Smoking bans hurt and maybe go too far by Frank Seltzer
I know, the headline states the obvious. But Illinois may loosen its smoking ban and another ban slips up, goes too far and shows real purpose.
In a rare display of actual common sense, a democratic state rep from Chicago is pushing legislation that would let casinos and bars apply for smoking licenses that would get them out from under the current ban.
Anthony De Luca says,” It’s about letting the businesses decide.”
Whoa…now that makes sense…and ya know it also may make cents too. Maybe Illinois is finally realizing just how much the smoking ban is costing the state. A study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve in March 2010 showed Illinois took a hit of about 20 percent in gaming revenues when it banned smoking. That cost the state $200-million from gaming alone(some estimates say $500 million). Not to mention losses of tax from closed businesses due to the ban. I can remember lighting up in the cigar bar at the Palmer House not THAT long ago.(The cigar bar is gone now) Or having a nice Hemingway at Gibson’s bar drinking an ice cold martini while the piano player entertained and the place was jam packed with people drinking and smoking. Or even a bunch of us at Ditka’s smoking Bolivars after eatin Da Pork Chop. Yeah Gibsons and Ditkas are still there but I bet they aren’t as packed as they used to be.
Anyway, after the St. Louis Fed report the anti’s did their own study and are using it to fight the relaxation of the state smoking ban. It was truly impactful because it claims that loosening the smoking ban will not bring back more patrons because they never left.
This is how you use statistics, but at least the group who did the study added a disclaimer.
“This report is NOT about revenue, and makes no claims about revenue: It is about admissions. We were driven by the arguments that casinos in Illinois would lose patrons to neighboring states.”
So in other words, the same number of people came into the casinos but since they couldn’t smoke, they left sooner and spent less. Game. Set. Match.
Oh and maybe Illinois is finally waking up to its economic problems since it now has the worst credit rating of any state in the nation.
Not only that but when Moody’s downgraded the state debt, 85 winners in the state’s lottery had their checks bounce. A total of $159,000. I would say the state has much bigger problems that regulating where to smoke.
But leave it to the American Lung Association to push for Illinois to double its state cigarette tax to $2 per pack. When pointed out that tobacco taxes are regressive and hurt businesses and lower income people more than the rich, a spokesman for American Lung that’s ok because they would save more money if they quit smoking. Like taxes will make people stop. Yeah American Lung…Let them eat cake.
The real reason for bans
Dr. Michael Siegel is a tobacco control advocate. He believes smoking is dangerous and wrong. However, Dr. Siegel IS rational. And even he says the anti’s are going too far.
In Florida, those institutions of enlightenment and higher education either have or are banning all smoking from their campuses. They can do that, but as Siegel quotes an article in the Sun Sentinel:
If you smoke, you may be breathing less easily on college campuses these days.
Looking for the designated smoking area at Florida International University? There is none.
Want to light a cigarette inside your car at the University of Florida? Don’t let the cops see you
Hoping to smoke during your break at Nova Southeastern University? You have six months left until NSU becomes the latest college to go tobacco-free. Come July 1, the covered smoking benches will come down and smoke-free-campus signs will go up.
So how far are they going? Into your personal property…your car according to Tom Vitucci, NSU’s director of campus recreation and leader of the smoke-free effort.
“We don’t want your car to be a safe haven, where you do any activity you want as long as you’re in your car,” he said.
So inside a car that you own, you cannot do something that is totally legal. Ok, got it. Christopher Snowden says it shows these bans are nothing more than naked authoritarianism.
Trampling on property rights; paternalism run riot; the tyranny of the majority—why would libertarians not be interested in this?
But it is all because of that nasty smoke seeping out and affecting someone else right? Nope …someone may SEE you.
Patricia Kelly, associate professor, director and doctor of the Health Science Program in the Health Professions Division, said, “Secondhand smoke has been proven to be dangerous in a number of instances.
“Students who do not see their peers smoke, either in public or in private, are less likely to start smoking themselves,” she said.
So we have gone way beyond smoking is bad for you, past the whole secondhand smoke argument and into the crux of the matter…we know what is best for you and we don’t want to even see you doing it. After all, the University of California , San Francisco ban we talked about a couple of weeks ago included e-cigarettes which are not smoked nor even contain tobacco. Appearances are what matter to the anti’s. According to Dr. Siegel:
The anti-smoking advocates have long since left the realm of promoting policies to protect the public from secondhand smoke exposure. They are now in the area of paternalistic policy making which aims to segregate and isolate smokers so as to prevent the rest of the public from ever having to see these people
Be sure you visit the CRA and send a petition to congress to stop the FDA from taking over our industry. As you can tell….it ain’t about the science it’s about control.