Civil Discourse Now

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

Tobacco financed the Revolution. Saturday's Show: Indy's new ban on smoking.

   "Civil Discourse Now" streams "live" on the internet on Saturday mornings at 11.

   This week our guests will be Indianapolis blogger and media personality Abdul-Hakim Shabazz ( a cigar smoker) and Lindsay Grace, spokesperson for Smoke Free Indy. Paul Ogden and I will discuss Indy’s new smoking ban with them. We will shoot The Show at Indy Cigar Bar, 3357 East 86th Street. 

   As of 6 a.m. on June 1, 2012, Indianapolis’s smoking ban goes into effect. No longer will a person be allowed to light up in most bars. Smoking will be allowed in existing cigar bars and hookah shops. Also exempt are private clubs.

   I have tried to find the text of the ordinance on-line. If someone would be so courteous as to provide a link to the text of the ordinance—and not add something to the effect of calling me a dumbass for inability to find that document amongst the billions of documents on the internet—it would be appreciated.

   I understand the negative impacts from consumption of tobacco. Yes, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco corporations covered up, for years, studies that indicated consumption of tobacco has harmful effects.

   Other legal activities in our society have harmful effects, and not simply for the person who chooses to engage in them.

   Snow skiing can end in serious injury or death, as can sky diving. People die while scuba diving and riding motorcycles sans helmets. These are, usually, recreational activities, therefore unnecessary to advancement of public good. The injuries suffered cause insurance costs to rise. If we are to use cost-benefit analysis in regard to tobacco, we would be hypocritical not to apply it to other areas of our society.

   Ah! I said activities can hurt other people. The scuba diving usually involves just the diver, but can endanger the people who try to rescue him or her. People who sky dive and have a chute malfunction could hit someone on the ground. (I have not read of such an incident.) The numbers are not there. We are not talking about masses of people.

   Tens of thousands of people die each years from motor vehicles. Half of those deaths might be attributable to people who are drunk, but all are attributable to people who are behind the wheel of a car, truck, or bus. Where are the people seeking to ban cars? One study indicates that motor vehicles in the United States emit the same amount of pollutants as if each person in the country smoked 22 million cigarettes per year.

   I favor controls on air pollution. As I posted yesterday, ventilation systems, complete with filters and scrubbers, could be installed in establishments that choose to allow smoking. Would this be enough to qualm the fears of opponents of public smoking? I doubt it. The point seems to be not so much the pollution as it is the behavior. Smoking serves no purpose but the pleasure of the person who engages in it. Perhaps it could be considered a vice. One definition of "vice" is "immoral or evil habit or practice."  American College Dictionary, 1962 ed. Yet smoking is legal. Other vices in our society are legal.

   I also wonder whether something I heard about the new ban is true—that cigars may be smoked in cigar bars, but cigarettes may not. I have visited cigar bars in Washington D.C.—yes, D.C., last year when we were there for the Stewart/Colbert rally—and Denver. Never was Sarah told to stub out her Virginia Slim, as I fired up a Monte Cristo.

   Finally, let us not forget what tobacco means to the history of this country. France financed the American Revolution through bonds backed by tobacco.

   Join us Saturday as we debate the new smoking ban.

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