Wednesday, June 4, 2008

We'll protect you ... some of you, anyway

The Pennsylvania Legislature, in typical fashion, has crafted a horrible piece of legislation to ban smoking in public places. House and Senate negotiators have come up with the compromise that may be voted on as early as today. According to the Associated Press, it would ban smoking in most workplaces, including restaurants, but it exempts bars that make less than 20 percent of their money from food sales, parts of casinos, private clubs such as an Elks lodge or a VFW hall, volunteer fire departments (?????) and even nursing homes (double ?????). The legislation allows Philadelphia to keep its stricter anti-smoking law but bars any other local government from going beyond the proposed state restrictions. What the state lawmakers are saying, essentially, is that they'll protect patrons and employees of restaurants and some other public facilities from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke, but as for the rest of you, enjoy that cancer. I've been a smoker for more than 30 years, but I don't smoke in places where other people are eating. I also smoke outside at my own house because I don't believe my wife and pets should be subjected to the ill effects of my filthy habit. I do smoke in bars, but if state lawmakers imposed a ban on indoor smoking at all public facilities, I would be glad to comply. I don't think it's asking smokers too much for them to go outside to light up. But in this instance, the legislation is a joke. Public health is not the main consideration here. The lobbyists for the bars and clubs and casinos have won. As we know, money talks in Harrisburg.



Blogger Ellipses said...

I'm actually glad that you smoke Brant... I was starting to think I was the only one left.


June 4, 2008 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I smoked cigars as a teenager (thought it was cool) and went to cigarettes during basic training in the Army. Every time there was a break in activities, the drill sergeant would say, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em." It seemed silly to just stand there, so I bought my first pack of Kool filter kings. What a wise choice. For the past three decades, I've smelled bad, threatened my health and spent thousands of dollars on cigs. At least it's not crack.

June 4, 2008 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I'd think basic training would be a very physical sort of activity. Nowadays, any time I do something physical, it makes me want to smoke. But since I smoke, it is harder to do physical stuff... it's a vicious cycle.


June 4, 2008 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I quit seven years ago this month after 27 years of Marlboro reds. I don't plan on starting again, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single cigarette I smoked. And frankly, I miss it. I'd love to be able to have a good cigar a couple of times a week, with a quality bourbon on the rocks, but I don't trust myself.

For the record, I don't buy into the second-hand smoke argument. I think it's nonsense. What I do buy into is consideration of others and simple manners. As our society decomposes, manners are becoming a thing of the past. When I smoked and someone asked me to put it out, I gladly did. However, if someone TOLD me to put it out, I would, but only after several very, very big drags on the cigarette that were exhaled directly into that person's face. If they can't be polite, neither can I.

As for smoking in public places, it made no difference to me. I had no problem going outside. Same with someone's car or house. I would never assume that it was all right to smoke just because I felt the urge.

Since manners are dying, those who don't like the smell of smoke needed something to bolster their stance, so they came up with secondhand smoke. Most people don't agree with me, but that's just the way I feel.

I'm keenly aware that there is almost nothing good about smoking. It stinks, it stains, it kills. I also know that the one thing good about cigarettes is the warm, wonderful pleasure I got from them.

June 4, 2008 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Thanks, Priguy... now for the tortuous half hour until I get to take a long, pseudo-sexual drag on a cigarette...

I go outside to smoke at home. We don't even get "smoking section" tables at restaurants any more... but with the quality of commercial ventilation systems, the smoking sections are just as clear as the regular sections... you should be more concerned about what's in your food. I don't know... doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

I never really liked cigars... tried them... tried to make myself like them, but it didn't work...


June 4, 2008 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Sorry to torture you, ellipses. You know how we nonsmokers are!

The main reason I stay away from cigars is that I know myself, and long about the time I stubbed out that first tantalizing butt, I'd be getting my keys to head to the nearest convenience store for a pack of cowboy killers.

I like to watch Casablanca and live vicariously through Sam. What a life...drink shots of liquor and never get drunk, smoke constantly, and still get to nail Ilsa.

June 4, 2008 at 5:08 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

This smoking ban legislation has taken many twists and turns. Why? Apparently, lobbyists have continued to twist arms in an effort to get a bill that is least harmful to them.

The primary reason the legislation was introduced in the first place was to protect people in public places. Many places of business were not in question, except those in the food and beverage industry, and the casinos.

If the reason was for protection against second-hand smoke, then why are ANY exceptions? What difference does it make if a business has some percentage of food, over against drink? Or, what is different about those employees in the quarter area of a casino (or whatever the "allowed" area happens to be? An employee is an employee. If the intent is to protect, then there should be NO exceptions. Either the legislation is intended to protect workers, ALL workers, or it is not.

The more obvious question to ask, especially since there are some self-proclaimed smokers on this Board, "Why are you smoking at all?" Why should legislation be required to protect anybody? The evidence for health-related disorders from smoking is overwhelming. Why does anybody believe they are immune from the dangers? Is it the smoker's thought that "nothing will happen to me?" Or, is there an inner desire to prove to one's self that I can beat anything life throws in my path? Or, is there some form of masochism that lays deep within the heart?

Of course, the same observation can be said of people with other health-related behaviors that are harmful. Sit on a bench in a mall and do some people watching. What percentage of the people are overweight? Yet, the evidence is again overwhelming about the problems with being overweight. I'm sure there are other behavioral habits that could be introduced into the argument as well.

We know education is of little help. The standard mantra of "all we need to do is to tell people of the dangers," is alive and well with smoking, overeating, STDs, and the list goes on. Obviously, education does not solve the problem. Help a little, perhaps?

As a side question, or perhaps merely an observation from a very limited statistical sampling, ... what is the relationship between liberal political views and smoking? My statistical observation is that most who are smokers are left-leaning. That is true of the posters on this Board, right? Oops, make that "correct," not "right" or we will find ourselves in a tangle.

If my observation is right (oops again, correct), then can somebody explain why the interest from the smokers on universal health care? That's right, I'm connecting the smokers, those with health-related behaviors, to the desire to have government supplied health care. This seems to be odd -- "I live my life the way I want, because the government will take care of my health care when my behaviors create a problem." What about those with other health related habits (e.g. overeating)? What is their view on government supplied health care?

I know, I know, ... a bit far afield on the legislation issue Brandt raised. But, I'm more concerned about the core issue of smoking in the first place, not how to curb smoking in some places because it might be bad for some other folks.

June 4, 2008 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Wow roger... be careful out there on that limb :-)

I am addicted to smoking... that addiction is both physical and behavioral. I have a physical dependency on nicotine. I have a behavioral drive to smoke at certain times (driving, after eating, as a break during physical exertion, while stretching myself intellectually). I am also stretched very thin with my rather impressive workload and dread the thought of trying to overcome an addiction while trying to perform at my peak.

I am a registered republican. I am also pretty much against socialized medicine. I don't have a problem with a public places smoking ban. I am more than willing to accommodate other people's health concerns. I smoke outside, exclusively (and only when I'm driving alone).

I don't know how the data lies on political views and smoking... Let's stereotype for a moment...

The right is a bunch of fat old white men (rednecks) who are limited in education and world view.

The left is a bunch of tree hugging bleeding hearts who shop at whole foods.

Which of those groups is most likely to smoke?


June 4, 2008 at 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Grog...I need to somehow fix my user name.

No matter how good the ventilation system is in a restaurant, if someone is smoking, I can smell it. I hate that. Just like Steve Martin replied when someone asked him if he minded if they smoked, his reply was, "do you mind if I FART!!" (Another classic) Anyway, for all of you considerate smokers...thank you. For all of you who feel you deserve to smoke anywhere because you are an American citizen, the cancer doesn't come soon enough.

That may sound harsh, but it is a vile, nasty and disgusting habit. Sometimes I feel it is a form of population control. And look at all the jobs it creates. Wow, from the cancer research, to the doctors who treat the cancer, to the hospice centers, to the mortuaries. Billions upon billions of dollars are spent on that dirty little white stick of tobacco.

I have this little exercise when I see someone smoking. I think to myself, "SUCK on that CIGGIE" and then I take a very deep breath and enjoy the clean air coming into my lungs. Then I exhale with the thoughts of, no cancer for me. It's a fun little ritual you should try if you are a non-smoker. And celebrate your choice not to smoke.

I smile and thank my lucky stars that I never started that nasty, disgusting killing habit.
And I thank my legislators for creating a bill that greatly benefits me as I enjoy my chicken dumplings at Cracker Barrel, smoke free.

June 6, 2008 at 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger touches on a good point: if we regulate smoking vehemently, why aren't we regulating the types of food served? You can kill yourself by eating the wrong foods just as surely as by smoking--maybe not as painfully, but just as surely. Maybe if fat could be inhaled as smoke can, there'd be a separate restaurant section for red-meat eaters.

June 6, 2008 at 11:49 AM  

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