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Nov 17, 2008


East Dallas Dubya


I should have been reading earlier today because you beat me to my point. I am a nonsmoker and, thanks to the smoking bans, have realized that I enjoy smoke-free establishments much more than I ever thought I would. However, I am no more in favor of imposing my smoking preferences on a bar or restaurant owner than I am in regulating the cuisine or drinks they serve.

Grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and a glass of water is much healthier for patrons than the battered and deep fried version of bird with a side of golden, crispy fried okra (washed down with tooth-rotting sweet tea), but I don't think anyone would propose regulation of menus. If I didn't mind clogging my arteries, I chose to go to the deary departed Brother's Fried Chicken. If I felt like being healthier, I went elsewhere. But it was a choice I made, and my waistline solely reflected my personal choices, for which I and I alone take personal responsibility. I think the smoking issue is a reflection of our reluctance to take personal responsiblity as much as it is about personal freedom.

Norman Alston

This sort of discourse is what I blog for. Thanks.

But at the risk of being redundant, none of your comments address the fundamental issue that I think separates smoking from the other examples used by us all. Namely, what the smoker does impacts those around them, whether those around them want it to or not. It is not strictly about personal choices when practiced in public.

My example of rolling back restaurant health and life safety standards was to suggest the question about whether it would make sense to do so as long as you told people first. A dual system of healthy and safe vs unhealthy and unsafe restaurants to choose from. Make them put it on the sign. So you entered the unhealthy/unsafe one at your own risk and the restaurant owner exercised his personal liberties to keep the money and take his chances. Does that make any sense to anyone? It certainly doesn't make sense to me and I fail to see the difference in providing the same type of choices with smoking. It appears they agree with me in Dublin, for what that's worth.

True confession time. Not only am I not a smoker, I think it's an unhealthy, addictive, destructive practice that belongs in our society's past, like witch trials and bleeding the sick. My parents' generation didn't know better, but we certainly do. Despite that knowledge, I'm shocked at the number of young people I see who have taken it up, setting themselves up for problems later in life. It's a burden on our health and, as such, also a burden on our economy. I speak up against it whenever I get the chance, as I have today.


The question, really, is where the burden should lie. Some people want to smoke; some people not only don't want to smoke but, for perfectly valid reasons, want to avoid second-half smoke like the plague. I get that.

The question is whether the latter, who now appear to be in the majority, get to enforce their view on everybody. If you don't want to go to a place where people are smoking, don't go there. It's just that simple. When was the last time somebody hogtied you and hauled you off to a place where people are smoking?

More plausibly -- and this time I'm actually asking -- how often is it that you want to go someplace but don't because there would be people smoking there? And I'm asking given the current status of the balance between the interests of smokers and non-smokers.

I'm delighted that I have not smoked more than a few packs of cigarettes and some cigars, all quite some time ago. I'm especially happy that my wife stopped smoking several years ago, and that neither of my teenaged kids appears to have any desire to smoke. I commend you for speaking up against it. But what you have done today is something very significantly different, in my view: you have advocated wielding the awesome power of government, with its authority to seize property and even person, to impose the views you hold. That may fly in Dublin, and it may even fly in Dallas -- but it should fly nowhere.

East Dallas Dubya

With a clear distinction between smoking and non-smoking establishments, patrons can make the choice of whether to engage in the activity of inhaling second hand smoke or whether to avoid it. Don't like the smokey smell of the Dubliner? Head on over to Trinity Hall. Don't want to be around tobacco at all? Don't go into Up In Smoke.

As I mentioned before, I am growing to like the smoke-free environment, and proprietors may do well to make their establishments smoke-free (I would say all smokers should cease their habit, but cigarettes are just too profitable a product for governments...another conversation for another day). I just prefer that government play as small a role in regulating business as possible (not intented to be a segue into banking/bailout talk!). With the hazards of smoking well known, we can make informed choices about where we go. If I get on the road at 2:00 a.m., I realize that I will probably be sharing the streets with a higher concentration of drunk drivers than I would at 2:00 p.m. People shouldn't drive drunk, it's illegal (as opposed to smoking, which is legal), and it creates hazards to those who had no part in it. But if I make the choice to be on the road at that hour, that's the environment I will have to exist in.

Norman Alston

To answer your question, ScurvyOaks, I have had to give up on our own local Cock and Bull for this very reason. Too bad. The food has had a good reputation and I've enjoyed the times I've gone, except for the raunchy smell. I also used to like listening to the Blue's live, especially Hash Brown when he played the Lakewood Bar and Grill, but no more. Just not worth it.

I'm as much for small government as any of my fellow red state'ers. However, when we live in close proximity to one another, as we do in the city, there are all kinds of laws in place setting the ground rules for living together and trying to protect us from one another. Some of those laws flat-out prohibit activities that are ok when practiced in solitude, but are anti-social, irresponsible or down right dangerous in a city with hundreds of thousands of people nearby. Discharging firearms for any reason comes to mind. Perhaps driving 75 mph on Abrams is another. I'm sure we can all think of other, perhaps better examples. That's my feelings in a nutshell. You want to smoke even though it's bad for you and those around you, that's your choice. Just keep it at home, please.

I'm signing off for the evening, fellas. Have a good one. The last word is all yours.

Jeff Siegel

It's so nice to see a discussion on the blog that doesn't involve something I wrote. Thanks, gentlemen.

Don't forget -- you'll need to move this discussion to the new blog site on Monday, when we turn this site off. Any questions, let me know.

East Dallas Dubya

However did we make it 16 comments without a single mention of Cesar Chavez or DISD?!?!?!


It's been a pleasure, gentlemen. By the way, Norm, congrats on the Parks Estate! That's a really important, wonderful step for the neighborhood, and I was worried that it would never be pulled off.


Someone point me to this blog since my establishment was mentioned so I felt compelled to put in my two cents. As the owner of C&B and a fellow non-smoker, I am very bothered by the smoking ban from many perspectives.

1. Freedom of choice. I understand the ban in public building that people have to go such as schools and office buildings. C&B is not a place that everyone has to go. You have the choice. I am glad that Norman enjoyed our place and I am sorry that he chooses not to come because of the smoke. How far will these bans go? Take the argument that smoking hurts people around them so does many other things..

a. Driving. I don't see us banning people from driving SUVs or banning people from driving more than 100 miles a month because it increases bio-carbon footprint and will eventually kill all of us. Dallas is one of the most polluted cities in the world and I have to live here. I have to breath this air everyday.

b. Fast food. People eat fast food everyday and it is killing us. The argument is that it is not harming people that are not eating it. Really? California just ban selling of cigarettes in pharmacies citing bad influence to sick people buying medication. Popularity of fast food is driving mom and pop business out and if that's the only thing available, that's why people will eat. Living in one of the fattest places in America, you cannot argue that fast food places are not killing people. Don't see no ban on fast food places.

c. Building houses. We are clearing out land everyday and lack of vegetation is contributing to global warming. Portland passed city ordinance to restrict urban sprawl. Why isn't such measures being approved here?

Where do we draw the line? I was cited in Zurich because I was doing laundry on Sunday - banned for religious reasons. I was cited for watching TV after 10 PM because it was interfering other people sleeping. I was cited for feeding birds because it was contributing to wild pigeon population. This list can go on and on.. As a non-smoker, I think the smoking ban is going too far. Lastly, from an immigrant's perspective, the ban is just so un-American.

2. Economics. For me, it is a business decision since over 90% of my patrons smoke and you know what, if the smoking ban passes, I will probably have to close down the bar. In this economy, my business is already down 30%. I cannot take another hit. What Norman does not understand is that most bar are already non-smoking because of the restaurant smoking ban. The new smoking ban will only hurt the small independents that will be forced to close. Good number of my customers will either stay home or go to Richardson, Garland, or Plano when the ban passes. I think we add color to the neighborhood that makes Lakewood so great. It is going to be very unfortunate to have any independent establishments close. It is too bad that the city does not care. The only thing the ban will do is close down the small independent bars that Norman is hoping to enjoy when the ban passes.

3. Judging. People makes choices all the time that we do not like or understand. I do not smoke but I don't think smokers are bad people even thought I cannot understand why anyone would start such habit on their own. My dad was in the war when China became communist and my dad was paid with cigarettes. I cannot fault him completely for the addiction. So, do I appreciate the fact that he has to stand out in the cold everywhere he goes to smoke because of this habit that's legal in America? No. Smoking went from cool to bad and people that smoke are now judged as second class citizens. I do not agree with that.

Anyways, I rant. I am very passionate about this issue and would be happy to discuss this with anyone at C&B, if you can stand the smoke.

East Dallas Dubya

Well put, Shawn. Very interesting to hear the opinion of a bar owner who really has something at stake. I just wish someone could grab the City Council by the shoulders, give them a good shake, and ask "Banning smoking in bars? Are you serious? In bars?"

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