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more on banning smoking

September 30, 2005

The smoking bans are following me! My Old City passed a ban right before we left town (it didn’t take effect until after we left). Now Our New City™ is on the verge of doing the same thing.

I don’t listen to the radio anymore, largely because I don’t have a car. I listen to my iPod for music on the commute and if I need news, I turn to the internet (and, occassionally, a podcast). So I haven’t heard any of the ads I heard in My Old City, the ones blaming Big Government for interefering in our lives. I’m sure they’re out there, though. This city seems particularly prone to that sort of rhetoric.

I also don’t know what general public opinion on this is. I don’t yet know any people who are “from” here—my circle is mostly students, newcomers. (And you know what? A lot of them are from cities with non-smoking bans. So there seems to be general approval among students for the ban.) But the actual people who live here in this city? I can’t imagine there’s overwhelming approval. People smoke here a lot. And I don’t mean smoking while out at bars or clubs, I mean smoking while walking down the street. Lighting up on the stairs on the way up from the train. Lots of congregations of smokers huddled outside buildings at mid-morning, lunch, and tea time. They smoke a lot.

But it doesn’t matter whether or not the people of the city approve or not, except in the broader sense that they elect local representatives. Why is that? It’s because there’s not going to be a public vote on this particular ban. It’s an ordinance being passed by the City Council. Maybe this is paternalistic Big Government out to get us! I know many of the other big cities that have passed smoking bans have done the same thing and it’s probably the only feasible way in such large metropolitan areas. Still, I liked that My Old City, despite the annoying ads and ridiculous mudslinging that resulted, let the citizens vote. And you know what? It still passed.

I don’t like smoking. I used to smoke, I quit. I don’t like going out and reeking of cigarettes when I’m ready to go home. I don’t like having to avoid going out at all nights before I’m supposed to sing or speak, because I know the smoke will completely wreck my voice. I just don’t like it. So in that sense, I am in favor of smoking bans, when they are reasonable. But I am bothered by a “decree from above” ordinance for a ban. Representative democracy, my ass. Everyone’s local rep has his or her own agenda, just like our Congressmen and Senators do.

So let the people decide if they want smoking bans. The results might be surprising.

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  1. September 30, 2005 at 3:00 pm

    Well, I’m “from” here (basically) and I am all for it… I think it might be a little over-broad, though. Bars are for vice… if you’re killing brain cells with liquor, what’s a few lung cells?

    However, I absolutely hate having a good meal ruined by smokers. So at least as far as restaurants are concerned, I say bring it on!!

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