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.


LoraLoo said...

I believe a lot of people voted on 4 & 5 uninformed. I agree with you - if it's truly about the children, then don't take your kid to a pub for a meal.

Fred said...

We have such a ban here in Florida, and it really hasn't been a problem. Everybody screamed and yelled, and lawsuits were threatened, but it all ended with the ban in place. The highlights are here.

Bar L. said...

Martin, I totally agree with you and Lora. Smoking and drinking goes hand in hand for lost of people - if a bar or pub owner wants to allow smoking in his establishment he should be allowed to.

Its funny, not that its illegal here there are a few places that "allow" smoking and they get a lot of business but apparently they could also get in a lot of trouble for not following the law.

Teri said...

I don't want to open a can of worms, but I voted no on 4 and yes on 5. Basically I don't agree with the ban on smoking in bars, but I didn't want to wait many years until they got the wording right. I am not afraid to say that I hate smoking and am very happy to be able to go to a restaurant and not be one table away from the smoking section. I know this is very selfish of me, but I am tired of smelling second hand smoke.

Ken said...

I voted yes on 5 and no on 4. However, both were poorly worded and whoever says BOTH are about children is smoking something else altogether.

I lived through this when they banned smoking in bars in Ontario in the mid-90s, and have been to both Buffalo and California after they went smoke free. It's nice not coming out of bar smelling like smoke, and those establishments have learned that it wasn't horrible. However in Nevada, it isn't as cut and dried. Leaving out some establishments while going after others is a little wacky.

Jon Ralston summed up some of the issues in his column in the Las Vegas Sun.

My personal take is that it isn't doomsday. Not even close. If they ban smoking in bars that serve food, those establishments should give it 30 days before making a judgment. People will adjust. The crowd at Santora's is not the same crowd that goes to Barleys. People will still go to the closest place for a couple of beers and to drop some coin in a video poker machine. Just my thought, though.

Lily said...

We have similar bans here in MA. What ends up happening at bars and restaurants is a crowd forms outside the establishment to light up.

Beth said...

I smoked for a year. Now, even walking by someone with a cigarette makes me sick.

Martin said...

I want to thank all of you for sharing your points of view on this topic. I personally dislike smoking. At the same time, I also believe that people have a right to hurt themselves (I see it as a survival of the fittest issue) and not others. I expect that if I go into a bar or nightclub for a few drinks that I'll smell like smoke. It's probably why I don't go do that often (even though I miss karaoke.) Then again, I think if someone has the business vision to open a smoking-only venue, they should be given that opportunity (we actually had a casino try to go smoke-free during the 1990s.) Either way, I find this is one of the few issues that people can discuss in a civil way without devolving into anger. B)