Smoking ban fails

It’s not often I get to say this, but this has been a very good week for smoking ban opponents. Tim Kaine’s proposed statewide ban stalled in the Virginia Senate. In Bavaria resistance is paying off:

The state of Bavaria in Germany is relaxing its strict smoking ban. From August, small bars will be able to introduce special smoking areas, as will beer tents, such as those during Munich’s ‘Octoberfest’.

Bavaria’s smoking ban was the strictest in Germany; up to now, it has not allowed any exceptions or separated areas where people can smoke. However, the ban led to fierce protests, and special smoking clubs were even set up to beat the law. Bavaria’s Health Minister Dr Markus Söder explains it was impossible to enforce the legislation, and relaxing the regulations will restore “social peace”.

Similarly, a ban in Ludhiana, India is being rebuffed by brazen civil disobedience. And even here in the US, Colorado is taking steps backward from its strict statewide ban:

Portions of Colorado’s 21/2-year-old indoor-smoking ban could be in jeopardy under a bill expected to be introduced soon.

The bipartisan measure would classify bars, restaurants, racetracks and parts of casinos as cigar-tobacco bars if they have a humidor and make 5 percent of annual gross income or $50,000 in annual sales from tobacco products. Patrons would be required to buy the cigarettes or cigars they smoke at these bars…

But the original legislation exempted cigar bars, and establishments ranging from dive bars to casinos tried to use the loophole to allow patrons to light up.

The new bill would clarify the definition of such bars — and expand it.

It first would eliminate a clause that cigar bars that wish to be exempt from the smoking ban must have been in place since 2005.

Under the bill, the cigar-tobacco bars would have to apply for a special license, ban anyone under 18 and post signs that smoking is allowed. No more than 25 percent of the space in most casinos could be a smoking area.

Rep. Don Marostica, who will be the prime House sponsor, said the effort is driven partly by tales from bar and casino owners about massive losses of business since the ban was enacted.

But it also largely is a matter of wanting business owners and adult patrons to be able to choose the rules under which they operate, said the Loveland Republican, who says he smokes no more than a couple of cigars a year.

“There’s a lot of bars in Adams County that have gone down and under (since the smoking ban), and this just gives them a way to reclaim their business,” said Thornton Democratic Rep. Ed Casso, also a sponsor. “Literally, not every bar is going to convert over to being a smoking bar, but it gives them the option if they want to do that.”

I am cautiously optimistic that we will soon put the worst of anti-smoking hysteria behind us. The tobacco control movement continues to destroy its own credibility with increasingly unscientific and ludicrous claims. Bans go unenforced and resisted by bar owners and smokers. As the recession and SCHIP put downward pressure on state budgets, legislators may look increasingly to tobacco as a source of revenue rather than an evil to be eliminated. And most importantly, as voluntarily smokefree bars and restaurants proliferate non-smokers will have less incentive to stomp on the rights of business owners. We’re not out of the woods yet, but there are glimmers of sunlight in the distance.


2 thoughts on “Smoking ban fails”

  1. As someone who has already had one operation on my throat and suffers intensely in even the slightest smokey atmosphere I am appaled by this article.
    Smoking in public places effectively bars me from those places. I have no choice.
    Smoking is a choice which smokers should realise affects many people intensely, in a way that is incomparable to their suffering if they are not allowed to smoke.
    Smoking bans have been wonderfully liberating from me both in Bavaria and the UK, I can now enjoy a beer or 3 in a public place, the first ime for many years!

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