Ballard's smoking gun -- maybe he's right

Dateline: Mon 04 Jan 2010

Mayor Greg Ballard -- damned if he does, damned if he doesn't, but that's politics -- took quite a bit of heat recently over his decision to not support a ban of smoking in Indy bars and nightspots.

This is a toughie. The progressive argument says it is time for Indianapolis to get on the map; who wants to support a throwback city where smoke gets in your eyes every time you go out to have a drink in an adult watering hole? Besides all that, here's a testimonial: I lived, barely, and breathed, barely, in those smoke-filled newsrooms of the Star many years ago. One of the best actions ever taken by the paper was to banish smoking in the work area. The exception was a designated smoking room (as well as the publisher Gene Pulliam's office).

But the Libertarian in me, years later, had to respect the position of many bar owners -- adult businessmen and women, in other words -- who wanted to make their own decisions about their workplaces. (The weak link is the effect on employees of such establishments; I didn't want to work in a smoke-filled joint; why should they?)

Nonetheless, Ballard's refusal to back the smoking ban, allegedly despite throwing his support that way during his run for mayor, has been problematic.

Then comes Sunday's New York Times SundayStyles section, with its front page article: "Blowing Smoke At a Ban."

Seems New York, Chicago and other cities -- hello, Bloomington -- are chock-full of little clubs etc. that refuse to tow the line. In other words, patrons defy the law, and bar owners are complicit.

Here, in my opinion, are the key points put forth in the NYT article, written by Douglas Quenqua and published this past Sunday Jan 3:

"There is evidence that smoking bans outside New York City may also be losing their bite. USA Today reported last month that bars in Chicago and Honolulu as well as in Ohio and Virginia were openly defying bans."

(This comes after the writer documents the defiance taking place in NYC). Quenqua continues:

"Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have passed smoking bans that affect bars and restaurants. Smoking bans were popular a century ago but were all but repealed in the late 1920s, according to Christopher Snowden, the author of 'Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Anti-Smoking.'

"Most bans meet the same fate, Mr. Snowden said:

"'They usually end up with the same kind of passive resistance you see here.Its just the fact that you have a habit that won't go away,' he added."

Could it be that Ballard is the big picture thinker on this? He might well any rate, he's playing to the anti-nanny state crowd that is tired of being to eat only zero trans fats, without foi gras and no smoke, period.








hendy [Member] said:

Ballard's on the wrong side of this one. Health counts, and he's voting against it. This said from a smoker since 1968.

I understand freedom, and I understand the twits that believe we have a nanny state. There is no such thing. There is only the resistance of the boorish to the health needs of others. Remember the seat belt crowd? Why didn't we just them all drunk and let them take themselves out, darwin-style?

Commit suicide in your own favorite way, but don't foist it up on others. It takes no brains to understand what second-hand smoke does. Only a fool fails to understand how non-smokers and those allergic simply cannot go into places like the Slippery Noodle because it makes them ill. It hurts some people immediately; it hurts most in a little while, and it drains your wallet of subsidized health costs in finality. That's the short-sightedness of it all. Bah.

2010-01-04 23:44:30

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy for Mayor.

Ruth, whether he's right or wrong is barely the point. I sat in a room during that campaign, full of neighborhood activists, and he promised he'd support a full ban. He did not equivocate.

His flip-flop on an issue like this, was just plain stupid. Save the flips for issues on which you can get some traction.

Our amateur hour mayor is a joke.

Don't give me the "bar owners don't want government in their business" argument. To operate their bars, they have government up to their armpits: for liquor licenses, health and safety issues, and if they have kitchens, even more regulations.

And, regardless what you hear, wherever this has been done with a full bank, business has not suffered. California did it in 1979. And by most actuarial charts, guess which state has the cleanest lungs, therefore, potentially, lower health care costs on that score?

I am Libertarian on many things, too. This is a health issue, purely and simply. Your right to enjoy cigarettes, if you do, ends at the point where my lungs must absorb it in a pubic place. And anywhere that has to get 15 govt. permits to open its door, and remain in govt. good graces to stay open, is a public place.


2010-01-05 22:53:27

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