Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Cigarettes and whiskey

A Statesman story reports on a recent air quality study that found air in smoky bars is 36 times worse than outside air. A local group is trying to get smoking in bars outlawed. I'm perplexed as to why this has been so difficult.

Washington, Oregon, California, locally outlaw smoking in bars, as do other states. The main rationale is to protect employees of drinking establishments.

With the high LDS population in Idaho, you'd think that an effort to outlaw smoking would be widely supported, but you'd be wrong. They reasons Mormons don't support it is, I think, are fold. One, basic Idaho libertarianism. Leave the smokers alone, plus, if you don't like smoky bars, don't go to them. Two, good Mormons don't spend much time in bars and don't appreciate how nasty and smoky they can get. And three, if you choose to work in a bar, then you choose to suffer the consequence. (These reasons apply across the board, not just to Mormons, but I'm offering these as reasons to overcome their anti-smoking predilections.)

Of these, I most disagree with number three. That argument assumes that the bar employee can just find a job elsewhere and isn't forced of economic necessity to work in a bar. Well, our current economy proves how precious any job is, and how difficult it can be to find work. Also, in Kuna where I live, there are not a lot of businesses, and not a lot of jobs. If you don't have reliable transportation to get into Meridian or Boise and have to work locally, jobs are scarce. A bar may offer the only employment.

Further, bar tending and waiting tables are jobs that can be done without much education or experience, and may be the only option for low skilled workers.

Airline stewardesses (back then it was pretty much women) made the case for outlawing smoking in planes. They showed a higher incidence of respiratory disease, and got smoking banned. Note that all three arguments against banning smoking in bars apply to planes. If you don't like a smoky plane, take a train, bus or car.

I think it is only a matter of time before non-smoking bar-goers get some relief. More and more bars are voluntarily banning smoking, including the new Arlene bar in Kuna. Still, there are lots of fun (and sometimes more convenient) places that I'd like to go but avoid due to the smoke, so I hope some day we can find a way to stop smoking in bars.

How about a "smoking license?" A bar can allow smoking, but must get a license, pay a fee, and show certain measures designed to lessen the smoke, like improved ventilation, etc. That might help.


fortboise said...

Just as a point of reference: as I recall from my long-ago HVAC specification days, figure that a space with smokers in it needs ten times as much fresh air as a non-smoking space.

When the air needs heating or cooling, the energy requirements multiply accordingly.

Alan said...

Sure, you have to move lots of air to flush out the smoke, so the economics of allowing smoking militate against having sufficient clean air for the non-smokers.

A yearly license and fee might change the economics.

Tippyrich said...

I thought the smoking ban for public places applied to public places across the board. Can you tell me why it doesn't apply to bars?

I think the biggest reason 'Mormons' don't appear to support the effort to outlaw smoking in bars is because they don't frequent bars and due to the LDS culture, most aren't even aquainted with foks who do. It's more about a lack of awareness; it's a sphere they've never entered. So, i don't think it's really about the 'live and let smokers live' idea, nor the fact that if someone chooses to work in bar that they choose to suffer the consequences. That's not to say that they shouldn't be aware; they just aren't.

I'm just sayin.