Feb 17 2017

The Science of Smoking Bans

smoking-banIn a recent article for Slate, Jacob Grier argues that the science used to justify widespread bans on smoking in public places was flawed. Recent more robust research has show little to no health benefit from such laws, he argues. While he has a point regarding the arc of scientific evidence, I think he is going too far in the other direction in his conclusions about the science.

Second Hand Smoke

The current consensus of evidence is that there are health risks to second hand smoke, although they are statistically small. Debate centers around the magnitude of the effect, with few doubting that there is a negative health effect. Negative health effects include heart attacks, lung cancer, stroke, and exacerbation of asthma. On a population level, even small increased risks result in large numbers of excess deaths and negative health outcomes. The CDC estimates, for example, that second-hand smoke exposure results in 34,000 excess cardiac deaths each year.

Increased recognition of the health risks of passive smoke exposure lent significant political weight to anti-smoking efforts, resulting in a cultural shift over the last 30 years. As a result smoking has largely been banned in most indoor public places and many work places.

The empirical question on which Grier focuses is the impact of those smoking bans on health outcomes. He does a fairly thorough review of the literature, although I think his review is biased to make his point, that the health benefits of such bans have been overplayed and maybe don’t exist.

Conspicuously absent from his review is a 2016 Cochrane systematic review (the gold standard for systematic reviews in evidence-based medicine). This updated review concludes:

“Since the first version of this review was published, the current evidence provides more robust support for the previous conclusions that the introduction of a legislative smoking ban does lead to improved health outcomes through reduction in SHS for countries and their populations. The clearest evidence is observed in reduced admissions for acute coronary syndrome. There is evidence of reduced mortality from smoking-related illnesses at a national level. There is inconsistent evidence of an impact on respiratory and perinatal health outcomes, and on smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption.”

Another 2016 Cochrane review shows that institutional smoking bans decrease tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure in hospital and universities, but not in prisons.

A 2017 systematic review concludes that public smoking bans do not shift smoking to the home, and does result in overall reduction in smoking.

A 2016 review focusing on child health also finds benefit:

“There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that children also experience health benefits after implementation of smoke-free legislation. In addition to protecting children from tobacco smoke in public, the link between smoke-free legislation and improved child health is likely to be mediated via a decline in smoking during pregnancy and reduced exposure in the home environment. Recent studies have found that the implementation of smoke-free legislation is associated with a substantial decrease in the number of perinatal deaths, preterm births and hospital attendance for respiratory tract infections and asthma in children, although such benefits are not found in each study.”

These are the most recent reviews that I could find and I think they fairly represent the state of the research. Grier gives an overall different view of the research, focusing on the fact that effect sizes have decreased as studies have increased in size and rigor.

No one should be surprised at this, however. In fact, the research on the impact of smoking ban legislation is an excellent example of the general trend in scientific research that I frequently discuss here. Preliminary research has a massive false positive bias, partly researcher bias and partly publication bias. As follow up research is more rigorous and thorough, effect sizes tend to decrease (this is termed the decline effect). This is a fairly consistent effect in the literature, but can be made to seem sinister if presented in isolation regarding one topic.

Grier implies that the benefit of such bans declines to near zero, but I don’t think the most recent systematic reviews justify that conclusion. Initial reported benefits were unrealistically high (such as a 60% reduction in heart attacks) but that should not establish the bar for later comparison. We have to look at the benefits on their own.

Since we are talking about public health measures, we need to consider population-based reductions in negative health outcomes, and the reviews show they are real and substantial. Are they enough to justify the current bans (or even expanding the bans)? Now we are getting into ethical philosophy, which can be informed by the science but also requires some value judgments.

The Ethics of Smoking Bans

Grier is a libertarian who discloses:

“I worked at the Cato Institute almost a decade ago when it received some tobacco company donations. Also, as part of my career as a bartender, I made cocktails at a 2016 event sponsored by Diamond Crown; I wasn’t paid, but I was given a humidor and cigars as thanks.”

Take that for what it’s worth. This is not necessarily a criticism, it is just pointing out that he is coming from a certain perspective in terms of which values he may deem more important (i.e. personal liberty).

I am a physician, and I freely admit I am coming from a different perspective. To me smoking is the enemy and we should do everything we can to reduce its incidence. I also freely admit that I personally hate second hand smoke. I find it an assault on my own personal liberty.

When considering the ethics of smoking we have to recognize the cultural and historical context. Smoking is accepted because of its long embedded cultural history. Imagine if a product such as smoking were just developed, and a company tried to introduce it to the market. This product is demonstrably harmful when used as directed. It increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, strokes, and respiratory illness. It increases these same risks to a lesser degree in those passively exposed to it. The product is also addictive, which compromises the free choice of the user. Use of the product also has zero benefit – it is purely for recreation.

I think it is reasonable to conclude that such a product, if a company tried to introduce it today, would never get past regulation or become legal. Tobacco is essentially a legacy product that we tolerate because of its history.

In fact, there is a reasonable argument to be made for outright banning of tobacco as a harmful addictive product. There are two arguments in favor of not outright banning tobacco. The first is that people have the right to make such decisions for themselves. The second is that a ban would be impractical, and would just create a black market and an expensive regulatory burden.

These are reasonable arguments, but also consider the cost to society of smoking. There are also many precedents for laws that protect the public from their own bad decisions, such as seatbelt and helmet laws. We all collectively pay the health care costs of other people’s bad decisions.

Such considerations absolutely have to be weighed against the liberty cost of regulation. A hyperintrusive nanny state can also have unintended negative consequences.

To be clear, I am not advocating for an outright ban, because I don’t think it would be culturally acceptable or practical. Consenting adults should reasonably have the right to engage in risky behavior, as long as they are properly informed and their actions do not hurt others. They should be prepared to pay the cost of such behavior, however, such as higher insurance premiums.

Short of an outright ban, there are a number of reasonable regulations that can mitigate the negative health effects of smoking. Further, it is generally recognized by ethics philosophers that negative rights outweigh positive rights. Person A’s right not to have something done to them outweighs person B’s right to do something, all other things being equal.

What this means, in my opinion, is that a person’s right not to be exposed to smoke outweighs someone else’s right to smoke. No one should be forced to be exposed to smoke in order to take a flight, or eat in a public restaurant, or work at their job. If you make the personal choice to engage in an unhealthful recreation, then the burden should be on you to do it in such a way that you do not impose that choice on others.

Grier complains that smokers have been increasingly stigmatized. I would argue that smoking has been stigmatized, but not necessarily smokers. In any case, this is a good thing. Even if as a society we do not ban a voluntary unhealthful behavior, we can still recognize that it is a poor choice that should actively be discouraged. For decades smoking had positive PR, and it was shown to be cool and glamorous. Now the tide has shifted and it is portrayed as a weakness. That is a good thing, and one could argue a fair and reasonable fix for prior misleading advertising.

Grier acknowledges that public smoking bans are now culturally embedded and probably not going anywhere. This is a good thing. Now that non-smokers are used to living their lives without having second hand smoke imposed upon them, it will be difficult to go back. I see this as just a correction of the prior unfair cultural inertia of smoking. It was tolerated far too much for far too long simply because it was embedded in our culture.

Keep one more thing in mind – about 70% of smokers actually want to quit. That is a testament to the addictive quality of tobacco. If they want to quit, it is difficult to argue against legislation that may help them do so, or at least reduce their smoking. In that sense we haven’t gone far enough.

97 responses so far

97 Responses to “The Science of Smoking Bans”

  1. 107197on 17 Feb 2017 at 8:25 am

    SN says, “I would argue that smoking has been stigmatized, but not necessarily smokers.”

    Sorta like “Love the smoker, hate the smoking.” (Now why does that sound familiar?)

  2. michael@pescuma.comon 17 Feb 2017 at 8:28 am

    I’m a bit nervous about this up in New Hampshire. I don’t have a lot to say about this article, but I thought I’d at least bring attention to something I care about that is related. I apologize if this is out of place.

    There’s a bill brought forwards to the House right now that they are going to be voting on. HB 279 (https://legiscan.com/NH/bill/HB279/2017)

    I can’t believe that in this day and age, they are actually looking to bring back smoking in public places.

  3. SteveAon 17 Feb 2017 at 9:07 am

    I started smoking young and smoked heavily for a quarter of a century before I decided to give up. When I did, I avoided any public places where I might be exposed to the smell of those ‘delicious’ cigarettes, but this was before widespread smoking bans, so for about a year I didn’t go out to pubs, bars or restaurants. I think public bans really do help those wanting to kick the habit, it makes a big difference not having it under your nose all the time.

    There’s also the anti-social side of smoking. A few of my non-smoking friends would complain of the smell in their clothes and hair when they left a bar or party, but I never understood their distaste till I gave up – the stuff reeks, and for all those years I was blind to it. These days if I walk into a smoker’s house, I’m just as likely to walk straight out again.

  4. PaulTon 17 Feb 2017 at 9:27 am

    “Grier complains that smokers have been increasingly stigmatized. I would argue that smoking has been stigmatized, but not necessarily smokers.”

    Being stigmatized is part of the cost of doing business – if you want to smoke you have to accept that cost. That being said, it is obvious that smokers are absolutely treated and judged unfairly – perhaps more than smoking itself. I’m not sure if that is even such a bad thing, but I’m more confused why Dr. Novella feels he would throw that in as a final shot at Grier when he had done so well the rest of the article poking holes in all the right places.

    Full disclosure, I’m a smoker.

  5. Bob.Newmanon 17 Feb 2017 at 9:37 am

    I really don’t like the litter smoking generates. I typically value autonomy but every time I see a cigarette butt thrown out of a car window I want to ban the things.

  6. addisontreeon 17 Feb 2017 at 10:17 am

    Because it isn’t often discussed, I wanted to share my personal thoughts on the advantages of nicotine use. I started using nicotine (smoking a pipe) when I turned 40 (about 10 years ago now). I smoked for a few years, switched to using spitless tobacco (aka “snus”) to get around the smoking bans, gave it up for two years and have recently resumed use of snus. Why would I go back to using nicotine? What follows may be mostly my personal rationalization but I do think there is some truth in these reflections. We can’t fully understand nicotine’s popularity unless we recognize that the drug does offer some perceived benefits to its users.

    Nicotine is a true stimulant. Where caffeine just stops us from feeling tired (by interfering with the mechanism that makes us drowsy) nicotine actually “wakes us up”. Nicotine also has a relatively short half-life in the body. Two hours after “ingestion” half of it is gone. Being able to take conscious control of when I’m alert is useful. Currently I stop ingesting nicotine four to six hours before I plan to go to bed. I find that this greatly assists with me falling asleep when I plan to and I sleep more soundly. I make use of sleep aids (like Sominex) much less frequently when using “nicotine withdrawal” as a sleep aid. (This isn’t a small difference; it’s an order of magnitude. I currently almost never use a sleep aid; I used to use them frequently.)

    Nicotine also helps me socialize. Social interactions (especially among groups) make me anxious. Nicotine helps me feel comfortable. It’s hard for me to describe just how helpful this reduction in anxiety can be.

    Nicotine also helps me concentrate on mental tasks. As I’ve gotten older I found myself reading fewer textbooks and doing fewer mental projects (e.g. writing code for fun). Nicotine has helped me continue learning at the pace I did when I was younger despite some modest declines in my overall energy levels.

    If someone were to come up with a safer over-the-counter drug that could provide many of these same benefits I think I would switch in a heartbeat.

    All this said, I fully support the smoking bans indoors. (I’m a bit mixed on smoking bans in parks but I have to admit I never appreciated the litter that some thoughtless smokers – not me – would leave behind.) I recognize that nicotine is a very powerful drug and I think it would be a mistake for people to acquire the habit before they are truly adults. (I’m very glad I didn’t start until I was 40. Quitting nicotine, while unpleasant, is, I think, much easier for me because I came at it later in life.) A complete ban on nicotine, however, might be unfair to some people. As I’ve pointed out there *seems* to be some benefits to the drug. Some individuals might rationally decide that the benefits outweigh the risks (especially if usage begins later in life).

    Unfortunately I seldom hear of any *real* research (not tobacco company sponsored research) being done into these perceived benefits. Are they real or are they placebo? If they are real, can we get the same benefits some other way? Until we investigate both sides of the nicotine question I don’t think we’ll understand why its use is so persistent and popular.

  7. tmac57on 17 Feb 2017 at 10:18 am

    SteveA- “There’s also the anti-social side of smoking. A few of my non-smoking friends would complain of the smell in their clothes and hair when they left a bar or party, but I never understood their distaste till I gave up – the stuff reeks, and for all those years I was blind to it.”

    I worked with a militant smoker for over 20 years during the transition of society from free-for-all to smoking bans in the workplace. He complained bitterly, and argued with me angrily when I tried to explain why this was such an assault to non-smokers. He mocked me and others who felt that way, and was sure that we were just trying to enforce our values on him with no good reason, and that our disgust at having to put up with the nauseating smell and headache inducing clouds were gross exaggerations.
    But then, he had a smoking related health crisis that scared him enough to give it up, and after a few false starts he succeeded. And once clear of the constant pollution that he had surrounded himself with for most of his life, he suddenly
    ‘got it’. He realized just what a stinking retched way of life he had been leading, and subjecting himself and friends and family to, and was truly sorry for it.
    That is a story that has repeated itself by the millions. Some of the most militant smokers end up being some of the most militant anti-smokers. And for good reason!

  8. Dobbleron 17 Feb 2017 at 10:25 am

    I’m a little ambivalent about this subject. I am happy to be a non-smoker today. I was a long time smoker, and was smoking when the bans came into effect, and at the time, I was definitely against them. Here’s the argument I would have made, and I think it still carries some weight.

    There’s really two points. The first is addressing OHS concerns. If it is the case that the health risk of second hand smoke is not so significant, no more risky than other work related health risks, then smoking should not be banned as an occupational health concern. I certainly haven’t marshaled all of the data, but it seems on it’s face that the data might be in a range that makes this argument reasonable. To my mind, the OHS argument is the strongest that supports the bans.

    The second point is about regulating free markets. I am by no means a free market purist (I can be very much the opposite at times), however, I think that it can be shown that the free market does self-regulate certain types of buying and selling behaviors effectively, when being free of monopolies or other market conditions that stifle what natural self-regulation inherent in the market. Smoking behavior and providing smoke-free environments are exactly these types of behaviors. If there is a significant demand for smoke free environments, then businesses will provide them. Prior to the ban, there were few to no smoke free bars, coffee shops or restaurants in even the largest centers, which I interpret as meaning that there was little demand for such environments. Little consumer demand should translate pretty well to little (actual) public support (not to be confused with the level of vocality of support). If there was consumer demand, and therefore public support, then there would be no reason to draft any legislation, as the market would provide the consumer with what it demands.

    Lastly, I wanted to take issue with two claims made in the article. The first was ” I would argue that smoking has been stigmatized, but not necessarily smokers”. I wonder how this conclusion was reached. I felt stigmatized as a smoker. I think I’m a reasonable person. What more of a test could there be to whether someone is stigmatized than to ask if a reasonable person would feel that way? The second is “it is generally recognized by ethics philosophers that negative rights outweigh positive rights”. I spent about five years moderating what was at the time the largest philosophy forum on the internet, and I can say that the distinction between positive and negative rights was rarely, if ever, used (I don’t recall it ever being used, but I didn’t read every post ever made, nor do I recall all I read). As I understand it, the distinction between positive and negative rights is considered to be of questionable utility in the broader ethical philosophy community. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (the gold standard) says only this on the subject “A distinction between negative and positive rights is popular among some normative theorists, especially those with a bent toward libertarianism.”. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights/ That hardly qualifies as “generally recognized by ethics philosophers”.

    As it turns out, I feel like the smoking ban probably did play a factor in my choice to quit smoking, although it’s really hard to say that I would have chose differently or not had the ban not have happened. There’s not much point in trying to retrodict. I am also happy that most places I go to, I don’t have to experience the unpleasant smell of tobacco smoke. I’m just not sure the reasoning used to support the ban was sound.

  9. RCon 17 Feb 2017 at 10:26 am

    “All this said, I fully support the smoking bans indoors. (I’m a bit mixed on smoking bans in parks but I have to admit I never appreciated the litter that some thoughtless smokers – not me – would leave behind.)”

    As someone who has a sensitive respiratory system (asthma and constant allergies, etc) – keeping smokers away from public places is a huge boon. Even outside, its still an assault on the lungs, sinuses, etc.

    The allergies have mostly gone away as I’ve gotten older, and most of the outdoor issues are gone, but somebody sparking up near me is pretty much immediate coughing.

  10. RCon 17 Feb 2017 at 10:35 am

    @Dobbler:

    ” Smoking behavior and providing smoke-free environments are exactly these types of behaviors. If there is a significant demand for smoke free environments, then businesses will provide them. Prior to the ban, there were few to no smoke free bars, coffee shops or restaurants in even the largest centers, which I interpret as meaning that there was little demand for such environments”

    I think you’re exactly wrong here. I was living in Boston when they first started their smoking bans (and it started with restaurants) – the bars fought it strongly for a couple of years on exactly that argument – people wanted to smoke in bars and kicking the smokers out would kill their business.

    The actual affect when they did expand the ban to bars was (after accounting for inflation) a roughly 20% increase in revenue (judged by alchohol/food tax collection). Essentially, all the smoking barflys were keeping the nonsmokers out of the bars, and there were a lot more nonsmokers than smokers. After the ban, the nonsmokers started showing up, and the smokers just went outside to smoke.

    In order for the market to sort things out, the market has to be free, efficient, and intelligent, and most market situations are nowhere near that.

  11. SteveAon 17 Feb 2017 at 10:47 am

    addisontree

    I did miss the stimulant aspect of nicotine for a while. I used to do a lot of running, swimming and weight-work while I was a smoker (in part to try and offset some of its bad effects), but for a few weeks after giving up I felt so drained and lethargic I couldn’t be bothered. It righted itself pretty quickly though.

    As to its persistence, I don’t think there’s much mystery there. Some people, like me, find it very addictive. I was never one of those casual smokers who could take it or leave it. You mentioned not smoking 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, which is something I could never have done. Smoking was the last thing I did at night and the first thing in the morning (and if I woke up in the night, I’d have one then too).

    tmac57: “Some of the most militant smokers end up being some of the most militant anti-smokers.”

    I think many recent ex-smokers are nervous they’ll start again if they’re exposed to it. It was a good few years before I was completely comfortable that I wouldn’t backslide.

  12. Dobbleron 17 Feb 2017 at 10:50 am

    @RC:

    I am skeptical of the 20% increase claim. Is there compelling data that strongly implies a causal link from the smoking ban to the increased revenue? Could the increase not be explained by other factors? Does this correlation carry though to other cities? I’ll answer one of these questions for you. The CDC did a study in El Paso and they concluded ” no statistically significant changes in restaurant and bar revenues occurred after the smoking ban took effect” and “These findings are consistent with the results of studies in other municipalities that determined smoke-free indoor air ordinances had no effect on restaurant revenues”. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5307a2.htm That makes much more sense to me, and reflects my general observations.

    Regarding free markets, I think you have to show where, specifically, the market isn’t free, efficient, or intelligent for your argument to be compelling. Just pointing out (as I already stipulated) that markets aren’t perfectly self-regulatory isn’t sufficient. We agree on the general point, but I need you to show me how it is relevant to be applied in this specific context.

  13. MWSlettenon 17 Feb 2017 at 11:41 am

    One thing you failed to account for is the affect on society of constantly being told what individuals can and can’t do. For example, you accept as “normal” laws requiring seat belt and helmet use. There is a reason Grier may value personal liberty more than other concerns; I think it’s dangerous for people to believe the government (President Trump!) knows what’s better for them than they themselves.

    That aside, I ascribe to the Penn Jillette standard when it comes to rule making: the first question should be can we fix the problem by INCREASING freedom rather than restricting it? In this case you say 70% of smokers really want to quit. To me, the answer is to help them quit (increase their freedom) rather than place restrictions on everyone else (the 30% who don’t want to quit AND anyone who currently isn’t a tobacco user who for whatever reason might like to become one).

  14. banyanon 17 Feb 2017 at 11:42 am

    I feel conflicted. It sounds like the evidence of the impact on others leads to the conclusion that it is not zero, but also not significant enough to justify the widespread bans that took place. On the other hand, the widespread bans did have an unequivocally positive impact on public health. So it feels like this is an instance of benign and effective paternalism.

    I’m not necessarily against that. I am 100% on board with seatbelt laws, for example. I also support the controversial NYC “soda ban” law. I don’t buy that every instance of protecting people from themselves is always a slippery slope toward “health and safety gone mad” scenarios.

    But they always do make me a little nervous. I worry about the possibility of precedent for public health measures that are not grounded in science, like GMO labeling laws, fluoridation bans, and so on. Even the existing prohibition on other recreational drugs strikes me as too far, and the actions against nicotine consumption toe pretty close to that line if they can’t be justified by the menace of second-hand smoke.

  15. RCon 17 Feb 2017 at 12:45 pm

    @Dobbler,

    The fact that there were almost no smoke-free bars, and forcing them to all to be smoke free didn’t cause a huge revenue crash is proof that the market was not efficient. The vast majority of markets are neither free, intelligent, nor efficient. It simply takes a ton of work to get a market to the point where all of the criteria necessary are there.

    I’m still digging for the boston – specific study. I’m not surprised that results were different in El Paso – NE is significantly more health aware than Texas. (Massachussetts also has less smokers -14% vs 16% in Texas – and the largest group of smokers is people making less than $25K/yr, less than highschool diploma, which is tough to find in the city, which is pretty much entirely universities – Texas’s smoking demographics are way less stratified).

    @MWSletten –

    Your argument brings to mind the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote – “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”.

    The question here isn’t your right to smoke – it’s whether or not you have the right to force me to breathe your second hand smoke. You absolutely do not. My right to not have you physically harm me is more important than your right to smoke at that particular place and time, just as my right to not have my nose smashed is more important than your right to swing your fists right now.

    Nobody is saying you can’t smoke. Nobody is taking away that freedom. They’re saying you can’t do it where you’re hurting other people – IE, you’re not allowed to take away my ability to breathe clean air.

  16. MWSlettenon 17 Feb 2017 at 12:57 pm

    @RC >The question here isn’t your right to smoke – it’s whether or not you have the right to force me to breathe your second hand smoke.

    I’m assuming as a non-smoker you don’t go to smoking lounges. Why? Because there is no law that says you must go there. Like me, you don’t expose yourself to second-hand smoke by simply avoiding smoking lounges.

    As far as I know there were no laws requiring anyone to patronize any establishments that allowed smoking prior to bans that made it illegal to smoke in bars and resaurants. I don’t have a problem with banning smoking from places where people don’t have a reasonable choice (public places like courthouses and other governmental facilities), but I do object to private business owners not having a choice.

  17. Atlantean Idolon 17 Feb 2017 at 1:10 pm

    The studies Steve cited measure the effect of smoking bans on overall public health but do not tease out the effect of second-hand smoke per se.

    Even granting that second hand has a certain negative effect of uncertain magnitude, this in no way justifies the government dictating whether private proprietors allow smoking in their establishments. This is a blatant property rights violation. If you don’t want smoke exposure don’t patronize such places.

    >There are also many precedents for laws that protect the public from their own bad decisions, such as seatbelt and helmet laws. We all collectively pay the health care costs of other people’s bad decisions.

    We pay for other people’s lifestyle choices only because of our third-party pre-paid healthcare system forces us to. Eliminate the nanny laws and let triage deprioritize those who behave irresponsibly.

  18. RCon 17 Feb 2017 at 1:59 pm

    “As far as I know there were no laws requiring anyone to patronize any establishments that allowed smoking prior to bans that made it illegal to smoke in bars and resaurants. I don’t have a problem with banning smoking from places where people don’t have a reasonable choice (public places like courthouses and other governmental facilities), but I do object to private business owners not having a choice.”

    This argument can be used to justify pretty much anything – it just doesn’t logically stand.

    Here’s an example:

    “As far as I know, there are no laws requiring anyone to patronize a bar where the owner poisons the patrons. I have no problem banning poison from places where people don’t have a reasonable choice (…), but I do object to private business owners not having a choice”.

    Owning a business does not give you the right to subject your patrons to physical harm.

  19. Dobbleron 17 Feb 2017 at 2:30 pm

    @RC

    “The fact that there were almost no smoke-free bars, and forcing them to all to be smoke free didn’t cause a huge revenue crash is proof that the market was not efficient.”

    It doesn’t really matter if you want to call that inefficient or not. From this above claim, it doesn’t follow that my claim, “If there is a significant demand for smoke free environments, then businesses will provide them.”is false. It just says that people value going to bars and restaurants more than they value avoiding smoking restricted areas.

    To be clear, if you are going to assert that my claim “If there is a significant demand for smoke free environments, then businesses will provide them.” is false, you have to show a specific mechanism that would prevent the market from self-regulating (i.e. a specific reason why businesses wouldn’t open as smoke free when there was a significant demand).

    Regarding the differences between Texas and Boston, please note that the CDC study also said “These findings are consistent with the results of studies in other municipalities that determined smoke-free indoor air ordinances had no effect on restaurant revenues”. That seems to imply that if the findings in Boston are as you suggest (I can find no evidence to support your claim), then Boston would be the exception rather than the rule.

  20. Pete Aon 17 Feb 2017 at 2:51 pm

    RC wisely wrote: “Nobody is saying you can’t smoke. Nobody is taking away that freedom. They’re saying you can’t do it where you’re hurting other people – IE, you’re not allowed to take away my ability to breathe clean air.”

    Yes indeed! However none of my neighbours, and none of my local restaurants, give a rat’s whatnot about the smoke/particulates they produce from:
    1. barbecue lighter fluid, burning charcoal, oil smoke produced during the cooking of meat;
    2. the diesel— and kerosene-powered transportation used to deliver said food;
    3. the tyres of said transportation;
    4. their ‘New-Age scented candles’!

    “European commission issues ‘final warning’ to UK over air pollution breaches”:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/15/european-commission-issues-final-warning-to-uk-over-air-pollution-breaches

    NB: These widespread, harmful, air pollution breaches are not caused by people who smoke tobacco in public places.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Relativity_of_Wrong

  21. MWSlettenon 17 Feb 2017 at 3:46 pm

    @RC> This argument can be used to justify pretty much anything – it just doesn’t logically stand. Owning a business does not give you the right to subject your patrons to physical harm.

    Except for smoking lounges. 🙂

    Seriously, a business owner is not subjecting you to harm as long as you have a choice not to patronize their business. And the kinds of things one human chooses to do for fun, excitement, enjoyment or pleasure are often illogical to other humans. And there are all kinds of businesses that offer fully legal products or services that subject their patrons to physical harm, such as:

    Motorcycle stores
    Liquor stores
    SCUBA stores
    Parachuting
    Private aviation
    Horseback riding
    Skiing/snowboarding
    McDonalds (heh)
    Etc., etc., etc.

    You don’t have to use any of these products or do any of these activities, just like you don’t have to go to a smoking lounge.

  22. S. Madisonon 17 Feb 2017 at 4:43 pm

    @RC

    You said, “you’re not allowed to take away my ability to breathe clean air.”

    We are allowed to take away your ability to breathe clean air because we don’t ban other air polluters like motor vehicles, fireplaces, romantic candles burning on tables in restaurants, etc.

    And to anyone claiming that litter is a reason to ban smoking, then I say let’s ban everything. I spend a great deal of time doing wildlife photography in various environments from cities to places in the back of beyond. I have had many shots ruined as a result of litter of all kinds in all types of environments- bottles, bags, food wrappers. diapers, used condoms, clothing, furniture, etc. Litter has become part of the landscape and non-smokers litter too.

  23. addisontreeon 17 Feb 2017 at 6:23 pm

    @RC:

    “As someone who has a sensitive respiratory system (asthma and constant allergies, etc) – keeping smokers away from public places is a huge boon. Even outside, its still an assault on the lungs, sinuses, etc.”

    Fair point. I guess my thinking is that smoking in public parks should be treated similarly to dog parks. Some parks provide areas where owners can let their dogs off leash to play. I don’t think it unreasonable for some parks to have areas where people could go and smoke while reading or playing chess outdoors. It’s just the blanket bans in parks (like Portland OR implemented) that I object to.

    @SteveA:

    “I did miss the stimulant aspect of nicotine for a while. I used to do a lot of running, swimming and weight-work while I was a smoker (in part to try and offset some of its bad effects), but for a few weeks after giving up I felt so drained and lethargic I couldn’t be bothered. It righted itself pretty quickly though.”

    To be fair I had to give up nicotine before I discovered the relationship with sleeping. I was much like you (only with snus) when I first used nicotine in that I partook constantly. When I gave it up I was amazed that in just two days I was sleeping much better! (Of course, I wanted to sleep all the time since I was still going through withdrawal. 🙂 ) Unfortunately, after a few months of non-smoking my poor sleeping patterns began again. This time around I made a conscious effort to ensure I gave my body time to purge 3/4-7/8 of the nicotine in my blood before going to bed. So far (it’s been about six months) the new regime has been working out well for me. (Also, there may be a difference between taking nicotine through snus rather than inhaling it via a cigarette.)

    As to your point on addiction, I think it’s important to look at why things are addictive. Just saying some substance (or habit) is addictive isn’t descriptive enough. For example, both alcohol and nicotine are used by some people to deal with social anxiety. Maybe if we addressed this issue some other way these substances would be less habit forming?

  24. hardnoseon 17 Feb 2017 at 8:05 pm

    I finally agree with Novella about something!

    But about that research — I can’t understand why second hand smoke is less harmful than first hand smoke. Either way, you are breathing in the same horrible poison.

  25. mumadaddon 17 Feb 2017 at 8:26 pm

    “I can’t understand why second hand smoke is less harmful than first hand smoke.”

    Think about what you’d have to do, as a non smoker, to replicate the effects of smoking. How close would you have to stand, in what environment, for how many hours a day, for how many years?

    It would be really difficult to replicate the direct to lung, many times a day over several decades habit.

  26. hardnoseon 17 Feb 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Being in a smoke-filled room means constantly breathing in smoke. How is that so different from smoking?

    A non-smoker who breaths in second-hand smoke all day should be worse of than a smoker who goes outside to smoke, and works and lives in a smoke-free environment.

  27. Lightnotheaton 17 Feb 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Such a pleasure to read a comment thread full of such cogent, well-expressed arguments! That is, until hardnose came along..

  28. BillyJoe7on 18 Feb 2017 at 1:03 am

    Oh the excuses…the EXCUSES!

    Bottom line:

    If cigarettes were being introduced right now for the first time, they would not get past the regulators.
    Therefore they should be banned.
    However, because an outright ban would be impractical and doomed to fail, everything possible short of an outright ban, should be done to reduce cigarette smoking.
    And there should be a pretty low bar for evidence of the effectiveness of any measure used…
    …because the refrain “there is not enough evidence that X reduces harm from smoking” is just another excuse to do nothing!

    My wife is a smoker and uses that line. 🙁 🙁

    This is similar to my argument against the burka.

    Even though my daughter-in-law is a muslim. 🙂

  29. Bill Openthalton 18 Feb 2017 at 3:55 am

    I remember the days, in the early sixties, when as soon as the ‘No Smoking’ lights went out, the cabin of the 707 filled up with cigarette smoke. Even the pipe smokers lit up Gauloises and Woodbines. Because guess what, pipe and cigar smoke was deemed offensive.
    Smokers were restricting the freedom of other smokers, but as everyone apparently agreed pipe and cigar smoke was a problem in a confined space, no-one objected. And it wasn’t just in planes that pipes and cigars were restricted — anyone here who remembers the smoking rooms with velvet curtains where upper crust males would retire to after dinner with a Cuban cigar and a French cognac? I’m sure this approach to smoking wasn’t a major contributor to lung cancer and heart disease. Snobbery doesn’t kill.
    The ubiquity of smoking, combined with the lack of respect from the cigarette smokers for the non-smokers (even at the height of the cigarette craze, only 50% of men and 30% of women smoked) is what made the bans socially acceptable. If patrons in a restaurant would, as a matter of elementary courtesy, have asked if they could smoke before ruining their neighbour’s expensive salmon and Chablis by lighting up waiting for their dessert, bans would not have been necessary, nor acceptable.

  30. Steven Novellaon 18 Feb 2017 at 8:23 am

    I think saying that non-smokers can just avoid establishments that allow smoking doesn’t cut it.

    First, this does not include public institutions (like libraries and hospitals), work places, universities, airplanes, etc.

    For private institutions, they are often someone’s workplace also.

    Further, I remember the days prior to the ban. There were essentially no smoke-free restaurants. None. At best you had a totally ineffectual non-smoking section.

    The problem was competition. If a restaurant was non-smoking they would lose 20-30% of their patrons. Non-smokers already had no choice. The ban, however, made all restaurants equal.

  31. Dobbleron 18 Feb 2017 at 11:23 am

    “If a restaurant was non-smoking they would lose 20-30% of their patrons.”

    Restaurants don’t imagine that they will capture 100% market share. If there were a significant demand for non-smoking restaurants, then it would just take one plucky entrepreneur to open one restaurant that appealed to other 70-80%, and he should make a killing. Why did I never hear about that story? There’s something I know, which is that if a restaurant did have that sort of success, then others would start popping up all over the place. I mean there’s bars that only play specific types of music, or have sports plastered on screens everywhere you look. The food and beverage industry is a widely varied industry with plenty of niches that survive nicely. I don’t understand why smoking would be any different.

  32. hardnoseon 18 Feb 2017 at 11:53 am

    Not every non-smoker is bothered by second-hand smoke. I have no idea what percentage is, but I know I am. Especially “light” cigarettes with their mystery artificial ingredients.

    For some of us it goes way beyond unpleasant or making you waste $100 in a restaurant, because all you could taste or smell was cigarette smoke. I literally feel like I almost can’t breath after spending time in a smoke-filled building. And that goes on for many hours, even after I leave.

    It was always very hard to find apartments since most of them allow smoking. If the guy downstairs smokes all day, no it does not necessarily stay inside the walls of his apartment.

    Yet even now, I think smoking is allowed in most apartment buildings where I live.

    Everyone knows that smoke does not stay in the smoking rooms in offices, or the smoking sections in restaurants. So how come they think it will not leak from one apartment to another?

  33. hardnoseon 18 Feb 2017 at 11:54 am

    And not only that — smoking is a major cause of fires. Who wants to live in a building with smokers who could fall asleep with a lit cigarette?

  34. zorrobanditoon 18 Feb 2017 at 12:23 pm

    ” I spend a great deal of time doing wildlife photography in various environments from cities to places in the back of beyond. I have had many shots ruined as a result of litter of all kinds in all types of environments- bottles, bags, food wrappers. diapers, used condoms, clothing, furniture, etc. Litter has become part of the landscape and non-smokers litter too.”

    I hear that. I used to take a lot of photos in Scotland, about 10 years ago. Every shot was full of disposable plastic grocery bags. They blow up into the trees, they are everywhere. Photoshop is your friend in this situation. (It might be better now, I don’t know.)

    Also in Scotland, there was a huge outcry about banning smoking in pubs. Drinkers (everyone in Scotland drinks, it’s the weather) threatened to stay home and drink, but of course they didn’t, when the ban came they could be seen huddled outside in the miserable weather, puffing away. The justification the government provided was protection of the workers in pubs, who often didn’t have a lot of choices. Scotland is a poor country, overall, and they have true socialized medical care (and good care too!) so the costs and burdens of second hand smoke fell on everyone. Also, the world did not end when restaurants, too, were forced to ban smoking, but I came to enjoy going out to dinner a lot more.

    Cigarette smoke makes me faintly nauseated in a closed space, especially a vehicle, so I am glad airplanes no longer allow smoking. The air in airplanes is bad enough already without putting smoke in it. In Europe there are or used to be smoke-free cars on trains. Probably they are all smoke free now, I don’t know.

    However. Sorry, HN, that you are inconvenienced, but I don’t think it appropriate for government to ban smoking in private residences, even apartment houses. There has to be some ambit for freedom after all. (Although we recently rented a detached home in California (we’re selling the Old Family House) and I notice they won’t rent to smokers. Probably because it smells up the place. Private property and all. This is NOT government action. The house belongs to the landlord, not the tenant.)

    Clearly we are trying to strike a balance here. I have never smoked and I hate the stuff, but more than that I hate the idea of the government sticking its long nose everywhere and regulating every detail of private life. People take risks, Nanny, get used to it.

  35. hardnoseon 18 Feb 2017 at 7:39 pm

    “I hate the idea of the government sticking its long nose everywhere and regulating every detail of private life.”

    Yeah it really sucks when the government passes laws against things like blowing poison in the air. What people do to each other is not the government’s business. Who needs laws anyway — it was more fun in the wild west before there were laws and cops.

  36. Johnnyon 18 Feb 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Steve, as you touched upon the ethics of smoking bans and libertarian arguments against it, I wonder how you’d counter the follow argument I have seen put forward by libertarians:

    It is the owner of a place (restaurant, bar, nightclub, or whatever) that should be allowed to determine whether smoking is permitted on their property or not. Potential guests are then free to choose whether or not to go there.

    I’d assume the libertarian argument thinks that this applies to employees as well, as they have chosen to work there. Further, some avenues (like bars and nightclubs) have loud music, which can potentially harm your hearing ability. We as a society accept this risk to damaged hearing ability (both for employees and guests), and so it is not principally different from accepting harm caused by smkoing in such avenues.

    I’m not a libertarian and am personally in favor of smoking bans and of trying to reduce smoking in society. I just find it hard to mount a philosophically air-tight argument against the argument above.

  37. bachfiendon 18 Feb 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Johnny,

    I go to classical orchestral concerts, and with many works the orchestra can be very loud. I sometimes notice that the musicians use earplugs to dampen the sound intensity and protect their hearing.

    Occupational deafness isn’t just a problem for rock musicians and workers in bars and nightclubs.

    Secondhand exposure to cigarette smoke isn’t analogous to ambient noise in the workplace. A worker can be largely protected from noise by being provided with earplugs. It’s not so easy to protect workers from secondhand cigarette smoke (unless respirators are provided).

    Employers should be expected to provide a safe environment for their workers.

  38. Steven Novellaon 19 Feb 2017 at 7:24 am

    Johnny, In addition to bachfiend’s point, we accept the existence of local ordinances. Even if you own property, you have to abide by zoning laws and ordinance. There is a long list of things I cannot do on my own property because of such laws. I can’t own chickens, have a car on blocks of cement, or burn tires.

    Some ordinances are for aesthetics, others to avoid overly annoying neighbors, some for safety, and some to protect the environment.

    Private commercial establishments are generally under even greater rules. They have to meet health and safety inspection for their workers and customers. We don’t let the free market force restaurants to keep rats out of their kitchens.

    There is nothing special about smoking that should make it exempt from the accepted legal and ethical principles that guide such ordinances.

    Further, the “let the market sort it out” argument could equally apply to a long list of things where, again, we accept the need for regulation. There were those who argued that, for example, we did not need regulation against discrimination. Patrons would simply not give their business to those who were bigoted. While this may be true in some dramatic cases, we still need equal rights laws.

  39. Steven Novellaon 19 Feb 2017 at 7:27 am

    Dobbler – you are assuming the market is perfectly efficient, which is not a justified assumption. The culture was such that non-smokers were forced to accept exposure to second-hand smoke and smokers expected the right to smoke wherever they wanted. Restaurant owners apparently did not feel that it was worth the risk to go non-smoking. Even if it may have worked out well, the perceived risk was a barrier.

    You cannot conclude from this that there was no demand.

  40. hardnoseon 19 Feb 2017 at 9:52 am

    “There is nothing special about smoking that should make it exempt from the accepted legal and ethical principles that guide such ordinances.”

    Yes!!

    And besides — social living without rules is not possible. Libertarians are, in general, crazy. I don’t want a socialist nanny state either, but anarchy is also a stupid idea. No, free markets are not magic.

    Every primitive human society ever studied by anthropologists had strict rules. Even if they were cannibals, their lives were still strictly regulated. And every animal society studied by zoologists also had strict rules.

  41. Dobbleron 19 Feb 2017 at 11:55 am

    Dr. Novella – I’ve already stipulated that the market isn’t perfectly efficient (did you read my previous comments?), but I don’t see how “Restaurant owners apparently did not feel that it was worth the risk to go non-smoking” is a more justified explanation than “there was little demand for such (smoke free) environments”. Actually, if I try to parse your explanation, you’re really making my point, I think. If there was a culture where smoking was expected and tolerated by consumers, which was the reason that business people felt no market pressure to offer non-smoking environments, then it is true that there wasn’t significant demand.

    Again, all the market would need is on business person to have significant success by filling an unfilled demand, and we would have seen non-smoking restaurants and bars all over the place. It seems unlikely that all over North America, for decades preceding the bans, there was no such attempts made. Unless you are suggesting some other mechanism that would prevent the market from self-regulating (and if you read my previous posts, you’ll already know I’m not a free market purist, but the market does have the property of self-regulation to SOME degree). Do you imagine some other mechanism that is keeping the market from self-regulating? Or are you instead suggesting that there was no significant demand, but the lack of demand was part of a flawed culture? Or is there a third thing that I’m completely missing?

  42. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 12:28 pm

    >Dobbler – you are assuming the market is perfectly efficient, which is not a justified assumption. The culture was such that non-smokers were forced to accept exposure to second-hand smoke and smokers expected the right to smoke wherever they wanted. Restaurant owners apparently did not feel that it was worth the risk to go non-smoking. Even if it may have worked out well, the perceived risk was a barrier.

    Steve I would bet you a lot of money that a significant number of establishments would choose to remain smoke-free if the ban were lifted today.

    >Johnny, In addition to bachfiend’s point, we accept the existence of local ordinances. Even if you own property, you have to abide by zoning laws and ordinance. There is a long list of things I cannot do on my own property because of such laws. I can’t own chickens, have a car on blocks of cement, or burn tires.
    Some ordinances are for aesthetics, others to avoid overly annoying neighbors, some for safety, and some to protect the environment.

    These are externalities affecting the property of others whereas smoking in private commercial establishments is contained.

    >Private commercial establishments are generally under even greater rules. They have to meet health and safety inspection for their workers and customers. We don’t let the free market force restaurants to keep rats out of their kitchens.

    >There is nothing special about smoking that should make it exempt from the accepted legal and ethical principles that guide such ordinances.

    At a restaurant there is an implicit promise the cooks will not poison the patrons’ food. Contamination is therefore tantamount to fraud. A smoking restaurant advertised as such is not fraudulent.

    >There were those who argued that, for example, we did not need regulation against discrimination. Patrons would simply not give their business to those who were bigoted. While this may be true in some dramatic cases, we still need equal rights laws.

    Pointing a gun at the Christian owners of a bakery and telling them to fork over a $135,000 fine for refusing to dishonor their beliefs in no way promotes tolerance.

    A “right” to another’s property is robbery. A “right’ to someone else’s labor is enslavement.

  43. Dobbleron 19 Feb 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Atlantean Idol – To start with, for the third time in this thread, I am not assuming the market is perfectly efficient, and have said so numerous times. For the love of Jeebus, can people please stop saying that, or at least address my previous denials rather than just keep asserting it? Please and thank you.

    Regarding your larger point, you seem to be suggesting that the cultural attitudes toward tolerance toward public smoking were the cause that there wasn’t demand, and that the smoking bans have had the advantage of changing the culture, rather than reflecting it (do I have your reasoning correct?}. I agree that this is probably the case, and in this specific example, I would agree that it has had a net beneficial effect. On the flip side, if there was legislation being proposed using the same reasoning (that the law would change public attitudes for a beneficial end, even if it didn’t reflect their current attitudes), I would find that deeply problematic. The theory behind democracies is that lawmakers act in ways that (broadly) reflect the attitudes and values of their constituents. At least that’s how I understand it. Do you disagree? Do you not feel the same discomfort with this approach in principle?

  44. Dobbleron 19 Feb 2017 at 12:51 pm

    For the record: I believe that markets are efficient enough that they would self-regulate to meet smoking/non-smoking demand in bars and restaurants. That is a vastly different position than believing that markets are perfectly efficient.

  45. Dobbleron 19 Feb 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Atlantean Idol – I seem to have misread your quoting as your position. Sorry. These comments don’t have an edit function, so this is my correction.

  46. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 1:23 pm

    “Atlantean Idol – To start with, for the third time in this thread, I am not assuming the market is perfectly efficient, and have said so numerous times. For the love of Jeebus, can people please stop saying that, or at least address my previous denials rather than just keep asserting it? Please and thank you.”

    I was quoting Dr. Novella to rebut him! I’m on your side, man! The quoting convention on this section appears to be a > rather than “” so that’s what I used.

    Different markets have varying levels of efficiency. None are perfectly efficient and this is good thing because there would be no investment incentive otherwise.

    “On the flip side, if there was legislation being proposed using the same reasoning (that the law would change public attitudes for a beneficial end, even if it didn’t reflect their current attitudes), I would find that deeply problematic.”

    Totally agree – the only way to change attitudes is by reason, not force (legal or not).

  47. BillyJoe7on 19 Feb 2017 at 3:37 pm

    You guys are living in cloud cuckoo land.
    The free market achieved absolutely nothing before those laws was passed, and would have continued to achieve nothing. The free market is not only not perfect in issues such as this, it is useless.

    “Pointing a gun at the Christian owners of a bakery and telling them to fork over a $135,000 fine for refusing to dishonor their beliefs in no way promotes tolerance.”

    So we should tolerate intolerance just because that intolerance is based on religious belief?
    I have no problem if you choose to give up some of your freedoms because of your religious beliefs, but I do have a big problem if you try to curtail the freedoms of others because of your religious beliefs.
    If your business descriminates against homosexuals for whatever reason, then the law must protect them and bring you to justice.

  48. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 4:56 pm

    “So we should tolerate intolerance just because that intolerance is based on religious belief?”

    Individual rights are sacred, not religious beliefs.

    “I do have a big problem if you try to curtail the freedoms of others because of your religious beliefs.”

    Your definition of freedom is utterly Orwellian.

  49. RickKon 19 Feb 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Smokers had HUGE backing by the companies with massive funding and organization. How is that individual rights? What amazes me is how often proponents of individual rights scream about government interference while handing control of their rights and their lives over to large corporations.

    Where does the funding and organization come from to launch a change to where people can smoke. On one side you have (a majority of) concerned citizens for whom he smoking issue is a hobby, not a job. On the other e side you have huge global corporations fueled by revenues from the addicts they serve.

    If not the government, who else can give individuals whose rights are easily trampled in a corporation-led “free market” a fighting chance?

    At the beginnig of the last century, some cosmetic companies marketed products containing radium to give women a “healthy glow”. Is a government-imposed ban on the sale of radium cosmetics an infringement on individual rights, or a protection of them?

  50. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 6:06 pm

    RickK – Are you for or against state-imposed smoking bans on private property?

  51. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 6:15 pm

    “You guys are living in cloud cuckoo land.
    The free market achieved absolutely nothing before those laws was passed, and would have continued to achieve nothing. The free market is not only not perfect in issues such as this, it is useless.”

    The Montgomery public bus boycott effectively marshaled market-forces against state tyranny. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks “achieved absolutely nothing” according to you.

  52. chikoppion 19 Feb 2017 at 7:45 pm

    People do not have an inherent right to operate a public business. If you ARE going to operate a public business you must agree to abide by certain standards and restrictions (non-discrimination, equality in accessibility, being subject to applicable health and safety inspections, etc.). We maintain these standards and restrictions to achieve a greater social good, even though they can be said to objectively impede on the maximal potential freedom of any single business owner.

    The smoking restriction, however, is perhaps best seen not as a restriction imposed on business owners, but on the patrons themselves (and merely enacted through the mechanism of a business restriction, enforced by the owner).

    The interior of a public business is an enclosed space. By virtue of being a space operated as a public business it is subject to the standards and restrictions we maintain for public commerce.

    If some patrons of the business fill the space with carcinogenic smoke that both limits accessibility to the public (effectively excluding those with respiratory problems, asthma, infants, etc.) and subjects others to an involuntary health risk.

    Just as the business owner cannot violate the standards of non-discrimination, accessibility, and health and safety, neither can the patrons (those ultimately subject to the ban).

  53. Trevor Krysakon 19 Feb 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks for writing this, Steve. I thought it would be a good topic to cover. It really seemed like a very strong overreach. I worry about articles like this creating a trend slightly back to greater acceptance of smoking near non-smokers. I don’t think it’s incredibly likely but still a danger.

    I also wonder how the rise in the whole vape culture will affect the prevalence of smoking. I know a fair number of ex-smokers who have dived into vaping. They seem to have stuck with vaping instead of giving that up eventually but it’s at least a step in the right direction. Potentially.

  54. Atlantean Idolon 19 Feb 2017 at 8:54 pm

    “We maintain these standards and restrictions to achieve a greater social good, even though they can be said to objectively impede on the maximal potential freedom of any single business owner.”

    There is no such thing as a “greater social good.” This is a hideous, nebulous anti-concept that has been used to justify every form of tyranny throughout human history.

    “The interior of a public business is an enclosed space. By virtue of being a space operated as a public business it is subject to the standards and restrictions we maintain for public commerce.”

    There is no such thing as a “public business.” Businesses do not serve the public. The purpose of a business is to benefit the owners, monetarily or otherwise.

    “If some patrons of the business fill the space with carcinogenic smoke that both limits accessibility to the public (effectively excluding those with respiratory problems, asthma, infants, etc.) and subjects others to an involuntary health risk.”

    Involuntary? No one has ever put a gun to someone else’s head and ordered them to eat out at a smoking restaurant.

  55. chikoppion 19 Feb 2017 at 10:10 pm

    [Atlantean Idol] There is no such thing as a “public business.” Businesses do not serve the public. The purpose of a business is to benefit the owners, monetarily or otherwise.

    You are incorrect. Title II of the Civil Rights Act and Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act define “public accommodations” as “hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; exempted private clubs without defining the term “private”.”

    Smoking bans exist on the federal, state, and local level and have withstood repeated challenges in court.

    You can argue that you don’t like it, but your argument that “public businesses” aren’t regulated as a legal entity is without merit.

  56. BillyJoe7on 19 Feb 2017 at 10:29 pm

    BJ: “So we should tolerate intolerance just because that intolerance is based on religious belief?”
    AI: “Individual rights are sacred, not religious beliefs”

    Individual rights are not sacred, they are man-made.

    BJ: “I do have a big problem if you try to curtail the freedoms of others because of your religious beliefs.”
    AI: “Your definition of freedom is utterly Orwellian”.

    If your freedom to eat meat on Friday is curtailed by your religious convictions, fine but you have no right to restrict my freedom by banning the eating of meat on Fridays.

    BJ: “You guys are living in cloud cuckoo land.
    The free market achieved absolutely nothing before those laws was passed, and would have continued to achieve nothing. The free market is not only not perfect in issues such as this, it is useless.”
    AI: “The Montgomery public bus boycott effectively marshaled market-forces against state tyranny. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks “achieved absolutely nothing” according to you”

    I wasn’t aware Rosa Parks and Martin Luther were agitating for smoking bans! 😀

    “There is no such thing as a “greater social good.” This is a hideous, nebulous anti-concept that has been used to justify every form of tyranny throughout human history.”

    Of course there is a “greater social good”, what on Earth are you talking about?
    Just because it has been abused does not mean it has no legitimacy.

    “There is no such thing as a “public business.” Businesses do not serve the public. The purpose of a business is to benefit the owners, monetarily or otherwise”

    Again, what are you talking about? A resataurant owner runs a private business which is open to the public. The purpose of that business is to supply food, and a place for eating it, to the public. In the process he makes money.

    “Involuntary? No one has ever put a gun to someone else’s head and ordered them to eat out at a smoking restaurant.”

    Metaphorically that was essentially the case before the laws that we are discussing were enacted.

  57. RickKon 19 Feb 2017 at 10:48 pm

    “RickK – Are you for or against state-imposed smoking bans on private property?”

    AI – are you for or against state-imposed bans on the sale of radioactive cosmetics on private property?

    Is banning the sale of radioactive cosmetics an infringement of your rights? You didn’t answer that before asking your question.

  58. Atlantean Idolon 20 Feb 2017 at 8:32 am

    RickK- As with food safety at a restaurant, there is an implicit promise that use of cosmetics will not lower one’s life expectancy by 15 years or so. No such promise exists for recreational drugs, the use of which should be legal on any private property.

    BJ-There is no point in debating an issue of freedom and property rights with you because you don’t understand what these things are. For the record:

    Freedom is the absence of coercion.

    A right is a sanction of action WITHOUT permission. It is not granted by god, government or society. It is basic requirement of human existence.

    The fact of the matter is this: I want entrepreneurs free to cater to both smokers and non-smokers, and consumers free to choose accordingly. You want something else. There is nothing more to debate.

  59. MWSlettenon 20 Feb 2017 at 9:49 am

    > chikoppi said: People do not have an inherent right to operate a public business.

    This is where the divide begins and ends. I believe everyone has a right to engage in commerce as long as everyone involved is freely choosing to do so. And since it is an absolute necessity for survival, this right is intrinsic to existence, not a grant or privilege from others.

    There will never be agreement on smoking bans as long as one group of people believes they have a right to place restrictions on the behavior of others even if the behavior they want to restrict harms no one except those who freely choose to participate.

  60. Bill Openthalton 20 Feb 2017 at 9:50 am

    Atlantean Idol —

    I want entrepreneurs free to cater to both smokers and non-smokers, and consumers free to choose accordingly.

    As I pointed out, it was the smokers’ lack of respect for the non-smokers that made the ban on smoking in public places acceptable. Had smokers refrained from, or solicited approval for, smoking whenever their habit encroached on the rights of others (like in the workplace, or in restaurants), bans on smoking would not have been necessary. Unfortunately, smoking is highly addictive and most habitual smokers simply do not have the willpower to go without smoking for more than an hour or two. The addiction also motivates them to find rationalisations for their addiction — like arguing that non-smokers (who do not act) infringe on the rights of smokers (who do act) when requesting smokers not to smoke in their presence. The addiction is the problem, because it makes it impossible for smokers to think and act rationally where their addiction is concerned.

  61. tmac57on 20 Feb 2017 at 10:11 am

    hardnose- “And not only that — smoking is a major cause of fires. Who wants to live in a building with smokers who could fall asleep with a lit cigarette?”

    This is actually a valid argument. My dear mother, a lifelong smoker, nearly burned down the condo that she lived in in Michigan when she fell asleep, and her cigarette lit her couch on fire. She and her neighbors were very lucky that it didn’t spread any further. She had dozens of burned spots on her furniture, floor, counter tops etc. around the condo from her forgotten cigs. Very scary!
    You might call that ‘secondhand fire’ .

    Oh, she also developed lung cancer in her late 70’s but managed to survive that because it was caught very early, but did die of vascular dementia because of high blood pressure which was probably not helped by her smoking habit.

  62. chikoppion 20 Feb 2017 at 11:05 am

    [MWSletten] > chikoppi said: People do not have an inherent right to operate a public business.

    This is where the divide begins and ends. I believe everyone has a right to engage in commerce as long as everyone involved is freely choosing to do so. And since it is an absolute necessity for survival, this right is intrinsic to existence, not a grant or privilege from others.

    A person doesn’t have to incorporate to engage in commerce or otherwise provide goods and services for trade. That’s a personal choice. Incorporation comes with rights and responsibilities.

    If the owner of a business is the only person on the premises he or she can chain smoke with abandon. When you A) provide an environment wherein others work or B) provide an environment wherein the public must enter to engage in commerce, you have the responsibility of meeting the civil and regulatory standards established for places of public accommodation.

    A business is not an independent state where the owner makes his or her own laws. A business is a legal entity freely invoked for the purpose of engaging in commerce.

  63. Steve Crosson 20 Feb 2017 at 12:00 pm

    No rights are implicit or simply granted — at all. Neither by the universe or by any other real or mythical entity such as a government or god.

    All rights must be agreed upon by the majority of a society. Short of anarchy, most people realize the the Greater Social Good is best served by restricting some individual freedom of action when that action harms other members of the society.

    Reasonable people (i.e. non-libertarians) realize that this approach provides the maximum, realistically achievable degree of individual liberty in the long run.

    Libertarianism does not, can not and has never worked during the history of the world. If it actually was as efficient and natural as all of you naive children believe it to be, there would ALREADY BE one or more libertarian societies kicking everyone else’s butt.

    But, as should be obvious, it goes against human nature. Without a strong and ENFORCED social contract, just a few bad apples can, AND WILL, ruin it for everyone else.

  64. SteveAon 20 Feb 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Dobbler (responding to Atlantean Idol):

    “Regarding your larger point, you seem to be suggesting that the cultural attitudes toward tolerance toward public smoking were the cause that there wasn’t demand, and that the smoking bans have had the advantage of changing the culture, rather than reflecting it (do I have your reasoning correct?}. I agree that this is probably the case, and in this specific example, I would agree that it has had a net beneficial effect.”

    This is also my take on it. There was no real demand for smoke-free establishments because most people were so used to it they just didn’t care that much; smoke was part of going out and socialising (when I was growing up, virulent anti-smokers were considered cranks). In contrast, if the ban was now rolled back, there’d be an outcry – we’ve all grown used to our nice nicotine-free atmosphere.

    However, I think there’s a case for allowing pubs and bars to permit smoking if they want. As long as an establishment is clearly labelled as ‘smoker’, then people should be free to go there if they want. The issue then is the status of non-smoking bar-staff already employed in these place who’d either be forced to quit or work in an environment they found unpleasant. No easy solution to that…

  65. Dobbleron 20 Feb 2017 at 12:51 pm

    @Steve A

    “However, I think there’s a case for allowing pubs and bars to permit smoking if they want. As long as an establishment is clearly labelled as ‘smoker’, then people should be free to go there if they want”

    I would prefer this. There is a particular “dive” bar near my home that regularly have 2-10 patrons outside smoking on the sidewalk. It’s in a strip mall (so there’s no good spot for them to smoke that I would’t walk by), and when I walk home from the businesses that I often patronize in the strip mall, I have to walk through those smokers and the unpleasant odors that come with it.I would gladly exchange forfeiting the opportunity to go into the bar for the benefit of not having to walk through the outside smokers.

    “The issue then is the status of non-smoking bar-staff already employed in these place who’d either be forced to quit or work in an environment they found unpleasant. No easy solution to that…”

    Yup, the occupational safety argument is the most compelling one, IMO. I’m just not sure if the data supports a significant enough risk (equal or greater than other workplace risks). If it’s a case of employees finding smoking environments unpleasant, then the owner would be forced to either pay more to compensate for the unpleasantness, or hire exclusively those who don’t object.

  66. BillyJoe7on 20 Feb 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Ai:

    “There is no point in debating an issue of freedom and property rights with you because you don’t understand what these things are.”

    What you mean is that you have an opinion about what freedom and rights are and you can’t be bothered defending it.

    “For the record: Freedom is the absence of coercion.”

    You say this as if I disagreed.

    “A right is a sanction of action WITHOUT permission. It is not granted by god, government or society. It is basic requirement of human existence”

    Rights are not inherent.
    Rights are something that humans agree on and that governments enact into law.
    You referred to rights as being sacred. Sacred means connected with God. Sorry if you were not using it in that sense.

    “The fact of the matter is this: I want entrepreneurs free to cater to both smokers and non-smokers, and consumers free to choose accordingly. You want something else. There is nothing more to debate”

    You wish.
    The fact of the matter is this: smoking is bad for your health and it is difficult to smoke without harming others. Everyone of us pays for this harm through direct or indirect harm to our health and most of us pay taxes used to treat the harm, therefore Governments have a responsibility to act. An outright ban on smoking is impractical and doomed to fail, so governments should do all they can, short of an outright ban, to reduce smoking.

  67. MWSlettenon 20 Feb 2017 at 2:26 pm

    >Steve Cross said: Reasonable people (i.e. non-libertarians)…

    Uh oh.

    >If it actually was as efficient and natural as all of you naive children believe it to be…

    THERE it is! I was wondering how long it would take.

    >…there would ALREADY BE one or more libertarian societies kicking everyone else’s butt.

    I wonder how many Europeans thought the same thing about the idea of a Constitutional Republic before the United States declared independence?

    That aside, your this-or-that, people must be categorized mentality is exactly what gave us Donald Trump. I would hazard a guess most people who voted for Trump or Clinton did so with one hand, while firmly holding their noses with the other. Political beliefs exist on a continuum; I know Democrats who believe we pay too much in taxes, and Republicans who think gays should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. Labels are lazy, mental shortcuts that add little to reasoned debate.

    >Short of anarchy, most people realize the the Greater Social Good is best served by restricting some individual freedom of action when that action harms other members of the society.

    Who has argued that one person should be allowed to harm another? I’ve mentioned smoking lounges a couple of times, but I haven’t seen a response yet. This is an example of a business where patrons are allowed to smoke. People who enjoy smoking go to smoking lounges, and people who don’t stay away from them. Yet society–and the greater good–abides. Why wouldn’t this work for ANY business?

    >All rights must be agreed upon by the majority of a society.

    As I said, this is the dividing line. Most reasonable people understand there are good arguments on both sides of this debate. I happen to find the arguments for natural rights more persuasive. If that makes me childish or unreasonable (or a Libertarian) in your eyes that’s a consequence I’m willing to live with.

  68. MWSlettenon 20 Feb 2017 at 2:27 pm

    BTW Steve Cross, Republicans are “non-libertarians.” Does that make them reasonable?

  69. MWSlettenon 20 Feb 2017 at 2:38 pm

    >BillyJoe7 said: Everyone of us pays for this harm through direct or indirect harm to our health…

    No we don’t. I don’t hang around smokers and so am never exposed to second-hand smoke. How am I harmed by others choosing to smoke?

    >…and most of us pay taxes used to treat the harm, therefore Governments have a responsibility to act.

    C’mon. Obesity poses higher health risks than smoking (or drinking, or poverty), so by your measure government should ban certain types of food and eating establishments.

  70. Pete Aon 20 Feb 2017 at 2:56 pm

    [chikoppi] A person doesn’t have to incorporate to engage in commerce or otherwise provide goods and services for trade. That’s a personal choice. Incorporation comes with rights and responsibilities.

    Furthermore, a person can trade as being: self-employed; the sole or joint director of a private limited-liability company; or form a corporation, such as a public limited-liability company (UK) / publicly traded company (US). Obviously, those choices are in the order from low responsibility to high responsibility in terms of both civil/common law and criminal law — many aspects of health & safety legislation are under the remit of criminal law.

    E.g., it is acceptable within the UK for a private company to run a coal-fuelled steam railway for the purposes of preservation, education, and/or entertainment, and to charge the public to ride on this railway. But, long ago it became wholly unacceptable for any public company to run a coal-fuelled system of transportation.

    Similarly, one can drive a vintage car that doesn’t have seat belts, but that doesn’t mean that the owner can use it as a taxi. However, the owner can apply to use it as a chauffeur-driven private-hire mode of transportation for weddings and other special occasions.

    It seems to me that the gradation of civil/common and criminal laws plus vendor responsibilities boils down to things that can be reasonably expected from the core principles of caveat emptor and caveat lector. E.g., if friends invite me to their home for a dinner party, and we end up with food poisoning, then it would be totally unreasonable for the guests to sue them for damages and/or report them to the authorities. If instead, the friends invite me to a dinner party held in a public restaurant, and we end up with food poisoning, then it is incumbent upon us to report this event to the authorities.

    I hope what I’ve written from my UK perspective makes sense to the international readers. I’m fully aware that civil and criminal law varies drastically between states, let alone between nations.

  71. RickKon 20 Feb 2017 at 3:03 pm

    So long as the market is perfect and the entire societal cost of s particular behavior (like smoking) is borne by it’s proponents, so long as non-governmental anti-smoking organizations exist that are as powerful as the pro-smoking organizations (tobacco industry) to balance the manipulation of oublic opinion, then the market can determine acceptable smoking practices.

    Until then, we’ll have to live with the government acting on the wishes of the electorate.

    And yes – poverty should be illegal. We should not allow a citizen of this country to starve or lack healthcare.

    But what should immediately be mandated is for every child to be fully educated, so that they have the maximum resources to make healthy decisions, so they can contribute effectively to society and our democracy, and so they aren’t so easily sold products that will kill them. Im all for a government-enforced ban on ignorance. Then all these other questions become easier to deal with.

    Alas, the other side is winning that debate at the moment.

  72. Pete Aon 20 Feb 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Dobbler,

    I think that advertising a job for bar or restaurant staff who are smokers themselves — which would be totally appropriate for serving patrons who smoke — would contravene current equal-opportunities employment laws.

    There are a few employment caveats to equal-opportunities employment, such as people who have poor eyesight being prohibited from piloting civil and military aircraft.

    I know very well the health risks from smoking and passive smoking therefore I’m not advocating leniency. From what I’ve read over the years, alcoholic drinks cause a higher level of morbidity, mortality, and violence, than does smoking tobacco, therefore I find it difficult to understand why smokers are being ostracised rather than drinkers. Drink-driving and drug-driving continue to cause large-scale death and misery; and the number of repeat-offenders is alarming.

    There are considerate smokers and inconsiderate smokers. There is no such thing as a considerate drinker who drives within the legal limit of alcohol consumption.

  73. chikoppion 20 Feb 2017 at 3:57 pm

    [MWSletten] Who has argued that one person should be allowed to harm another? I’ve mentioned smoking lounges a couple of times, but I haven’t seen a response yet. This is an example of a business where patrons are allowed to smoke. People who enjoy smoking go to smoking lounges, and people who don’t stay away from them. Yet society–and the greater good–abides. Why wouldn’t this work for ANY business?

    Smoking lounges are either specially licensed businesses or private clubs, depending on local ordinances. There’s nothing stopping anyone from opening a smoking lounge.

    I’m pretty sure a person could open a “restaurant and smoking lounge” or “theater and smoking lounge.” The only difference between such an establishment and any other place of public accommodation would be the additional regulations that come with being a place where smoking is allowed (no one under age on premises, registration of employees, etc.).

    I know of a few cigar clubs and hookah lounges. It must not be too terribly onerous a process.

  74. Dobbleron 20 Feb 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Pete A

    “I think that advertising a job for bar or restaurant staff who are smokers themselves — which would be totally appropriate for serving patrons who smoke — would contravene current equal-opportunities employment laws.”

    I don’t think you’d have to advertise it that way. You just make it clear that it is a smoking environment, and you let the applicants decide if they want to apply or not. If a non-smoker can either find no other work, or is willing to trade the unpleasantness for the benefit of the job, then so be it.

    Regarding the comparison between tobacco and alcohol, I’m not sure if it’s a great comparison. Drinking, as a behavior in and of itself, doesn’t cause any adverse effects to others. It is the downstream behaviors associated with the impaired judgement of drinking (violence, driving impairment, etc.) that are the serious dangers. With smoking, it is the behavior itself that is damaging to others. I was always skeptical about the claims regarding the physical dangers of passive smoke, and tend to think they are overstated. Ultimately, if the data clearly shows I’m wrong, then I’ll acquiesce, but when the CDC says “There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.” I am brought back to the adage that “The dose makes the poison”. That sort of overstatement makes me nervous.

  75. Pete Aon 20 Feb 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Dobbler,

    You nailed it with the adage that “The dose makes the poison”.

    Regarding employment, the UK seems to have some illogical laws. E.g., Britain has legalised prostitution, which was a change that shocked me (the old geezer that I am) as much as the demolition of the Berlin Wall. However, although it has become legal to be a prostitute in Britain, the police have been mandated to demonstrate that they are detecting and prosecuting the remaining criminal offence: using the services of a prostitute.

    This is the first time that I’ve seen a British-government-enforced business model in which all the vendors are trading legally, and all of the customers are committing a criminal offence.

    At the rate we’re going, it wouldn’t surprise me if the British government insists that everyone who is diagnosed with cancer must firstly receive homeopathy on the NHS, and that the patients who fail to recover after at least a year of receiving this ‘treatment modality’ become legally responsible for the cost of evidence-based cancer treatment.

  76. MWSlettenon 20 Feb 2017 at 6:37 pm

    >Smoking lounges are either specially licensed businesses or private clubs, depending on local ordinances. There’s nothing stopping anyone from opening a smoking lounge.

    But there is stopping someone from opening a bar or restaurant in which the patrons may smoke. That’s my point. If it’s okay to open a smoking lounge, which people may avoid by simply not going, then why can’t we have bars and restaurants where patrons may smoke, and which other people may avoid by simply not going there?

  77. Pete Aon 20 Feb 2017 at 7:13 pm

    MWSletten,

    I’m in no way trying to be argumentative: It seems to me that it depends on both central government legislation plus local government — state/county/ward — by-laws. E.g. the English county in which I live is sub-divided into different wards and some of these wards are administered by politicians who belong to a different political party from the British Prime Minister and her central Westminster-based government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  78. chikoppion 20 Feb 2017 at 7:55 pm

    [MWSletten] But there is stopping someone from opening a bar or restaurant in which the patrons may smoke. That’s my point. If it’s okay to open a smoking lounge, which people may avoid by simply not going, then why can’t we have bars and restaurants where patrons may smoke, and which other people may avoid by simply not going there?

    Huh? I literally just wrote that it is possible to have bars and restaurants where people patrons can smoke and I cited several instances of them in my general neighborhood.

    Because such places expose both patrons and workers to a health hazard they require special licensing.

    I’ll also repeat what I said previously…

    A person doesn’t have to incorporate to engage in commerce or otherwise provide goods and services for trade. That’s a personal choice. Incorporation comes with rights and responsibilities.

    If the owner of a business is the only person on the premises he or she can chain smoke with abandon. When you A) provide an environment wherein others work or B) provide an environment wherein the public must enter to engage in commerce, you [e.g., the corporate entity] have the responsibility of meeting the civil and regulatory standards established for places of public accommodation.

    A business is not an independent state where the owner makes his or her own laws. A business is a legal entity freely invoked for the purpose of engaging in commerce.

  79. BillyJoe7on 20 Feb 2017 at 10:07 pm

    BJ: “Everyone of us pays for this harm through direct or indirect harm to our health…”
    NL: “No we don’t. I don’t hang around smokers and so am never exposed to second-hand smoke. How am I harmed by others choosing to smoke?”

    I do not believe that you have never been exposed to second hand smoke.

    BJ: “and most of us pay taxes used to treat the harm, therefore Governments have a responsibility to act”
    NL: “C’mon. Obesity poses higher health risks than smoking (or drinking, or poverty), so by your measure government should ban certain types of food and eating establishments”

    I have never proposed a ban.

  80. Teaseron 21 Feb 2017 at 1:20 am

    Dobbler you said:

    The second point is about regulating free markets.

    If there is a significant demand for smoke free environments, then businesses will provide them. Prior to the ban, there were few to no smoke free bars, coffee shops or restaurants in even the largest centers, which I interpret as meaning that there was little demand for such environments. Little consumer demand should translate pretty well to little (actual) public support (not to be confused with the level of vocality of support). If there was consumer demand, and therefore public support, then there would be no reason to draft any legislation, as the market would provide the consumer with what it demands.

    Pre-regulation era mistakenly characterized as a free market:
    Smokers and the act of smoking, enjoyed a monopoly in the smoker/non-smoker public smoking market. The only entry non-smokers had was through regulation. How else would a non-smoker participate in the public smoking market? As I understand it after WW1 there was little opposition to smoking. Army doctors said smoking tobacco would calm the nerves of the soldiers. “The Anti-Cigarette League of America’s (paraphrased) influence, however, weakened during World War I when Army doctors and military officials claimed tobacco calmed the weary soldier, sedated the wounded and distracted the bored. By 1927, all states had repealed their cigarette-prohibition laws and smoking bans.” Smoking is addictive, this further complicates the market. Can addicts be rational decision makers in the market?

    Furthermore the tobacco industry was willfully manipulating the “free market”. The industry employed coercive tactics in the smoke free marketplace to the extent they were prosecuted under RICO statutes.

    And just last month, in what Brandt considers “one of the most significant racketeering and fraud litigations” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, case, which found the tobacco industry guilty of engaging in a decades-long conspiracy to defraud the American public about the health risks of tobacco.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/06/19/tobacco.decline/

    Post regulation:
    In 1964 the Surgeon General produced the first report on the adverse health effects of smoking. This was to be beginning of the end on the public smoking monopoly. The non-smoking public now had an entry into the market place. Demand for smoke free public space in the modern era begins at this point. Yet it is not until the 1990’s that significant regulation is in place to end public smoking. This quarter century of delay is due in large part to the tobacco industry doing everything it can to prohibit any regulation of its product.

    Here is a brief article discussing the negative externalities of smoking in relation to the relatively recent British ban on smoking.
    https://sophiaheconomics.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/negative-externalities-of-smoking/

    Parting thoughts:

    This is how it works out: Free competition says to each and every person that he is entitled to that which he produces, either to consume himself, to save, or to dispose of in voluntary exchange for the fruits of other’s efforts. Equally it says that you are not entitled to take away from others, without their consent, what they have produced.

    https://fee.org/articles/monopoly-and-competition/

    By this definition smokers in public places are taking away the health of non-smokers without their consent.

  81. Bill Openthalton 21 Feb 2017 at 5:54 am

    In the interests of full disclosure 🙂 , could those arguing for fewer restrictions on smoking in public spaces tell us if they are habitual (i.e. addicted) smokers?

    Because if they are, a lot of the arguments they present will be rationalisations generated to protect and justify their addiction.

  82. bachfiendon 21 Feb 2017 at 6:29 am

    Bill,

    The obvious inhalational drug addict (aka habitual cigarette smoker) who denies the hazards of both first and second hand exposure to cigarette smoke is Richard Lindzen.

    Michael Egnor praises Richard Lindzen for his AGW denial. I wonder how he feels about his contrarian views regarding cigarette smoking?

  83. Bill Openthalton 21 Feb 2017 at 7:32 am

    bachfiend —
    I was actually wondering whether or not the arguments for less regulation presented on this forum are motivated by their own smoking.

  84. Dobbleron 21 Feb 2017 at 9:18 am

    Teaser – “By this definition smokers in public places are taking away the health of non-smokers without their consent.”

    The discussion is about what occurs on the private property of bars and restaurants, not in public places. Excepting, of course, that I made a specific point about how smoking bans have forced smokers to clog up public sidewalks outside of a bar near my home, forcing me to walk though their smoking, when instead they could be safely inside the bar, not bothering me at all.

  85. chikoppion 21 Feb 2017 at 11:00 am

    The discussion is about what occurs on the private property of bars and restaurants, not in public places.

    The property of a business is not the same kind of “private” space that a home is. A business is a fictional legal entity and any space that the public has to access in order to engage in commerce with the business is a place of public accommodation. All businesses must maintain standards with respect to places of public accommodation.

    Maybe the best thing for those who question the legality or premises of non-smoking regulations would be to go and read some of the court decisions. State supreme courts have upheld smoking bans and the federal Supreme Court has refused to hear cases where the state courts have ruled (upholding those rulings).

    “The ADA may be used to protect people with asthma and others whose daily activities are substantially limited by secondhand smoke exposure in private and public workplaces with fifteen or more employees (Title I); while accessing the services of, or participating in, state and local government (Title II); and in places of public accommodation (Title III).”

  86. BillyJoe7on 21 Feb 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Bill,

    They are probably a combination of cigarette smoking addicts and free market fanatics. 🙂
    And some of them sound like they’ve been without one for an hour or so. 😀

    ——————–

    Light me up a cigarette and put it in my mouth
    You’re the only one that wants me to die
    And I can think of a thousand reasons why
    I don’t believe in you, I don’t believe in you

    Angus & Julia Stone

  87. Kabboron 21 Feb 2017 at 1:40 pm

    BillyJoe7,

    You are right about going without one for an hour, I need my fix. I’m starting to get a headache and I’m having difficulty concentrating due to withdrawal. I need my free market fix so bad.

  88. MWSlettenon 21 Feb 2017 at 3:00 pm

    >BillyJoe7 said: They are probably a combination of cigarette smoking addicts and free market fanatics.

    “Addicts” and “fanatics;” more labels. Is that your fix? 🙂

    >BillyJoe7 said: I do not believe that you have never been exposed to second hand smoke.

    Did you want to add “liar” to your list? If you’re just playing semantics, then I’ll clarify: I do not believe the few, brief encounters I’ve had with second-hand smoke is equal to the kind of heavy, long-term exposure required to cause harm, which is the kind I thought we were discussing. Are you suggeting ANY exposure to second-hand smoke–no matter how slight/brief–causes permanent harm? I get that it’s annoying, but it’s no more annoying that sitting on the bus and listening to someone having a loud conversation on their cell phone, or watching someone chew with their mouth open.

    chikoppi:

    The courts are charged with determining if a regulation or law passes constitutional muster, not whether it is right or wrong. Jim Crow laws existed for decades; that they were blessed by the courts didn’t make them right. Providing examples of similar instances where we’ve allowed the government to interfere in individual liberty isn’t proof of the virtue of smoking bans, it’s proof of one of the results of valuing “the greater good” over individual responsibility and accountability, which is widespread acceptance by citizens of the notion that politicians (Donald Trump!) know better than the individuals they are supposed to serve what’s best for them.

    I understood your point about private clubs; I guess I’m not making mine very clearly. The law can accomodate clubs where smoking is allowed because people who don’t want to go there don’t have to. All I’m saying is the same applied to ALL bars and restaurants before smoking bans were enacted.

    I’m not sure why your are distinguishing between corporations and privately held businesses; I don’t think the rules should be any different for one or the other.

    And no, I don’t smoke. But I understand that decision is best for me, not everybody.

    But even if I did smoke, dismissing a smoker’s arguments against smoking bans because they are motivated by a smoker’s personal interests is logically unsound (if not hypocritical). Ask yourself does the fact I’m a non-smoker add any weight to my arguments against smoking bans for you? If not, then the fact that a smoker might argue for them shouldn’t make her arguments any less valid.

  89. BillyJoe7on 21 Feb 2017 at 3:27 pm

    MWS,

    “Did you want to add “liar” to your list?”

    If you insist:

    MWS: “I don’t hang around smokers and so am never exposed to second-hand smoke”
    MWS: “I do not believe the few, brief encounters I’ve had with second-hand smoke…”

    I don’t believe your second statement either. 😉

  90. chikoppion 21 Feb 2017 at 3:37 pm

    [MWSletten] I understood your point about private clubs; I guess I’m not making mine very clearly. The law can accomodate clubs where smoking is allowed because people who don’t want to go there don’t have to. All I’m saying is the same applied to ALL bars and restaurants before smoking bans were enacted.

    No, people sensitive to second hand smoke couldn’t go to those businesses. It’s not merely a matter of personal preference. They were de facto excluded from a place of public accommodation.

    Private clubs are regulated differently than a “public” business.

    “Various types of clubs exist. An incorporated members’ club is composed of a group of individuals who each contribute to the club’s funds, which are used to pay the expenses of conducting the society. An unincorporated proprietary club is one whose proprietor owns the property and funds and conducts the club to attempt to make a profit. The members are entitled to use the premises and property in exchange for the payment of entrance fees and subscriptions to the proprietor as well as any additional rights and privileges provided in their contractual agreement.”

    I’m not sure why your are distinguishing between corporations and privately held businesses; I don’t think the rules should be any different for one or the other.

    There is no distinction, both C-corps and S-corps are a form of corporation. A corporation is a distinct legal entity and the rights of the corporation are not the same as the rights of the owner(s). A person doesn’t have to incorporate to do business, but if they do the corporation has to comply with applicable regulations, including the uniform commercial code, Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and any state or local laws. That’s the cost of securing the protections a corporate entity confers.

    But even if I did smoke, dismissing a smoker’s arguments against smoking bans because they are motivated by a smoker’s personal interests is logically unsound (if not hypocritical). Ask yourself does the fact I’m a non-smoker add any weight to my arguments against smoking bans for you? If not, then the fact that a smoker might argue for them shouldn’t make her arguments any less valid.

    I never questioned whether or not you were a smoker and I do agree that the argument should be assessed objectively.

  91. Johnnyon 21 Feb 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Steve and bachfiend, thank you for your replies. However I doubt that they would persuade libertarians as they, from what I understand, view property rights as absolute, and thus would also oppose zoning laws. But I think your arguments are among the strongest available and will likely persuade or at least affect those who don’t view property rights as absolute and/or axiomatic.

  92. BillyJoe7on 22 Feb 2017 at 4:26 am

    MWS,

    “Ask yourself does the fact I’m a non-smoker add any weight to my arguments against smoking bans for you?”

    No, it just suggests that your free market fanaticism has overwhelmed your non-smoker bias.

    “If not, then the fact that a smoker might argue for them shouldn’t make her arguments any less valid”

    Whether valid or invalid, but they will almost certainly be biased the fact that she is a smoker.

  93. MWSlettenon 22 Feb 2017 at 11:37 am

    @BillyJoe7, so non-smokers arguing against smoking bans are fanatics, and smokers are biased. Got it!

    Are non-smokers arguing FOR bans biased due to self interest? Have smokers arguing FOR bans allowed their statist fanaticism to overwhelm their smoker bias?

    Seems to me non-mind readers shouldn’t make claims based on motives during a debate. That’s the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from partisans and politicians.

    >I don’t believe your second statement either.

    I notice you choose not to respond to my question about the magnitude of exposure. Cherry picking and absolutism are also the purview of the partisan.

  94. BillyJoe7on 22 Feb 2017 at 3:39 pm

    MWS,

    “Got it”

    Not quite.

    Non-smokers arguing against smoking restrictions in general tend to be free market fanatics.
    Smokers arguing against smoking restrictions in general tend to be biased by their status as smokers.
    Non-smokers arguing for smoking restrictions in general tend to be biased by their status as non-smokers, especially if they are ex-smokers.
    Smokers arguing against smoking restrictions in general tend to be biased by their status as smokers, and their bias tends to be exacerbated if they are also free market fanatics.

    “absolutism”

    When I write that: “non-smokers who argue against smoking restrictions are free market fanatics”,
    you can interpret that two ways:
    – ALL non-smokers who argue against smoking restrictions are free market fanatics.
    – IN GENERAL non-smokers who argue against smoking restrictions are free market fanatics.
    You chose the first interpretation, even though it would be highly unlikely that I would claim that “every single non-smoker who argues against smoking restrictions is a free market fanatic”.
    So who is the absolutist here?

    “magnitude”

    Of course I did not respond because, of course, the magnitude of the exposure is important.
    Did you really think that I, or anyone else here, would claim otherwise?
    The point is that you said:
    “I don’t hang around smokers and so am never exposed to second-hand smoke”
    “I do not believe the few, brief encounters I’ve had with second-hand smoke…”
    My point was that these two statements are contradictory and that I don’t believe that even the second statement is true. Your reference to the “magnitude” of the exposure, with which none of us would disagree, was simply a diversion from having to admit that you made two false statements.

    “cherry picking”

    I have not referenced a single study, so how I could have been cherry picking is beyond me.

    ——————–

    Smoking is a health hazard causing premature death and disability. The government, through taxes, pays the cost of treating the morbidity due to smoking. Outright bans are impractical, and probably counter-productive. Therefore, a responsible government would enact a series of gradually more restricting laws, approved by an informed (through factually based advertising campaigns) general public, that would tend to gradually reduce the rate of smoking.

  95. MWSlettenon 23 Feb 2017 at 3:46 pm

    @BillyJoe, your intellectual dishonesty is truly breathtaking. You demand the courtesy of the most general interpretation of your comments, but insist on the most literal interpretation of mine despite my clarification.

    This is no longer a productive discussion. Good luck!

  96. dogbert617on 09 Mar 2017 at 5:56 am

    I loved reading all your posts, MWSletten. Very well said! And yep, I’m definitely very libertarian, and fall on that side of this debate.

    As for what michael@pescuma.com wrote, I wish New Hampshire lawmakers would pass that bill into law! All private businesses IMO that are restricted to 18 and older adults should have the right to decide if they want to permit smoking or not, and I have no doubt that the majority(mostly restaurants, but a good percent of bars as well) will remain no smoking if NH’s state ban is repealed. I saw what it was like in areas before smoking bans were enacted, and there already was a significant percent that banned smoking on their own accord. I have no doubt it’d remain this way(most businesses still being no smoking, aside from certain bars electing to allow smoking), if NH repealed that law. I don’t hold my breath it’ll be repealed, sadly to say. But who knows? I do wonder if the language requires those bars and few private businesses to post exterior signage that they are a smoking establishment? That way non-smokers who want to avoid such businesses are aware of that before entering and can make the decision to avoid going to those places, while smokers would once again(and I think it’s only fair) have some places(mostly dive bars, if Northwest Indiana is any indication) they can smoke inside of again.

    I know when I do trips every so often to Northwest Indiana(the areas surrounding Gary, IN, and within Gary, which is under the state of Indiana’s law where workplaces and restaurants are smoke-free, but bars, casinos, and private clubs aren’t), that I definitely see some bars here and there that could allow smoking but don’t. Heck, I even know of one private club that chose not to allow smoking, while I know of different private clubs in NWI that elected to continue to allow smoking! Also interestingly, I know one restaurant elected to relicense themselves as a bar when Indiana’s ban went into effect in 2012, so they could continue to permit smoking.

    For the record I live in Illinois, and I’m definitely sure of some bars and other private businesses where our state’s 2008 smoking ban was the reason why they did close for good. I’m jealous of Indiana, since IMO I think they handled the smoking ban issue very well. Unfortunately, a few cities in Indiana were foolish, and did pass total smoking bans including bars(i.e. Indianapolis, Bloomington, Fort Wayne, etc). 🙁 The only very minor problem I see with Indiana’s ban, is that it doesn’t allow each motel and hotel operator the right to decide if they want to offer a limited number of smoking rooms or not. Most smoking ban states(including Illinois) do allow motel/hotel operators to decide this on their own if they’ll offer a limited number of smoking rooms, btw.

  97. BillyJoe7on 09 Mar 2017 at 1:02 pm

    Well, at least you admitted right up front that your view is based on libertarian dogma. 😉

    However, freed of dogmatic positions, the sensible course is for laws to be enacted that tend to lead to a reduction in smoking amongst the public – because smoking is bad for your health and has no redeeming features.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.