Aroma-Schutz durch rauchfreien Raum

Jim Romenesko at Starbucks Gossip links to a blog dedicated to replacing the aroma of tobacco smoke outside of Starbucks stores with the sweet smell of self-righteousness:

A blog established to encourage Starbucks (SBUX) to stop supporting smoking at their stores. SBUX, where it is legal, allows smoking outside of their stores. Not a very “socially conscious” policy. Not to mention, how does a business so closely tied to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure (breast cancer), reconcile allowing smoking at their stores?

Yikes, giving people a place to smoke, even if that place is outside, now detracts from a business’s social consciousness? And wanting to find cures for cancer now requires taking control over customers’ personal behavior? Obviously Starbucks is a private business and if they decide to ban smoking outside their stores they have every right to do so, but:

1) It might be more reasonable to ban it only in some stores, such as those with small urban storefronts. Suburban stores with large patios could easily accommodate smokers and non-smokers.

2) A guy smoking a cigarette in open air isn’t going to give anybody cancer. He might be annoying but so is the guy with the portable radio, the guy who hasn’t bathed in three days, and the friends chatting too loudly about their sex lives. In a civil society we learn when to tolerate such things and when to ask the store to intervene and it’s not clear that a chain-wide ban is needed to deal with them. In any case, allowing people to smoke outside where they do harm only to themselves is perfectly compatible with raising money for cancer research.

3) This blogger’s “campaign” is part of the trend to demonize smokers, portraying their behavior not just as unhealthy but as anti-social. This kind of thinking is what has led to extending legislated smoking bans from indoor spaces to places like beaches, golf courses, and public parks, where it’s absurd to claim there are any deleterious health effects from secondhand smoke. Starbucks might reasonably decide that forbidding smoking would be good for business but this would not put them on moral high ground.

4) Yes, it’s rude to light up next to other people without asking their permission but where else are smokers supposed to go? Now that they’ve been exiled from indoor businesses, even from tobacco shops in some jurisdictions, one can understand why they feel entitled to the outdoor spaces they have remaining.

5) Starbucks actually deserves great credit for their non-smoking policies. As I wrote about in 2006, they’ve been a pioneer in international markets for creating smokefree cafes in countries where these were predicted to fail. (The title of this post is a translation of the signs they posted in Austria explaining their policy: “aroma protection through a smoke-free space.”) They’ve probably helped change expectations for American cafes too. Given all this, it’s a bit spiteful to call them socially irresponsible for accommodating their smoking customers outside.

6) Sitting outside on a summer day with coffee and a cigar can be a wonderful experience. If you can find a place to do so where you won’t impose on other customers I highly recommend it.

Comments

  1. As someone who spends a lunch hour or two a week sitting outside my local Starbucks smoking a cigar with my coffee I sincerely hope Starbucks doesn’t give into this pressure. After all, cigars and coffee have long gone together.

    My local Starbucks is on a corner, so there are two sides to the store that face the parking lot. On one side smoking is allowed (complete with store provided ash trays) while the other features prominent non-smoking sides. The smoking side is always full while the other is often empty.

    Let’s not forget that the reason we smokers now go outside is because it is nearly impossible to find a place inside where the law permits smoking.

  2. Ad says:

    Starbucks is turning a blind eye to smoking peuple on the patios. I’ve never seen any no smoking signs outside Starbucks.
    I was just at a Bellevue Starbucks where people were smoking with 2 feet of the door on an outside table in violation of Washington Law. At least some of the smokers would be deterred from smoking if they had them.

  3. Steve says:

    Effective today. 6/7/2010, Starbucks in California are handing out little cards saying that smoking is no longer permitted on their patios. As a cigar smoker and a business owner in the strip center where my once-favorite Starbucks is located, this has prompted me to do the following:
    1) cash in my personal Starbucks card with $89.00 balance on it
    2) cash in my stash of 12 $10.00 Starbucks cards that I was using as appreciation gifts for my customers.
    3) buy a fairly expensive expresso/coffee machine for my employees to use to get free coffee
    4) discuss the situation with the manager of the Fresca’s restaurant across from Starbucks and urge them to start serving coffee.
    6) never grace the doorstep of Starbucks again (I generally spend $80-$100 there a week).
    7) call Starbucks corporate HQ and inform them of the above actions.

    I’ll think of a few more things to do later, including how to organize a boycott.

    It’s time to take a stand, sheeple.

  4. Way to go Steve! The Antismokers have gotten where they are today at least partly because they know how to be squeaky wheels. Smokers and their friends need to start squeaking loudly in return.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking that any particular little new prohibition they want to put out there might be sort of “reasonable” and that you should show the spirit of compromise in going along with it: they have never yet stopped with anything they’ve gotten and they never will.

    They are already seeking to grasp beaches, parks, outdoor campuses and even some urban sidewalk areas to put up officious “no smoking” signs and hit smokers with whatever ridiculous levels of fines are needed for obedience. And they are already going beyond public places indoors and out as they start to move into the private homes. If you visit some of their radical sites you’ll find them bragging about having had smoking banned in something like 150 housing complexes for poorer folks, and they’ve got whole sections of advice aimed at condo dwellers wanting to control the behavior of their neighbors. If people don’t stand up to them pretty soon, we WILL be seeing children removed from smoking parents (they’re already doing this commonly in child-custody disputes) and seeing children asked to report those parents to the school authorities.

    It’s long, long past the time to take a stand, but it’s never too late to try.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  5. Bob says:

    I prefer Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks is too “yuppie” for me.

  6. Bob says:

    Kids reporting parents? Will they be then sent to concentration camps?

  7. Not quite Bob, but the courts may step in and remove them.

    – MJM

  8. Actually, no need for reporting at all. They’re now selling “SmokerLyzer” breath monitors. Schools can run random “drug checks” on classrooms making everyone breathe into it. Anyone with over a certain concentration of chemicals can be removed from their parents under grounds of willful child abuse.

    Have any kids been removed like that yet? Not that I know of outside of custody disputes, but there’s at least one case of a Family Court judge somehow becoming aware that a parent smoke and forbidding her to smoke at home. The notable thing about that case was that it had nothing to do with smoking and nothing to do with any health condition of the child.

    - MJM

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