Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On Banning Smoking

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Just because I don't agree with something doesn't mean it should be prohibited.

So here are a few suggestions for better things to do besides flat-out ban smoking from bars and lounges.

1. Instead of prohibiting smoking, encourage non-smoking! Give tax breaks to restaurants and bars that don't allow smoking. If it wouldn't cost them so much business, a lot of bars would ban smoking anyway. So let's give them the compensation to do so!

2. Just because people might have the right to smoke does not mean it can't be discourage. Tax the heck out of tobacco/tobacco products. Allocate the money to fund health and/or compensate for the tax breaks to bars and lounges that don't allow smoking.

3. Encourage better quality cigarettes. Set higher standards for levels of carcinogenic, addictive, and otherwise harmful additives. Give tax breaks to Organic tobacco farmers.

4. What about tobacco being a major cash crop in Virginia? What about the farmers? Encourage alternative crops. I'm not a big fan of ethanol as an alternative fuel, but there are other things out there. If less tobacco is produced than less cigarettes will be too. They will become more expensive and thus fewer people will buy them.

5. Lobby to nationally legalize industrial hemp farming. No, this isn't crazy hippie talk. Hemp actually is a very versatile plant that is good for soil replenishment (unlike corn and cotton) and can be used for heat-retaining textiles, high-quality paper (the Declaration of Independence was written on it for crying out loud!) and many other things. It's a better source of Omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil or flax seed. All these things are far more beneficial than tobacco. It's an excellent alternative with a diverse market to keep farmers afloat. It just needs to be legalized.

Unlike a big easy imposing law, most of these solutions won't happen over night, but few things that cause real positive change ever do. If smoking is banned it won't effect me at all. I don't smoke and the only lounge I frequently (term used loosely these days, sadly) hang out in is Gravity, which already bans smoking inside. I understand the arguments of both sides and tend to agree with both. I don't like the government telling me what to do with my body and I don't want to get cancer secondhand from all the fools around me. So to me these seem like more win-win solutions than bills like SB1161.

Via 750 Volts.


Blogger Cory Capron said...

That said, HB1653 does strike me as a very good bill that bans smoking... within 25 feet of a gas pump.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous nobrainer said...

One of the best things the legislature could do is to promise to not ban smoking.

It may not make intuitive sense, but it creates stability. Thus restaurants that may be pondering going smoke free (or investing in top-notch ventilation) as a business advantage can do so knowing that their advantage won't be legislated away.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Cory Capron said...


Yes and No. I'm still basically suggesting that smoking be gotten rid of, I'm just suggesting it in a more organic manner. Smoke free restaurants and bars would still lose their advantage eventually due to various pressures listed above. However, with the tax breaks/incentives I was suggesting for them, they'd never really be hurt. They would simply have an edge until enough other restaurants and bars gave in. At that point it would just be a level ground with the potential for an established non-smoking patronage for the early birds.

Investing in top-notch ventilation is a different animal though. As I said, these are suggestions for better things to do besides a flat-out ban of smoking from bars and lounges." If it weren't for second hand smoke, I'd go so far as to call it hypocritical to ban the drug in a place where the point of coming is to consume another harmful substance (alcohol). So I wasn't talking about resturants. Unlike most bars, they can be pretty realistically divided. Most bars, clubs, and lounges can have all the top-notch ventilation in the world, but they're still going to suck for asthmatics.

8:28 PM  

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