If You Don’t Like the Smoke, Stay Out of the Ghetto

May 29, 2013   |   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Heed the markers of the Smoker's Ghetto
Heed the markers of the Smoker’s Ghetto

As a smoker of tobacco since high school, and being over 50 years of age, I have witnessed an amazing devolution in the American non-smoking population.  One would think that a story like this would not be needed, since it is the non-smokers who have driven we the smokers outside, for the most part, into well defined smoking ghettoes.

Let me be clear, WE did not choose the outdoors for our smoking ghettoes, and merchants in large part did not either.  For some reason, this victory by the police-state class is not enough (is anything ever enough for them?).  Now they wish to invade our peaceful smoking ghettoes and harass us.  It is as if the militant Straight Edge kids of the 1990s never grew up (the link misses one of their intolerance expressions, slapping cigarettes out of the hands of smokers), and they passed the militant virus up a generation or two.

In 2009 when I lived in Arlington, Virginia, the State implemented a law requiring segregated air in restaurants.  My neighborhood ended up with all of three indoor smoking areas: Bailey’s Sports Grille, The Crystal City Sports Pub, and The Crystal City Restaurant.  All indoor smoking ghettoes in the entire State had to be situated so that all who entered had to pass through a non-smoking area to get to the smoking ghetto, never the other way around.  Interestingly enough, Bailey’s smoking ghetto was on the second floor and it was the only smoking ghetto for blocks.

Of course, non-smokers still managed to get to the Bailey’s smoking ghetto and work up a huff about the smoking.  If I got annoyed enough, I would mention that they did not have to sit near me and pointed to the non-smoking areas that were just steps away.

I knew the managers of all three restaurants and they all mentioned the great expense and trouble that they had to go through to establish their smoking ghettos, primarily because so many of their customers smoke and they wanted to keep their customers.  Another establishment, that did not bar smoking before the law, did not install a smoking ghetto, even though most all of their regulars smoked  I could tell at a glance that their business had declined and that was confirmed by their manager.  They were out of business in about one year after the new regulations took effect.

Now I live in Tennessee, where the State imposed a set of indoor restaurant regulations in 2007.  Here, some establishments may have smoking only if persons under the age of 21 are barred from entry.  Everyplace else can have (not required) smoking outside, so long as it is at least 25′ from the door.  Now this is where the handy picture I included comes in.  It seems that even with these restrictions, the non-smokers still cannot avoid entering the outside smoker’s ghetto either.

It is pretty simple non-smokers, look at those pictures.  All of those images are of ashtrays.  They mark where the business owner, or the State, or both want the smokers to congregate.  If you see one or more persons standing near them, they are not lying in wait to surprise you with a puff of smoke into your face, they are where they are supposed to be to smoke.

An odd instance of government influencing business cropped up at a local Starbucks.  They have a nice patio, and used to have ashtrays.  In fact, I was using an ashtray there on Tuesday, but the ashtrays were gone yesterday (Wednesday).  As it turns out, Starbucks has changed its outdoor smoking policy, system wide.  Beginning June 1, 2013 there is no smoking on their property, and even electronic cigarettes are banned (sorry, no link to the actual memo yet).

While an older couple and I were having a smoke outside, a shift manager filled us in.  The manager (who is a smoker) said that the way the memo was worded, it sounded like the company was imposing New York and California regulations nation-wide.  Bad business decision?  Maybe, and only time will tell.  The effects may show up store-by-store, or it could be a benefit if those other smokers just hang around using the free internet connection, dirty ashtrays, and don’t buy much.  Starbucks is a pretty efficient firm, so if that were the case I would guess that they would have ended smoking on their property long ago.

The question here is one of liberty.  Smoking regulations are an imposition on the merchant as well as his customers.  Long before any of the regulations mentioned above were imposed, all sorts of restaurants were non-smoking, wall-to-wall.  Ted Turner’s restaurants are a prime example.  Nobody was forcing merchants to supply ashtrays, as well as the associated manpower and other expenses of cleaning up the residue.  (At least, I am not aware of any, and if there were, that is just as bad as dictating the other way.)  Somehow, the jack-booted anti-smokers could not figure out where to go to be free of smoke, so they succeeded in creating outdoor smoking ghettoes.  Today, not satisfied with that, they insist on goose-stepping through the ghetto and crying about it.

If you don’t like the smoke, stay out of the ghetto.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Finance.  He is a 30 year veteran Aviation Officer of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and former Defense Contractor in Resource Management.  He has always had a libertarian streak, no matter which major Party flag he flew. Today he is a Minarchist leaning to Anarcho-Capitalism. He and his wife reside in a secret, undisclosed, subterranean lair with the clan motto of “Leave us alone and nobody gets hurt.” The Anarchist’s Soufflé  Book is Steve’s current work in progress, coming soon any year now.  Follow Steve @AustrianAnarchy and view his Austrian Anarchy blog.

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