Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another victory for the anti-smoking Gestapo

Not content to be the biggest laughing stock of a deliberative body in the Nation, the City Council also decided to take upon itself the task of being nany to millions of DC residents and visitors. In an 11-1 vote, the Council - after many years of trying - finally succeeded in passing a smoking ban which will go into effect immediately for restaurants and by January 1, 2007 for bars. Mayor Anthony Williams, who along with Council member Carol Schwartz is one of the pew DC politicos who has a sense of personal freedom, will likely veto the bill, but the Council clearly has the votes to override.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, and don't particularly enjoy the feeling of smelling like an ashtray when I go home. I do smoke cigars, but really only smoke them at one particular bar - the Capitol Lounge - and its cigar lounge will probably be unaffected by the ban. But the fact remains that people have the choice to go somewhere else, and the waitstaff have the choice to work somewhere else. If individual bars decide to go smokeless, that's fine. But to mandate it for all bars is absolutely maddening.

The other issue is the impact it will have on bar business. Smoke nazis particularly like to cite a single study claiming that the New York ban did not harm business, but this study was skewed in that it reported a percentage gain in tax revenue from the time immediately before the ban to the present day. Well, the period before the ban took place was one of the worst economic periods in recent memory (9/11, anyone?), therefore it really isn't saying much that tax receipts went up. Also, the city raised taxes, yet another reason for the increase in revenue. Individual bar owners will tell you that business is not as brisk as it once was thanks to the ban.

But at least people like Nanny Bloomberg other members of the anti-smoking brigade can rest comfortably in knowing they have protected their children, err, citizens from the deleterious effects of smoking.

I love big brother.


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