So lung, flare well

Tomorrow is the last day anyone in Baltimore will be able to smoke inside of a bar. John Woestendiek wrote an article in the Baltimore Sun (link expired) on the matter that I personally thought was really well written and accurately expresses something of a heartfelt loss of the human experience. But then, I made the mistake of reading the comments section.

Man, talk about business as usual. “GRARRR PERSONAL FREEDOM IS DEAD!!!” “GRAARRR I HATE SMOKE THIS IS A VICTORY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SMOKERS ARE STUPID” “GRAARRR NANNY STATE POLITICS BLAH BLAH HBVJRBRIUHIU.” Granted, some of the comments left were constructive, well thought out and poignant, but it was pretty much a perfect litmus test of the total lack of dialog going on in terms of people and their politics.

What do I think of the smoking ban, you don’t ask? I guess I’ll just go through two of the most common talking points:

“Bad for business” – Yeah no. By design, the law evens the playing field by flattening it totally, since no competition exists between bars that choose to go smoke-free versus bars that continue to allow it. What would have been interesting is giving a tax incentive to bars and restaurants that choose to go smoke-free, but that would involve losing revenue and we know how much the government loves that. Why foster competition when you can just make it illegal?

“Good for public health” – If memory serves, the ban had nothing to do with patrons, but the workers running around breathing in the smoky air. If this were legitimately the case, wouldn’t OSHA have guidelines regarding legal and illegal smoke levels in the workplace? Well, they don’t. So it’s a bit hypocritical. Equally hypocritical is the notion that someone should be trumpeting the values of public health while pollution their bodies with alcohol. And yes, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, so in that regard being around second hand smoke for the three hours a week you might spend in a smoky bar is totally going to matter in the long run, won’t it? Well there’s no science backing that one up but as far as the workers go it more than likely would matter to them (even though they don’t have to work in a smoky bar).
Really the law isn’t one of public health or safety, it’s just a matter of public nuisance. People don’t like the smell of smoke, the look of it, the taste, the cut of its jib or anything. The thought of smokers in general makes them irritated and angry, very angry, to the point that a law has been made to cater to their distaste for cigarettes and the people that smoke them. Not making a value judgment or anything, it is what it is.

In addition to the elimination of smoking while in bars and restaurants, new bills are being proposed by MD porriticians to raise the tax on cigarettes, again. The tax was raised a full dollar last year, and they want to raise it another 10 percent, this time on not just cigarettes but cigars as well (guess everyone will just have to start dipping a lot more!). And they keep talking about how all the money goes to anti-smoking education and cessation programs, which is fine, but what happens when these programs start actually working and the tax revenues from tobacco begin dwindling? Supposedly the budget for all of these programs is a “recommended” 63.3 million, so essentially we’re raising taxes to spend on an effort to reap fewer taxes in the long run. I’ll challenge anyone who claims to be a proponent of the idea that “well health care costs will lower and so will your premiums coz people won’t be getting cancer blah blah blah” will ever see those benefits in their lifetimes. Seriously.

Smoke if you got ’em, while you can. We’re all goin’ out the same door in the end.

6 thoughts on “So lung, flare well

  1. I’m debating driving up to Bmore just so I can sit in Friends and chain-smoke 3 packs of cigarettes in protest. Of course, that would cost me $3 more than it would have a month ago…Damn you porriticians!

    Luckily, I can still dip all I want anywhere! Bwahahaha!

  2. I just don’t understand why more bars didn’t become non-smoking if the demand from potential customers was so high. But whatever, if anything, it will probably increase business since militant anti-smokers will be willing to go more places. And it’s not like smokers are going to stop drinking, hell, they can’t even stop smoking. Health care costs will be lower huh? Well then I hope they start forcing the 31% of us that are obese to get off our fat asses and run. Better do it soon too, because the demographic keeps growing 🙂 Anyway, we should go out tonight and get a picture for the archives of the last night when a law-abiding citizen of the Free State could act on his God-given right to take a satisfying stroll through flavor country inside a drinking establishment without some brownshirt, nannystate, Mommylander stomping on his face forever.

  3. Well of course that’s the big talk about what’s coming next, and everyone is pretty sure it’s going to be the morbidly obese that get the tax/ban/whatever hammer. I don’t give a shit anymore frankly, just stay out of my business for once.

    But that’s a good idea, we should shoot a picture at like Mount Royal Tavern tonight for this historical event.

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