4.24.2009

Against A Smoking Ban in Louisiana Bars

I do not smoke, but I am vehemently opposed to the bills introduced recently in the LA state legislature that would ban smoking in bars.

First, taking smoking out of certain New Orleans bars would kill classic drinking establishments financially, if not culturally.  I cannot envision cornerstones like Ms. Mae's, Dos Jefes, or Finn McCool's without a good haze to set the mood.  And don't tell me it's about the health of employees - nobody is forcing them to work in a particular bar.

Second, it's ludicrous to prevent private bar owners from making the choice about permitting smoking on the premises they own.  Patrons, even if it is a place of public accommodation, are not forced to patronize a particular bar.  And voluntarily smoke-free options like the new bar Cure are opening to serve those who want to vote with their feet.

Far too many people I know acquiesced with frighteningly little thought to the heavy-handed bar smoking ban imposed in Madison when I was still in that city.  "Oh, it's so nice to go home at night without reeking of smoke."  Few seemed to realize that even as the final cigarette butts smoldered in the last ashtray, something more important than second-hand smoke had clearly been extinguished in the oversimplified acceptance of government decision-making.

If anyone knows of a lobby day of sorts in Baton Rouge in the next six months, please let me know.