Jan 6, 2010

Is The Smoking Ban Really a Good Idea?

On January 2nd, smoking became illegal in public buildings in North Carolina where anyone under the age of eighteen is allowed.  This does not include bars or clubs for those over eighteen.   We are the 35th state to pass such a law.  Frankly, I am surprised that this law passed in North Carolina.  Our state has a rich tobacco history including giving starting funds to build Wake Forest and Duke.  North Carolina is the highest producing tobacco state in the country.  In 2008 the North Carolina tobacco crop brought in $686 million dollars, which is 80% more than the next highest state.  Nearly half of all tobacco grown in the U.S. comes from North Carolina.

I myself am not a fan of smoking--I find it a disgusting habit for one to have.  I do not however, believe that the answer is to pass laws making a legal activity illegal on privately owned property just because it is open to the public.  This is a private property issue.  It does not only affect restaurants.  If someone owns a repair shop and smokes, then they can not do so inside even though they own the building.

Some people may say that they do not want to be subjected to second hand smoke.  The answer to this is already built in to a capitalistic free enterprise society.  You are free to choose where you eat and shop.  There is a reason why there is no smoking in CiCi's or McDonalds--they know that some customers would not frequent their establishment.  Since four out of five adults in North Carolina do not smoke, this is a wise business decision.  People help stores and restaurants determine how they will conduct business by their patronage as well as comments and criticism.

Rather than a ban, it would have been better if a warning were placed on the front of each business.  This warning would read:  This business contains second hand smoke which can cause lung cancer and emphysema.  All we are doing by making such laws is perpetuating stupidity.  We all know it is bad for us but decide on frequenting establishments that are filled with smoke.  It is our fault if we continue to go to these businesses.

What is sad is that these same restaurants will serve someone alcohol who drove to the restaurant and is there by themselves.  This guarantees that they will drive under the influence.  Convenience stores continue to sell cold alcohol, sometimes even on ice.  But wait! Since they put it in a brown bag that will keep them from drinking it in the vehicle.  Uh, right?  When I was a teen I worked in construction with grown men who would drink on the way back to our shop.  They would not have if the beers were room temperature.  My first experience with drunk driving was when a close friend of mine was killed in second grade.  I have never seen smoking have this same mind altering effect on anyone.  I find it odd and a little hypocritical that tobacco is attacked while drinking is protected.

With the smoking ban in effect I am glad as a parent that more businesses are now suitable for me to take my children into.  But I believe that it would have happened eventually anyway.  I do however, wish that we could preserve the property rights of small business owners in the process.  One poll showed that two thirds of North Carolinians were for the ban.  I guess "majority rules" is reason enough to justify change at the expense of rights.  Capitalism will not work if we do not let it.  Our constitutionally limited republic is quickly becoming a democracy where majority (mob) rules.  One day the majority will unite on the wrong side, but by then it will be too late.   But don't worry; all is not lost.  At least the air will be breathable.

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Donna said...

You made some good points, Nate. I was glad because I did have to breathe the stuff without confrontation of any kind. Maybe that's the problem with people...they would rather someone make the rules so they don't have to get involved in any way. Interesting!

Jay Johnson said...

good thoughts Nate, and I complety agree with you. in new jersey, it is illegal to smoke inside ANY public building, and this includes 100% of restaraunts and bars. I personally choose not to smoke, but if I choose to visit a certain bar or restaraunt, I am aware that people will be smoking there, and i can choose to go or not to go. I don't think it's fair to just ban it outright, since smoking is a legal choice for all American adults. great blog.

Susan LaDeau said...

Great blog, you make some very good points. I completely agree with you. Maryland banned smoking years ago except in a bar. So I was a bit taken back when I moved here and you could still smoke in gas stations, repair shops, etc. and I chose not to frequent places that allowed you to smoke. Even with Mark being a smoker, we have always chosen the non-smoking establishments. I do believe it should be a choice.

bekabee said...

Well said, Nate. I think people really just don't think about it before they jump on the bandwagon. "Oh, no smoking. Sounds great!" They just don't think about it in terms of losing their freedom. It may be smoking now, but it might be something like free speech later. And the alcohol thing is just ridiculous. I've heard people argue that it's okay to ban smoking because it hurts other people, but someone drinking doesn't. Hmmm....

Jason Morris said...

Great post you bring up some great points. IMO drinking is worst then cigarettes because it can alter your mind. They both are bad for your health if abused. They both are addictive but if you quit drinking you can die which is why they have rehab for drinkers and not cigarette smokers. The 2nd hand smoking science is suspect. I find it hard to believe with all the exhaust flumes from cars and the air quality that I am going to get cancer because someone smoked a cigarette but nevermind the all the car pollution. Then theirs fast food why don't we ban that to cuz it causes cancer. And how many plants around the country that produce things which cause cancer for their employees and the surrounding counties where they are located.

Anonymous said...

wide is the road...

Corinne Barrington said...

agreed....the precident that is being set to slowly chip away at peoples freedoms is alarming. It also alarms me at how freely the US citizens are giving them away for the illusion of health and "safety".

Shamema said...

I don't know that we should have laws to protect the smokers, though, guys. Shouldn't the laws protect non-smokers? Washington passed the smoking ban 3 years ago. Even though this is one of the most liberal states (save California, probably) in the country, we have the strictest smoking law... None within 25 feet of ANY public building, even bars.

Personally, I think it's fantastic! People are still legally allowed to smoke! Sure! Feel free! We’re not taking that freedom away at all! And they can exercise their freedom as much as they want... Outside! That way, the rest of us can also exercise our freedom to have healthy lungs. And we can all, smokers or not, frequent gas stations and restaurants safely.

So, to me, the smoking ban gives MORE people freedom. Not less.

Anonymous said...


Ask the anti-tobacco folks to tell you what truly is in second hand smoke...when it burns from the coal its oxygenated and everything is burned and turned into water vapor...thats right water...you ever burned leaves in the fall...know how the heavy smoke bellows off.......

Thats the organic material releasing the moisture in the leaves, the greener the leaves/organic material the more smoke thats made..thats why second hand smoke is classified as a class 3 irritant by osha and epa as of 2006........IN 1993 EPA decided to change the listing of shs to a carcinogen for political reasons ......because it contained a trace amount of 6 chemicals measured in picograms so small even sophisticated scientific equipment can hardly detect it.

If the same standards to make shs/ets a carcinogen were applied to a glass of tap water, certain foods and most other things in the natural environment they would also be carcinogens. The failure of the EPA to use the dose makes the poison chart in this political decision makes their entire claim a moot point.

However osha still maintains shs/ets as an irritant only and maintains the dose makes the poison position.......as osha is in charge of indoor air quality its decisions are based on science not political agendas as epa's is. We can see this is true after a federal judge threw out the epa's study on shs as junk science..What OSHA should be doing is applying the general duty clause and set indoor standards where limits of safe levels are set. But dog gone it,thats why OSHA didnt set a standard because there was just nothing in shs/ets that could be deemed harmful to humans. So it was left as it was a simple class 3 irritant.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 British Medical Journal & WHO conclude secondhand smoke "health hazard" claims are greatly exaggerated The BMJ published report at:


concludes that "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer are considerably weaker than generally believed." What makes this study so significant is that it took place over a 39 year period, and studied the results of non-smokers who lived with smokers.....

meaning these non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke up to 24 hours per day; 365 days per year for 39 years. And there was still no relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. In light of the damage to business, jobs, and the economy from smoking bans the BMJ report should be revisited by lawmakers as a reference tool and justification to repeal the now unnecessary and very damaging smoking ban laws. Also significant is the World Health Organization (WHO) study:

Passive smoking doesn't cause cancer-official By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent " The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: 'There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood.' " And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University proves that secondhand smoke is up to 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations.

Anonymous said...

The Chemistry of Secondary Smoke About 94% of secondary smoke is composed of water vapor and ordinary air with a slight excess of carbon dioxide. Another 3 % is carbon monoxide. The last 3 % contains the rest of the 4,000 or so chemicals supposedly to be found in smoke… but found, obviously, in very small quantities if at all.This is because most of the assumed chemicals have never actually been found in secondhand smoke. (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). Most of these chemicals can only be found in quantities measured in nanograms, picograms and femtograms. Many cannot even be detected in these amounts: their presence is simply theorized rather than measured. To bring those quantities into a real world perspective, take a saltshaker and shake out a few grains of salt. A single grain of that salt will weigh in the ballpark of 100 million picograms! (Allen Blackman. Chemistry Magazine 10/08/01). - (Excerpted from "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" with permission of the author.)

The Myth of the Smoking Ban ‘Miracle’ Restrictions on smoking around the world are claimed to have had a dramatic effect on heart attack rates. It's not true. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/7451/

As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that: "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

Heres what the smoke free groups did to try and prove a connection to heart disease and second hand smoke....

The "30 minute" experiments that the statement is based on have nothing at all to do with the exposures one might get on a park bench sitting next to a smoker or even with what one would normally get in any decently ventilated bar or restaurant.

The exposures in the supportive experiments involve smoke concentrations at levels of 400% to 2,000% as high as what used to be measured in the middle of the smoking sections of pressurized airplanes!! (Which used to be held up as one of the worst smoking environments.)

The experiments take nonsmokers who avoid smoke in all their daily home, social, and working life, force them to sign papers

acknowledging the "danger" they are about to be put in, and then sealing them in smoke-choked chambers that nonsmokers would run screaming from if they weren't being paid $100 to endure 30 minutes for science. . . . When the poor souls come stumbling out blood test measurement show small changes that could theoretically relate to heart disease.

The changes are like ones other experimenters find when they feed subjects a bowl of corn flakes and milk.... but in the kooky world of antismoking research those results get twisted into representing an unusual and deadly threat.

And remember: they only get those results in EXTREME conditions, nothing like normal restaurant/park or even decent bar/casino exposures. . . . The Antismokers today are lying just like Big Tobacco did back in the 1950s.
Antismoking extremism needs to be put to rest. Smoking is unhealthy like a lot of other things, but the smoke from burning smokers at the stake smells a lot worse than Newports. . . .

Cornflakes, White Bread Could Boost Heart Risk
'High-glycemic' carbs like these hamper blood vessel function, study shows.

THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates that boost blood sugar levels -- foods such as cornflakes or white bread -- may hamper the functioning of your blood vessels and raise your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.


Anonymous said...

Good blog , might I add though as an ex-smoker, nicotine and a majority of the other checicals (cyanide for example) used in processing do most certainly in fact "ALTER YOUR MIND"! Take a smokers cigarettes away and hang out with them for a few hours see what happens! As your bloods body chemistry changes from the result of the nicotine leaving your system you become irratable, aggresive ,shaky, nervous, emotional, even violent. I could actually observe myself behaving in this way which was totally foreign all the while I had no control to stop it . Except to say that I just needed to smoke .

just wanted to add that . it might not seem to impare your judgement as does achohol but it certainly effects your actions and if you have no control over this then I think it is effecting your judgement.


Blake Persson said...

This is a good idea, there are many fact sheets on the internet which claim that health problems among smokers reduced after implementing such bans, this is also very frustrating for many people who wants to smoke freely and they should consider moving to electronic cigarettes.

Gavin Timothy said...

Do you think that the air you inhale is safe?, ever consider banning the industries and vehicles which are polluting the air, ever consider stopping people from eating fatty foods, there are a lot of things which are dangerous for our health than why imposing bans on smoking only.

Tatiana Rodriguez said...

Well these smoking bans have started to show results, there is a remarkable reduction in health related problems among smokers like lung cancer and heart attacks.