Sunday, December 10, 2006
Fired Up Over Question 5
I grew up in a smoking household. I never developed the habit although there were times early in my life that I tried it. I show and hold no disdain for those that do partake as they have chosen that for themselves. Actually, the same family member that smoked back when I was growing up has been trying to quit while my youngest brother started.
I mention this because questions 4 and 5 in Nevada during the recent election dealt with banning smoking in particular public areas. Prior to the vote, local news and streets were inundated with signs saying, "Yes On 4, No On 5" and "No On 4, Yes On 5," with little understanding of the implications. Many were led to believe that if both 4 and 5 passed that the one with the most votes would be enforced. Others believed that if neither passed, the local legislators would try to pass a law for the one with the most votes. Either way, Question 5 passed. The legislation would affect hotels in several ways: the closure of "employee smoking areas" (we got a memo at work about this one), no smoking in the hotel with select parts of the casino (where minors are not allowed) being exempted and no smoking in the hotel rooms (I'm not too upset with this one as I hear complaints constantly about people asking for non-smoking rooms and the room they get smells like someone just put out a cigar.) Local bars (who fought hard for the less strict Question 4) that serve food would have to choose between having food served or banning smoking.
I was already hearing grumblings from visiting Californians that heard about the new change in town and was expecting the worst... until a Clark County judge decided to delay the ban for 15 days to review a challenge calling it unconstitutional. The delay would only affect the southern-most county of the state but it seems other counties have decided to not enforce it.
My personal take on the ban is that, for the good it does, it also has some ill-conceived notions. The American business model was founded on meeting desires and needs in the mind of the consumer. Don't want to leave home? They'll deliver food to you. Want to stay in your car and watch a movie or have that meal? There are drive-in theaters and drive-in restaurants. If I want to open a local bar called Smokey's with a big sign upon entry claiming it is a smoking or even smoking-only establishment, I should be able to meet that desire. If the idea is to keep second-hand smoke away from children, why not just say that children are not allowed in pubs or restaurants that allow smoking? That ends the issue. They are carding people there anyhow, right? As a business owner, you want to keep your patrons happy. I know many of my friends and co-workers that only smoke when they have a few drinks. They usually do this when they are playing video poker with friends at a local pub. So when deciding between serving food at your establishment and telling your patrons they can't smoke... you will choose to save money and cut a few food server jobs. Maybe the overall banning of cigarettes is a better idea as Al Gore has said that cigarette smoking is "a significant contributor to global warming." But then again, we know how productive banning products in America has gone.