The Pennsylvania Smoking Ban

(Update: the public smoking ban went into effect on September 11th 2008.)

The PA House of Representatives and the PA Senate were both working on legislation in the past few weeks that would ban smoking in most public places, including restaurants.  But the ban ultimately stalled because the two chambers could not agree on a set of exemptions to it.  The ban is now shelved until September.

I hate breathing other people’s smoke.  That’s not only because second-hand smoke kills 50,000 Americans including 3,000 Pennsylvanians every year; it’s also because it’s freaking disgusting.  So naturally I want this ban enacted into law as soon as possible.

The main arguments I’ve seen that are against the ban -- i.e. that are pro-smoking -- are:

1. Waaaaah I want to smoke and you can’t take away my rights and next thing you’ll be making it illegal to eat thumb tacks!!

2. Restaurants (etc) should just have smoking and non-smoking sections as they do now.

3. This is a decision that’s best left to market forces to decide.

The first argument makes me angry because it’s so common and yet so moronic and/or disingenuous.  No one is trying to take away a smoker’s right to kill himself.  The issue is whether smokers should be allowed to kill other people, as they have been doing for years and years without punishment.  When you’re spewing cancerous filth in an enclosed area, others have to breathe it in, and that’s as issue of their rights, not yours.

The second argument is invalid because the "non-smoking" sections are still contaminated with smoke, as anyone who’s eaten in one knows.  Any high-schooler who’s taken a physics or chemistry class can tell you that smoke, like all other fluids, moves freely within its container and does not pay any attention to the "non-smoking section" signs.  This whole concept is exactly like having a peeing section in a public pool, except that urine is a sterile fluid, whereas tobacco smoke is a lethal fluid.  Air ventilation and filtration systems have been shown to be ineffective in solving this problem, and in any case, the workers in the smoking sections are not protected at all.

The third argument says that anyone who doesn’t like smoke can simply avoid establishments that allow smoking.  I’ve seen a bunch of news or opinion articles making this argument, stating that "many" or even "most" restaurants are already smoke-free so non-smokers should just patronize those businesses instead.  I don’t know where these people are coming from, but around here, literally none of the restaurants that we go to on a regular or semi-regular basis are smoke-free: not Chili’s, not the Olive Garden, not Carrabba’s, not TGI Friday’s, not Ruby Tuesday’s, not Red Lobster, not Outback Steakhouse, not Applebee’s.  If there were such a restaurant, we would be all over it.  Instead, when we’re being seated, I always have to say "please seat us as far from the smoking section as possible," and still about half of the time, we need to ask to be moved once we’re seated, because the "non-smoking section" is too darn smoky.

Second-Hand Smoke Statistics

therecordherald.com, 20070619:

According to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers annually in the United States.

nosmokeindoors.com, 20070621:

Three-thousand Pennsylvanians die each year as a result of the health conditions caused from breathing in someone else’s tobacco smoke.

For every eight smokers that die from the effects of their own tobacco use, one nonsmoker dies from the effects of secondhand smoke.

84 percent of Pennsylvanians believe that all workers should be protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

Waitresses are almost four times more likely to die of lung cancer compared to workers in other fields, and bartenders face a 50 percent greater risk of dying from lung cancer, other cancers, and heart disease than other workers.

Secondhand smoke is harmful and hazardous to the health of the general public, and particularly dangerous to children.  It is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.

businesswire.com, 20070626:

In June 2006, the Surgeon General of the United States declared that there was no safe level of second hand smoke, ever. Secondhand smoke - a carcinogen classified in the same league with asbestos, formaldehyde and radon - is known to kill more than 53,000 Americans each year, including 3,000 in Pennsylvania alone.

And that doesn’t include people who actually smoke. These are just the people who stand within breathing distance of smokers and suffer the fatal consequences.

During just a one-hour dinner in a restaurant where smoking is permitted, nonsmoking patrons "smoke" the equivalent of three cigarettes. That’s enough to cause stiffened arteries, prompt irregular heartbeats, exacerbate colds, bronchitis and pneumonia, worsen heart attacks, and trigger asthma, particularly in children.

Nonsmokers who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke pollution, either at home or at work, have almost double the risk of heart disease. And secondhand smoke causes 30 times as many lung cancer deaths as all other regulated air pollutants combined.

Posted by Anthony on 37 replies

Comments:

01. Jul 25, 2007 at 01:09am by Anthony:

This just in: Illinois has just passed the kind of state-wide public smoking ban that PA didn’t have the guts to.  While reasonable citizens rejoice, here’s what the frigtards are saying:

chicagotribune.com:

"It’s the General Assembly being our new nanny," said Wally Degner, 70, of Palatine, a pipe smoker for 50 years.  "After this they’ll ban foods that are too fatty.  You’ll have to ask the state what you can eat and drink -- they’ll start regulating hamburgers."

News flash: "they" already regulate food and drink, and believe it or not, the regulations are not causing the streets to run with the blood of the people... ah, nevermind, just go back to being a clueless old man.


washingtonpost.com:

"I feel like it’s the Nazi regime coming in here, talking away all of our rights, said Tim Main, as he cleaned up Mike’s Ten-Pin Lounge in Alton. "First they make it so you have to wear seat belts, and now they want to put a stop to smoking. What’s next?"

Way to invoke Godwin’s Law within the first 6 words of your whiny response.  Anyway, "what’s next" is deporting drama-queen crybabies, so pack your stuff.


lincolncourier.com:

"It sucks," said Stu Hamblin, a self-described "friend" of Old Joe’s bar in Lincoln.  "They are going to try and make it where you can’t even smoke in your own home next.  They’re trying to take away all of our rights.

"Old Joe’s is a working man’s bar.  It has been for years.  Always has been, always will be.  Nobody’s going to change that."

Rock on, Old Joe.  But seriously, what are you talking about??

02. Jul 25, 2007 at 06:59pm by Kev:

Anthony, I really enjoyed the references to both the peeing section and Godwin’s Law. Well done.

03. Jul 27, 2007 at 05:16am by Anthony:

More asinine commentary from smokers, this time via The Daily Courier:

"Everyone is banning smoking.  McDonald’s ... Eat ’n Park ... Pirates games ... ," said LeAnna Beranek, an employee at the [Paint Room Bar and Grill lounge] in Connellsville.  "They make you feel like a criminal because you’re a smoker.  At least I’m not on heroin or addicted to anything else."

Maybe you feel like a criminal because killing other people is a crime and that’s what you’re doing.  The only difference between you and a heroin addict is that when a heroin addict’s habit causes them to kill someone else, it happens quickly, whereas your habit kills other people slowly.

And why is it that the nasty scummy restaurants are banning smoking, but decent restaurants are not??

04. Nov 29, 2007 at 07:27pm by Russ:

Your state is a joke!!!!!!!  I’ve read all the pros and cons on the net from PA residents and my conclusion is for you to get educated.  The goal is a health issue which many states and countries have addressed.  So, instead of getting in step with the rest of the world and doing something good for yourself.  Continue to live in your backward stupidity and smoke.  Just one of the reasons I moved from PA 46 years ago.  Oh ya, continue to live in poverty and off the govt.  Go PA. HA HA HA

05. Nov 29, 2007 at 09:51pm by Anthony:

Quoting Russ:

Your state is a joke!!!!!!!

Your face is a joke.

Also:

Quoting Russ:

smoke.  Just one of the reasons I moved from PA 46 years ago.

Not a very smart move, considering that no US state had a smoking ban until about 30 years ago.

06. Dec 15, 2007 at 10:44pm by Russ:

Pennsylvania is a joke and should start liveing in the year 2007!!!  I was born and raised in PA and this type of ignorance is just one reason I left 40 years ago.

PA get some back bone and enact a smoking law like the one in Hawaii.  Yep, no smoking in bars, clubs, eating establishments, with in 20 foot of a building entrance, no smoking under any covered areas such as a parking deck, and definitely in no public used facility.

For all you smokers, it hasn’t hurt business one bit.  Infact, business is better than before.

The idea is to protect the health of those who don’t smoke from the ignorance of the puffers.  At least some states are led by those with a brain and are trying to do just that.

07. Jan 4, 2008 at 04:29pm by Mark:

PLEASE PA GET THIS LAW PASSED ALREADY.  I just took over a restaurant about a year ago. I am a non smoker and quite frankly it disgusts me. My quandry is that I want to step up and ban smoking in my restaurant. Only problem is it seems like everyone smokes in this area. I was hoping the state would step up and do the dirty work for me but it doesnt seem like that will happen anytime soon....Any suggestions? Do i ban smoking and risk a big fall off in business or put up with it against my ethics...

08. Jan 4, 2008 at 10:00pm by Anthony:

The idea that smoking bans hurt business is a lie, put forth by -- you guessed it -- the scumbags at the tobacco companies.

From The New York Times:

New York City’s restaurants and bars have prospered despite the smoking ban, with increases in jobs, liquor licenses and business tax payments since the law took effect a year ago, according to a study to be released by the city today.

From Smoke-Free Environments Law Project:

While the tobacco industry has for years stated that smoke-free policies will reduce customer patronage of smoke-free businesses, there are no credible, scientific studies that support these claims.

From The Boston Globe:

Sales and employment at Massachusetts restaurants and bars grew slightly during the first six months of a statewide smoking ban, disproving predictions that the prohibition would inflict serious damage on the hospitality industry, Harvard researchers are scheduled to report today.

From The Enquirer:

[M]ost of the scientific, peer-reviewed economic studies indicate that smoking bans either have no overall negative effect or a positive effect on a city’s hospitality industry, in terms of sales and employment.

"The only studies showing a negative effect are of low quality and done by or for the tobacco industry or one its allies [...]"

Flawed studies are the ones that typically ask bar or restaurant owners to "predict" what would happen to sales revenues, Glantz says.

Andrew Hyland, a research scientist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., has reviewed all of the 97 economic studies of smoking bans published before 2002. Eighteen of what he considers the best studies - relying on both sales tax revenue and employment data - all point to the same conclusion.

"Smoking bans do not hurt businesses," Hyland says.

From The Herald Standard:

Delaware has banned smoking since November 2002 in public places, including slots parlors in Dover and outside of Wilmington.

Lisa Butler, a spokeswoman for Dover Downs, said revenues dipped about 10 percent during the first year the smoking ban went into effect.

But revenues rebounded the following year, she said.

From NJ.com:

Mike Fegley’s establishments in center city Bethlehem -- Bethlehem Brew Works and Steel Garden -- didn’t wait for a ban to become law.

Those places went smoke-free in December and, so far, the switch has been a success, Fegley said.

"I think we saw an initial decline in our business but not too much," he said.

"It was our point of view that the type of clients that we were going for were actually getting smoked out. Once we did some advertising and let folks know we’re smoke-free, business came back."

[...]

"I’d say we’ve had more positive feedback than anything else -- people taking the time to write us e-mails or letters," he said.

From PennLive.com:

I sucked one up for the team and toured Washington, D.C., bars to gauge whether the ban has people smoking mad or just smoking outside.

The result was mostly a collective yawn.

"I don’t think it’s affected our business at all," said Chris Chernes, owner of Lucky Bar, located just below Dupont Circle.

"Originally, I had regulars who threatened to stay away because of the ban," said Chernes, a reformed smoker.

"They were back in a week," she said.

The response wasn’t much different elsewhere.

"It really hasn’t changed much," said Matt Tanner, general manager of Nanny O’Brien’s Irish Pub as he smoked in the alley out back. "Maybe, if anything, we may be doing better."

[...]

At The Big Hunt, bar manager and smoker Dave Coleman said, "People were angry originally because it’s not illegal to smoke, so why is it illegal to smoke in a public place?"

But then there was a collective shrug.

"It’s actually been kind of a nonissue," Coleman said.

Though hardly scientific, my bar-hopping survey flies in the face of the research that smoking-ban opponents such as the state tavern association use to argue against a ban or for exemptions. And their research could be viewed skeptically given that an industry group paid for the work, which just happens to support their position.

[...]

More bars are going smoke-free and finding it’s not such a bad thing.

"I know a lot of places downtown were betting we wouldn’t make it," said Nick Laus, owner of Cafe Fresco. His Paxton Street restaurant opened five years ago and his downtown location will celebrate two years in August.

Laus said he’s heard few complaints, but has heard plenty of positive feedback.

"It’s just nice going out to a bar and not coming home smelling like an ashtray," said Jennifer Kocher, a spokeswoman for the state Public Utility Commission.

"We’ve actually held office gatherings there because of the smoke-free environment," she said.

Ban critics do raise an important question: If smoking and secondhand smoke are such health threats, as every study shows, why does the state allow the sale of tobacco products?

Besides the political ramifications, the $1.5 billion in tobacco taxes Pennsylvania collects annually has proven just as addictive as tobacco products.

09. Feb 1, 2008 at 03:33pm by Ed Bohrer:

As an asthmatic, I am really disgusted that the state legislature in Pa is dragging its feet on this matter. Pa. is living up to its reputation as the most culturally backward state in the Northeast.  Smoking control equipment in restaurants and other public places are a joke.
They are not adequately maintained well enough to be effective in most cases. I will refuse to frequent any place that does not bar smoking.  I wish others would write their legislators both state and local on this matter

10. Mar 14, 2008 at 04:48pm by Angela:

I am so frustrated with this state.  I am 31 and grew up in PA and have put up with secondhand smoke for most of my life.  My parents were in-home smokers, I worked as a waitress with smoking patrons, ate in smoking friendly restaurants and visited many a smoky bars and pool halls in college.  (It’s strange because I didn’t think much about it back then because it was always the "norm" for me to be around it all of my life.) After finishing school, I moved to Vermont and witnessed first-hand the effects of banning smoking in public places.  It was amazing.  You could eat anywhere and go to any bar without having to breathe in other people’s smoke.  It was quite obvious that businesses faired better due to more people patronizing their establishments - and it was amusing to see smokers standing outside bars in 3 feet of snow during winter to get their cigarette fix.  And after having losing my mother to primary liver cancer at age 48 three years ago (the only risk factor she had was smoking) and me having children, this issue became of high importance to me.  I have recently moved back to PA due to my husband’s work and am having a hell of a time here trying to find restaurants to take the family to.  I will NOT expose my children to smoky places.  (It so aggravates me when I see "Family Restaurant" on a sign just to go in and find it very smoky.)  I am so tired of this.  Come on PA!  Please just get this legislation passed already!  I’m tired of having to drive over to NJ just to eat out.

11. Apr 12, 2008 at 12:24pm by bonnie lewis:

I THINK THAT WE SHOULD AND NEED TO HAVE A NO SMOKING LAW IN PA. I AM HIGHLY ALLERGIC TO CIGARETTE SMOKE. IT DOESN’T MATTER WEATHER I’M PUT IN A SECTION AT A RESTAURANT FOR NON SMOKERS OR NOT, AS FOR THE SMOKE STILL GETS IN MY LUNGS AND I HAVE A VERY BAD REACTION TO ANY SMOKE, I GO TO BINGO A LOT AND THE SMOKING IN THOSE PLACES ARE REALLY HORRIBLE. THE LAST TIME I WENT TO BINGO MY DOCTOR INFORMED ME THAT THE SMOKE HAS DAMAGED MY LUNGS PRETTY BAD AND HE WANTS ME TO QUIT GOING TO BINGO UNLESS I CAN FINE ONE THAT HAS BAN SMOKING, WHICH WHERE I LIVE THERE IS NONE. SO IN ORDER TO LIVE ANOTHER 20 TO 30 YEARS I HAVE TO GIVE UP THE ONLY THING THAT I DO IN MY LIFE. I DO NOT DRINK NOR NEVER SMOKED AND I JUST THINK THAT IF PEOPLE CAN GO TO THESE OTHER STATES AND HONOR THEIR NO SMOKING LAWS THEN THEY SHOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE HONORING PA’S. I ALSO THINK THAT SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES HAS GONE ON LONG ENOUGH AND WHEN DO THE PEOPLE THAT DON’T SMOKE GET A BREAK. I KNOW I’M ONLY ONE PERSON THAT IS FOR NON SMOKING IN PA, BUT I’M HOPING THAT EVERYONE TAKES INTO CONSIDERATION THE NON-SMOKING PEOPLE’S FEELINGS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.

12. Apr 15, 2008 at 11:11pm by Anthony:

You make some good points, but sheesh, you don’t need to yell about it.  And I’m not sure I follow what you’re saying about the weather.  Also, I don’t think you should fine the bingo hall.

13. May 14, 2008 at 05:35pm by sue:

Perhaps you should include this statistic:

You are exposed to more carcinogenics sitting your car for 10 MINUTES than if exposed to second hand smoke 24 hours a day for a year.

14. May 14, 2008 at 10:03pm by Anthony:

Perhaps you should get a clue.  I didn’t include your "statistic" because your statistic is utter BS.  Which is obvious, since probably 100% of the population spends at least 10 minutes per year sitting in a car, but it’s not the case that 100% of the population gets cancer.

15. Jun 5, 2008 at 11:53am by Dave:

I think people need to realize that the government is taking our god given rights away little by little. Why stick their nose into where you can and can not smoke? If the owner of an establishment wishes to keep it smoke free, that is their right, and if they wish to allow smoking then that is also their right. Why does the government feel that they need to get involved? What is the point of a smoking ban other than to gain more controll over what we can and can not do as free Americans?

16. Jun 5, 2008 at 02:34pm by Anthony:

Quoting Dave:

If the owner of an establishment wishes to keep it smoke free, that is their right, and if they wish to allow smoking then that is also their right.

Let me make it clear for you:

If the owner of an establishment wishes to keep it murder-free, that is their right, and if they wish to allow murder then that is also their right.

Secondhand smoke kills people.  Killing other people is called murder.  It is the government’s job to protect people from some things, including murder; that decision does not belong to the owner of the establishment.

Quoting Dave:

I think people need to realize that the government is taking our god given rights away little by little.

Except that’s not what’s happening here.  The government is not taking away your right to smoke.  It’s taking away your right to disperse deadly gases in public places.  If you want to do that on your own property, you can.  But your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose.  You’re free to do all kinds of stupid and/or dangerous things in private that you can’t do in public, because in public places, other people have rights too, which you can’t just trample on with stupid and dangerous things like cigarette smoke.

17. Jun 6, 2008 at 09:15am by Dom:

Everybody has rights and what is important in this country is that people have choices. There is a simple solution, particularly for bars where people enjoy having a smoke.
Leave it up to the owner.
The state doesn’t subsidize a bar owner if he loses business because the politicians pass a law that bans smoking. If they want, provide a tax incentive to go smokeless. But it should be up to the person who has to pay the bills, pays the taxes, and has to make his customers happy.
So use some common sense and leave it up to the owners.

18. Jun 6, 2008 at 10:38pm by Anthony:

Hard to believe your entire comment isn’t a joke, considering the comment right above it.

19. Jun 13, 2008 at 09:59am by SHARON:

AS A BAR OWNER IT IS MY PRIVATE PROPERTY AND IT SHOULD BE MY CHOICE WHETHER TO PERMIT SMOKING OR NOT!!!!  I PAY THE TAXES, THE MORTGAGE, THE SALES TAX AND EVERYTHING ELSE THE GOVERNMENT EXPECTS FROM ME.  I SHOULD JUST HAVE TO POST IT OUTSIDE THE DOOR THAT I HAVE A SMOKING ESTABLISHMENT AND THEN IT WILL BE YOUR CHOICE WHETHER TO COME IN OR NOT. I HAVE AT LEAST, AND I MEAN AT LEAST, 85% SMOKERS THAT FREQUENT MY BAR AND GRILL. YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT BUT IT WOULD CLOSE MY BUSINESS NOT TO ALLOW IT.  IT WOULD ALSO PUT 5 MORE PEOPLE OUT OF WORK IN MY SMALL TOWN THAT’S ALOT....

20. Jun 13, 2008 at 12:36pm by Anthony:

You have to be kidding.  You can’t possibly think that Pennsylvanians who smoke are now going to stop going out to eat, and stop going out to drink.  Aside from the fact that common sense tells you that’s ridiculous, all the evidence also shows that smoking bans do not hurt businesses.

21. Jul 20, 2008 at 11:07am by Lisa:

I am a smoker now in any restaurant they could put up a wall with doors so no one can smell are smoke thats all they need to do the restaurants need not put a place outside because it be cold come winter I know I don’t want to sit outside in the cold and in bars people go in there to drink and smoke drinking and smoking go to gather not for all but for most now if second hand smoke is bad for you then I am getting it first hand if they pass the law the next law will be you are not to go out drinking and so on and so on.

22. Jul 20, 2008 at 11:03pm by Anthony:

Quoting Lisa:

I am a smoker now in any restaurant they could put up a wall with doors so no one can smell are smoke thats all they need to do

Smoke is a fluid.  It is impossible to keep it contained in a "smoking section" unless that section is 100% airtight and there are no doors between it and the non-smoking section.  And even if you could keep it separated that way, the workers in the smoking section are still exposed to the smoke.

Quoting Lisa:

the restaurants need not put a place outside because it be cold come winter I know I don’t want to sit outside in the cold

So your position is that protecting smokers from inconvenience is more important than protecting non-smokers from death.  That is of course absurd and unbelievably selfish, but it’s not really surprising coming from a smoker, since smokers obviously don’t care about their own health, and in my experience they also generally don’t care about the health of the people around them.

23. Jul 28, 2008 at 11:26am by Kelly:

Anthony -
You are a loud mouthed MORON! CAN smoking kill people? YES. DOES it always?? NO. CAN car emissions kill people, YES - DOES it always??? NO! There are TONS of things we do and use on a daily basis that ’could’ end our life!
So Quit acting like smokers are out there MURDERING people. You couldn’t be sure even if you GOT lung cancer that the cause was second hand smoke. I am a NON Smoker and have always been - and I STILL believe in freedom! That’s what our country is about. IF it is determined that EVERYONE that comes in contact with cigarette smoke WILL die from it - THEN the government should step in. But until that time - you can quit your yapping and go to a restaurant that IS non-smoking! And there are TONS of them. YES the big ones ARE going non-smoking. And you are full of crap if you believe that "Aside from the fact that common sense tells you thatís ridiculous, all the evidence also shows that smoking bans do not hurt businesses.". Quit looking at your  statistics. Because for Every statistic you find - anyone with 1/2 a brain and a computer can find one to refute it. ASK the SMOKERS! Yourself! I have - and I don’t own any establishment that would be affected by the smoking ban. I was just curious. And after conducting my OWN "survey" - I found that more than half the smokers I talked to (in the vicinity of 60) would and HAVE STOPPED going to particular establishments because they have become NON-Smoking. We can agree to disagree....but if I go to a restaurant which the OWNER decides it is Ok for people to smoke in, I have the CHOICE whether I want to stay or leave.

24. Jul 28, 2008 at 01:53pm by Anthony:

Quoting Kelly:

Anthony -
You are a loud mouthed MORON!

Kelly from somersettrust.com -
Your post is the most obnoxious thing EVAR.  Also, your MOM.

Quoting Kelly:

CAN smoking kill people? YES. DOES it always?? NO.

Shooting a person doesn’t always kill them either.  Nor does stabbing a person.  Yet those things are illegal.

Driving without a seatbelt doesn’t always kill a person.  But the simple fact is that the small inconvenience of having to wear a seatbelt is far, far outweighed by the benefits -- to the individual and to society as a whole -- of having everyone wear seatbelts.

There will always be people who whine about having to wear a seatbelt, as though the minor inconvenience is a major hassle, pretending that they are somehow fundamentally "less free" because of it.  Those people are idiots.

Quoting Kelly:

So Quit acting like smokers are out there MURDERING people. You couldn’t be sure even if you GOT lung cancer that the cause was second hand smoke.

It’s possible to find a case of lung cancer where the cause is indeterminate, but that’s irrelevant.  The fact is that secondhand smoke causes over 3000 lung cancer deaths in the US annually:

Quoting the American Lung Association:

Smoking ... contributes to 80 percent and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and men, respectively. ... Nonsmokers have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work.  ... Exposure to secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers every year.

That’s in addition to the nearly 50,000 heart disease deaths caused by secondhand smoke in the US annually.

Quoting Kelly:

I am a NON Smoker and have always been - and I STILL believe in freedom! That’s what our country is about.

You don’t have absolute freedom, and if you think you do, then you’re a fool.  Your freedom is limited by the fact that other Americans are also free.  You are not free to do things that impinge upon the freedom of the people around you.  The simple fact is that the right to breathe clean air is more important than the right to fill the air with deadly chemicals.

Quoting Kelly:

you can quit your yapping and go to a restaurant that IS non-smoking! And there are TONS of them. YES the big ones ARE going non-smoking.

Virtually every major restaurant within ~30 miles of here -- which includes 3 major cities -- still allows smoking.  Since the smoking ban goes into effect in less than 2 months, and these restaurants all still allow smoking, it’s clear that the only thing that’ll make them go non-smoking is a law.  So you’re wrong.

Quoting Kelly:

And you are full of crap if you believe that "Aside from the fact that common sense tells you that’s ridiculous, all the evidence also shows that smoking bans do not hurt businesses.". Quit looking at your  statistics. ... ASK the SMOKERS! Yourself! I have ... And after conducting my OWN "survey" - I found that more than half the smokers I talked to (in the vicinity of 60) would and HAVE STOPPED going to particular establishments because they have become NON-Smoking.

So what you have is: "Um, I asked some smokers and they said they’d never leave their homes again if there’s a smoking ban!! OMGWTFBBQ!!1!"

In contrast to your ridiculous "survey", all the actual studies show that those smokers are liars, because they do continue to go out to eat after smoking bans go into effect.  But please, don’t let the facts change your opinion; you just continue to believe the smokers, because obviously they don’t have an agenda here.

Quoting Kelly:

Because for Every statistic you find - anyone with 1/2 a brain and a computer can find one to refute it.

Yes, you’ve proven that quite nicely, with your pretend "survey" of 60 smokers.  Congratulations, you apparently have half a brain and a computer.

25. Aug 16, 2008 at 09:49am by lisa:

I think that the biggest issue faced by us is the fact that the law discriminates against the public bar by allowing the private clubs to have smoking.  However, its important that they send something out to the businesses so they know clearly what the law allows and doesn’t allow.  Do the private clubs know that if they offer bands that are opened to the public, they can not permit smoking?  I think that the state could have issued smoking permits to businesses that wanted to stay smoking and charged for the license.  The licensing system is already in place for food and alcohol so it could just be expanded.  This way there would be no discrimination but allow the business owners to decide.

26. Sep 25, 2008 at 04:23am by Anthony:

Over the past few weeks there have been about a dozen new comments on this thread.  Of course PA’s ban went into effect on September 11th so I’m sure that had something to do with the sudden surge of interest.

Most of these new comments said the same things: that the evidence for the ill effects of smoking and/or secondhand smoke is somehow invalid, because the ALA & ACS can’t be trusted, and the US Surgeon General is a politician and therefore is biased... basically that tobacco smoke really isn’t so bad after all.

However, these comments were also largely rude, whiney, containing personal attacks against smoking-ban-supporters, etc.  Because of that, I’ve been dreading having to go through and approve or delete them and then respond to the ones that I approved; the negativity of it all has just been wearing on me.

So I apologize to those commenters, but I’m going to delete them all, ignore the personal attacks in them, and just say this in response:

The evidence of the horrible ill health effects of tobacco smoke is overwhelming.  You only need to spend ten seconds reading the wikipedia article on it -- which is fully sourced -- to realize that there is global consensus on this issue.  It’s not US-only, not driven by politicians, and does not hinge on a single study.  Consider:

Quoting Wikipedia:

Scientific evidence shows that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke causes disease, disability, and death.

Source #1: World Health Organization
Source #2: US Department of Health and Human Services
Source #3: California Environmental Protection Agency
Source #4: WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer

And:

Quoting Wikipedia:

The governments of 151 nations have signed and ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states that "Parties recognize that scientific evidence has unequivocally established that exposure to tobacco smoke causes death, disease and disability."

Now, with that out of the way: anyone who wants to comment on this thread is free to do so, but of course this is my website, so I’m free to approve or delete your comments.  Some good ways to get your comment deleted include being rude or whiny, launching personal attacks, and dishonestly trying to change the subject by referring to supporters of smoking bans as "anti-smokers."  That’s like calling someone an "anti-pooper" because they don’t want to be pooped on.  You know full well that none of these laws are about taking away your right to smoke; they’re about preventing you from hurting other people with your smoke in public places.

27. Oct 10, 2008 at 03:01pm by Mike:

You guys sure love the "talk down to with a holier-than-thou attitude" approach to argument don’t you?  That always works.  I’m sure every one of you has a vice I could look down on as being beneath me and not up to society’s standards, so why do you get to call smokers names and speak of them like they were child molesters.  Oh yeah, the whole anti-smoking movement made it OK.

The whole "smoke is a fluid" is a simplistic grasp at a reason to discount a perfectly viable method in segregation.  Cars emit noxious gas.  So do factories.  So do you walk around outside in respirators at all times?  NO.  It’s called dissipation.  The smoke disbursed into the air into levels of negligible concentration.  Otherwise, where is your cutoff?  If you smoke anywhere, the particles can travel basically anywhere else, but you’d be an idiot to think concentrations beyond about where they’re last visible are dangerous with occasional exposure.

The people dying of second hand smoke are those who are being exposed to it everyday like the spouse of a smoker.  Even if every time you went to a restaurant someone blew a cigarette into your face second-hand, the relatively few number of times people go to bars or restaurants makes it pretty insignificant.  The vast majority of people who get cancer aren’t the ones who smoke maybe 5 cigarettes worth of smoke a month.

Have other points?  I’ll come back with a logical argument for each one pertaining to why an outright ban isn’t the answer.

The bottom line is that most of the support for this is a false outrage behind which is many people’s desire to be part of some popular movement.  Most of you didn’t think in your head one day "you know, smoking should be banned".  You heard it on TV and subconsciously went "wow i’ll get in line with this, seeing as a lot of other people seem to be."

I’m sure you’ll delete this just like you did other ones that probably hit a little too close to making valid arguments against you, seeing as its too hard to come back against points the "TRUTH" guys haven’t outlined for you on their tv ads.

28. Oct 11, 2008 at 07:04am by Anthony:

Quoting Mike:

I’m sure every one of you has a vice I could look down on as being beneath me and not up to society’s standards

This isn’t about vices or looking down on people.  Sure I think smoking is stupid, but I don’t really care what your vices are as long as you don’t impose them on me.

Quoting Mike:

The whole "smoke is a fluid" is a simplistic grasp at a reason to discount a perfectly viable method in segregation.  Cars emit noxious gas.  So do factories.  So do you walk around outside in respirators at all times?  NO.  It’s called dissipation.  The smoke disbursed into the air into levels of negligible concentration.

Wow, talk about simplistic.  The smoke doesn’t dissipate to negligible levels when it’s in an enclosed area, as anyone who’s ever walked into a smoky restaurant knows.  You can smell it instantly.

Yes, cars and factories emit deadly gases, just like cigarettes do, which is why they vent the gases OUTSIDE the car/factory.  People have been known to kill themselves by running their cars in an enclosed area and breathing in the exhaust, which is pretty much what smokers are doing, only quicker.

Quoting Mike:

Have other points?  I’ll come back with a logical argument for each one pertaining to why an outright ban isn’t the answer.

That’s irrelevant, since an outright ban is not the issue.  The issue is a ban in situations where your deadly habit affects other people.

Quoting Mike:

The bottom line is that most of the support for this is a false outrage behind which is many people’s desire to be part of some popular movement.  Most of you didn’t think in your head one day "you know, smoking should be banned".  You heard it on TV and subconsciously went "wow i’ll get in line with this, seeing as a lot of other people seem to be."

That’s pure BS, since obviously you don’t know what’s going on in anyone else’s heads, so you can’t possibly know their reasons.

I personally can’t stand cigarette smoke.  I grew up with parents who smoked and I hated it more than almost anything.  That has nothing to do with a "popular movement" or TV commercials.

29. Oct 12, 2008 at 03:18am by Mike:

Quoting Anthony:

Wow, talk about simplistic.  The smoke doesnít dissipate to negligible levels when itís in an enclosed area, as anyone whoís ever walked into a smoky restaurant knows.  You can smell it instantly.

Why wouldn’t it be able to?  Just because the volume of the air that stands to be adulterated is smaller?  So what?  If I smoke at one end of a building and you’re standing at another, you very likely cannot tell I’m smoking.  Where are these restaurants that are so overcome with smoke that you can smell them as soon as you walk in?  I go to plenty and in the vast majority, you wouldn’t know that section existed until you were asked whether you wanted to be seated there or not.  Want to impose stricter regulations as to how smoking sections are set up in relation to non?  I’m all ears, but an outright ban is simply wrong.

Quoting Anthony:

Thatís irrelevant, since an outright ban is not the issue.  The issue is a ban in situations where your deadly habit affects other people.

"Affect" is a pretty general word, the only valid subset of which to be used in the discussion of a ban should be "health".  "Smell" in my opinion is a "too bad" situation.  Don’t like how smoke smells?  Big effing deal.  I don’t like people’s BO, certain colognes, errant smells of the subway, etc.  But the world doesn’t revolve around me.  If a proprietor of a bar or restaurant wanted to waft simulated farts through their establishment and they were non-toxic, he should be within his rights.  Back to health, there simply is no hard evidence that links substantial health effects from the occasional, well weakened second hand smoke from venues such as restaurants and bars.  Like I said, when you’re talking about these cases of cancer from second hand smoke, you’re almost always talking every day all day exposure via a family member or what have you.  Bans like the one just passed are simply an example of the anti-smoking movement continually trying to take a mile after having been given an inch.

Quoting Anthony:

I personally canít stand cigarette smoke.  I grew up with parents who smoked and I hated it more than almost anything.  That has nothing to do with a "popular movement" or TV commercials.

OK, so what.  Your only leg to stand on is potential health detriments which in the case of bars and restaurant are weak at best.  As for hate for the idea or smell or what have you of smoking itself; like I said before, too bad.  The squeaky wheels of this country, an ever growing group, don’t seem to understand that the constitution never gave you the right not to be offended, be it olfactorily, aurally or otherwise.  The world does not revolve around you and its not your job to legislate morality, taste, or pleasance.

30. Oct 15, 2008 at 03:35pm by Anthony:

Quoting Mike:

If I smoke at one end of a building and you’re standing at another, you very likely cannot tell I’m smoking.

...which is irrelevant, since we’re talking about smoking and non-smoking sections within a building, and those aren’t at opposite ends; they’re right next to each other, separated by only 10 or 20 feet of space, sometimes even less.

Quoting Mike:

Where are these restaurants that are so overcome with smoke that you can smell them as soon as you walk in?

They’re everywhere, or they were, before the statewide ban went into effect.  Places that we regularly visit include TGI Friday’s, Carrabba’s, Outback Steakhouse, The Olive Garden, Applebee’s, etc.  Before the ban, regardless of which restaurant we went to, you could instantly smell the smoke at least half the time.  And about a third of the time, we had to ask to be moved farther away from the smoking section after we’d already been seated because the smoke was so bad in the non-smoking section.

That wasn’t something we did because we enjoyed the hassle of changing tables; it was because the smoke permeated so much of the establishment.  If you honestly never notice the smell of smoke in restaurants that allow it, and you’re a smoker, then I’d say it’s quite likely that you’re simply less sensitive to it than people who don’t smoke are.

Quoting Mike:

Don’t like how smoke smells?  Big effing deal.  I don’t like people’s BO, certain colognes, errant smells of the subway, etc.  But the world doesn’t revolve around me.  If a proprietor of a bar or restaurant wanted to waft simulated farts through their establishment and they were non-toxic, he should be within his rights.

...all irrelevant since none of those things are proven carcinogens as tobacco smoke is.

Quoting Mike:

Back to health, there simply is no hard evidence that links substantial health effects from the occasional, well weakened second hand smoke from venues such as restaurants and bars.

The global scientific consensus is that tobacco smoke causes disease, disability, and death.  The US Surgeon General’s 2006 report concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.  Even if you believe that you’re somehow smarter than all those scientists, and that there actually is some safe level of exposure, the fact remains that we don’t know exactly where the line is between "safe" and "will kill you".

Since that’s the case, there’s absolutely no way that any citizen should be allowed to impose this cancerous substance on another citizen.  Thus we have the majority of states and an increasing number of entire countries passing public smoking bans -- which are not "outright bans" as you keep stating; they don’t ban smoking outright, they only ban it in places where it’ll expose other people to the smoke.

Quoting Mike:

The world does not revolve around you and its not your job to legislate morality

This is not about legislating morality; if it were, we’d be talking about an outright ban on smoking, rather than merely a ban on public smoking.

31. Feb 16, 2009 at 02:53pm by Steve:

You just don’t get it friend. Let me start by saying that I hate smoke too.  But if a person owns a bar or a restaurant (not a chain/franchise, because this brings other issues into the equation), it should be their choice as to whether or not to allow smoking at their establishment.  The MOST the "state" should be allowed to do is force them to place a sign on the door that says THIS IS A SMOKING ESTABLISHMENT.  ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. And don’t tell me about employees, because they would be made aware of the same risks when they were deciding whether or not to apply for or accept a position there. Should bulls be banned from rodeos because being a rodeo clown is a dangerous job?  Welcome to America.  Sometimes freedom and freedom of choice is a dangerous thing.

32. Feb 19, 2009 at 10:53pm by Anthony:

Quoting Steve:

If a person owns a bar or a restaurant, it should be their choice as to whether or not to allow smoking at their establishment.

Wrong.  It’s not their choice to allow bartenders to poison the drinks with cyanide; nor is it their choice to allow patrons to poison the air with the cyanide in cigarette smoke.

33. Mar 16, 2009 at 05:34am by Martin:

They’ve been working on a similar ban over this side of the pond for a few years. There’s been a lot of resentment, but no benefits have shown through so far.

In short, waste of every one’s time and money.

In addition to which, the pathetic bureaucrats who enforce the ban have legislated themselves out of the reach their own laws. Pathetic!

34. Apr 7, 2009 at 02:56pm by Steve:

You people that are arguing that smoking should be allowed are really moronic.  The smoking ban has nothing to do with limiting peoples freedoms and everything to do with public health.  Think a little bit before you speak.  Everyone is required to wear a seat belt while driving!!!! Do you cry about this and say it is your personal freedom to not wear it?  I’m so sick of smokers and their idiotic ideas of smoking being their personal freedom, the majority of people in the country don’t smoke so what about their freedom to not breathe cigarette smoke.  Please be aware that all of the info about the harm of 2nd hand smoking is backed up by scientific fact. I also hope all of you smokers understand that cigarette companies pay to disseminate misinformation about smoking.  I live in Philadelphia where there is thankfully a smoking ban unfortunately as a musician I often have to play outside of the city where people can smoke and it is simply disgusting!  I really wish PA would just pass the law banning all public smoking.

35. Apr 20, 2009 at 03:02am by Tanya:

Steve , I have to agree with you! Everything you stated here is exactly how I feel on the subject and could not have said it better myself!
  I think smoking should be illegal all together, I am an ex-smoker and people complain about the fact that they don’t want their "freedom" to smoke to be banned but I think when you’re a smoker you are a slave to it! What is free about that? There is just so much I can say about this subject, it would never end..... The whole thing just really pisses me off! This world is so full of stupidity it’s amazing we still exist.

36. Aug 21, 2009 at 10:42pm by Linda:

Recently 8-09 visited Dukes on the riverfront.  We are enjoying a nice evening meal, till the gal at the table right next to us lights up. I asked management about it, but was told that smoking is allowed on the deck.  I DID NOT SEE THAT EXCEPTION announced when the law was passed.  Restaurants are to be smoke free.  Who put Dukes above the law.  I expect to go to restaurants and enjoy smoke free environment.  What is wrong with Pennsylvania..other states have done it...

37. Jan 11, 2010 at 09:36pm by Staffer:

I work at a bar where we serve no food. Automatic exemption? Apparently not. We’d need to buy a $300 a year exemption permit. We host a club once a month where all booze is locked out of site and allow 16 year olds and up to come in and have fun. Something no one else has in the area. The owner lives in an apartment that is inside the same building. He has a 16 year old son. If we bought the exemption, his son would not be allowed in the building at all. So he’s deciding to watch his business go down the drain because of the idiot twats in Harrisburg are pulling the reigns a little tighter on all of us. It’s funny, the state with one of the highest taxes on tobacco has the most laws against it’s use.

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