Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Smoking Ban Year One - Lexington

Today is the one year anniversary of the smoking ban in Lexington. There is one major difference between Lexington and the Cincinnati Area. There is one government in the city. For Cincinnati, you have two states, and three major municipalities (Cincinnati, Newport, Covington). I've long said that if a ban was to go in affect, it must be regional. However, that aside there were some telling things in this article about the one year smoking ban:

- A year after this town's smoking ban took effect, bars and restaurants haven't closed and the nightlife hasn't disappeared - Gee, what a surprise, people still go out to eat and grab a beer. Funny how the same argument was discussed in California, New York City, etc.

- Of course, there have been subtle changes. Patios have sprouted at bars and restaurants, along with heat lamps to make cold nights more inviting as smokers cluster outside instead of in smoking sections - Is this supposed to be bad? More outdoor areas is a good thing in my mind

- Doug Pokrivea, who smokes 30 cigarettes a day, boycotted the city's bars and restaurants for a month. But a year later, he goes out as often as he did before the ban. When he wants a cigarette, he walks outside - SHOCKER! Pack a day smokers can't stay away from the bar? Who would have thought!

- A University of Kentucky study released last week says the smoke-free law did not have a significant economic effect on bars and restaurants. Researchers compared employment figures, business openings and closings and payroll withholding taxes from before and after the ban - Interesting. A study of the NUMBERS and FACTS, indicates that bars/restaurants were not impacted.

- The Lexington-Fayette County Food and Beverage Association, which lobbied against the ban, is expected to release its own study soon. Dave Whitson, a spokesman for the association, doesn't believe the findings. "They say it's not hurting business especially, but you can go all through town and see that several have closed," said Whitson, who owns two bars. - Interesting. So the numbers indicate that there was no affect, but the group opposed to the ban, has noticed 'several' bars close in the last year. And with that they announce their own study. Sounds to me like they have no opinion on what the outcome of that study is - completely unbiased. And if a couple bars closing in Lexington is smoking ban related, then Cincinnati must have banned smoking and drinking in bars, because I've seen more than a couple bars close in the last year!

The only argument I see that holds any weight, is the argument that businesses should decide on their own, and if a business wants to go smoke free they can, and the free market should work to make one bar more successful. However, I do believe that visiting and especially working in an environment filled with smoke daily is not a healthy situation. Which usually gets the response of 'don't visit', or 'you don't have to work there'. But with that argument you'd have unregulated meat packing plants today.... oh, so people lose arms in meat grinders, well they don't HAVE to work there. That argument just doesn't work. The government does have a place in regulating the safety of work environments. That trumps personal choice, and profit (though in this case there is no evidence anywhere that profits would be hurt).

Joe it seems like you are making contradicting points.

You say you support laws that enable visiting and working in smoke free environments but that business should be able to choose.. Aren't bars employing people? They deserve the right too to work smoke free. Commericial business has long since elected non-smoking venues in many cases because employees are willing to make arrangements and it doesn't impact business. However the restaraunt business can't do the same unless its enforced across the board. I completely support that, in fact I think states should start jumping into that and make entires states smoke free for places of business.
i would suspect that just like everywhere else the numbers for the entire restaurant and bar group will remain about the same while a more specific look at the establishments that have liquor licenses will drop significantly. I have the studies contradict every one of smoke free Ohio's "facts" on economic effects. Studies are only as good as the information that goes into them

Remember we are in a growing economy (about 3.5% a year right now on average) so everything should be expanding so just staying even is actually falling behind.
Hey, what we all need in this country is a new witchunt. Smokers are easy. Let's go after people who make lewd comments in bars. They injur my mental health. And alcohol contributes to thousands of deaths every year. Better ban that too I mean after all, it does affect ME. Lessee what else? Oh yeah, create a law that forbids well built young males from taking off their shirts. It tends to distract women drivers and create potential health hazards as a result. Ban soda too, it's bad for the bones and teeth.
The nine most terrifying words that you can ever hear as a citizen are,"I'm from the government and I'm here to help." When Uncle Sugar starts telling private business who their customers can or cannot be, we're all in BIG trouble. Fortunantly, when the real facists arrive those of you who think you're actually fixing anything will be fixed as well.
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