I Have Problems With Proposed, Broadened Smoking Ban

Although I am quite intolerant of smokers, I am not sure I can endorse a bill now headed to the Oregon House that would ban smoking in bingo halls, bars and bowling alleys starting in January 2009.

The bill, which passed the Oregon Senate 18-12, would exempt only cigar bars, retail tobacco shops, the Portland Meadows race track, and up to 25 percent of an individual hotel’s rooms.

Smoking would also be prohibited within 10 feet of windows, doors and vents associated with these banned places. Maximum fine: up to $2,000 within any 30-day period.

My problem with this bill is driven by my casual observations over the years that many Oregon bars offer video poker, and that every time I have stepped into these places, the waft of cigarette smoke was both unavoidable and sad.

Sad, yes, but in playing video poker, these smokers generate funds that go back to the state. The same could be said for many bingo hall frequenters as well.

Yes, I am aware of the argument that by restricting smoking in these places, we would be making a statement that smoking costs the state more in terms of health care costs than the amount of money generated from those who smoke and play video poker and bingo.

But the way I see it, if you don’t let the video poker players smoke, it is not that they are going to quit in large numbers.

They’ll simply smoke somewhere else.

And why the preferred treatment for smokers who come to Portland Meadows?

Sounds like lobbyists at work to me.

13 Comments so far

  1. Audrey (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:31 am

    I passed this along to my friend, a rhetorician, and she offered this link: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/cumhocfa.html

  2. Melissa (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 8:58 am

    No offense, but I say “hogwash”. If those folks playing video poker are THAT addicted to playing video poker then they are going to play somewhere, somehow, whether they can smoke or not. And its not that hard to step outside for a smoke is it?

    Now there may be other financial losses suffered by banning smoking from bars et al but hell, if several countries in Europe can pull it off (and you know how they smoke) then why can’t we?

  3. Himself (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:06 am

    Wow. That’s the most novel (if outrageously cynical) argument I’ve heard for allowing smoking in our dens of iniquity.

    I was originally opposed to smoking bans in bars, even as a non-smoker, because it just seemed weird. But as more and more night spots become smoke-free, I’ve become very accustomed to it. And these joints don’t seem to lack for business.

    Bottom line, of course, is not about customers, but about employees’ exposure to deadly second-hand smoke. And don’t feed me that Libertarian line of hooey about “they can just find a job somewhere else.”

  4. divebarwife (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:46 am

    I don’t mind admitting I’m an occasional smoker. Get enough drinks in me and be in a place that allows it and I’ll smoke. If I’m in a place that doesn’t allow it – I don’t. No big deal. But I do have a problem with this ban in that it shouldn’t be the state’s decision. I firmly believe that the bar owner has the right to decide if their establishment allows smoking or not.

    As Himself pointed out – more and more places – in Portland especially – are non-smoking because the owners have made them so. Over time, this will continue and with the exception of a few old relics – everywhere will become non-smoking.

    And yes – I firmly believe the ‘line of hooey’ that there are more than enough bars (and ALL restaurants btw) that are non-smoking that if you work in the service industry and want to work in a non-smoking environment – you can.

  5. Beulah Mae (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 10:08 am

    Well, pick your addiction, I guess. Does smoking addiction trump gambling? Personally I think while there might be an initial decline, they would come back.

    I believe a ban would help push people looking for that extra motivation to quit, and that’s a good thing.

    I’ll just be glad when I can go out to a g.bar and not have to inhale my death. Queens should know better anyway.

  6. jc (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 11:50 am

    are you crazy? the rights of smokers end at my nose and those that work in bars, etc. given what we know about lung cancer, let alone the cost implications on the state of covering the medical costs of these smokers – this is a no-brainer. Look at WA, ID , CA — the sky does not fall when a ban on smoking is enacted – and the positive benefits dramatically outweigh the negative

  7. chromeburn (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

    I like this idea. As a reverse transplant and smoker I now find smoking inside public places odd.
    Arguments about second hand smoke and the sanctity of a non-smoker’s lungs aside (seriously, if you live in a city and/or drive a car your lungs aren’t all that important to you) the new law as it is described is total crap. Portland is the type of city that doesn’t need laws of this nature as the businesses can self regulate if they do or do not want people to smoke indoors. What magical powers does Portland Meadows have that makes smoking not dangerous there but a public menace anywhere else?

    The concept is good but the execution is lacking.

    As for the state paying for the consequences of smoking… smoker’s pay a hefty tax per pack which theoretically would offset any public medical costs. I don’t see, for example, obese people paying a similar tax on food yet their cost to the state (and private healthcare) is significantly higher.

  8. Roger (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

    I long for the day — and I think it’s coming closer each and ever day — when smoking itself is made illegal — everywhere. It is a vile, dirty, disgusting habit with no positive attributes whatsoever. It causes untold misery, and its participants border on evil. Yes, I mean evil.

  9. atlas (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

    Roger makes me want to take up smoking. Evil? I have it on good knowledge that God himself smokes like a chimney (Pall Malls), probably sharing a smoke with Peter and Paul right now. Shazam!

    I don’t mind people smoking… it is actually pretty easy for me to avoid smoky bars and dine in places that do not allow smoking.

    In walking on the street and by chance getting hit by a cloud of smoke from an exhale of a smoker, I simply exhale myself… no different than when a car exhaust billows past.

  10. PDXJer (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

    What I think is weird is that it is not common place for smokers to just walk outside and have a smoke. They know it negatively affects the people around them.

    Why doesn’t just simple politeness compel smokers to step outside and have a smoke?

  11. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on May 24th, 2007 @ 7:52 am

    Should the government dictate how a private businessperson chooses to run their business, purely for the benefit of one group who is in agreement with that method of operation?

    Regarding the libertarian hooey – I’d love to hear from an employee who was forced to work in a smoking environment and was unable to quit. Please. Tell me your story.

  12. Tito (unregistered) on May 25th, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    Most of the bars that I’ve gone to in the last few years here are voluntarily non-smoking anyway, and they just have a covered patio outside. I smoke like a chimney, and I thik that’s a fine compromise. But with a 10-foot requirement, those patios won’t work out very well. The Alberta St. Pub, for instance, with it’s nice heated outdoor smoking area and non-smoking indoor space, would have to ban smoking entirely outside. Good job, lawmakers, way to interfere with a system that works.

  13. Lady (unregistered) on May 28th, 2007 @ 10:29 am

    I smoke like there’s no tomorrow, but I do feel obligated to ensure that I am not intruding on anyone else’s airspace from my cigarette smoke. I am more than willing to step outside for a cigarette and/or restrict use to confined areas. But until we enact laws insisting on less CO2 emissions from cars, deal with the benzene problem in Portland, and start taxing large corporations for their fair share, I think we have bigger fish to fry here in Portland than me smoking as far away from non-smoking people as possible on a sidewalk.

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