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John W.

Smoking Ban in DC

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And as for comparing this to helmet laws,they have repealed those in a few states already.

I guess if you are into a socialist form of government, this ban works for you. Just don't complain when they start interfering in other parts of your life

If not wanting to breath cigarette smoke by force is being a socialist, I'm a socialist. Perhaps the helmet law example wasn't the best, but injuries for those wearing helmets are more often than not less than those without helmets. Motorcycle accident victims who were not wearing helmets are called 'organ donors' by e.r. nurses and the like.

I am actually very much in favor of the government keeping out of my (and everyone else's) business. But if one chooses to smoke in their home (or car, etc) I won't be subjected to it. If they smoke in a bar or restaurant, I suffer having to breath disgusting air.

Thanks,

Kevin

Actually, I think the point is that there are now plenty of places to eat and drink without having smoke blown in your face. Leave my Raven alone!

I suspect that -- if I may stereotype egregiously for a moment -- the leaders of the ban effort are your basic zealot types who don't want anyone to have any fun they disapprove of. Their worker safety argument -- as eloquently advanced by Sam "not a prig" :wink: Kinsey -- the only one that has any resonance with me, not the discomfort of people who have other places to go.

PS: I'm pretty sure that creation of OSHA and things like federal mine inspection etc, were heavily supported by organized labor and were anyway the culmination and codification of a long struggle going back many years.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Leave my Raven alone!

Being one of the duller tacks in the box, I don't know what Raven is :sad: .

I despize zealots as much as the next guy, and I agree that worker safety is much more important than customers who can come and go as they please.

I guess I just see it as banning doing something that is annoying to many in public is better than allowing some to do annoying things in public. If I blast a radio in a movie theater, I will be asked to leave as it wll annoy a lot of people (I KNOW this not the same as a smoking ban so please don't re-label me a socialist, fascist, or any other ist).

I won't post again as we surely won't agree. I just didn't want to be lumped in with zealots, do-gooders, kill-joys, or bad-time charlies.

Thanks,

Kevin


DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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Folks, we're starting to get into the general politics of the smoking ban and away from topical discussions, like its impact on local restaurants and bars. Let's keep things focused on DC and its restaurant/bar scene. Thanks.

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Leave my Raven alone!

Being one of the duller tacks in the box, I don't know what Raven is :sad: .

I despize zealots as much as the next guy, and I agree that worker safety is much more important than customers who can come and go as they please.

I guess I just see it as banning doing something that is annoying to many in public is better than allowing some to do annoying things in public. If I blast a radio in a movie theater, I will be asked to leave as it wll annoy a lot of people (I KNOW this not the same as a smoking ban so please don't re-label me a socialist, fascist, or any other ist).

I won't post again as we surely won't agree. I just didn't want to be lumped in with zealots, do-gooders, kill-joys, or bad-time charlies.

Thanks,

Kevin

Sorry. I was too free in my use of snarky terms to describe people who oppose smoking in bars and restaurants; no one on this board has ever been less than polite and articulate on this subject or killed, as far as I know, any joy. I apologize for, through my own poor wording, inadvertantly lumping people for whose opinion I have a great deal of respect with others who, clearly, rub me the wrong way me.

(The Raven, btw, is possibly the smokiest bar in North America and my local dive.)


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I am a non-smoker who opposes smoking bans purely for the Orwellian implications, but I do have a question...

Has anyone really looked at the statistics that the anti-smoking zealots use to "prove" that there is no negative economic hardship? I have a friend in the hospitality industry in New York who could not figure out why corner pubs were folding left and right in Manhattan, yet the "statistics" told of a booming restaurant and bar industry. She reviewed the report that was used in New York to justify the existing ban and that is used around the country to argue for new bans. Apparently (and I am getting this second-hand, so to speak, and have not reviewed the statistics personally), prior to the ban, New York categorized businesses with a liquor license separately from businesses that did not sell liquor. However, after the ban they ended this distinction (according to my friend's theory, for the sole purpose of legitimizing the ban) by lumping in the fast food and carry-out establishments with actual restaurants, bars, and nightclubs when they stopped categorizing businesses based on whether or not an establishment had a liquor license.

Therefore, for every "Joe's pub" that goes out of business due to the smoking ban, four McDonald's open in Queens and cancel out the failure of the pub. Whereas, before the ban, the McDonald's and the "Joe's pub" would not have been in the same fiscal category. That, according to my friend, is the "proof" of the purported economic boom in the restaurant and bar industry in New York following the ban, despite "closed" signs in businesses around the city. And, of course, if this is true I didn't even need my freshman statistics course to tell that something smells rotten -- and it isn't the cigarette smoke.

Like I said, I cannot back up my friend's observation, but these "statistics" are used to argue for smoking bans around the country. And as far as I can tell, if my friend is correct, no one who argues against these bans has ever picked up on this. Has anyone actually reviewed the statistics that show how restaurant and bar business "thrive" in places like Montgomery County or New York by actually removing businesses with liquor licenses from those without liquor licenses -- which was apparently the established norm before the bans?

Just curious...

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Had lunch at Bistro du Coin, whose menu proudly proclaims "Cigarettes, cigars OUI!" and, on the way out, stumbled across the owner having a cigar outside with a few French types. I teased him about the "oui" and he laughed and said that it was now only a metaphore. A few doors down, the day bartender at Timberlakes was sneaking outside to get his niccotine fix. It's a brave new world.

I had my last bar smoke at about 4AM New Year's Day, and I don't suppose I'll miss being able to light up too terribly, I only smoke about three cigarettes a month. And I am not an anti-government zealot, ready to rail about the "nanny state." But it does strike me that something is lost when there's no place left to to have a beer and Marlboro and enjoy the odd camraderie of a smokey bar.

A lot of us moved to the city to get away from clean living and ordered lives. Based on the well-scrubbed types buying $600 thousand condos into neighborhoods they would have been scared to walk through (assuming they could even find them) ten years ago, that's not the way it works any more.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Not Everyone Loves A Smoking Ban (letter to the Washington Post, 2/1/07)

The author makes a good point:

I no longer stop for coffee and a couple of cigarettes at the Center Cafe in Union Station on my way to work every morning. And I no longer stop at the America restaurant once or twice a week for wine and a snack with my cigarettes before catching the Virginia Railway Express train to Fredericksburg.

I am not smoking less. But I am drinking less coffee and less wine. And I am spending $30 to $40 less each week at Union Station establishments.

How long until we see some sales numbers from local businesses?

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I find it curious, not to mention outright scary, how the mask of totalitarianism is slowly pulled across America the longer the memories of the Soviet Union fade into the past.

But what I find truly horrifying is our readiness to accept compromise on our freedoms.

However, that's not only what this thread is about. It's about the economic impact on DC restaurants.

I live in Baltimore and used to make bi-weekly (sometimes weekly) trips to Les Halles in Washington DC because it's one of the very few places where I could enjoy a cigar and a delicious meal at the same time. Each weeks' outing would range from two to eight friends coming together to enjoy a weeknight evening together. Depending on our actual size for the week, our bill would range from $135 to $650.

We routinely spent more eating while smoking. From bottled waters to multiple bottled cokes to bottles of wine to cocktails and after-dinner drinks. We ordered robustly from the menu to create a mosaic of flavors to match the cigars (some smoked cigarettes) and indulge ourselves. We ate on weeknights because the weekends were just too busy to go out and be served properly. We brought serious business Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

DCs draconian ban has brought that to an end. In the three months since the ban went into effect, I've been down to Les Halles once. There's no longer the sense of celebration enjoying a meal a cigar. That's lost. And so is the business we used to bring on a regular basis.

So when dictators preach how the ban is "helping" the industry, I think of our $650 tab and our $130 tip that we no longer spend at Les Halles and know that it's a bunch of baloney.

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So when dictators preach how the ban is "helping" the industry, I think of our $650 tab and our $130 tip that we no longer spend at Les Halles and know that it's a bunch of baloney.

I am about 99.9% sure that Michel would agree with you. Don't smokers spend more?

As an occasional smoker (only when drinking, and only around certain people), I am of two minds about this. One the one hand, I feel comfortable bringing my family to more places. On the other, when I am out late at night without the kids it would be nice to have a damn cigarette with my drink. I am down to smoking once or twice a month, so it's probably for my own good.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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So when dictators preach how the ban is "helping" the industry, I think of our $650 tab and our $130 tip that we no longer spend at Les Halles and know that it's a bunch of baloney.

I am about 99.9% sure that Michel would agree with you. Don't smokers spend more?

As an occasional smoker (only when drinking, and only around certain people), I am of two minds about this. One the one hand, I feel comfortable bringing my family to more places. On the other, when I am out late at night without the kids it would be nice to have a damn cigarette with my drink. I am down to smoking once or twice a month, so it's probably for my own good.

Funny-I was at Bistrot Du Coin last week and I really missed the smoke. And, actually, the bar seemed a little less crowded than usual. And although a source told me business hadn't gone down, that may just be propaganda.

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Bars and Restaurants in DC are "40% healthier?"

After "we" ban alcohol they will be 90% safer!!!!!

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So when dictators preach how the ban is "helping" the industry, I think of our $650 tab and our $130 tip that we no longer spend at Les Halles and know that it's a bunch of baloney.

That's only half of the question you should be asking. The second part you should be asking is: How many people are going to Les Halles who previously would not have gone due to the smoke, and how much money are they spending there?

If NYC is any indication (and, of course, there are always going to be individual counterexamples) the answer seems to be that, on balance, the economics are equal or, if anything, perhaps a little better after the ban.

But, even if we accept the premise that the economics are worse for business owners (which would still not mean that the overall economics are worse, because one would have to figure in things like the societal savings associated with a healthier bar and restaurant workforce) there is still a further question we should ask: What economic price is worth paying in order to protect these workers? When the government mandated guards on all moving parts of factory machinery, that cost the factory owners money they weren't spending before. Overall, it was not to their economic advantage, and they wouldn't have done it if the government hadn't made them do it. But I hope we all agree that taking this step to protect workers in the workplace was worth a certain economic hit to the factory owners.


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Perhaps we should recuse ourselves from the "protecting the workers" routine because, let's face it, this kind of legislation doesn't move forward because of altruistic beliefs.

Why do any of these people really want a ban? Is it because they care about the anonymous worker? Hardly. They care about themselves and their personal whims and desires - and they're more than willing to impose their personal whims and desires on the rest of the citizenry because their selfishness knows no bounds.

What we should be reviewing is our freedom. Yes, that elusive quality of life in America that we are supposedly waging war over: freedom. What is it? To my mind, freedom is the ability to choose. Without choice, we are not "free" but rather slaves.

Until the ban, we had freedom. We had the ability to choose a smoking friendly venue to dine. That no longer exists today.

NYC is a poor example because of its' sheer density. A December mid-week, late-night trip to the Park Avenue Les Halles found it packed. Is this a result of the smoking ban? Hardly. It's a testament to the sheer volume of New York - a city that can support ten restaurants on an avenue block.

But let's return to the bottom line. Those who want a ban are the type eager to impose their will on others, i.e. their desire for a smoke-free environment no matter where they go. These types of people tout health benefits for hospitality workers or the safety of children as "do good" leverage in the media because it defaults the opposite side as wanting ill-health for workers or harm to children. Very disingenius but fodder for the flock.

If we're truly interested in societal health as it is promoted within the hospitality industry, these "do gooders" would actually do real good by working to ban alcohol across the board. Especially considering that alcohol is a major factor in the injuries and deaths of thousands of Americans each year. Of course, that would mean banning the same alcohol that you personally enjoy with your meal and I can see how these people might be reticent to force a ban on something that they enjoy - regardless of how many people suffer because of alcohol.

As for me, I enjoy a wonderful cigar with a beautiful meal. I'll just have to enjoy it elsewhere.

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I think you miss the point of these legislations. I agree that bans on things like trans fats are going too far. And I would also agree that an outright ban on smoking would be going too far. But that's not what this is. This legislation isn't preventing you from smoking. It's only telling you that you can't do it in a public building or workplace, where your smoking has a negative impact on the health of other people.

So, this is legislation that offers protection to people against the negative effect that your smoking has on them. This would be like enacting legislation that offers protection to people against the negative effect that your drinking has on them. Hey, wait a minute! We do have legislation that offers people protection against the effect of your drinking on them! It's called drunk-driving laws! See, the law doesn't care about your drinking in restaurants and bars, because when you drink in restaurants and bars your drinking doesn't have a negative impact on the health of the workers in the restaurant or bar -- only, potentially, on you. The law does care about your drinking, on the other hand, as soon as it does have a negative impact on the health of other people: to make one example, the minute you get behind the wheel of a car. Similarly, the law doesn't care about your smoking when it doesn't have a negative impact on workers in their workplace, like in the privacy of your own car or your own home. It does care about your smoking as soon as it does have a negative impact on the health of workers in their workplace, like when you are in a restaurant or bar.

I'm sorry you're losing the ability to have a cigar with your dinner. Really, I am. But I bet most restaurant and bar workers aren't -- or, if they are, they won't be sorry about it once the bans becomd more widespread and the business self-corrects. Similarly, there were an awful lot of people who got all up in arms about losing the "right" to sip an open beer while driving their cars (something that was legal in Texas until September, 2001), and maybe for some people this would have coninued to be okay. But I think most of us would agree that on balance it's a good thing that it's not allowed anymore.

I'm curious: Do you not care about the health of restaurant and bar workers, or do you care mostly about your ability to smoke a cigar? This is to say, if there were a way that you could enjoy your cigar in such a way so that the restaurant workers were not exposed to your secondhand smoke, would you prefer to do it that way? I'm thinking of something like a clear plastic, externally vented "tent" that could be lowered over you and your table for a reasonable markup. Would you want to do this? How about dining in a sealed, externally ventilated smoking room, and served by waitstaff with respirators -- again, for a reasonable markup? Do you think something like this would be reasonable and fair? Would you be willing to pay more?


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Open your own restaurants, then, nonsmokers, you assholes. If the majority of people want a nonsmoking environment, then the free market will bear you out.

Hint: It won't. You need lots of high horse political manuevering and false analogies to get your way. Respirators and tents! Hah. Any you have and probably still will, with that 'for the children^H^H^H^H^H workers' bullshit mantra, combined with the utter lack of political thought in the general population. They just let it all happen.


Edited by pork (log)

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If the majority of people want a nonsmoking environment, then the free market will bear you out.

Hint: It won't.

It would seem that the majority of polls do not agree with you. For example:

Almost three-quarters of people (73%) who responded to a BBC survey want a ban on smoking in all public places as a way to cut tobacco-related illness.

Health groups released polling data today showing strong support among Virginia voters for a aw that would prohibit cigarette smoking in most public, indoor places.

A 57 percent majority of Arizona's registered voters agree with the customer on this debate: There should be no smoking allowed in public spaces such as bars and restaurants, according to the latest Arizona Republic Poll.

Nearly two-thirds of likely voters in Charles County favor a comprehensive statewide workplace smoking ban, according to a new poll that could bolster efforts by Commissioner Robert J. Fuller (D-St. Charles) to pass a similar local measure.

A smoking ban in Memphis restaurants has broad support locally, a Memphis Business Journal online survey found.

...a vast majority of New Yorkers have said in recent polls that they are happy with the new law. One survey shows that many regular restaurantgoers see a smoke-free environment as an attraction

I could go on, but I would suggest that tolerating smoking in public spaces is not the same thing as preferring smoking in public spaces. Times change, and what people are willing to tolerate has changed. It used to be that movie theaters were filled with cigarette smoke. Nowadays most people, many smokers among them, would find that intolerable.

I'd love to hear what you think about seat belt legislations. Let me guess: rabidly against them?


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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slkinsey-

The poignant question is whether or not the smoking ban pundits care about workers' health or just their own personal experience?

I say that they only care about their personal experience and use "workers' health" as the angle to skewer the general public - what legislator would go on record saying that they are against the health and welfare of the worker? None.

That said, the ban cronies push their personal agenda on the American public.

The problem with the current situation of "the smoking ban" is where we are heading. Corporations are starting to enact rules prohibiting their employees from smoking. Not just in the workplace, but completely. The rationale is that we now must protect the health of the individual, the cost of healthcare and the profitability of the company (by stopping smoking, resulting in lower disability/hospitalization/mortality). Violation of the smoking policy can and will result in termination.

Now, how does an employer figure out if its' employees are smoking? By their health assessment test. The presence of nicotine is rated on a Y/N basis - a Y mark resulting in a rating of "extreme risk" and the grounds for termination.

The ridiculous thing is that the requirement is for a "presence" of nicotine and not some percentage. This can be absorbed by merely passing through a room with smokers - as noted to my executive friend at CareFirst in a letter from the laboratory doing their employees' health assessment tests.

Of course, I'm a cigar smoker. This means that I'm not "pressed" to smoke like those addicted to cigarettes. I enjoy the luxury of picking and choosing when and where I would like to smoke. I'm not an advocate of forcing all spaces to welcome cigar smoking. I am an advocate of allowing the people to choose for themselves whether or not to permit smoking in their establishments.

Let's face it, we're supposedly lucid, educated adults who, ostensibly, are able to make informed decisions for ourselves. No one forces anyone to work anywhere. We're not talking about slaves or indentured servants who have no choice. There are plenty of places where people can serve that do not welcome smoking.

We're not talking about forcing smoking on non-smokers. We're talking about leaving those who choose to smoke enjoy their cigars in peace.

The freedom to choose - isn't that what America used to be about?

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If the majority of people want a nonsmoking environment, then the free market will bear you out.

Hint: It won't.

It would seem that the majority of polls do not agree with you.

And yet, the unregulated free market does agree with me, as I said. So go pound sand.

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The poignant question is whether or not the smoking ban pundits care about workers' health or just their own personal experience?

That's a question that's hard to answer. I would absolutely agree with you that most people in the media, on discussion forums like this and "on the street" who opine about workplace smoking bans are more concerned with their experience as individuals and consumers. But they're not the lawmakers. I'm no expert on Constitutional law, but I'm not sure that a law based on reducing the exposure of individual restaurant customers to secondhand smoke would be one that held water. But, then again, maybe it would. Regardless, whether or not lawmakers were concerned more for the workers or the customers (or themselves), this doesn't diminish the effect or the ostensible purpose of the legislation. Lots of studies have shown that nonsmoking bar and restaurant workers have significantly reduced presence of various smoking-related substances in their blood following a ban, and the air quality is greatly improved. Have a look at this article in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, for example, or this article in BMC Public Health. There are many such studies now in publication. So, regardless of whatever "hidden motives" the lawmakers may have in enacting these legislations, the ostensible purpose is to protect workers from exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace, the the effect is to do just that.

As I've pointed out in other threads on bar and restaurant smoking bans, there are all kinds of laws regulating legal behaviors. One of the primary factors for consideration seems to be answering the question: does this behavior impact negatively on others in this context to an unreasonable degree? In the case of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, lawmakers have answered in the affermative. And it's not like invididual business owners can decide whether or not to allow drunken driving on their property. If you own a huge factory lot, it's still against the law to drive around in the fork truck three sheets to the wind. Well, the evidence pointing to the negative health affects of exposure to secondhand smoke is at this point overwhelming, especially now that several bans have gone into effect and medical scientists have been able to conduct before-and-after air quality tests, blood tests and surveys of medical complaints. So, it seems reasonable to act to protect workers.

The problem with the current situation of "the smoking ban" is where we are heading.  Corporations are starting to enact rules prohibiting their employees from smoking.  Not just in the workplace, but completely.  The rationale is that we now must protect the health of the individual, the cost of healthcare and the profitability of the company (by stopping smoking, resulting in lower disability/hospitalization/mortality).  Violation of the smoking policy can and will result in termination.

This line of discussion begins to move away from what would be topical for eGullet, but I have a hard time believing that any corporation could get away with this and I'd have to see some evidence that it's being done before I'd believe it. Regardless, I'm not sure it makes a convincing argument against this kind of smoking legislation either way. If some companies decided that they would try to prohibit their employees from drinking alcohol, not only in the workplace but completey, and were testing employees and potentially terminating them based on the results of these tests, that would be wrong. But it still wouldn't be a convincing argument against drunk driving laws.

Let's face it, we're supposedly lucid, educated adults who, ostensibly, are able to make informed decisions for ourselves.  No one forces anyone to work anywhere. We're not talking about slaves or indentured servants who have no choice.  There are plenty of places where people can serve that do not welcome smoking.

Time and time again, the argument "they can choose to work somewhere else if they don't want to be exposed to this danger" has failed the test. Factory owners can't say, "get a job somewhere else if you don't like working with machinery that has open moving parts -- there are plenty of factory jobs." Construction companies can't say, "get a job somewhere else if you don't like working without a hard hat -- there are plenty of construction jobs." Office managers can't say, "get a job somewhere else if you don't like the occasional pat on the behind from your boss -- there are plenty of secretarial jobs." And, under a ban, bars and restaurants can't say, "get a job somewhere else if you don't like working in a room filled with tobacco smoke -- there are plenty of bar and restaurant jobs." The fact is, of course, that few factory workers, construction workers and secretaries in America today would continue to work in the environments I described. But it's also a fact that the work conditions I described all used to be commonplace... commonplace until legislations were passed to improve the workplace in those areas. Today, there are plenty of NYC office workers who would never think of taking a job at a firm where smoking was allowed on the office floor. Ten years from now, it's entirely possible that it would be unthinkable for a bar or restaurant worker to take a job at a bar where smoking was allowed.

We're not talking about forcing smoking on non-smokers.  We're talking about leaving those who choose to smoke enjoy their cigars in peace.

The freedom to choose - isn't that what America used to be about?

As people are frequently wont to say, your freedoms extend only insofar as they do not injure your fellow Americans. No one can reasonably suggest that secondhand smoke doesn't affect the health of nonsmokers.

I do think it's too bad that there aren't more choices for smokers, although most bans do offer loopholes for businesses that make 15% or more of their revenues from the sale of tobacco and related products. So it's entirely possible for a restaurant or bar to take the trouble to make itself friendly to smokers (unfortunately, studies have demonstrated that current ventilation and filtration technology is simply not effective). The difference is just that the status quo has changed. Now the status quo is to not allow smoking. But, if a bar or restaurant really wants to allow it, there are steps they can take to make that happen. The difference is that the easy way out is now to disallow smoking, and as we know most bar and restaurant owners are going to take the easy way out and dn nothing.

If the majority of people want a nonsmoking environment, then the free market will bear you out.

Hint: It won't.

It would seem that the majority of polls do not agree with you.

And yet, the unregulated free market does agree with me, as I said. So go pound sand.

We don't have an "unregulated free market" in the United States, nor to any modern nations in the world. Looking around at other countries, by and large one can observe that the less regulated employers are as to workplace conditions, the more abused workers are and the worse workplace conditions are. And, again, "wanting" and "tolerating" are not the same thing. Your so-called "unregulated free market" only agrees that a smoking-permitted environment was tolerated, not desired, and demonstrates that business owners generally take the easy way out and do nothing if that is an option. As I point out above, there are steps bars and restaurants can take if they really, really want to have smoking. But most of them can't be bothered. Just like they couldn't be bothered to do anything about it before when the shoe was on the other foot. So what's your point?


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