar where smoking wasn't permitted. I stand by the monopoly comment. Restaurants even give smokers the better seating arrangements, they can sit and smoke outside, whereas non-smokers are forced to remain inside. I'm all for freedom, but let's be clear: smoking impinges on other people, without their consent.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 05:44 PM

It is always an exercise in line drawing. Which drugs do we ban, and where, and which do we allow? Not as a wind up, but who of the pro-smokers here would also support decriminilisation of drugs? If so, which ones, and of the ones you wouldn't, why not?

Posted by: attila at October 12, 2004 at 05:54 PM

I'm yet to go to a club or bar where smoking wasn't permitted. I stand by the monopoly comment.

So why is it a "monopoly"? (The misuse of the term makes this econ student's ears bleed btw, but anyway...) If there are so goshdarn many non-smokers who would like nothing better than a smoke-free bar, why is nobody catering to them? Sounds like a huge untapped market to me. But there's that pesky "if" two sentences back, isn't there.

As I said, I don't smoke, and yeah, a non-smoking bar every once in a while would be nice. But it's not terribly high on my list of priorities, and neither on most anybody else's, it seems. Getting the government involved does seem to be ranking higher, though. I wonder why that is. Can't really be the health aspect alone, or there would be more non-smokers lobbying individual businesses to go smoke-free, rather than trying to offload that job to the government.

Posted by: PW at October 12, 2004 at 06:18 PM

>"but who of the pro-smokers here would also support decriminilisation of drugs."

I would support decriminalisation of drugs. Definintely marijuana and 'party drugs'. I don't know much about the harder drugs but I would probably decriminalise them as well. I believe that the benefits of decriminalisation would outweigh the cost of policing, prosecuting and jailing users and pushers. It would deny organised crime a revenue source and it would allow the substance to be regulated and taxed. In the case of party drugs I'm fairly sure that a regulated drug bought from say, a pharmacy, would be safer for the user. Just like tobacco I would support a 'health tax' on these substances to cover the public cost of health care. And of course private insurance companies could make their own rules with regards to their clients using these things.

And to Dave I would say denying a business owner the right to conduct his/her business as they see fit is impinging on their rights. In public buildings, and public transport, even in public outdoor spaces I can agree that smoking will impinge on a non-smokers right to clean air at some stage. But some people will choose smokey air! And the bar/club owner has a right to provide this on their own property!

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 06:28 PM

>"but who of the pro-smokers here would also support decriminilisation of drugs."

I would support decriminalisation of drugs. Definintely marijuana and 'party drugs'. I don't know much about the harder drugs but I would probably decriminalise them as well. I believe that the benefits of decriminalisation would outweigh the cost of policing, prosecuting and jailing users and pushers. It would deny organised crime a revenue source and it would allow the substance to be regulated and taxed. In the case of party drugs I'm fairly sure that a regulated drug bought from say, a pharmacy, would be safer for the user. Just like tobacco I would support a 'health tax' on these substances to cover the public cost of health care. And of course private insurance companies could make their own rules with regards to their clients using these things.

And to Dave I would say denying a business owner the right to conduct his/her business as they see fit is impinging on their rights. In public buildings, and public transport, even in public outdoor spaces I can agree that smoking will impinge on a non-smokers right to clean air at some stage. But some people will choose smokey air! And the bar/club owner has a right to provide this on their own property!

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 06:29 PM

I'm quite well aware of the meaning of monopoly, as I know ancient greek. I was not using the term in any technical sense. Words have more than one meaning and can have associated meanings too, you know. My case or argument is emphatically not an economic one, in any event. As 10% (and falling) of the population smokes, I find your comments about there not being many non-smokers somewhat strange. It's not "high" on my priority list, but the issue has come up (because it is high on people who know something about health's priority list) and I judge accordingly.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 06:37 PM

"But some people will choose smokey air! And the bar/club owner has a right to provide this on their own property!"

The air is not just "smokey" it is toxic.

Do bar/club owners have the right to provide toxic food or to injure his patrons? No, there are laws against it. Can food distributors provide poor sanitary arrangements? They will be closed down. It is an impingement on their freedom. Certainly, long may it continue!

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 06:48 PM

PW & Michael, what is your response to the arguments regarding the impact on staff at smoking venues?

Posted by: attila at October 12, 2004 at 06:53 PM

i work in pubs and clubs and i'll be happier/healthier when smoking's finally phased out in these places. if you've got a problem with that maybe i can show up at your workplace with a gutfull of piss and blow cigar smoke all over you while you try to work...

Posted by: rosceo at October 12, 2004 at 07:11 PM

"i work in pubs and clubs and i'll be happier/healthier when smoking's finally phased out in these places."

here's an idea: get a different job!

Posted by: samkit at October 12, 2004 at 07:18 PM

David - Everything is dangerous, it is the degree of risk that is the issue. A store owner can still sell fatty food to an obese person, or a club owner provide a loud band that some people would consider aurally dangerous. It is up to the individual to decide what risk is acceptable to them, and what their personal risk/benefit ratio is. Some people consider the risk of toxic air from cigarette smoke to be perfectly acceptable, and that's their business. On regulation, we need laws that limit deceptive behaviour by a business owner, and I accept laws that limit the extremes of dangerous behaviour. A smoking bar does not meet these extremes, as reflected by the 10% of the population who smoke.

Attila - The staff are not forced to work there. They know it is a smoking venue when they start work, and if they don't like it then find alternative employment. If the employer can't get enough staff to work for them they will make arrangements to provide for clean air, or they will go out of business. The business exists to provide a service. If that service is say, a smoking bar, then staff have to accept that a smoking environment is part of the job. Incidentally the easiest way to deal with this is the provision of a basic income to everyone through negative income tax, that allows people to leave this sort of employment and force the employer to provide a suitable working environment. But thats another discusssion :). Of course, some people would be perfectly happy to accept this risk for higher pay!

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 07:22 PM

Well thank heavens its only the smoke that's dangerous.

Nicotinoid compounds are used as a broad-spectrum pest insecticide on crops, in seed treatment, animal stockfeeds, and as a flea-control treatment. It even has a role in munitions formulations amongst others.

The producers of these products go to great lengths to assure us that Nicotinoid compounds have a low toxicity effect on humans.

Funny that, innit?

Posted by: Anabel at October 12, 2004 at 07:44 PM

Someone can smoke a pack a day for 30 years, and they will pay the same health insurance premium, and have the same access to subsidised health care, as a non-smoker.

Smokers contribute much, much more to the public purse than non-smokers. Given that fact it seems only fair that they should get something back in the way of subsidised health care when and if they need it.

Rabid anti-smokers are often fitness freaks. You can do a lot of damage to yourself with all that exercise; fractures, ruptured tendons, clogged kidneys, heat stroke, torn cartilages, haggard facial expressions and so on. Some of these can kill you. All of them cost a lot to treat and all are entirely self-inflicted. I'd have no pity except that I think that what motivates many is fear of death.

Posted by: Janice at October 12, 2004 at 07:48 PM

err samkit, maybe people could stop smoking while i'm trying to work? ask any musician or singer if they appreciate people smoking at indoor gigs...

Posted by: rosceo at October 12, 2004 at 07:49 PM

>"i work in pubs and clubs and i'll be happier/healthier when smoking's finally phased out in these places. if you've got a problem with that maybe i can show up at your workplace with a gutfull of piss and blow cigar smoke all over you while you try to work..."

err Rosceo, if you work in pubs and clubs isn't your job to facilitate clients getting a gut full of piss? And if its a smoking venue then also to provide somewhere people can blow cigar smoke?

I work in the military. I'll be a lot happier/healthier when people stop expecting me to do risky things like go to wars and such. (Somehow I think most people would suggest I get another job if I don't like the risk).

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 07:58 PM

I am lost, where is the Mem Fox re education gulag?

Posted by: gubbaboy at October 12, 2004 at 08:03 PM

"David - Everything is dangerous, it is the degree of risk that is the issue. A store owner can still sell fatty food to an obese person, or a club owner provide a loud band that some people would consider aurally dangerous."

A fat guy buying a cake doesn't hurt me, he willingly hurts himself. I'm being forced to eat a toxic "cake" at pubs and clubs - and 'forced' because the owners/sellers (polai) are solely (mono-) providing smoke infested venues.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 08:16 PM

David, if the venue doesn't suit you then don't go into it.

>"'forced' because the owners/sellers (polai) are solely (mono-) providing smoke infested venues."

That's because the majority of the people want it that way. Don't worry, if a business owner sees a market for a smoke free environemt they'll be trying to capitalise on it in a flash. That, or they'll go out of business. (Incidenatlly, I find this hard to believe. I know a lot of pubs that have smoke free areas.) Why are you forced anyway, do you need a drink that badly? Find an alternative course of action that you like. Why should the 'smoke infested venue' owner forgo the majority of his clientele so you can be happy?

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 08:30 PM

he he! i get all of your very salient points. i'll just keep sucking up that secondhand smoke in the workplace, get lung cancer, go to hospital for treatment (which you'll all pay for) then die. then my children can sue my employer for providing an unsafe workplace (which you'll all pay for). you're losing the arguement guys! smoking in bars aint gonna be around much longer...

Posted by: rosceo at October 12, 2004 at 08:34 PM

"That's because the majority of the people want it that way."

Actually, the last survey I saw indicated that the majority of people support bans on smoking in pubs and clubs. Bring on democracy.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 08:35 PM

Actually, the last survey I saw indicated that the majority of people support bans on smoking in pubs and clubs.

I would agree that an overwhelming majority of non-smokers support it. Hell, I wouldn't mind having non-smoking drinking places, however...

Posted by: Quentin George at October 12, 2004 at 08:50 PM

>"Actually, the last survey I saw indicated that the majority of people support bans on smoking in pubs and clubs. Bring on democracy."

Hey I'm all for it. Generally though I believe the market is pretty much sensitive to the public need. Service providers have a good incentive to get it right; they'll go broke if they don't.

Funny thing though, on the news just two nights ago was the head of a club industry association. He was saying smoking bans are bad for club business, and all the clubs of his association should expect a drop in income when the bans come in. Maybe he just doesn't have any idea about the type of people who go to clubs!

Then there is the further, perhaps more important, principle. If someone wants to set up a business, even to cater for a niche market, why shouldn't they be able to? And why shouldn't the potential customers have someone catering for their needs, if someone is willing to. Why does it have to be a venue that has your approval? No one is forcing people to use it. Don't you think the public should have this kind of choice?

Hey Rosceo, that seems like a pretty typical response of a whinger wanting a handout. Refuse to take responsibility for your actions and then sue 'cause it's so unfair. If you are concerned your employment is affecting your health then change jobs or at least make other arrangements with your employer.

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 12, 2004 at 09:26 PM

"ask any musician or singer if they appreciate people smoking at indoor gigs..."

Be prepared to dodge the cigarette smoke coming out of the cigarette permanently glued to the singer or musician's lip. I haven't met anyone in the music business who didn't smoke like a chimney.

By the way, after smoking is banned at all indoor venues, be prepared to go through a nicotine smog and step over mountains of crushed cigarette-ends as you are heading from the parking lot to the door of your favcrite club, business, or restaurant. Unless smoking is banned altogether, in which case I hope you don't mind slipping in gobs of tobacco-spittle as you walk down the street.

In a perfect world no one would smoke nasty substances or eat fatty food that made them the size of a city bus or imbibe garlic and get on crowded trains or wear lots of perfume and get on elevators. Unfortunately, we do not live in that perfect world.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 12, 2004 at 09:52 PM

This is absolute fucking bullshit. If there's going to be such a flood of profit from non-smokers suddenly realising they really want to go to smoke-free bars - why don't some smoke-free bars open, for christs' sake?

If bar workers don't like smoke, simple - they can get a different job.

All those people complaining that smokers don't have a right to the same health care as non-smokers:

1. We pay at LEAST $50 a week in tax under the cigarette tax scheme here and

2. What about people who drink, people who are fat, people who go out in the sun too much, people who participate in extreme or physically dangerous sports like rugby .. the list goes on and on. It's a slippery slope down that path. Can you honestly say you do nothing - NOTHING - that could possibly increase your risk of any known ailment? If so, you are officially the most boring wowser ever born.

Seriously, if I can't smoke in a bar, i won't go to bars. This kind of shit makes me want to move to another country. Who fucking runs this country? My grandmother? People are fighting and dying in Iraq, Indonesian Muslims get more militant by the day but hey! I have the solution to everything - let's ban fucking smoking in pubs!

My grandfather didn't fight in the war for this shit!!!

Posted by: Sho at October 12, 2004 at 09:58 PM

Screw the market taking its sensitive natural course and slowly overthrowing the oppressive minority smoking scum.

Consider it a pre-emptive strike by the coalition of the wheezing, against the axis of emphysema.

After all, they're packing 20 WMD's per carton, or hasn't that been proven yet?

Posted by: LD at October 12, 2004 at 10:05 PM

Hey, life itself is carcinogenic.

The solution's simple. Give venues the right to legally ban smoking...if they wish.

The situation will then soon sort itself out in the marketplace.

Anyone got a light?

Posted by: Nabakov at October 12, 2004 at 10:09 PM

Normally, I am opposed to nanny laws, but in the case of smokers, I make an exception. As a non-smoker, I have spent my life breathing in tobacco fumes, having smoke blown in my face, and having to get clothes dry-cleaned because they reek of other peoples' cigarettes - not to mention beaches and streets littered with cigarette butts.

Smoking is not a civil right. It is an unhealthy and messy activity. Smokers have no right to force their habits onto others.

On the other hand, I have no objection to bars and other venues catering for smokers. I simply won't go into them - but it would be nice to have the choice, wouldnt it?

Posted by: dee at October 12, 2004 at 10:33 PM

When has "second-hand smoke" ever been proven to cause disease? There is no such accepted study. One supposedly "definitive" study showed no link between exposure to tobacco smoke and disease. It even showed a slight protective effect! And it was of course promptly buried by the Center for Disease Control. You anti-smokers are concerned about one thing only - your annoyance factor with cigarette smoke. That's fine. But don't pretend you're concerned about people's health. That's nonsense. And even if second-hand smoke did kill millions, wouldn't that LESSEN, not increase, the burden on your socialistic health and pension schemes?

Always remember: Governments lie. That's the only thing they're good at.

Posted by: Robert Speirs at October 12, 2004 at 11:39 PM

The libertarian argument for the right to smoke is that we're living in a free country, and we have to be free to make our own decisions. That freedom extends to any bar owner who wishes to set up a bar that is entirely non-smoking. It should also extend to a bar owner who wishes to create one of these 'smokeeasys' that are being proposed here. Some people, such as myself, and I don't smoke very often, prefer a smoky atnosphere when they go out. Surely I should be able to receive this? But a complete ban would end that right.

There is also overstatement in the health risks from passive smoking. One American liberal writer (Bill Bryson, I believe) pointed out that you have as much chance of cathching cancer from eating one pork chop a week than from the average inhalation of secondhand smoke.

It's all relative, guys. And, as a final addendum, when I need a cigarette, the miniscule chance of you catching cancer from it is a much better bet for you than the slap you'll get if you try and stop me!

Posted by: Steve W at October 12, 2004 at 11:47 PM

"When has "second-hand smoke" ever been proven to cause disease?"

No reputable medical association in Australia goes along with that idea. I'll stick with the AMA, thanks.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 12, 2004 at 11:56 PM

Is this anything to do with squeeze-easies?

Posted by: Andjam at October 13, 2004 at 12:39 AM

I went to see the Stranglers the other night. It was the first time I've seen a live band - in a bar atmosphere that was non-smoking (except for the odd bit of hooch). What a pleasure. And to think we had to suffer the stench of cigarettes all those years.

All I can say is the worm has turned and smokers no longer have free reign to assault us with their noxious fumes. About fucking time, I say. You're a pack of selfish cunts.

I don't care whether passive smoking causes disease or not, it's fucking unpleasant and at the very least makes your clothes and hair stink, not to mention eyes water and feel shit the next day. But as a smoker, you feel shit all the time. You'll give up one day. Keep trying, or living in denial.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Die smokers, die.

Posted by: Pleasantly Surprised at October 13, 2004 at 12:58 AM

And Pleasantly Surprised gives the most honest anti-smoking opinion expressed thus far.

They couldn't care less about anyone's health - it's the annoyance factor.

Thanx for saying it more truthfully than any of the other nannies above.

TV (Harry)

Posted by: Inspector Callahan at October 13, 2004 at 01:08 AM

I agree with Pleasantly Surprised, but I don't believe the issue should be legislated.

Posted by: John Nowak at October 13, 2004 at 01:20 AM

"They couldn't care less about anyone's health - it's the annoyance factor."

If you care about health you will want smoking banned. Please observe the stand that the medical profession takes on this issue.

Posted by: David McBryde at October 13, 2004 at 01:25 AM

The selfish joy with which the anti-smoker zealots here react to the chance at banning their fellow citizens here is sickening. I wonder how long it is before the goody-two-shoes behind this legislation act to ban something you do care about? Alcohol, for example - it's very bad for you and society as a whole, don't you know? It kills livers, promotes violence and ruins families! So let's boost tax on it by 500% like in Sweden, eh guys!

Gambling too - that should be illegal. Cars over 5 years old are also very polluting and unsafe - I think it should cost $2000/year to register them. Right guys? Prostitution is also very, very bad and that needs to be totally banned ASAP. Actually, staying out late is antisocial and bad for you. All pubs and clubs should close by 12. Noisy bands are bad for your hearing - imagine how much it costs the health service to fix all that damage, and for what? Just to listen to some degenerate "rock music"! All live concerts must be kept below 95 decibels or face immediate shutdown.

Wow, that's just for beginnings! But already that society sounds perfect! Right, you little mummy's boys?

Posted by: Sho at October 13, 2004 at 02:07 AM

Well, there's another question: even if the state is going to stick its head into the matter, why does it have to be an all-or-nothing proposition?

Smokers want someplace to go where they can smoke; non-smokers want someplace they can go smoke-free. Even if you're not wlling to leave it to the market to cater to that smoke-free majority, why is the only other alternative a mass ban (like we have here in New York)?

My thought has always been that if you have to have this kind of regulation, make it a licensing system, like we already do with alcohol. Some restaurants have alcohol licenses and can serve booze; some don't and cn't. Why not license smoking, so that you can insure that there are both?

Posted by: jeremy in NYC at October 13, 2004 at 02:49 AM

To Nabakov and Jeremy in NYC: The system you ask for is the system you already have. The laws of private property already give the owners of bars the legal right to ban smoking in their establishment. In fact they can ban anything they want, it's their place, their rules.

There are non-smoking venues around. Not many, though. The fact is that most non-smokers place far higher value on the quality of entertainment and socialisation than they do on whether smoking is allowed or not. In contrast, smoking patrons will not attend a non-smoking pub, unless it's for a special event of some kind that they can't get elsewhere.

And people like Roscoe aside, a large part of the majority of people that want to ban smoking in pubs are people who don't even go to pubs.

Any system that allowed a pub to apply for a smoking licence would simply result in every single pub in Australia applying for said licence. Despite what the prohibitionists would tell you, banning smoking would be a disaster for Australia's hospitality industry.

As someone who's spent a fair bit of time in places where smoking was banned from pubs, I suggest you be careful what you wish for. Especially the barman guy.

Posted by: yobbo at October 13, 2004 at 06:10 AM

I vote for Tim to make a killing on owning a string of smoke-easys across Australia.

Of course, a lot of great people smoke- creatives and interesting neurotics, cool types and manly men- all good people with socially acceptable oral cravings and legal drug addictions. Having stipulated that, though, why can't smokers understand that the physical act of their sucking on little lit sticks to mainline nicotine really affects people around them? Nevermind the various health reports on passive smoking, however they may condemn or condone. No rational person would declare that breathing concentrated pollution even for several hours is harmless or that the stench and particulate residue on people's skin, hair and clothes (and lungs) isn't real. For a lot of us, going out to hazy bars and clubs feels like sticking our heads next to tailpipes with the engine running for an evening of fun. Most people don't realize that their morning-after hang-overs are more often due to carbon monoxide intake than to alcohol. Hair of the dog really should be to get back to that tailpipe, instead of downing a Bloody Mary when you wake up.

Libertarians might say, Go ahead and pick your poison, if you smoke, drink, take drugs or eat fatty food. But they forget that when they smoke in enclosed areas, they are picking the poison for all other patrons and employees. Their only answer for non-smokers is for them to inhale their fumes and by-products (a mere annoyance they call it) or to go away and find a non-noxious bar or nightclub somewhere. But one can't. How many restaurants, airlines/ airports and private businesses that now have designated smoking places voluntarily restricted smoking at first? Next to none. Smokers are forcing the rest of us who would go out in the evening to pick our suffocation, by way of oxygen-depleted tobacco dens or stifling family-style restaurants. Too cruel.

Posted by: through the haze at October 13, 2004 at 06:49 AM

Yobbo: I'm not recommending a licensing system as my top choice. My top choice is to let bar owners make the choice themself.

However, that's not what I have right now here in NYC. What I have is a $%&&#@! system where smoking is banned almost every indoor place I can think of. There are about 4 or 5 legal exceptions, and it's a pain in the ass to have to head across town every time I want to drink if I want to have a cigarette with it.

Nonetheless, if I have to live with some form of restrictive system, I prefer licensing; that way, everybody (at lease customer-wise) gets someplace to go.

Posted by: jeremy in NYC at October 13, 2004 at 07:37 AM

Screw cigarettes, when are we going to finally get around to banning those awful smoke spewing automobiles?

Posted by: Sortelli at October 13, 2004 at 08:38 AM

Sortelli, why shouldn't a bar owner be able to cater to smoke spewing autos? Free enterprise and all that.

Posted by: After all, we have TWO lungs at October 13, 2004 at 09:28 AM


This is hillarious. You sound like a bunch of lefties-whinging about loss of civil liberies because of terrorism legislation.

Posted by: steve at October 13, 2004 at 09:58 AM

This is obviously a rather sensitive issue for some, but may I add:

The "I pay tabacco excise, therefore I have a right to heath care" is complete BS. Look at how much a lung patient costs, or a heart patient, there is now way a smoker 'pays for themselves' through excise.

Second - the secondhand smoke isnt harmful is also patent BS. Anybody who doubled over in a hacking cough, or coughed up black sh_t the morning after a night out, can tell that smoke is bad for you. To hang your hat on questionable studies (many funded by the tobacco companies themselves) is to show the sort of blind faith that we on this site often mock in others.

Smoking is ridiculously bad for you. Society sometimes stops you from doing things which are bad for you, even though to do so is an infringment on your rights - wearing seatbelts for instance.

Posted by: attila at October 13, 2004 at 10:00 AM

I am seriously allergic to tobacco smoke. It gives me migraines. And yet I still oppose smoking bans on private property.

If you choose to go to an establishment that allows smoking, well, go ahead and suffer. If you choose to work at an establishment that allows smoking, again, go ahead and suffer. Nobody put a gun to your head. You decided for yourself that going to or working at the establishment was more important than avoiding smoke. Save the whining about life being unfair for your mother or your nanny.

If you're so sure that non-smoking establishments are a good idea, I'll remind you that it's a free market. Go get a small buisness loan and start your own, rather than complaining that the evil bar owners aren't providing you one.

Oh, wait, this issue isn't important enough for you to actually sacrifice something you want? You don't want to avoid the bars, or go through the effort of running your own? Then why is it important enough for smokers and bar owners to be required to give up what they want?

Stop being three years old. "I want it" was not a justification for taking the toy truck away from another kid on the playground, and it isn't a justification for a smoking ban.

Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at October 13, 2004 at 10:14 AM

>"This is hillarious. You sound like a bunch of lefties-whinging about loss of civil liberies because of terrorism legislation."

I'm with Steve. It surprises me that readers of this website are determined to tell others they shouldn't be allowed to make their own choices. Determined to tell a business owner what sort of business he/she must supply and what he/she can do on their own property. Determined to tell smokers that their habit is so unacceptable that they shouldn't be permitted to do it at all outside of their own homes, even if a venue wants to cater for them.

Since you all know whats right for everybody else, even if they don't agree, and are determined that these poor misguided individuals should have their choices limited by law, then maybe you are possibly reading the wrong website. Why don't you try Green Left Weekly, they should agree with your views.

Remember, if you can't show any tolerance towards other peoples decisions then you have no redress when they show no tolerance towards yours.

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 13, 2004 at 10:27 AM

Try googling up the full version (my attempts did not succeed) of this article by Janet Daley of the Daily Telegraph (hardly the Green Left Weekly)

http://www.tobacco.org/news/174003.html

It explains a conservative's opposition to smoking a lot better than I ever could

Posted by: attila at October 13, 2004 at 10:33 AM

Yeah, Atilla, what about it? It's still the same left wing tripe, viz:

The smoking debate has become quite insane. Who in his right mind, and with any conscience, could claim that every individual should have absolute freedom to court hideous disease and early death?

If the doctrine of personal freedom means anything, it must be related to the value we place on human life and welfare. And, of course, one's life is not one's own, even if one does not have the sort of religious belief that makes such contempt for life sinful.

Nope, I disagree. You own your own life. And you may do with it as you wish. I got to ask this though, if you don't own your life and don't have the right to make decisions on what to do with it, who does? If you don't own your own life, how do you define the concept of individual freedom?

However there is some commonsense here:

But there is no reason why its sale could not be restricted to a smaller number of heavily regulated premises whose licences could be revoked (such as pubs) if they were caught selling to those under age.

I've got a better idea. Why not let the business owner decide if he/she wants to sell cigarettes? (Of course there would still be laws preventing sale of cigarettes to minors).

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 13, 2004 at 10:55 AM

I have to chime in here. I've restrained myself so far, but things are getting a tad silly.

Folks, we have enough nanny government as it is. I do not need someone putting up a law to protect me from what amounts to a social vice similar to buying a pint of brew. (Not the same thing? Ever see a drunk get into a car?)

Don't misunderstand me -- smoking sucks. My father died from inhaling 4 packs a day for most of his adult life.

But we have bigger problems to deal with. Sortlelli noted air pollution. Terrorism comes to mind. What about lousy schools? And so on.

So instead of wasting time and money setting up new or more complex bureaucracies, how about dealing with this problem on the local level? Like responsible drinking?

So....

If you don't like second hand smoke, vote with your feet and go somewhere else.

If you don't like smoke free areas, vote with your feet and go somewhere else.

Me, I'd like to know if Tim is looking for smokeasies investors; I have a few shekels to spare in this daring get-rich-sort-of-quick scheme!

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 13, 2004 at 11:45 AM

Sortlelli noted air pollution.

Not seriously, mind you.

Posted by: Sortelli at October 13, 2004 at 12:21 PM

That's OK.....I see I mispelled your name, so I really wasn't quoting you before I quoted you.

Where have I heard that before.......?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 13, 2004 at 12:35 PM

And heck, I misspelled 'misspelled' after I misspelled Sortelli. I must be channeling John F'ing Kerry and Dan Quayle.........

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 13, 2004 at 12:38 PM

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

But seriously, folks, there is no way to argue that cars are not death traps that slaughter thousands every year as well as befouling my lungs. Cars should be illegal, and if you disagree with me you are a fool.

Wait, I mean cigarettes. Not cars. My bad.

Posted by: Sortelli at October 13, 2004 at 01:00 PM

Presumably I should be allowed to take a dump anywhere in public as well?

And there should be no safety standards imposed on work places either - after all, the workers will be compensated for the risks of losing a hand in stamping press, or breathing in noxious paint fumes? If they don't like it, they can get another job?

As for the car argument - are they not subject to regulation as well? Stopping you driving them drunk is an infringement on your liberty, as is making it illegal to park or drive on the pavement.

To function as a society we need rules. Of course, the extent of those rules is arguable, and I will always favour less rather than more where possible

Posted by: attila at October 13, 2004 at 01:43 PM

"To function as a society we need rules. Of course, the extent of those rules is arguable, and I will always favour less rather than more where possible."

Agreed, attila. And it's the extent that's in disagreement here.

Tim's "smokeasies" (written tongue in cheek) are possibly a reasonable alternative to set rules, where people vote with their feet (and hence wallets, always a potent force), without a growth industry in bureaucrats.

Agreed, people working in them may have little of no choice if they want employment, and could suffer from the smoke. But I don't have all the answers; if I did, I'd be the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States. ;-)

Posted by: The Real JeffS at October 13, 2004 at 02:09 PM

>"Presumably I should be allowed to take a dump anywhere in public as well?"

Nope, but you can take a dump in an appropriate public space such as a public toilet! Just as a smoker should be able to have a smoke in an appropriate space like an outdoor area, or beach. But anyway, ban public smoking (and to hell with it, public toilets as well!), if you're on your own property or you have the property owners consent you can do what you like. Including taking a dump on the bar room floor if you have the owners permission! Don't laugh, I've heard the Hellfire club in Sydney does provide for these kind of fetishes (but that may be a rumour, I have no proof!)

>"And there should be no safety standards imposed on work places either - after all, the workers will be compensated for the risks of losing a hand in stamping press, or breathing in noxious paint fumes? If they don't like it, they can get another job?"

Yep, the level of risk and pay is up to negotiation between the employer and employee. There is nothing unusual about this and it is done every day by coal miners, soldiers, people who work in labs with dangerous diseases and chemicals, security guards who escort money and valuables, people who work with pressure vessels, and many, many more. Basically anyone who gets an allowance to manage risk, be extra careful and monitor their own performance diligently. Of course, for things like major accidents, including losing a hand, an insurance contract needs also to be negotiated. And there should also be some sort of government provided safety net as a last resort.

>"As for the car argument - are they not subject to regulation as well? Stopping you driving them drunk is an infringement on your liberty, as is making it illegal to park or drive on the pavement."

Ahhh, well we're coming into another area here. You see, other road users (and pavement users) haven't sat down and individually negotiated the risk here. You are violating their rights if you drive drunk because you are putting their health at risk without their consent. We need road laws because you can't sit down and negotiate with every other road user that you will come across what level of risk they are willing to accept. However an employee and employer can do this. If it is possible to give the individual the ability to negotiate the terms on any binding contract then this is preferential to a blanket contract that everyone has to accept. However with road rules we don't have this option, hence one set of rules for all.

>"To function as a society we need rules. Of course, the extent of those rules is arguable, and I will always favour less rather than more where possible"

Amen to that. Really, I think if everyone truly had this belief (and was prepared to live by it) then we would be a perfectly happy, tolerant and probably prosperous society.

Posted by: Michael Sutcliffe at October 13, 2004 at 02:14 PM