Monday, May 24, 2010

Principled Smoking Debate

Now that we have overcome some technical details of the Smoke Free petition and are at least all arguing the same ordinance, it is evident there is some mis-understanding as to what it is we ARE arguing. To clarify at least our points here at Conchoinfo, we present the following as basic principles.

1) We agree smoking is hazardous to one's health.

2) Second hand smoke is a recognized health risk. No one should be involuntarily subjected to second hand smoke.

3) City government offices and publically accessible facilities should be smoke-free with reasonable exceptions for open air: golf courses, open parks and such to be determined by City Manager so as to limit incidental exposure to smoking fumes.

4) Businesses allowing smoking shall provide prominent signage and notification so non-smokers can easily avoid smoking establishments. Absent warning signage to the contrary, publicly accessible businesses shall be assumed to be non-smoking.

5) Businesses which allow entrance to and serve children shall not expose them to smoking or second hand smoke. Should such a business provide a smoking section, that area shall be constructed such that tobacco smoke shall not infiltrate the non-smoking section allowing children.

It is our opinion that so long as tobacco is a legal product and its use is legal, businesses catering to adults who freely choose to indulge in this less-than-healthy habit should be allowed to provide a premise comfortable to that customer base, IF such a business makes reasonable effort to assure the non-smoking majority is not offended unawares.

We agree that there are limits to property rights, but we think with reasonable accomodation, smokers and businesses catering to them can be allowed without "asaulting" the senses of non-smokers.

No one I know is in favor of unrestricted smoking anywhere, anytime. Some of the anti-smoking rhetoric strikes me the same way as though someone walked past all the signs, paid the "cover charge" at a, ahem, "gentleman's club" and then decided to be offended at the sight of tits on display.


  1. There is an important principle we have been discussing and agree on that was left off the list.

    6. Laws and regulations should impose no more restrictions necessary.

    You don't bulldoze the house because of a broken window.

  2. The only person who agrees with the “agreements” you have poster is you.

    Banning smoking from a restaurant is no different than requiring the restaurant to serve non-contaminated water or non-contaminated food.

  3. These are not agreements. These are principles. There is a difference. Don't expect everyone to agree with them, but many people have told us they do. It's obvious you don't really care about #6, but do you really disagree with 1, 2, and 3? Or are you trying to be contentious.

  4. Also a
    7) Hotel & motel rooms are a home away from home. Smoking rooms will be the owners choice and have no more restrictions than a private residence, except smoke should be kept out of non-smoking rooms.

  5. Conchoin’s Principle: ‘Smoke should be kept out of the non-smoking rooms.’

    That is all and fine if you have no respect for the cleaning staff which is exposed to the toxic fumes left in the smoking rooms.

    To say that non-smoking staff should find jobs elsewhere is akin to saying women who reject unwanted sexual advances in the workplace should find employment at another business which does not tolerate sexual harassment of it’s employees.

    Another point I find objectionable is that the local media is reporting that San Angelo City Council is now considering drafting their own ordinance to protect the rights of private business owners.

    The Smoke Free San Angelo Committee was told by the San Angelo City Council that the council did not want to propose an anti-smoking ordinance; that the initiative should come from the citizens and not from the San Angelo City Council.

    Now that San Angelo’s citizens have proposed an ordinance that some San Angelo’s Council’s members don’t like these members of council want to write their own anti-smoking ordinance.

    San Angelo City Council members who now proclaim they do not want to tell owners how to run their businesses voted for the “graffiti ordinance.”

  6. Anon, business and employee relations do not eliminate travelers or business owners rights. The majority of hotel rooms are already smoke free, and there are so many hotels that totally smoke free that some hotels have started advertising they have smoking rooms. They don't seem to have any problem finding help that doesn't mind cleaning up after smokers. No one is going to be put out of a job they already have.

    You may be misreading what is going on with council. By charter, now is the time for negotiated changes. This is not going to be a separate ordinance proposal. At the most it will be suggested changes that still have to be approved by Smoke Free San Angelo. If they don't like the changes, the original proposal goes on the ballot.

    You need to also look at history a bit. How many of the council members that voted for the graffiti ordinance in 2007 are still on council? Two? Not a majority by any stretch.

  7. Jim,

    I am kinda late finding this blog (I hate that word) but I've seen your "principles" before, in the S-T online.

    In my opinion, your "basic principles" play right into the hand of Smoke-Free and I must refute them, especially #1 and #2.

    1) We agree smoking is hazardous to one's health.

    I don't agree.

    I'm not saying smoking is a risk-free activity. Smoking MAY be hazardous to one's health, but it's not any absolute as your "is" alludes to. If that were true, there would not be any smokers left. I've been smoking for 40 years and I seem to be doing OK. MOST smokers (yes, a majority) tend to live long lives, not being "cut down in their prime" as the opposition claims.

    2) Second hand smoke is a recognized health risk. No one should be involuntarily subjected to second hand smoke.

    I strongly disagree (the first sentence).

    Second hand smoke in real world concentrations is NOT a health risk to otherwise healthy people. Every Surgeons Generals' report that claims it is, has been discredited after being examined by unbiased parties. This is the "dirty science" that the smoking bans are based on. Shoot down the "second hand smoke threat" and you've shot down the smoking bans.

    As for the second sentence in 2), WHO is being "involuntarily subjected to second hand smoke"? Are these people prisoners? ... forced to sit in smoking sections? I think not. If they don't like catching a whiff of somebody's smoke, they should avoid being exposed.

    I don't think there is any real world situation/establishment that cannot control second hand smoke with adequate ventilation. But this should be the business owner's option... what he thinks will best serve his patrons. Not governmental regulations based on pseudo science. Of course, the whiners and little dictators will not accept laissez-faire common sense.

  8. Smoking is a hazard. The debate is over how much of a hazard it is. Is it as dangerous as Smoke free and the ACS would portray it? Probably not. Same thing applies to the health risk of second hand smoke. The fact that you may have to live in a smoke filled room for long time for it to do any harm is besides the point. All these risks are based on dosage and exposure level.

    Still, take the unnecessary rhetoric off the table. Don't get tangled up in whether or not smoking is or is not healthy. That's a loosing battle.

    On the involuntary exposure: There are places, such as government offices where the public really has no choice but to go. Those should be smoke free and already are. Once you get out of those places, where the customer has a choice so should the business owner.

    Last point these are our opinions and principles. You are free to agree or disagree. I do agree that most of the research on smoking leaves a lot to be desired. There are flawed studies both ways. Way to much emotion, blind faith, and self serving hype. The best studies are probably those that have been done on the separate components found in tobacco smoke such as those that are the basis for PEL in industrial settings. Inhaling burnt plant material is not a healthy activity. Neither are breathing diesel fumes, bungee jumping or having a backyard swimming pool.