No Smoking?

The other day someone asked me what I thought about laws that ban smoking in bars and restaurants.  My response is that it’s a health issue.  If we can regulate the quality of food in public houses (the long name for pubs), we can regulate the quality of air too.  Others seem to think that smoking is a “right” of some sort and that any public place should be able to decide whether to allow smoking or not.

Most laws take it as a work safety issue.  Workers should be able to work in a clean environment, including air.  This reminds me about when I first started working in an office environment in the late 80’s.  I worked at a bank operations center, and smoking was allowed in the building.  When you walked into the cavernous items processing department, there was a perpetual smoke cloud hanging in the air.  About half the staff smoked, including the manager.

A couple of years later laws were passed that banned smoking in most workplaces in Florida.  This, of course, included the office I worked in.  And thus, the “smoke break” was born.  Today, after nearly 20 years of no smoking in most workplaces in Florida, we’ve grown so accustomed to it that it seems out of place to see anyone smoking in any office or workplace setting. 

The only workplaces that were exempt from these laws were bars and restaurants.  Since then, however, restaurants have been added to the list of places where smoking is banned.  The question I have for folks that believe in the “right” to smoke in pubs is if all smoking ban laws should be removed from the books.  How would you like to work in a place that allowed smoking?  Why do you think bars and restaurants are different than say department stores or your local grocer or your workplace?

–sam

5 thoughts on “No Smoking?”

    1. Possibly. I’m not sure if that’s the root. I think there is a lot of space between a right to a job and a right to a safe work environment.

    2. I have mixed feelings about this myself. While I definitely enjoy a smoke free environment when I eat out I don’t like to tell a restaurant owner what legal activities that he can or cannot permit at his establishment.

      1. But is that any different than telling any other business that smoking is not allowed in the building?

        I think people get mixed up with the idea that laws like this curtail a business owners rights. What right is there to allow smoking? If such a right exists, at what point does the worker’s “right” to a safe environment push back against it.

        Remember when we first started working at First Union and people could smoke in there? What makes bars and restaurants any different than First Union or any other “public” building? Was it right to ban smoking in those buildings in the first place?

        I think it’s fine to regulate this kind of stuff. Others can and will disagree. 😉

        –sam

  1. I really do think it is a health issue. Insurance companies even will charge higher rates for smokers. And while someone may believe that it is their “right” to smoke. It is not their right to force me to breathe the second hand smoke. Smoking may be their choice, but it is a choice. I cannot choose not to breathe, and I happen to actually like breathing.

    Now, if I can’t breathe in places where there is smoking present, then I cannot patronize those establishments. It follows then, that I will spend my money in a place where I can breathe easier. Considering that the majority of the population doesn’t smoke, it actually does better for such places as pubs and restaurants to go smoke free, as their patronage will more than likely climb. It may not be immediate, but over time, they will see an increase in people willing to go out to those places where they felt they could not go, or simply did not want to go before.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *