Vice Squad
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Smoking Ban Backlash?

Maybe I am over-reacting to a few newspaper stories, but is there a bit of a backlash developing against public (workplace) smoking bans? New York state has a public smoking ban, and here's a report from very near the state house about discontent with the law. (Sample quote: "Restaurateurs clashed with anti-smoking advocates on more than one occasion at the Capitol during the spring. At one point, about 70 protesters shouted down Russell Shiandra, director for Tobacco Free New York."). [Update: An effort to hold a referendum to increase the exceptions to Toledo, Ohio's smoking ban is underway.] Ireland has a workplace smoking ban, too, and today's Chicago Tribune runs this story (registration required) under the headline "Revolution in air over smoking ban." Britain is considering an Irish-style ban, and one of the most esteemed British artists, David Hockney, is helping to lead the charge against it. (The loyal Vice Squad reader will recall that the musician Joe Jackson has also become active in British anti-smoke ban policy, comparing passive smoke to "another Weapon of Mass Destruction which failed to turn up.") On the other hand, Banff, Canada, today implemented its strict public smoking ban.

I tend to support some regulation of public smoking, but not outright bans, which I believe are too intrusive upon those whose decisions to recreate or work in a smoking environment are "fully rational" (ugh), and made in a relatively competitive environment. I might go along with a ban at the Department of Motor Vehicles, for instance, which people often have no effective choice but to patronize.


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