Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Ban smoking in bars? Why not use efficient exhaust systems if owners choose?

   "Everything gives you cancer." –Joe Jackson, 1982.

   As of 6 a.m. on June 1, 2012, smoking no longer will be allowed in bars or restaurants in Indianapolis. Smoking will be allowed in existing cigar bars and hookah shops. Also exempt are private clubs. The main issue has been smoking in bars.

   The first time I encountered a "no smoking" section in a restaurant was at Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha debate nationals in 1977 at Salt Lake City. Before, smoking was allowed just about every place.

   I understand that a large percentage of people do not want to be around cigarette, cigar or pipe smoke. Those people do not have to frequent bars where people smoke. I also understand that workers in bars where people are allowed to smoke are exposed to second-hand smoke. In the next couple of days, I want to address the individual arguments in favor of the ban.

   One fact no one can dodge is that to smoke tobacco is not, in itself, an illegal act. I smoke cigars. I smoke in our backyard and in our basement, depending upon the weather.

   I have frequented public establishments in which alcohol is served by the glass—i.e., bars—since 1974 when nationals were held at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In most of the bars I frequented, a lot of the staff smoked. That holds true today. One may infer the servers and bartenders who smoke are not offended by customers who smoke.

   If the owner of a bar chooses to allow smoking in that bar, she, he or it (corporate entity) owns the property and should be allowed to carry on business there. Customers may choose another venue for entertainment.

   About 15 years ago, we had a layover at O’Hare Airport. We were told the only place to smoke was in the bar of the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton was accessible by tunnel. We had time and went there. The place was packed at 10 a.m. (I lived in Chicago. Brokers oftentimes hit bars before trading begins. O’Hare is not near LaSalle Street and the trading floors.) This was an indication people wanted a place in which they could smoke. Every time I change planes in Atlanta, I see the large rooms, enclosed by glass, in which people are allowed to smoke. Very few seats in those rooms are empty.

   My old man was a sheet metal contractor. Exhaust systems for buildings can be designed and built to evacuate smoke. Even small hoods could be built over individual tables, similar to hoods over one’s kitchen stove. Smoke could be sucked away from the table area and the cigarette or cigar in the smoker’s hand. That would be an increased price the owner would have to pay for installation. The cost would be passed on to the customer. And guess what? A lot of people would choose to pay the extra price to frequent such an establishment. 

   This Saturday’s Show: guests Indianapolis blogger and media personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz ( a cigar smoker) and Lindsay Grace, spokesperson of Smoke Free Indy will join Paul Ogden and me to discuss Indy’s new smoking ban. 11 a.m. Saturday we stream "live."

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