This morning I found myself wishing for a smoking ban. I never thought I would utter those words. It is against my very nature to wish for legislation that restricts any of my (or your) freedoms. I wear a motorcycle helmet, but am opposed to helmet laws. I use a seatbelt, but am opposed to adult seat belt laws. You get the idea. So as I am filling up my coffee at the Stroop and South Dixie UDF I find myself wishing for a smoking ban. Why, because Candy and her assistant were smoking up a storm in the backroom. Then it hit me.
I should leave. I should not shop there anymore. That is why my wife never gets gas at Charlies Marathon on the other corner of Stroop and Dixie. That is why we dont take our kids to dinner at smokey restaurants. That is the answer. Personal responsibility. Let the market do what it will. Applebees is smoke free. Not due to legislation or codified ordinance, but by consumer demand. McDonald's the same.
This caused me to pause and reflect on the City of Kettering's current project.
From the Dayton Daily News this week:
Dozens show up to back bid for smoking limit in Kettering
By Dayton Daily News
KETTERING — More than 70 people attended a rally at Town and Country Shopping Center on Monday evening to support a proposed ordinance to limit smoking in public places in the city.
Speakers shared stories of how smoking and secondhand smoke affect their lives personally and professionally.
They included Mark Gebhart, an emergency room physician and medical director for the Kettering Fire Department; Andrea Trevino, whose daughter has a heart condition; Greg Wise, a physician and vice president of medical affairs at Kettering Medical Center, Shalini Forbis, a pediatrician; and Kyle Peebly, a youth advocate for smoke-free environments.
According to Pat Hale, campaign coordinator for Smoke Free Kettering, the rally was to "get the conversation going" but the ultimate goal is to persuade the Kettering City Council to pass a 100 percent Smokefree Clean Indoor Air ordinance by fall.
The group was awarded a $70,000 state grant and given 10 months to facilitate passage of the ordinance.
City Council members Peggy Lehner and Bruce Duke attended the rally. Duke said Smoke Free Kettering had been working with the council for about a year.
"In general, we are supportive of their efforts," he said, noting that two statewide issues to reduce smoking statewide are planned for the November ballot.
"The council at this time believes decisions regarding smoking within a community are best made at a statewide level," he said.
The City is being lobbied hard by an anti-smoking group that is armed with a $70,000 grant from the state's Tobacco Lawsuit windfall. In order to get the grant they needed "sponsorship or support" of two or more city councilmen. They received the support of 5. The grant was awarded earlier this year. The group seeks Council action to ban all smoking in all public places in the city. There is at least two council members who agree, Councilwoman and friend Peggy Lehner and Frank Spolrich. Mayor Patterson and Duke both prefer a more flexible law that mirrors the Centerville legislation. Both also wish to slow city action to see what happens on the state level.
It does not appear that Kettering Council has the 4 votes needed to pass via ordinance to ban smoking city wide. There is sufficient support for a "Centerville type" law according to my councilman Bruce Duke of Kettering 4. This "Centerville type" of law would allow for exemptions for bowling alleys, bars, pubs and private clubs. Unlike the City of Centerville law, Kettering Councilman Duke would rather see a vote by the residents. I wholeheartedly agree. If this issue is really that important to the voters, let them decide. Unilateral action by the council is the wrong thing to do.
I welcomed Peggy Lehner to comment and expand on her views on the subject and she did.
No one disputes the evidence –the only real debate is what we should do about it. To suggest that the government should not take a role in protecting its residents from identifiable health risks is an abdication of our responsibility. We place all sorts of requirements on restaurants as to how they handle food, the cleanliness of their facilities and the behavior of their employees. Peggy Lehner via email
Ms. Lehner in broad terms believes that this is a public safety issue and within the purview of council to act in the best interests of it's citizens. I disagree.This is not apples and apples. It is our job to inform the citizens so they may protect themselves. Not to discriminate against law abiding citizens who are free to enjoy, or suffer, a legal activity like cigarette smoking within the confines of a privately owned business. Banning smoking from public places like parks, city offices, hospitals and schools, in my opinion would be the pervue of council, not private businesses where citizens can choose to patronize or not.
For the record. My wife disagrees with me totally and supports a city wide smoking ban.
Waiting on the state level does two things. First it saves the city time and money addressing what may be a moot issue come November. Why enact a law that may be void by a state law later this year. Secondly a statewide smoking ban, if passed, would eliminate the negative economic impact that could come with a city smoking ban. Mayor Don Patterson agrees and has urged the local Anti Smoking group to work with the state-wide initiative. Don further stated that if signatures in Kettering were gathered and a partial ban, a la Centerville, passed in our fair city, any state action would override the local legislation.
There is an unproved theory that when a city bans smoking that bars, bowling alleys and pubs will suffer a substanital economic loss. There is only antecdotal evidence to support this theory. Most economic studies on this issue only relate to the statewide bans in California, Florida and New York.
I would urge the council to do nothing. The council can continue to lend their support to the citizen group as Lehner and Duke has, but I would ask that they allow the citizens to speak on this issue with petitions and a vote at the ballot box, not in council chambers. Again, Kettering Council agrees, according to Mayor Patterson. Very few, 3 or less, would favor a council action on the topic. Not enough votes to act as Centerville did. This council, thankfully, will wait for a ballot issue from citizens or state-wide legislation.
Lehner closed her comments with this:
While I do oppose a local referendum and would support a total ban in Kettering I also recognize that the best way to create an equitable law with the least impact on business owners is through a state wide ban.
My sources at City Hall tell me that a straw poll taken shows a 4-3 vote against a city wide ban. The three voting for council action without a vote of the people are Duke, Spolrich and Lehner. There is some who question Spolrich's resolve on the issue. The council is more receptive to a vote of the people for a exemption included ordinance. If push came to shove, I believe council would act by resolution or ordinance for a partial smoking ban. Each council person I have spoken with is deferring to the state legislation.
One last note. I was reminded of this little fact my the good Mayor. Centerville's Council action affected about 5 or 6 businesses. Each of those were able to apply for an exemption based on the amount of alcohol sales verses food sales. The same action and legislation in Kettering could impact almost 30 businesses. A far greater impact!
GOVERNMENT TAKES AWAY RIGHTS FOR…
Whether or not you're a smoker, the concern for citizens is whether or not the government can and will legislate you're ability to choose freely. That's always what's been at stake. It's not the context of the government's message of denying you to choose freely; rather it's an excuse used to remove an inconvenience; a DANGEROUS precedence.
Health risks? Sure, there's health risks. After all, you're smoking (umm, duh!) But there's health (even life) risks, and if you listen to the government, you should avoid the following: sky-diving, driving on 75, eating chocolate, drinking alcohol, Junior Whoppers, White Castles, Pepsi, carbohydrate only diets, Dr. Phil, flying commercial airlines, trading stocks, naked women, being or acting like Martha Stewart; any of the above and you'll either gain weight (government says that's bad), becoming an addict (government says that's bad), or learn to sow elegantly (government says that's bad).
But why does the government do this?
Because the inability of some to actually explain what was that on Janet Jackson's nipple during the Super Bowl half-time show to their children and let them know, hey, that's natural. No no no, it's offensive and repulsive. It's a boob for god sakes. Half of us have them and the other half will do everything they can to find them. It’s natural.
HERE'S YOUR OWN "COLORED" WATER FOUNTAIN.
Let’s get to the sole of the problem. A smoker's ability to choose freely is being reduced significantly. If people have a problem with smoking, take Bryan's advice, leave the area. Smokers are cattle to you; like slaves, forcefully putting you, like pawns in a chess game, in a secluded area that’s not allowed to bother anyone else; it's not like they've been cheapened enough. But like blacks had signs that marked "colored water fountains”, the same now exists for smokers and smoking permitted sign. Admittedly this isn't the level of the 60’s civil rights movement and I wouldn’t dare compare that to anything else; but smokers are treated to the same fake coughing sounds or tiresome, “durr, smoking will kill you” diatribe.
Perhaps the civil rights movement only meant blacks; not basic overall rights. And if this were to be about anything other than smoking, the ACLU and other left-wing organizations would be all over it; the social order thus could be controlled from one entity. After all, who cares if people that smoke get the unwanted attention of big signs that say "go ahead, smoke” in that little two square foot space 20 meters away from the building you work at.
IT'S ALL HYPOCRISY ANYWAY
Perhaps 50 years down the line when people take alcohol-related cancer or drunk driving related accidents seriously, not like some late news update on which lane on I-75 is open, maybe we can look at the dangers of drinking. Right? Oh, wait, more people do that. Therefore, it’s socially acceptable that mom, dad, little Johnny and little Jill in the minivan driving back from grandmas in the middle of the night get killed because of a drunk driver. Is this the same as smoking? Yes! You're taking a foreign substance and causing someone else's life to be altered or terminated.
Is it a problem? Yes. Does anyone seem to care outside of MADD? No because it affects them too! Hypocrisy is the way of the ass-clown. Remember that.
IF YOU CHOOSE
If you choose to support an anti-smoking bill, just remember a few things. One, you’re removing a right of free choice for me, yourself, or Billy-Bob Frank to smoke a cigarette. Two, you’re putting mid-America farming at risk. Kentucky farmers are one of the most affected because of the increased taxation of cigarettes and city banning of smoking publicly, will drive them towards bankruptcy.
If you’re actually a smoker that sits outside and enjoys a few quick puffs, then smoke it up, your time is running out. If you’re not a smoker and hate smokers, then make sure the government will fight your battles for you; this thing we call freedom is over-rated anyway.
Josh is a real conservative blogging from the overdeveloped, over visited and over populated Mason Ohio. A computer guy during the day and avid Reds and Bengals Pundit by night. An overall nice guy with a powerful pen, he blogs at www.joshkirkendall.com and cincyjungle.com while contributing to www.bengalszone.com.