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Even non-smokers should rally to extinguish smoking ban

Mencken could've been describing liberals: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy."
Mencken could've been describing liberals: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy."
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Have you ever walked into a bar or nightclub and been immediately assaulted by the sheer volume of the music being played?

What did you do? Most people who don’t enjoy such an atmosphere simply walk out, seeking their night’s entertainment elsewhere.

Yet that’s not the solution Michigan legislators would recommend. Instead, Michigan lawmakers seem to suggest, you should seek civil or criminal redress by banning loud music.

No other conclusion can be drawn by the impending May 1 smoking ban. Michigan will become the 38th state to limit smoking in public places, including government buildings, workplaces, bars and restaurants.

How bars and restaurants have morphed into unassailably “public places” is mind-boggling in itself. Coupled with a fascist bent toward a utopian society, it’s inevitable that such laws would gain traction.

You read that correctly. Fascist. Despite liberals labeling everything and everyone they find distasteful as “fascist” -- George Bush, the ROTC, parochial schools -- fascism is about as anti-right wing as a political ideology can be. All forms of fascism share three common features: anti-conservatism, a mythical crusade of ethnic or national renewal, and a perception (usually politically manufactured) of a nation in crisis.

Sound familiar?

Fascist movements attempt to create a new type of culture -- a total culture -- in which values, politics, art, education, social norms, and economic activity all commingle to establish a single, organic national community.

Isn’t that the definition of “Progressive” as found in Encyclopedia Obamica?

The arguments of anti-smoking crusaders are exactly that -- Crusades. Today’s secular liberalism has achieved a religious zeal that far outpaces any of the traditional orthodoxies against which they rail. The fervor with which agendas and issues are pushed resembles a revival.

We’re told that health care is the most important issue facing us today. No, wait, nothing is more precious than our children. Oh, no, that can’t be right -- abortion is the most fundamental human right. Woops. Tolerance and multi-culturalism are the causes du jour.

Liberals present their views as enticing, delicious alternatives to a moribund and sickly people. They offer up religion lite, when in fact it’s more akin to a super-sized smorgasbord -- a MANDATORY buffet -- featuring the most fat-laden, unsavory items to ever grace a menu.

Be on the lookout for people having fun
H.L. Mencken once described Puritanism as the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy. Mencken never met a modern-day liberal, who fears that someone, somewhere may be unlegislated. Hippies of the 1960s -- father to today’s progressive children -- would be amazed and more than a little perplexed at how their notions of freedom have devolved into a nanny state in which their unruly kids wield an oppressive moral paddle.

You smoke? Whack! You pray? Whack! You enjoy an occasional double cheeseburger? Double whack!

As Canadian journalist Lorne Gunter wrote more than 10 years ago, “. . . anti-smokers are the new puritans. They lose sleep worrying that someone, somewhere is having a cigarette. So worried are they that even in places they never intend to visit, the anti-smokers are determined to snuff out smoking.”

Gunter went on to say that, “property rights can settle disputes over whether to permit smoking in bars, restaurants and other commercial establishments. Property rights should be the mechanism by which such disputes are settled, because they are the only mechanism that preserves the real freedoms of everyone involved. As my friend and fellow commentator Karen Selick has said, ‘This is not a battle between smokers' rights and non-smokers' rights. This is a question of restaurant owners' property rights.’"

A business is private property. Not only should you have the right to allow smoking within your establishment, you should have the right to REQUIRE patrons to smoke!

Gunter, again:

“This is more than a public policy dispute. It is a debate over boundaries: The boundary between public and private, and the boundary between the individual and the collective. Those who would see taverns and cafes as public places tend to believe government has a deciding vote to cast in a whole host of personal, private and interpersonal decisions. While those who would see such spaces as private, would most often wish to place severe constraints on the state and the scope of its action.”

Detroit recently passed a ban that prohibits city workers from wearing “fragrances” in the workplace. Officials plan to place signs in three city buildings warning workers to avoid "wearing scented products, including ... colognes, aftershave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body/face lotions ... (and) the use of scented candles, perfume samples from magazines, spray or solid air fresheners ..."

The action followed a $100,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit filed in 2008 by a city employee who complained that a co-worker's perfume made it “challenging” for her to breathe and do her job. Of course, the ban is so subjective as to be meaningless, and no enforcement apparatus has yet to be developed.

Many people also are nauseated by the sickening smell of microwave popcorn. The state legislature better get cracking on that public health issue, too.

Unfunded mandate creates dearth of smoking police volunteers
Which brings us back to the Michigan smoking ban. That ordinance, too, is fraught with interpretation and enforcement issues. The largest potential kerfuffle facing state health officials is determining who will ensure that establishments are in compliance.

"Most likely it will be the local health departments (enforcing the ban),” state Department of Community Health spokesman James McCurtis told The Detroit News. “It will fall into restaurant inspections (and) it will be complaint based.

"It's not quite concrete, but I guarantee it will be concrete by May 1," he added. "I'm sure some (local health departments) may be unhappy."

Oakland County officials seem more than unhappy. They indicate that they simply won’t comply.

Kathy Forzley, manager of the Oakland County Health Division, told The News that, if the county hears a business isn't conforming, "Complaints will be referred back to the state."

That sounds like a reasonable response to a state-mandated law.

"With dwindling funding and trying economic times, implementing a new law without attached funding is very difficult," Forzley said. "That's something we're continuing to try and work out with the state."

Ask an unfunded state mandate question, get an unfunded county answer.

The law, signed in December, will extinguish smoking in workplaces and businesses (and private clubs and charities and, well, it’s not clear ALL of the places to be impacted) where food and drinks are served. Cigar bars, tobacco stores, some home offices and motor vehicles are exempt. Detroit's casinos can permit smoking on gaming floors, but not in bars, restaurants and hotels.

Individuals or businesses can be ticketed for violating the law, with fines of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for additional offenses. Establishments that continue to break the law could ultimately lose their licenses.

The ever-decisive McCurtis said that the extent of departments’ enforcement responsibility -- and which agencies would be doing the ticketing and collecting -- has not been determined.

Well, that sounds like a well-thought-out piece of legislation.

The science on the risks of second-hand smoke is so conflicting as to be useless, yet that doesn’t deter federal and state agencies from cherry picking their favorite results to fortify their own preconceived notions and agendas.

Judy Stewart, spokeswoman for the Campaign for Smokefree Air and director of state government relations for the Great Lakes Division of the American Cancer Society, told Ann that she was “over-the-moon excited” about the ban. She said workers at restaurants and bars where smoking is allowed are 50 percent more likely to develop lung cancer.

Where Ms. Stewart got such blatantly false data is unknown. However, it might be suggested that the vast majority of people who work in bars themselves smoke. Of course, that would muddle the facts and put a damper on Ms. Stewart’s over-the-moon mood.

My smoking doesn’t have to cause your choking
Even if anti-smokers could prove second-hand smoke is hazardous, as long non-smokers aren’t deprived of their freedom to avoid smoky places, there should be no debate. As Gunter points out, “. . . so long as no one takes from non-smokers their right to go to the restaurant or not, to work at the night club or not, so long as no one puts a law to their heads and commands ‘Breath in this smoke,’ they have not been deprived of any meaningful right.

“If the smoking debate were settled by the use of property rights, bar owners would be free and happy, smokers would be free and happy, and anti-smokers, while they might not be happy, would still be free.”

Claims that people who work in bars where smoking is allowed are somehow “enslaved” by their situations, that they have no choice but to work in such establishments because of economic concerns, are simply ludicrous. Thousands -- indeed, countless -- of occupations involve far more hazardous working conditions than do smoky bars.

When you walked into that bar to apply for a job as a waitress, did you not know that smoking was allowed? Was the smoke spewed out by patrons bellied up to the bar, the wisps now wafting about your face, not a clue?

Leave, and seek employment elsewhere.

As kooky as all of this seems to people who are concerned about property rights and fundamental freedoms, and as simple as the solutions seem to be short of more meddlesome legislation, there are a couple of other aspects of the new law that trump even “kooky.”

For example, hookah bars are included on the scarlet list of establishments where smoking will be banned. Hookah bars, as you may know, are designed and built so that people can gather, enjoy each other’s company and conversation and -- surprise! -- SMOKE.

Smokeless tobacco also is included in the ban. Doesn’t the very word “smokeless” confer upon its use exemption from a “smoking” ban? I hope there are no smokeless hams or smokeless blue jeans being sold. Their demise is imminent.

Related articles
“Michigan's smoking ban approved by Senate, House” - Ann
“Bars, restaurants prepare for statewide smoking ban, question enforcement” -
“How the likely total ban on smoking in public places shows what we have become - a Nation of Intolerant Monomaniacs” - Theodore Dalrymple


  • Truth 5 years ago

    1. Loud Music is not a danger to my health. Second hand smoke is.

    2. Fascism is the merger of state and corporate power, which is exemplified best by corporatist conservatives.

  • Consequences 5 years ago

    When loud music exceeds OSHA levels, the workers have an unsafe work environment.

    I think he has an excellent valid point.

  • harleyrider1978 5 years ago

    hey did the figures for what it takes to meet all of OSHA'S minimum PEL'S on shs/ets.......Did it ever set the debate on fire.

    They concluded that:

    All this is in a small sealed room 9x20 and must occur in ONE HOUR.

    For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes

    "For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes

    "Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up.

    "For Hydroquinone, "only" 1250 cigarettes

    For arsenic 2 million 500,000 smokers at one time

  • harleyrider1978 5 years ago

    The same number of cigarettes required for the other so called chemicals in shs/ets will have the same outcomes.

    So,OSHA finally makes a statement on shs/ets :

    Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997


  • harleyrider1978 5 years ago

    SINCE YOU GUYS AGREE WITH OSHA,then you will want the smoking ban repealed NOW!

  • InvestigateNonProfits 5 years ago

    "In relation to the political decontamination of our public life,
    the government will embark upon a systematic campaign
    to restore the nation’s moral and material health.
    The whole educational system, theater, film,
    literature, the press and broadcasting --
    all these will be used as a means to this end." Adolph Hitler

  • Michael J. McFadden 5 years ago

    Sorry Truth, but for some people loud music IS a health problem that denies them the option of working in bars with loud bands and jukeboxes. See: for more on that. And the Feb. 2006 issue of the European Heart Journal published a study showing that noise elevates the risk of heart attacks by almost 50%. Also: in 2008 the Euro Commission completed another study showing that the noise from living anywhere near an airport (far less than working in a noisy club/bar) had a 50% increased risk of hypertension.

    So I guess the only solution, to be consistent, would be to limit smoke-free bars and clubs to quiet elevator music. Won't that be spiffy? OH... and don't forget: we've got to ban patio dining as well! Can't force people to work under the carcinogenic rays of the sun! Sunscreen provides only PARTIAL protection.... sorta like ventilation and smoke.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

  • Marg Durrance 5 years ago

    I loved your article & the articulation--I soooo agree, concur whatever!

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