Should the city ban smoking in restaurants? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Should the city ban smoking in restaurants?

City Council is taking up the issue, as The Clarion-Ledger reports today: "Council members will have a lot of information to pour over from each side. Supporters of the ban contend that a smoking ban does not affect restaurants' bottom lines. On Monday, they handed council members numerous studies from across the country. Mike Cashion, executive director of the Mississippi Restaurant Association, distributed a thick packet of business owners' and workers' comments on declining revenue in other cities, collected from U.S. newspapers."

Previous Comments

ID
168187
Comment

Ban smoking in a private business? I personally think this should be left entirely up to the private business. I know plenty of people that will not patronize a particular business because it a)is too smoky or b)does not allow smoking. I like that freedom of choice that exists for both the patron and the private business sector. Not to mention while in NYC recently (after their ban), many friends (Chelsea and the Village) actually had me meet then in NJ so we could enjoy a smoke and a drink (at the same time -- in the same place). They have literally stopped frequenting their favorite, neighborhood haunts out of protest and necessity... And I can certainly see myself doing the same thing, sadly. It should be the business' decision... Plain and simple.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-18T12:44:12-06:00
ID
168188
Comment

Don't know if anyone saw this in the CL today... "Smoking will likely be allowed in Jackson restaurants under changes to a proposed citywide ban." .... "Smokers don't have rights and nonsmokers don't have rights," Baxter said after the meeting. He frequently hosts "Cigars Under the Stars," a smoking event at local restaurants. "People who own property have rights." Full story @ Clarion Ledger.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-25T15:44:44-06:00
ID
168189
Comment

What about all those businesses who rent not own? And what about people who have to work in places that are smoke-filled? Do they have the same right to work in smoke-free environments that office and factory workers have? That seems the most egregious problem with smoking in restaurants and other eateries particularly because these types of jobs usually don't provide health insurance. It's like asking people to work with known carcinogens and then telling them to work for less than minimum wage with no health benefits. Does that really make sense? Would you do it?

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-25T16:22:50-06:00
ID
168190
Comment

Yes, I would and have as a DJ in the past.... Most people I know that wait tables were against the ban. I do think smoking establishments should have special purifiers similar to those used in casinos. Even as a smoker, I loathe the nasty, lingering smell of stale smoke in clothing, furniture, and badly ventilated spaces.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-25T16:36:18-06:00
ID
168191
Comment

But you smoke. I wonder if you would feel the same way if you didn't smoke.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-25T16:44:54-06:00
ID
168192
Comment

Great point. I could never answer that question as a "non-smoker" since I ultimately respect the rights of smokers whether I smoke or not. I can tell you that I do not allow smoking in my own home regardless of the weather, temperature, or other excuses my guests have hurled my way. It's my decision as the inhabitant... My choice. Still, many of the people I've engaged in this conversation are in the service industry and were smokers, non-smokers, and ex-smokers. Nearly everyone was in agreement that the ban should be about the business' choice. Some stated they'd prefer non-smoking BUT recognized that it should be the business' and the customer's decision rather than the city council's.

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-25T16:51:57-06:00
ID
168193
Comment

As a non-smoker and a person with a terrible allergy to smoke and other air-borne sinus/lung irritants, I welcomed the ban in New York. But most restaurant and bar workers in NY did not favor the ban. Their argument was an understandable one, but it begged the question of whether they had their priorities straight. They argued that it would intefere with their tips but didn't seem to care that it might prevent them from developing emphysema or smoking-related cancers.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-25T16:56:46-06:00
ID
168194
Comment

The health concerns are definitely worthy of discussion especially with the added twist that few service people enjoy health benefits. I personally will not smoke in any ol' restaurant (especially if there are children in the same breathing space) but will smoke at the restaurant's bar, again, unless children are present. I actually prefer the patio/balcony any day so I am not subjected to clouds of smoke and am not subjecting others to the same. Generally, when making dining arrangements, I think of places that can accomodate smoking without the burdon of choking others or I simply do not smoke. Still, there are smokers that are not nearly as courteous to the people around them and I happen to dine with them every now and again. ;-) I'm still a little hung on the health risks to those that are not allowed benefits. I wonder if the city council forced the businesses that allow smoking to provide benefits to their employees if they'd be pro or con on the issue?

Author
Knol Aust
Date
2003-11-25T17:07:55-06:00
ID
168195
Comment

That's a good question. I don't imagine they've ever thought of it that way. Most folks probably haven't. I'm glad that you're a courteous smoker. Many smokers, as you said, are not so courteous. In NY, discourteous smkoers are relatively dew in number. Perhaps because they're more likely to be frowned upon socially. And goddes forbid anyone should not be invited a party or other social gathering.

Author
Nia
Date
2003-11-25T17:20:19-06:00
ID
168196
Comment

The studies that "prove" the whole second-hand smoke theory are largely inconclusive - there is no proof that smoke in the air causes anything. This issue is a business one - and businesses that choose not to allow smoking will have a non-smoking clientele (bitching about smokers, no doubt) and those that allow smoking will have the rest of us. I'd have no problem shifting my allegiances to businesses that respect my freedom to kill myself slowly, but I resent being forced out because of a personal choice. Too much fat in the diet is unhealthy; alcohol actually results in proven death, but it's allowed; noise effects some of us as powerfully as smoke and other airborne substances effect those who are allergic (I won't even start on perfume); if they're going to focus on one substance, then nail 'em all. Let's just sit around sipping filtered water and discussing lettuce.

Author
PoetDoc
Date
2003-12-02T11:57:42-06:00
ID
168197
Comment

To say "studies that 'prove' the whole second-hand smoke theory are largely inconclusive" is completely without merit. There are volumes of evidence with respect to the health effects of second hand smoke. Two quick quotes... (1) From the 10th Report on Carcinogens - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Public Health Service - National Toxicology Program: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/roc/tenth/profiles/s176toba.pdf "Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is known to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in humans that indicate a causal relationship between passive exposure to tobacco smoke and human lung cancer (IARC 1986, EPA 1992, CEPA 1997). Studies also support an association of ETS with cancers of the nasal sinus (CEPA 1997). Evidence for an increased cancer risk from ETS stems from studies examining nonsmoking spouses living with individuals who smoke cigarettes, exposures of nonsmokers to ETS in occupational settings, and exposure to parentsí smoking during childhood. Many studies, including recent large population-based case control studies, have demonstrated increased risks of approximately 20% for developing lung cancer following prolonged exposure to ETS, with some studies suggesting higher risks with higher exposures. Exposure to ETS from spousal smoking or exposure in an occupational setting appears most strongly related to increased risk."

Author
Kate
Date
2003-12-02T14:38:22-06:00
ID
168198
Comment

(2) From USEPA's Respiratory Health Effects Of Passive Smoking (Also Known As Exposure To Secondhand Smoke Or Environmental Tobacco Smoke - ETS): http://www.epa.gov/smokefree/healthrisks.html "The 1993 EPA report concluded that secondhand smoke is a known human ñ or Group A-- carcinogen, responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths each year in nonsmokers. EPAís risk assessment further determined that children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, increased prevalence of other serious respiratory conditions such as asthma and other conditions such as ear infections. The U.S. Surgeon General and National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, among others, have reached the same or even stronger conclusions about the health effects of secondhand smoke. In fact, in the ten years since the report was issued, the science associating secondhand smoke with respiratory disease, as well as with other health problems, has only grown stronger." The EPA site has several links to comprehensive studies and reports, which are safe to describe as "conclusive".

Author
Kate
Date
2003-12-02T14:38:37-06:00
ID
168199
Comment

Thanks, Kate, for the stats. Denying that second-hand smoke kills is just that--denial. And comparing second-hand smoke to drinking isn't a good analogy. Comparing second-hand smoke to drinking and driving is a better analogy. If smokers want to smoke themselves to death, fine. But don't smoke others to death. I think Knol's suggestion for businesses that want to let patrons smoke is a good one. Go ahead, let your patrons smoke, but if any of those patrons or the workers who serve them develop smoking-related illnesses down the line, the businesses should have to pick up the medical tab--not taxpayers and insurance companies. There's a great ad campaign running on the subways in NY now. It reads something like: "They said if we banned smoking on the subways, no one would ride. Didn't happen. They said if we banned smoking in restaurants, no one would eat out. Didn't happen."

Author
Nia
Date
2003-12-02T15:04:10-06:00
ID
168200
Comment

Actually, the stats are from my husband, who posed as me. But I'll have to take the credit.

Author
Kate
Date
2003-12-02T15:24:21-06:00
ID
168201
Comment

Yes, I was just in a good number of bars and restaurants in NYC, where smoking is no longer allowed, and I must say (a) they were packed, even in the smoky East Village and (b) it was glorious to not breathe other folk's smoke, or get a headache from the smoke (as I typically do), or stink the next a.m. Good point about the analogy, Kate: The truth is, your rights only extend to where another's start, and in any overlap areas, compromise may well be necessary, especially when it comes to public health. The truth is, people will continue to go out. And those who don't will be replaced by those who couldn't stand the smoke before. I suspect downtown bars/restaurants would see better business with the ban, although there might be a change-over period -- BUT I would like to see it come to the entire metro area at once, so as to not disadvantage city businesses in the short-term. They already have enough negative hype to overcome.

Author
ladd
Date
2003-12-02T15:28:04-06:00
ID
168202
Comment

BTW, the 1993 EPA study announced the results of their study before the results were in, declaring that 3000 people a year die from second hand smoke. The truth is that within a 95% confidence interval (the standard accepted confidence interval for statistical significance between events) there was ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION between second-hand smoke and lung cancer. SO, the EPA changed their confidence interval to 90%--a no-no in the scientific world, and found a correlation of 1.19, still less than the supposed 3000 deaths a year first announced. ALL of the other reports and position papers are based on this flawed EPA study. Actually, the study itself was not flawed, the EPA was just in a jam because they announced the results before the study was concluded, so they jimmied the results.

Author
djames
Date
2007-01-04T01:13:12-06:00
ID
168203
Comment

just thought i'd correct some mis-information on the site.

Author
djames
Date
2007-01-04T01:13:39-06:00
ID
168204
Comment

It's scientifically impossible for secondhand smoke to be completely benign, independent of concentration, if firsthand smoke is not; it's just a lower concentration of the stuff. It's not like it magically transforms into a different substance when it wafts into the rest of the room. Likewise, secondhand smoke with a few casual smokers on an outdoor patio is probably at least as different from secondhand smoke in a crowded, enclosed, poorly-ventilated room full of chain smokers as the latter is from firsthand smoke. Opening a window helps. Sitting on the other side of the room helps. Hell, burning almost anything in an enclosed space is going to have health drawbacks. Obviously it's better, all things being equal, if the thing being burned isn't full of toxic carcinogens. Personally, I'm in the odd situation of being someone who was once very sensitive to secondhand smoke--to the point where my lungs would tighten up and I'd start gasping for breath--and is now pretty much desensitized. As long it's outdoors or the room is well-ventilated, I don't really care. There's a risk to it, but I could choke to death on my food or drink, get killed in a wreck when somebody gives me a ride, fall in the shower the wrong way and bleed to death from a brain hemorrhage... Most of what I do isn't completely harmless. I wouldn't smoke myself, but if I'm out on the patio and Knol lights one up, I wouldn't really care enough about it to move to a different table. But that's a personal preference. I kind of like the New York smoking ban, and wouldn't necessarily mind seeing something like that implemented in Jackson. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2007-01-04T06:18:05-06:00
ID
168205
Comment

Tom: You are right that the secondhand smoke is likely not completely benign, but it is at least possible that it has no measurable statistical impact. There may be a threshold concentration of the stuff that is required for certain adverse health effects to kick in. Although that threshold would vary for each person, it may be that most people have to get the hit straight from the ciggie in order to reach that level. Of course, somepeople can actually die from exposure to peanuts, seafood, ect. And restaurants are not always careful with cross-contamination of their food with these things either. However, peanuts and seafood aren't pulveried and scattered into the air conditioning system of these restaurants either. So there is a difference there. I don't know the details of this study, but I can see how the results are al least plausible, if we are talking about generalized statistics for secondhand smoke. But your examples of the different circmstances point out that these generalized statistics are probably not all that helpful when it comes to how secondhand smoke is actually experienced by people (i.e. it is much worse in an enclosed space). I'd like to see more emphasis placed on the ventilation of smoking areas than on banning the practice. I think that makes more sense and doesn't trample excessively on people's right to choose how they want to maul their own respiratory systems. Of course, I'd prefer it if people just chose not to smoke. But I'd also prefer it if people chose not to talk loudly on their cell phones while I'm trying to read a book right next to them. But neither of these things seems likely to happen anytime soon. One last thing. My parents went to the funerals of two very close friends last year, both of whom dropped dead from the effects of smoking. One had a long, slow death from emphysema and heart trouble, the other a quick death from multiple cancers that she ignored until they got her. They were married. So, as Yul Brenner famously said in a commercial just after he died "Now that I a gone, I tell you, just don't smoke".

Author
GLB
Date
2007-01-04T11:20:07-06:00
ID
168206
Comment

All that aside, how about the fact that it's downright gross to smell smoke in a restaurant. In 10 years, we'll be shaking our heads that it was ever something that was done. Mark my words.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-01-04T11:25:51-06:00
ID
168207
Comment

Maybe so, Ladd. After all, I wonder if kids in college today would stare wide-eyed at me if I told them I used to ride my bike without wearing a helmet, and sleep on the floorboard of our car during road trips.

Author
GLB
Date
2007-01-04T11:36:27-06:00
ID
168208
Comment

What happened to the rights of a business and the rights of the patrons that choose to support that business? Frankly, I'm a little shocked to see self-claimed libertarians endorsing government control over the air-quality of a privately owned place/business. It all sounds a bit fascist to me rather than libertarian and supportive of private enterprise. Don't like places with smoke? Don't go. It's very simple. I don't like religious zealots but you don't see me seeking governmental controls over churches... Instead, I simply don't go, don't support them, and try to spread a little information on why organized and blind religion is toxic. But, I'd certainly fight for their right to spew their bile within their private spaces just as smokers spew their smoke in private places [that happen to be open to the public].

Author
kaust
Date
2007-01-04T11:57:02-06:00
ID
168209
Comment

Right, GLB. Speaking for myself, I'm not a Libertarian, Knol, even though I lean libertarian on many issues. I do believe that public health (and the government's then obligation to help pay the health-care costs of those who can't afford them) trump the right of someone to shorten their own life while sitting in a restaurant. It'd be one thing if they weren't imposing their smoke on other people, including workers, many of whom need those jobs. (I've been in that situation many times.) Likewise, I believed that "public health" (so to speak) concerns trumped the right of businesses to turn away black people during Jim Crow. And you know what their response was then? "Don't like it? Don't go. It's very simple." To me, the government's need to regulate commerce for the public good is very clear, although I don't want it to get carried away. Besides, the smoking ban is working wonderfully in big cities; I think the state with the worst heart disease and overall health (and some of the highest health costs) can manage with it as well. And we will soon enough. The ball is rolling.

Author
ladd
Date
2007-01-04T12:08:42-06:00
ID
168210
Comment

I see this as a choice issue. A business may or may not allow smoking. It's their choice. An employee may or may not choose to work around smoke... That's their choice. An individual may or may not patronize a business that allows smoking. It's a choice. An individual may or may not smoke... It's their choice. I simply don't see this as a governmental issue -- especially for an already bloated government that is supposedly based on freedom and liberty.

Author
kaust
Date
2007-01-04T12:19:28-06:00
ID
168211
Comment

"Don't like it? Don't go. It's very simple." - Donna It's really easy to turn that phrase back to Jim Crow and that ugly phase of our history... But, it's also a phrase used by pro-choice advocates ("don't like abortion, don't have one"), gay marriage advocates ("don't like gay marriage, don't have one or ordain one"), and everyone else arguing for or against something. It's a choice. It should not be a choice made by our government but by individuals and businesses. I'm convinced of this and have believed this from day one... Why continue allowing the government to make choices for us? Is this not the epitome of sheeple (a term I've loved and have re-visited since the Wired blog)? What's next? More prohibition on alcohol and which businesses can sell it because it is dangerous and kills thousands upon thousands each year? Oh, wait... We've got that... Even WHEN it can be sold. Let's not regress. Don't like smokey places? Don't go. That's one specific reason I rarely go to Pub Quiz -- it's too smokey.... And, I'm a smoker. I can choose to deal with it and do occassionally or I can stay at home or attend another function that night. It's my choice and everyone else's involved from the owners of Hal & Mal's, to the Pub Quiz chicks, to the attendees. It's not Frank Melton's, Ben Allen's, et al. Consumerism feeds our nation. Easiest way to make change? Stop patronizing the business and express why. No point in codifying it or legislating it... Enough with that.

Author
kaust
Date
2007-01-04T12:29:36-06:00
ID
168212
Comment

My problem with the public health aspect of it is that public health can be so loosely defined that it can cover almost anything. Its my business. No one forces the customer to come to my restaurant. As long as smoking is a legal activiy, its my right to allow my customers to do it if they choose to do so. It is also the right of the customers to go somewhere else and hurt my business because of my decision. If I were to shut down my restaurant because I disagree with their imposing on me through the government a decision that should be mine alone to make, they would say that is extreme as if they have a right to what I provide. they don't have a right to what I provide in my restaurant and I don't have a right to force them to eat at my restaurant.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-01-04T12:31:53-06:00
ID
168213
Comment

For the record, I'm not completely pro-smoke or anti-smoke... Even as a smoker, I'm working on a business plan/model at the moment and it is a non-smoking establishment. Of course, there would be a comfortable open-air area for smokers and non-smokers alike. I appreciate the fact that this is a choice I can make and not another area in which the government has shoved it's greedy and controlling fingers.

Author
kaust
Date
2007-01-04T12:35:48-06:00
ID
168214
Comment

allow me to clarify: If as Ladd says its a public health issue, then ban it. Wait, we get too much money taxing tobacco companies and getting nice settlements from them.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-01-04T12:39:25-06:00
ID
168215
Comment

Just so you know your choices, Walker's just opened a NON-SMOKING! bar. Upstairs, in the little building adjacent to their restaurant. Anyone got a handy list of non-smoking bars/muscial venues?

Author
kate
Date
2007-01-04T14:09:03-06:00
ID
168216
Comment

See, that is the kind of thing I'm talking about. They opened one up. If it get popular for that reason, other businesses will follow suit. Here in BR they are having a HUGE debate over it right now (see current issue of 225 magazine). The problem is restaurants that have sizeable bars/lounges are caught in the middle. They are facing a ban on smoking but in the bar section they make alot more money from smokers.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2007-01-04T14:11:53-06:00
ID
168217
Comment

it worked here in the ATL. No smokin in restaurants and if you have a bar that allows children to sit around in tables or booths you can't have smokin....But if the Bar is say one of those stand alone Barroom type things no heavy type food entries then you can smoke. It works. yes sure buckin and snortin at first then everyone got use to how nice it was and now it's fine. What has us irked around heres parts is our Blue laws about Drink on Sunday. Meaning you can't buy Beer Wine or hard liquor in container ie bottles...cans whatever on Sunday. Bars are something I don't understand as far as buying drinks. If you serve food then you can get a drink if you don't then you must close. I think that how it is over here. Also two high class society belles in Country Club of the South were just busted this AM for running Wh*r* houses out of their fine million dollar homes... Watch out Madison County types....ya gotta make the note some how.....

Author
ATLExile
Date
2007-01-04T14:16:12-06:00
ID
168218
Comment

I agree there is a fine line here between regulation / fascism. I pretty much always favor letting the marketplace sort these things out. I do have a problem with legislation based bad science. To me, this is the same type of thing that the republicans tried to do with the abortion ban / limits kind of thing. They presented a whole lot of bogus science about how abortion is a health hazard, is dangerous, etc. If we open the door up to legislation based on bad science, we open the door up to crap like that as well. And, yes, there is a huge difference between inhaling something directly into your lungs and being in an environment where these chemicals are present. Do you have any idea as to what compounds are already in the air we breath that are carcinogenic in large enough doses but at the levels there are in the air have no effect whatsoever. ALSO, almost anything could be declared a public health issue. for example, the number one leading cause of deaths in 15-24 yr olds is car accidents. so cars are clearly dangerous, right!! why don't we legislate that all 15-24 yr olds not be allowed to drive because it constitutes a significant health risk to themselves and to those they get in accidents with? does this make sense? neither does a smoking ban. Banning smoking in hospitals --ok i get that one. but it should be up to the hospital. banning smoking in government buildings . . . sure, why not. whatever. but government intrusion into private business is not ok with me especially becuase of the faulty science behind the claims

Author
djames
Date
2007-01-04T22:35:28-06:00

COVID-19 has closed down the main sources of the JFP's revenue -- concerts, festivals, fundraisers, restaurants and bars. If everyone reading this article gives $5 or more, we should be able to continue publishing through the crisis. Please pay what you can to keep us reporting and publishing.

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