Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fort Wayne Approves Tough Anti-Smoking Ordinance

A couple of years ago, the Indianapolis City-County Council struggled to pass an anti-smoking ordinance. What eventually passed was so watered down with exceptions it's easy to forget the city has an ordinance. Last night, the Fort Wayne Council easily approved one of the state's strictest smoking bans on a vote of 7-1-1. As the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette describes the ordinance:

The ban prohibits people from smoking in almost any public place, including restaurants, bars and bowling alleys. It exempts up to 20 percent of a hotel’s rooms, some private nursing home rooms and all retail tobacco stores. Private residences are not included in the ban.

Because Indianapolis still allows smoking in bars and some restaurants, it's hard to avoid unwanted second-hand smoke. I remember the first time I visited New York after it passed its tough smoking ban. It was so much more pleasant to be able to return to my hotel room after being out on the town without feeling and smelling like I had been smoking all night long. For asthma sufferers, the smoking bans are a God-send. The lobbying of bar owners in Indianapolis had a lot to do with our weak ordinance. I recall a conversation I had with one local bar owner at the time who insisted he would lose 20% of his business if his customers weren't allowed to smoke.


Anonymous said...

When is government going to finally just take total control of all business? Seriously, they continue to strip rights away from small business owners, all the while not bailing them out if business is hurt. Better yet, why hasn't tobacco been outlawed? Alcohol causes so much more "costs" it is not even funny. Can't wait till they start regulating alcohol even more. Would be the end of bars, which wouldn't both me at all. Alcohol should be treated the same as tobacco. If you can only smoke in your home, you should only be allowed to drink in your home.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal, 2:16: alcohol use, in and of itself, is not inherently harmful to those within five feet. Misused, of course, it's harmful, even deadly to onlookers (vis-a-vis DUI accidents, etc.)

But smokers' smoke goes everywhere, in food, drinks, on clothes, in my lungs, etc.

There's really no fair comparison here, although it's often made by those who just don't get it.

And in every single municipality where a tough smoking ordinance is enacted, all bars are on the same playing field. The "lost business" argument is crap, and they know it.

California passed tough indoor air quality laws in 1972, and made them even tougher a few years later. Guess which state has the best lungs, thus, better prices on health and life insurance, via their actuarilly-proven better health rates? You got it.

Smokers, as a group, have to be one of the rudest subsets of folks walking the face of the earth.

It's just a matter of time. As it should be. And I do not fear the cascade of regulations into my home, should a tougher ban become law. That's another ridiculous and unproven argument.

Anonymous said...

"But smokers' smoke goes everywhere, in food, drinks, on clothes, in my lungs, etc.

There's really no fair comparison here, although it's often made by those who just don't get it."

If you have a sign on the door of your fast food joint saying "Smoking is allowed here." there is no harm to me. If I don't inhale the smoke, there is no harm. Who was being forced against their will to work in a smoke filled building?

So I guess we need to control smoking because some people might get sick. However, alcohol should not be regulated the same, even though about 10,000 people are killed every year in DUI deaths. This does not even count the numbers who slowly kill themselves by drinking too much. The numbers who drink too much in college and OD on alcohol. The folks who do dumb things and end up getting hurt or killed outside of driving a vehicle.

The comparison is just fine. We are banning smoking to protect others, specifically workers and people who demand to go out to eat in non-smoking businesses. We say this is to protect these folks. So why are folks who might be harmed by out-of-control drinking worthy of these same protections? Why are their lives worth less? Why is it ok to strongly limit smoking to stop second hand lung cancer, yet we won't strongly limit alcohol consumption to limit DUI deaths?