Study: Secondhand smoke causes lung damage.

UVa “researchers have identified structural damage to the lungs caused by secondhand cigarette smoke” They studied the lungs of non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke with a super-sensitive MRI and found significant lung damage as a result of high levels of exposure to tobacco fumes. The results of the study were presented at a conference today. Time to revisit anti-smoking legislation?

68 thoughts on “Study: Secondhand smoke causes lung damage.”

  1. I predict the same approach that we’ve seen to global warming. That is to say, some quack will be willing to whore his name out to the tobacco companies to say that he disagrees with the science, and the usual fault lines will flow from there.

  2. I’d say its tobacco companies that invented that approach. Or, if not the inventors, then at least the most infamous executors of it. It’d just be a case of history repeating itself.

  3. According to that study, 100% of the “non-smokers with high exposure to secondhand smoke” (18 people) showed either “suggestions” of early lung damage or “indications” of a “developing respiratory problem.” 100%.

    Researcher Wang seems to have gone a little overboard in his quest “to add momentum to the drive to pass [anti-smoking] legislation.”

    Anyone who thinks that all anti-smoking research is pure science, clean as the driven snow, is quite foolish. Researchers on both sides go into their work with a pre-determined outcome in mind.

    http://reason.com/blog/show/123404.html

  4. It’s good that they’re doing some proper studies on this. As I.Publius mentions, there have been poor efforts in the past to try to show that second-hand smoke causes health problems (note that I did not say “to try to show *if* second-hand smoke causes health problems”).

    The next step, aside from general replication of the study, is to determine what that level of damage means, and if that level of damage makes it worth giving up a freedom. Sunlight can damage the skin, but we don’t bar parents from encouraging children to play outside. Are the damage levels reversible, and what kind of damage do they lead on to later in life? Not an all-inclusive example, just one of the many choices that we make nowadays that have consequences greater than the short term. Not as many choices as we used to make, but things are safer now, apparently.

    So, what level of damage is necessary to encourage us to give up a freedom? Maybe not an important freedom, maybe not a trendy one, but still, it is the government placing a restriction on how businesses can conduct themselves.

  5. So, what level of damage is necessary to encourage us to give up a freedom?

    Mr Geiger is SO right.

    I am as rabid an anti-smoking Nazi as you’ll find, but I’m starting to think of anti-smoking legislation in the same way that I think of anti-sodomy laws: just leave people ALONE.

    I went to the Court Square Tavern on Friday. I found that they have chosen to ban smoking, and it was great (man, that place used to stink). I loved it, and I will return more frequently than I used to, since I don’t like second-hand smoke.

    But I think that this is an issue between me and the proprietor. Not the state.

  6. Hawkins, I’m glad you mentioned your experience at Court Square Tavern. I went in there with my sons about a year ago for lunch, but left almost immediately because of the smoke. Now that I know, we’ll certainly go back.

    There’s room enough in the marketplace to accommodate both smokers and non-smokers.

  7. Since when is the right to burn tobacco a “freedom” protected by the Constitution? I think I missed that amendment. Let’s make a deal: I won’t claim I have a “right” to breathe clean air if you won’t claim smokers have a “right” to smoke, OK? Because both are figments of our imaginations.

    This is a public health issue. We regulate public health issues every time a health and safety inspector enters a restaurant to make sure they’re not leaving raw chicken on the counters or food at room temperature. So until you’re willing to say we shouldn’t regulate food safety in restaurants, you can’t say “get big government out of my restaurant.”

  8. It’s interesting H.D. referred to himself, jokingly one assumes, as “an anti-smoking Nazi.” In fact, Hitler and the Nazis were emphatically anti-tobacco which Adolf called “the wrath of the Red Man against the White Man, vengeance for having been given hard liquor.” Hey, I’m just sayin’.

  9. Since when is the right to burn tobacco a “freedom” protected by the Constitution?

    To be fair, I don’t think there’s been any claim that it’s a freedom that’s protected by the Constitution, just that it’s a freedom. There are plenty of freedoms that people enjoy, without benefit of constitutional protection. (I enjoy the freedom to choose among many flavors of ice cream, but I don’t think I’ve got any constitutional guarantee on that score.)

    I guess that just means that the continuation of those freedoms needs to be negotiated among the competing interests. Maybe with the force of law. Maybe through the forces of capitalism. Maybe with the influence of social pressure. It’s not always the Constitution.

  10. Harry, but your consumption of ice cream doesn’t impact my health (although if you were eating Ben & Jerry’s in front of me it would cause my stomach to growl). Smoking in your private home doesn’t impact my health, either. But smoking in bars & restaurants does impact my health. That to me is a big difference.

    And can we all avoid breaking Godwin’s Law? That would be great.

  11. Since when is the right to burn tobacco a “freedom” protected by the Constitution?

    Well, lets look to Amendment IX in the Bill of Rights:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    That is to say, just because it’s not explicitly in the constitution doesn’t mean we can wave away questions of freedom without issue. That’s not to say that I think the government shouldn’t be able to legislate about it, but the assumption that we only have rights and freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights and following amendments is contradicted right there in the Bill of Rights.

    Anyway, I think this is an issue worthy of debate, and I don’t mean to derail it with this. I personally stand by my feeling that we should legislate air quality inside commercial establishments, and allow bars and the like to obtain a tobacco license contingent on the requisite ventilation to ensure a safe work environment for the employees. If a restaurant or bar doesn’t want to go through the trouble, they can just be a non-smoking establishment.

    Outright bans are a lot easier, but they’re a solution that I can’t support.

  12. No dispute with you on the health issue, TheGreenMiles. I was just trying to clear the record on the question of Constitutional protection for the freedom to smoke. I don’t think there is one, nor has anybody claimed such on this thread.

    Clearly, though, the right to smoke is a freedom. You make good arguments for restricting that freedom. Others may offer compelling reasons for a more laisez-faire approach. I don’t smoke and don’t like be around people who do. However, I like to buy fresh cheese and meats from local farmers. I’m worried that the much of the same reasoning that restricts tobacco use (public health) will prohibit me from purchasing food products that I want to consume.

  13. smoking in bars & restaurants does impact my health.

    Only when you make the personal choice to go to places that allow smoking. Vote with your wallet. Restaurant and bar owners have been responding. I don’t go to places that allow smoking, but what gives me the right to make that choice for other people?

    Comparing this to food safety is disingenuous. There is no less-restrictive alternative to food inspections. Without such laws, customers would have no way of knowing whether they were putting their health at risk when they stepped into a restaurant. All you need to protect people like you and me from the smoke we disdain is a sign on the door.

  14. I.Publius, your argument for letting the market solve the problem would be a lot stronger if the market hadn’t already had decades to solve it. If the market had actually produced plenty of smoke-free bars, legislation wouldn’t be getting nearly as much traction.

  15. We’re all looking at this from our Charlottesville bubble. Sure, I can vote with my wallet here, but what if I lived in a little town with only one restaurant, and that restaurant allowed smoking? Does that mean I am required to subject myself to physical harm or never eat out? Or, what if I’m a working class individual in that town who can only find a job in that restaurant? I think pulling 8+ hour shifts in a smoky restaurant certainly qualifies as significant exposure.

    I first tackled this issue when I was living in Providence. Originally, I was on Publius’ side of the issue. But the biggest sticking point was people who had no choice but to work in areas where smoking was allowed. It may seem odd to say that, but when you are a hispanic high-school dropout single mother, it tends to limit your options. Study after study was done in Rhode Island, and it became clear that the poor were disproportionally being victimized.

    Vote with your wallet indeed.

  16. So, KC, since the market hasn’t provided the solution that you deem best, it’s failed to function? Reminds me of the time someone here wrote that the federal minimum wage was “artificially low.”

  17. If the market had actually produced plenty of smoke-free bars

    Look around. It has done exactly that, not that it should matter. If you want a smoke-free restaurant, open one. It’s a free country. If you want to distinguish yourself today, though, you’re better off opening a smoking-allowed restaurant, as they’re much harder to find. But you’d better hurry — the nanny-staters are moving in fast.

    And it’s hardly just Charlottesville. I eat out in Richmond and Hampton Roads quite regularly, and the number of restaurants that allow smoking are clearly in the minority.

    what if I lived in a little town with only one restaurant, and that restaurant allowed smoking? Does that mean I am required to subject myself to physical harm or never eat out?

    If the only alternative is to impose YOUR personal preference on the establishment’s owner and his clientele, then yes, that’s tough shit for you. You no more have a “right” to eat out in a restaurant than a smoker has a “right” to smoke in one. But the owner should have the freedom to set his own policy. Don’t like it? Open up your own place.

    Study after study was done in Rhode Island

    I’d love to see a few of those.

  18. One thing I love about the Charlottesville Bubble–nearly all of my favorite restaurants/bars are voluntarily smoke-free: Hamiltons’, Zocalo, Bang!, X Lounge. (Continental Divide is the only holdout among my regular haunts.)

    Good to hear that Court Square Tavern has joined the smoke-free camp; the smoke there drove me away years ago. I’ll definitely give CST a positive return vote with my wallet soon.

  19. Ah, now we get to the heart of I. Publius’ argument. “Tough shit for you.” That’s what this really comes down to isn’t it? Yadda yadda freedom, blah blah individual rights. It’s all about being able to light up whereever the hell I damn well please and you can roll up your public health concerns real tight and smoke ‘em, isn’t it?

  20. Green — What part of this can’t you understand? Nobody — not me or anybody else — is claiming or even wanting the right to “light up wherever the hell I damn well please.” It’s you demanding YOUR personal preference to be imposed on everyone else.

    And quit hiding behind the skirt of “public health concerns.” You and I both know that any such concerns are ably addressed by simply not choosing to go where smoking is allowed. I choose that for myself — why can’t you?

    (I already know the answer… you don’t want to have to make that choice, and you’d rather use the power of the state to enforce what you want on everyone else…. How DARE someone choose to smoke, and how DARE that owner allow it…don’t they know that I don’t like it? Uncle Timmy – make them stop so I can go there and not have to smell that stuff.)

  21. I typically go out drinking a few nights a week, and I am absolutely fed up with coming home smelling like cigarettes every time (I don’t smoke and usually have a pretty intense reaction to second-hand smoke — watery eyes, incessant coughing, intense headaches, trouble breathing clearly afterwards, etc). I certainly don’t wish any ill will on the bars I frequent (well, most of them), and I understand that it hurts their business, but it’s just a huge relief to me when the weather gets warm, the windows are opened and the smokers go outside.

    As for constitutional rights etc, I think the important thing is to respect the rights of both businesses, non-smokers and smokers (who are, after all, drug addicts and deserve our sympathy). One frequent suggestion is, “If you don’t like smoking, don’t hang out in bars,” to which my counter-suggestion is: “If you like smoking, do it outside where you won’t give me cancer.” I think it’s just common courtesy to step outside a bar, restaurant, or non-smoker’s house to light up — although I would never complain about someone smoking in their own home, obviously. That would just be rude.

    The point of my rambling diversions is that, ultimately, I will be fucking thrilled when indoor smoking is finally outlawed in Virginia. If New York and LA can handle it, I think lil’ ol’ Charlottesville should do just fine.

  22. Publius — the difference as I see it, is that if you’re in a bar hanging out with a bunch of drunk people, you still have the option to decide whether to drink for yourself or how much. You don’t however, have the option to not inhale the second-hand smoke or to choose how much cancer to get. Where the hell are us non-smokers supposed to drink, anyway?

  23. A former tobacco chewer, I always resented the fact that I couldn’t spit tobacco juice into the nostrils of smokers who just blew tobacco smoke into mine.

    Double standards suck.

  24. I went to the Court Square Tavern on Friday. I found that they have chosen to ban smoking, and it was great (man, that place used to stink).

    That’s totally great! I’ve only been there a few times ever (once in 1993, and I so reeked of tobacco afterwards that I didn’t return for a decade), and it’s just so disgustingly smoky that I couldn’t muster the willingness to return. I’ll have to go back.

  25. I personally stand by my feeling that we should legislate air quality inside commercial establishments, and allow bars and the like to obtain a tobacco license contingent on the requisite ventilation to ensure a safe work environment for the employees. If a restaurant or bar doesn’t want to go through the trouble, they can just be a non-smoking establishment.

    Ben, I think this is an excellent middle ground that I’d heartily support.

    What would also be hugely helpful is if the puritans in the General Assembly would be willing to license bars. Since there’s no such thing as a bar in Virginia, only restaurants, there’s no way to prohibit smoking in restaurants but allow it in bars. I think it’s utterly reasonable to allow smoking in bars, in terms of our social norms, contingent on it being a safe work environment, as you described.

  26. To TheGreenMiles and i.Publius, I would like to note that my personal question was something along the lines of, “At what point is the health risk dangerous enough to warrant a limitation of the relatively minor freedom, but freedom nevertheless, to decide for yourself if your business could have smoking indoors?”

    It would seem that TheGreenMiles would prefer to just ditch that freedom whether there is a health risk or not, and use the health risk as an excuse for doing so. Is this a fair assessment, TheGreenMiles?

  27. James, last I checked there wasn’t a lot of support for the assertion that second-hand smoke causes cancer (although in the last year or so I believe there may have been a study that supported the atrocious excuse for science that the EPA used briefly several years back as proof that Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) causes cancer. I admit to not having checked recently). Do you have a handy link?

    Also, not all tobacco smokers are addicts, though most cigarette smokers are.

    If ETS doesn’t cause cancer, and if the damage noted in the post don’t cause lasting harm, then smoking is an annoyance, not a danger. That’s different. It’s similar to restricting people from wearing perfume, bars from playing music so loud that you have to speak loudly and closely to be heard, and that people not be allowed to use awkward phrasing in a parenthetical aside on a blog comment. And the more we start legislating annoyances, the further down into tyranny we go.

  28. Waldo and Ben,

    I also agree with the suggestion of air-ventilation requirements. It gets to the heart of the matter much better than limiting smoking. The last time I was in a discussion related to such an idea (and yeah, smoker’s rights tend to bring out the commenter in me. Sad, really.), it was suggested that even the best ventilation and filtering won’t help. However, I believe that if we set the requirements, even if they don’t work with todays ventilation/filtering technology, it’s still the proper way to go. Encourages advances in the industry, keeps the eye on the real problem, etc.

  29. So liberals are for using the power of the state to tell some business owners they can’t allow a certain behavior (smoking) within their establishment, but also want to tell other business owners (pharmacists) that they must provide certain drugs (morning after pills and the like) to people.

    To this conservative, with a wide libertarian streak, having the government tell business owners what they must or must not allow or must or must not sell in truly frightening.

  30. So liberals are for using the power of the state to tell some business owners they can’t allow a certain behavior (smoking) within their establishment, but also want to tell other business owners (pharmacists) that they must provide certain drugs (morning after pills and the like) to people.

    You’ve conflated two things that are so utterly unrelated that I really don’t know where to begin. The top three: 1. Pharmacists are in the business of providing what doctors tell them to provide, nothing more and nothing less. 2. Pharmacists are regulated by the state (by their own choice) and require themselves dispensation of prescribed drugs, while restauranteurs are under no such obligation. 3. The goals of both are the same: good health.

  31. I’m not conflating. I’m comparing. They’re different.

    Having a state license for a pharmacy and refusing to sell RU-486 is no different from having a business license for a bar/restaurant and allowing/refusing to allow smoking inside. It is, and should be, the proprieter’s perogative. Except, of course, to liberals who demand, and wish to use the power of the nanny state to enforce, a one-size-fits-all solution to any societal disquiet. It’s anathema to basic freedoms of conscience, and, like their gun-grabbing attempts of the mid-90s, will end in electoral disaster for them.

  32. Judge Smails, are they different or are they no different? Your third and fourth sentences seem to contradict, so I’m curious if it’s a logical error or a typo.

    Also, is the world really so easy to make sense of that a simple philosophy will cover such a wide range of situations?

  33. Not everything is a black and white “nanny state” issue.

    A pharmacist (generally) is not a “proprietor”, in the first place. Waldo is right – their only job is to supply what a physician prescribes, after cross checking for patient and medication reactions and cross-reactions, etc. A physician is perfectly able to not provide a service that they feel they cannot in good conscience, as long as they do not abandon the patient and provide reasonable alternatives including helping find a physician who is willing to provide the service (unless my knowledge of VA law is outdated). A physician may say “I do not perform abortions, but Dr. Whatsis does and you are welcome to go to him”.

    A pharmacist may not say “I don’t like what your doctor prescribed so I’m not giving it to you”. It’s like them saying “I don’t agree with that choice of antibiotic – so I’m not giving you any”.

    Or are you saying tht conservatives are for using the power of the state to tell some business owners they can’t provide a certain service (abortions) but against telling others they can’t allow a certain behavior (smoking)?

  34. So, to review:

    Using the power of the state to keep someone from lighting up for a couple of hours – frightening nannystatism.

    Using the power of the state to torture people who haven’t even been given a trial – A-OK.

    Fantastic.

  35. Of course, MB. The nanny state — the one that worries about your health — is the one to watch. The daddy state — the one that tortures you, locks you up in secret prisons, listens in on your phone calls, etc. — should be expanded at every opportunity (at least as long as there’s a Republican in the White House).

  36. What kind of nanny waterboards a child? ;)

    I’m happy to hear that my idea regarding tobacco licenses is so popular. I’d love to hear if any of the conservatives that frequent this blog have particular problems with it. I approach the issue from a stance of a safe workplace, and agree with some of the posters here that smoke as an annoyance should be an issue the market can handle, but I suspect my concerns about workplace safety might be at odds with conservative ideas of the role of government. Still, I’m curious.

  37. If the only alternative is to impose YOUR personal preference on the establishment’s owner and his clientele, then yes, that’s tough shit for you. You no more have a “right” to eat out in a restaurant than a smoker has a “right” to smoke in one. But the owner should have the freedom to set his own policy. Don’t like it? Open up your own place.

    So, you’re saying that restaurants are for smoking and not eating? That is some twisted logic. Last I heard, second-hand eating doesn’t kill.

  38. You misread my statement. Nobody has a “right” to have a restaurant at their disposal. You have no inherent right to have restaurants available to go to…Smokers have no inherent right to smoke on anyone else’s private property. The only “right” that exists here is the property owner’s right to run his business. Don’t approve of how it’s run? Frequent somebody else’s business, or start your own. And something as simple as a sign on the door solves the problem.

    Regardless, restaurants aren’t “for” anything in particular, other than whatever helps the owner to make a profit. By your illogic, people who don’t like darts should use state power to have the game banned from restaurants. After all, restaurants are for eating, not throwing deadly little spears at the wall. While we’re at it, let’s get the General Assembly to ban TVs from them, too. Studies prove that too much exposure to television is bad for children… and restaurants are for eating, not watching TV.

    And darts & TV have killed as many people as secondhand smoke.

    (Read the artricle from reason.com I linked in the third post. Ridiculous lies about smoking dangers aren’t doing anybody any good.)

  39. Hey Waldo! Thanks for bringing attention to this study, and the issue in general. I have one quibble. The bill you linked (HB2422), while the vehicle that the Governor used to attempt to make restaurants smoke free, was actually a pretty bad bill as introduced. Something similar Sen. Bell’s bill from last year is actually what the public health groups will be advocating for in 2008.

  40. Recently many of us with different political views and philosophies agreed more or less unanimously that the Commonwealth was surely big enough for both the behemoth Smithfield Foods and Nelson County’s Double H Farm to coexist, letting the informed consumer choose between them. Certainly this applies to smoking and non-smoking restaurants as well.

  41. Judge Smails,

    I’m pretty much in agreement with you here. The distinction that still concerns me, though, is one of workplace health for employees. If heavy doses of second-hand smoke does cause harm, I’m not sure that I wouldn’t insist that employers provide protection for their employees who are subjected to that smoke. If there’s equipment that can be shown to effectively remediate the problem, fine.

    I don’t think it’s enough to say that if the employee doesn’t like it, they can just work someplace else. Most of us (I think) wouldn’t tolerate a woodworking shop without safety protection on the saws. We wouldn’t just say that employee in the woodworking shop can go find another job if they didn’t want to risk cutting their fingers off. If the hazard can be mitigated, it should be.

  42. The imposition of an additional safety regulation on a restaurant owner doesn’t strike me as particularly objectionable, especially when it’s aimed at worker safety. And lord knows, they’re already used to operating in a rather regulated environment. So for me, it’s more about who gets to impose their choice on the other. Is it the smoker (and please, don’t hand me any crap about it not being an imposition on everyone within a 15 foot radius of them) at the bar? Or the non-smoker before we even get to the bar? Or, to put it in Miles’ terms – who gets to say “Tough shit.” to the other?

    Not an easy question for me.

  43. …to put it in Miles’ terms – who gets to say “Tough shit.” to the other?

    To me and it seems quite a few others, the answer should be, “the owner” (if, as you said, we had worker safety regulations in place). I don’t think this answer favors one group over another, but instead lets the market provide both types of establishments.

  44. And, I should add, imposing air quality restrictions and tobacco licensing would almost certainly create more non-smoking establishments due to the added cost of providing safe working conditions, without doing away with the smoking-bar altogether (assuming the regulations were reasonable and in keeping with what we know about the effects of second hand smoke).

  45. Recently many of us with different political views and philosophies agreed more or less unanimously that the Commonwealth was surely big enough for both the behemoth Smithfield Foods and Nelson County’s Double H Farm to coexist, letting the informed consumer choose between them. Certainly this applies to smoking and non-smoking restaurants as well.

    Again, I think this is a false comparison. There’s no evidence that Double H’s products present a public health hazard. If anything, the evidence indicates that their meat is better for you. If Double H was providing meat that was known to be laden with dangerous bacteria (i.e., e. coli), I certainly wouldn’t be arguing that it’s their right to sell that if they want to. Likewise, we know that cigarette smoke is enormously harmful.

    But that’s probably irrelevant. My concern really isn’t for the public. At least, it’s not enough of a concern to warrant banning smoking in restaurants, because I figure people can simply not go to those restaurants and, as I mentioned, because that would include bars. No, my concern is for the employees of these establishments, who shouldn’t have to be exposed to cigarette smoke. If the toxins and carcinogens were being delivered in any other form, OSHA would shut the place down. I can’t understand why they’re OK when they’re coming from the unfiltered end of a cigarette.

  46. The bill you linked (HB2422), while the vehicle that the Governor used to attempt to make restaurants smoke free, was actually a pretty bad bill as introduced.

    Yeah, sorry about that. :) I linked to it because that was the bill that had the most interesting discussion. I got some woman to consider allowing people to burn small piles of uranium on their restaurant tables, so wed was she to allowing smoking, and, really, that’s just comedy gold. :)

  47. As far as I know, every city that has a smoking ban has some sort of smoking “license” still available as Ben describes. Here in New York they’re usually hookah bars, but there’s a few other places I know of, as well.

    I have to say that from my own experience, a lot of people who are adamantly pro-smoking (or at least pro-people’s-ability-to-smoke-publicly) reconsider when their home town enacts a smoking ban. I know that in 2003, before I moved to New York, I was critical of smoking bans and supportive of smokers at least having their own section in restaurants and so on. I moved to New York just a few months after they enacted their smoking ban, and I certainly thought it was weird to walk into a smoke-free bar. I actually missed the smoke, even though I’ve never smoked myself. Then, about six months after I moved up here, I went back down to Charlottesville for a visit and went to meet some friends at a bar. I walked in, literally gagged and then walked right back outside again to wait for my friends to show up. Just in those few months of not being around one smoker, I’d become completely unable to tolerate it. It still took me another year or so to get used to the idea of o smoke in those places, but man was I completely unable to handle it whenever I was around it again. I have a lot of friends in other cities that have enacted similar smoking bans and while before living with said bans only about half of them felt the way I did (e.g. supporting public smoking in some capacity), I only know of one who still feels that way. (And that one’s a Democrat!)

    So. Try it before you knock it. The reality of it seems to make people adjust their politics about it.

  48. Thank you so, so much for mentioning hookah bars. I’d completely forgotten that NYC, Vancouver and other cities have enacted “cultural exemptions” to their smoking which seem pretty much aimed at allowing Muslims to weigh the benefits v. risks of smoking, but not the rest of us infidels. Maybe if we could find a minority group here in Virginia to piggy-back on we could stop this law from being enacted, or would non-Muslims doing it nullify the exemption? I’m certain someone can explain the logic here to me.

  49. I’m curious: are those who are against anti-smoking laws for restaurants also advocates of returning smoking to commercial airline flights? (Why not let the market decide there too?)

  50. Thank you, Jonah, for once again demonstrating your obsession with teh Muslims.

    Of course, come to any of the hookah places around here, and I think you’ll notice that it’s something other than Muslims packing the places. But I’m sure you’ll find one or two you can pin your hateful little hopes on.

  51. Ben, I’m not sure why the restaurant owner gets a choice in a non-smoker’s safety. It’s not like an owner can decide that he’s not going to observe a given set of food handling regs, and then simply post a sign on the door and let the market figure it out. The consequences of elevating the non-smoker’s choice over the smoker’s choice is that the smoker is inconvenienced (at most) for a couple of hours. Elevating the choice of the smoker over everyone else has the consequences demonstrated by studies (and the slew of most posters’ personal experiences).

    And while the improved air quality standards seems like a perfectly reasonable approach (one that I’d be willing to try), I have to say that I’m not at all convinced that it would be possible, barring setting up some special vacuum receptacle at which each smoker should tap and breathe.

  52. I was unaware there was a difference in the amount of smoke produced by joints and bongs, er, I mean cigarettes and hookahs. Nevertheless, I do enjoy when liberals get caught in a conundrum of their own making as with the desire to regulate every aspect of peoples’ lives while remaining cringingly faithful to the tenets of multiculturalism.

  53. So I get to my seat and sit down next to a lady, she says, “mind if I smoke?”

    “No”, I say, “mind if I fart?”

    (ripped from Steve Martin)

  54. MB,

    I’m not sure why the restaurant owner gets a choice in a non-smoker’s safety. It’s not like an owner can decide that he’s not going to observe a given set of food handling regs

    No, that’s true, but the restaurant owner does get a choice in how loud the establishment is. I’ve been to many places that damage my eardrums, and for the most part, choose not to frequent those places again. That way, people who want to lose their hearing can engage in such activity, and the rest of us can go elsewhere. Of course, the difference is that it’s socially acceptable for bartenders to wear earplugs, but probably not gas-masks, which again goes to the whole workplace safety issue.

    Then again, I’d probably frequent a bar where the employees wore gas-masks, at least once.

    Random other replies:

    The “Hookah bars = teh MUSLIMS!” strawman is pretty great, but sadly, in all the cities I’ve read about, you can use the same licensing procedure for tobacconists’ shops too. Also, the idea that hookah bars are for Muslims/Arabs is pretty ridiculous. It’s like claiming algebra class is for Muslims. Sure, it originated in Persia, but that doesn’t really mean anything these days.

    Regarding the feasibility of air quality issues, I can’t say how feasible it would be. I’m not sure how much cleaner air would need to be than it is in smoke-filled bars to decrease it to an acceptably unhealthy level, if at all. I’m honestly not up on the research in this area. If it really would be impossible to provide a reasonably safe work environment, then so be it, but I suspect a lot of places would be able to get licenses for their patios, at the very least.

    As far as living in a smoke-free area, I’m in Arlington and I go into DC a lot, which is smoke-free in restaurants. Take that as you will.

    It’s my understanding that the licensing–at least in a lot of cities–for smoking establishments is a lot less flexible than what I’m describing, but Will’s right that most smoking bans are not absolute. I have a natural aversion to legislation that creates categories of establishments, and sets different rules for each when we could just use a results-oriented system of using licensing fees to test air quality once in a while and base it on that. It allows the market to work better while dealing with the workers’ safety issues.

  55. I was unaware there was a difference in the amount of smoke produced by joints and bongs, er, I mean cigarettes and hookahs.

    Not being a smoker, I can’t speak to the mechanism, but a hookah emits very little smoke. I had little difficulty being in the same room with a half dozen people sharing a couple of hookahs. (Presumably part of that comes from the water filtration process.) This knowledge comes only from spending some time at Blacksburg’s Sheesha.

    Nevertheless, I do enjoy when liberals get caught in a conundrum of their own making as with the desire to regulate every aspect of peoples’ lives while remaining cringingly faithful to the tenets of multiculturalism.

    Is this just an abstract concept, or have you actually witnessed any such response to this matter?

  56. I suspect a lot of places would be able to get licenses for their patios

    Just to continue my attempt to paint Ben’s proposal as an existing reality, New York does allow people to smoke in patios. I know several bars in my neighborhood where my one friend who smoked (who recently quit with the help of the city’s free nicotine patches, gum and so on) liked us to frequent because she could smoke if we sat in the patio out back.

    I have a natural aversion to legislation that creates categories of establishments, and sets different rules for each…

    The NYC legislation is actually very straightforward. From what I’ve read, it just says, “Okay, you can’t smoke in a business that has multiple employees. (Restaurants, bars, theaters, office buildings, sports arenas, etc.) Unless you have an outdoor space, or your business is oriented around smoking.” No complicated licenses, no categorizing different businesses different ways, just “everyone with these two simple exceptions”. Obviously the law is a little more complicated, but that’s the gist of it and basically how it plays out in reality, as well.

    Also, Judge, I have never (knowingly) seen a muslim in a hookah bar. And there are half a million, here.

  57. I’d completely forgotten that NYC, Vancouver and other cities have enacted “cultural exemptions” to their smoking…

    This is not true. NYC did not create a “cultural exemption”. I suspect you’re thinking of the exemption for businesses who derive a substantial part of their revenue from tobacco-related sales, like tobacconists. Culture doesn’t come into it. As far as I know, it’s the same in San Francisco and Boulder, the other two I kept tabs on.

    Put the straw man down and back away…

  58. If you’ve never seen a Muslim in a hookah bar, then maybe you need to get out of Manhattan more…

    From the NYT:

    Of the roughly 20 hookah bars in New York City, about half are clustered along a short stretch of Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens, known as Little Egypt. Here in the hazy cafes, owned mostly by Egyptian immigrants, men smoke fruit-flavored tobacco called shisha through water pipes called hookahs as they banter in Arabic, play chess or backgammon, or simply pass the day in a fragrant fog.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504E6DB173EF93AA35750C0A9629C8B63&fta=y

    It’s sort of a clash of the titans: totalitarian anti-smoking bureaucrats v. the vanguard of multiculturalism warriors.

  59. Tangentially observing that I do not spend much time in a neighborhood far from my home does not make your original point any less false.

  60. You can call it whatever you want, but it seems pretty clear that an exemption’s been carved out of a law whose primary beneficiaries are overwhelmingly of Middle Eastern background. In Vancouver it was explicitly done for cultural reasons, like I said. In NYC it appears to be less so, but the results are the same. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that hookah bar owners and their patrons relied on the same sort of cultural arguments that prevailed in Vancouver and the NYC officials decided to hang their hat on the economic argument to avoid pesky suits by other aggrieved groups. Why don’t you look that up since you’ve been reliably wrong about practically everything.

  61. You can call it whatever you want, but it seems pretty clear that an exemption’s been carved out of a law whose primary beneficiaries are overwhelmingly of Middle Eastern background.

    Have you *ever* left your yard? Seriously?

    Why don’t you look that up since you’ve been reliably wrong about practically everything.

    That’s rich.

  62. From what I’ve read, it just says, “Okay, you can’t smoke in a business that has multiple employees. (Restaurants, bars, theaters, office buildings, sports arenas, etc.) Unless you have an outdoor space, or your business is oriented around smoking.”

    I’ll address this both to Will, in the context of how the smoking ban in New York differs from what I’d like to see, and to Judge Smails, who apparently thinks that only Muslims get to have smoking establishments there:
    From http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/smoke/sfaa-waiver.shtml

    Before applying for a waiver under the CIAA, your establishment must first satisfy the conditions that would have allowed an establishment to be exempt from the City law. For example, if yours is an owner operated bar as defined in the SFAA in Section 17-502(gg), and you want to permit smoking in your establishment, you must apply to be recognized as an owner operated bar by the Department. Your establishment must also be a “bar” as defined in the SFAA at Section 17-502(b))….

    Second, you must show that a waiver is necessary because compliance with the State law has caused your business “undue financial hardship”, or that other factors exist that make it unreasonable for you to comply with the law. You must be prepared to submit detailed information in support of your claim.

    To Will, I’d say that this is not terribly onerous, but I don’t think you should have to show “undue financial hardship” caused by the law, but just that you’re providing a safe work environment for your employees. That should really be the long and short of it, as pertains to bars and restaurants.

    To Judge Smails, I’ll point out that this, and the associated application form elsewhere on the website don’t give any undue weight to cultural concerns. As for what’s happened in Canada, I would point out that the political spectrum there differs fairly significantly from the spectrum in the states. Not that there haven’t been some dumbass liberals somewhere who have made such an argument, but I don’t think I need to point out that there are dumbasses on both sides of the fence.

  63. Judge, if you look past your curious obsession with hookah bars, you would see that they are only a small minority of the businesses that benefit from the law’s exemptions. The overwhelming majority of those businesses are cigar shops and tobacconists, whose average patron is decidedly not muslim.

  64. For those who are interested, and I suspect that’s precious few of us, here is a recent study on ETS.

    So, is it still all or nothing? I don’t recall anyone saying, “Well, if it doesn’t cause cancer, I guess we shouldn’t go crazy with the regulations.” I know, I’m on optimist with a one-track mind. I should just let the conversation flop around like it normally does.

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