Announcing the Arthur Kaler Award

If you follow tobacco policy, you’ve probably heard by now that Atlantic City is reversing its smoking ban after just one month of implementation. Just like the hypocrites in the Iowa legislature, the Atlantic City Council’s concern for workers ended when the city’s tax revenues took a hit; the double-whammy of an economic recession and driving smokers away from game floors was too much for casinos to handle. When private businesses that cater to smokers are hurt by smoking bans, of course, governments are rarely so sympathetic.

No surprises there, but blog pal Rogier van Bakel spotted a particularly galling passage in an article about the reversal:

The ban will end Sunday, and the situation will again revert to what it was before, where smoking is restricted to no more than 25 percent of the gambling floor… Arthur Kaler, a 25-year dealer at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, felt betrayed by the council’s reversal.

“If we are here next year to revisit the smoking ban and I have fallen victim to lung cancer, will each of you look my family in the eyes?” he asked council members at a recent meeting. “Tell them how brave I was to fight secondhand smoke every day to save the economy of New Jersey. A ballpark or street could be dedicated in my honor, and my family can be bestowed a plaque.”

Sorry Arthur, I don’t think you’ll be seeing a bronze plaque anytime soon, despite your noble efforts on behalf of the economy of New Jersey. Yet you clearly deserve something. But since I can’t deliver what you truly deserve via html, this blog’s going to go Andrew Sullivan style and name an award after you: The Arthur Kaler Award for Sanctimonious Nannyism, dedicated to those whose self-righteous paternalism goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Our first nominee is the Portman Group in the UK. You may remember their ongoing campaign against Skullsplitter Ale for the beer label’s “violent” overtones. Today they have a new brewery in their crosshairs:

An “aggressive” beer sold under the name Punk IPA faces being banned after a ruling that it would promote irresponsible drinking.

The drink and two others made by BrewDog in Fraserburgh, Hop Rocker and Rip Tide, were found to have breached marketing rules in a provisional decision by the Portman Group, a self-regulating industry body.

It decided Rip Tide’s description as a “twisted merciless stout” would be associated with antisocial behaviour, while the claim that Hop Rocker was a “nourishing foodstuff” and that “magic is still there to be extracted” implied that it would enhance physical and mental capabilities.

Note that the Portman Group is funded by alcohol giants such as Coors, Carlsberg, Diageo, and InBev, suggesting that their moralizing has less to do with protecting helpless drinkers than it does with hurting small competitors. BrewDog managing director James Watt calls for getting rid of Portman instead of his beers. I haven’t seen BrewDog available here in the US, but I hope UK readers will pick up a few bottles in his support.

We’ll doubtlessly have more Kaler Award nominees coming up, so follow along here and when the time is right we’ll pick a winner.

Update 11/20/08: BrewDog is available in the US! I grabbed a bottle of their Punk IPA and one of their Scotch barrel aged ales today at Portland’s Belmont Station.

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