Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Even I Think This Is Hazy Logic

First of all, let me point out that I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. It does awful things to me. I had the misfortune of being assigned a smoking room (which I had specifically asked not to have) for a couple of nights during TMEA several years ago, and when I got home, I had what could best be described as a "smoker's cough" for weeks after that.

I'm not unsympathetic to the plight of smokers; I realize it's a very hard addiction to kick. But current policy in most indoor places, which causes smokers to have to light up outside in a doorway or porch, is pretty much fine by me. I'm cool with restaurants having a smoking section as long as they have a non-smoking one as well. I understand the attraction of smoking in bars, so I'm sort of a fence-sitter on that one, but, on the other hand, I did have a semi-regular gig at a smoky bar last summer, and if the gig hadn't ended when it did, I might have had to bail anyway, as I was starting to get sick from being there.

But even I don't quite understand a proposed revision to the smoking ordinance in the nearby city of Richardson, which would even prohibit smoking in hookah bars:
On any given night, patrons gather at Main Street's hookah bars, socializing as they send streams of fruity tobacco smoke wafting into the air.

But in the next few months, this taste of Middle Eastern tradition could disappear as Richardson leaders consider a tough new smoking ordinance.

So, too, would people's ability to legally smoke a cigarette while sipping a beer at Main Street Liquid Co., shooting pool at Fox & Hound or knocking down pins at AMF Richardson Lanes.

City Council members will discuss the proposal again Monday night. The earliest a vote on the smoking ordinance could be held is May 12. If passed, it would go into effect 90 days later.

Last week, four of the seven council members said they wanted to cut the list of exempted businesses to just one: tobacco retailers.
It seems to me that a hookah bar should count as a tobacco retailer, doesn't it? After all, as someone pointed out in the article, people who go into such an establishment expect to encounter tobacco, so it's not as if they're being blindsided by it when they walk in the door. But the Richardson retailers truly are being blindsided by these proposed changes, since they were told all along that the local regulations would mirror those of neighboring cities, and nobody's are quite as harsh as what Richardson has proposed. (It appears that some hookah bars might be exempt if tobacco accounts for a majority of their sales, but it seems to me that any business with a tobacco delivery device in its name should fall under that category as well.)

Personally, I'd be happy as a clam if smoking simply went away tomorrow. But I'm also no fan of the nanny state, and I support the right of adults to make informed choices whenever possible. So if a proposed law can actually make me support smokers, that's a good indication that perhaps that law isn't such a great idea.

This gives "having one's jersey retired" a new meaning: A Connecticut boy finally stopped wearing his Brett Favre jersey a few weeks ago, perhaps spurred on by his idol's recent retirement. David Witthoft had worn the jersey every day since he received it--at Christmas, 2003.

Concerto for cabbies: A violinist who accidentally left his Stradivarius in a Newark, NJ cab gave a private performance yesterday in the airport's cab loading area, out of gratitude to the driver who reunited him with his instrument.

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