Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Poll shows city divided over smoking ban

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:11 AM |  

I’m surprised it’s this close.

A vote on St. Paul's smoking ban would apparently be a dead heat, according to polling by the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, one of the organizations rallying opponents of the city's smoking ordinance.
With smokers representing less than a quarter of the population, a fifty-fifty split on the smoking ban means at least some non-smokers recognize the smoking ban for what it is.

Why would a non-smoker even consider voting to repeal the smoking ban?

It means that if he goes into specific bars, he’ll be exposed to the discomfort and health risks of secondhand smoke.

It means he’ll have to check in advance with a restaurant to find out its smoking policy.

It means he'll face some inconvenience decising where to dine out.

If he doesn’t own a bar or know a bar owner, a smoking ban is no skin off of his nose. He gets something (a smoke-free environment) at the expense of someone else (the bar owner).

The non-smoker has a pretty sweet deal . . . .

Unless he understands that smoking bans are about government overstepping its public health authority to reengineer behavior.

Unless he understands that property rights are at stake.

Unless he’s actually read a secondhand smoke study and realizes the health risks are tenuous at best.

Unless he understands that total tax receipts don’t measure the harm caused to individual businesses.

Unless he's one of the people that used to work in a bar and has lost his job.

Unless he’s aware of the social changes to neighborhoods that loose neighborhood bar business.

Unless he values the idea of individual choice in a free society.

Yes, I’m surprised but pleased that the polling is this close.