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?