Respectful Insolence

A couple of weeks ago, inspired by a somewhat drunken encounter two weeks prior, against my better judgment, I waded into the evidence supporting the contention that secondhand smoke is harmful to health, increasing the risk of heart disease and lung cancer in workers chronically exposed to it. In response to a list of quotes going around the Internet claiming that relative risks less than 2 are so unreliable that they may be ignored (conveniently enough, most relative risks reported for exposure to SHS are in the 1.2 to 1.3 range), I pointed out what a load of dishonest quotemining the list was, while Tim Lambert pointed out that it was an intentional and concerted campaign by the tobacco companies to cast doubt on the science showing SHS to be harmful. I thought I was done, but apparently I wasn’t. Or, as Michael Corleone said in The Godfather, Part III, “Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.”

So it was over the weekend, when the Libertarian comic who started it all tried to pull me back in. He managed to annoy me more than enough to lead me to oblige his apparent desire for some more Respectful Insolence™, except that it took a lot of effort not to drop the “respectful” part.

I probably didn’t succeed.

It started out in the comments, in which Tim Slagle stated:

I agree.

Nobody should be dragged into a bar against their will.

To which I responded:

Of course, the workers don’t necessarily have a choice but to be subjected to it for periods of time far longer than all but the most degenerate barflies. No doubt Tim will claim that no one has to work in a bar or restaurant with smoking, but that is, of course, a naively touching bit of Libertarian fantasy that has little relationship to the real world.

To which Tim made this breathtakingly bad analogy:

Coal mines exist in the “real world.” Even with modern OSHA regulations, 3% of all coal miners will still contract Black Lung Disease by the time they are 50. And I would suggest, there are far more employment opportunities in Chicago for a non-smoker, then there are in a coal mining town in West Virginia.

Should we stop mining coal? (Is it even a possibility?)

Tim seems to be arguing that exposure to SHS is an inherent risk of working in bars and restaurants that workers must simply accept or find work elsewhere. That is, of course, ridiculous. There’s nothing inherent in the work required in bars or restaurants that demands exposure to SHS, other than tradition. In contrast, exposure to coal dust is a risk inherent to working in coal mines that can’t be completely eliminated. You can’t change the properties or location of coal to prevent worker exposure to coal dust. Even so, guess what? We do try to decrease that risk as much as possible. In fact, assuming that Tim’s figures are correct, they are an excellent argument that OSHA should do more to decrease the unavoidable risks inherent in coal mining, not that we as a society should do less to minimize risks to workers not inherent to the job that can be fairly easily decreased in other industries.

This is where Tim decided to respond on his blog, and it was every bit what we’ve come to expect from him. In it, while calling me his “arch-nemesis” (egads, he must not have many people who are his nemesis if he considers me his “arch-nemesis”), he launches into more of the same. Before we get to the stuff that irritated the hell out of me, let’s give Tim credit for one positive admission:

But from what I had been told, any risk under 2.0, is negligible. Orac corrected those who suggested such a thing. Apparently there is no practice within epidemiology (the study of stuff like this) to discount such statistics. According to him, there has been a propaganda campaign (most probably orchestrated from inside the tobacco companies) to discredit SHS studies, and a list of suspicious quotes discrediting epidemiological studies under 2.0, has been circulating the Internet. I had to throw in the towel at this point. I’ve never studied Epidemiology, and I have to take his word for it. If he says a risk below 2.0 is significant, it is significant. I guess I was wrong…

So have I changed my mind? Yes and no. I can no longer defend the statement; “There is no science finding adverse health consequences from second hand smoke.”

Very good. There may be hope for Tim yet. Or there might have been if he hadn’t repeated a truly boneheaded analogy that he had used before in my comments:

I was going to write him a note telling him so, until I ran across this. Apparently, a recent study found there is an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease for people who drink a can of pop every day. And look at that risk rate. Over 1.4…Apparently the risk of getting heart trouble from second hand smoke, is almost identical to drinking a can of pop every day. So working in a smoky bar, is as bad for you as a can of pop. In fact, since most people who work in bars have access to the soda gun, there is a good chance that every non-smoker in those SHS studies, drank a glass or two of pop every single day.

Can anyone spot the fallacy in that analogy? Sure, I knew you could. Drinking a can of pop every day harms no one but the person drinking the pop. (Yes, we’re both from the Midwest; so we say “pop” instead of “soda.”) Unless you’re forcing someone to drink a can or more of pop every day, it’s ridiculous to compare this to the effect of SHS. And, invoking Tim’s Libertarian principles, workers are perfectly free to ignore that soda gun and not drink pop. They are not free to stop breathing when there’s a lot of cigarette smoke in the air.

Then, sadly, Tim couldn’t resist falling into some even worse reasoning. I should have expected it, given the Photoshopped image of Orac in a Maoist backdrop, which didn’t annoy me the first time I saw it but does now. (Someone comparing me to Maoists or Communists always annoys the hell out of me. I’m funny that way.) Then, not unexpectedly, Tim launched into an argumentum ad Nazi-ium so bad that I seriously thought of siccing the Hitler Zombie on him:

On the other side of the debate, is a motivation far more insidious. It is a desire for power. Many people who see the debate as manipulated solely by tobacco money, never look at that angle, nor recognize that for some, power is far more seductive than profit. There was a very power-hungry person, who once advocated smoke free workplaces. He is the one who cannot be named. (Not because there are dark powers associated with the name, it is because current protocol dictates that the first person to invoke his name, automatically loses the debate … spend a little time playing with you Googler, and I’m sure you’ll figure it out.) But I think it’s no coincidence that one of the worlds’ most infamous megalomaniacs, didn’t want people smoking around him.

The “one who cannot be named”? Who is Tim talking about? Lord Voldemort? It’s as if Tim thinks that by not actually writing the name he can pretend that his brain hasn’t actually been chomped on by the Undead Führer.

Actually, it would have been better if he were referring to You Know Who. In fact, what I suspect that Tim to be referring to is Robert Proctor’s book, The Nazi War on Cancer. It’s a fascinating read, and very instructive. Not surprisingly, its take-home message is far more complex than the facile “Hitler tried to ban smoking” ploy that smoking ban foes like Tim trot out all too frequently as an all-purpose means of invoking Godwin. Let’s put it this way: Just because the Nazis were the first to do studies that found the epidemiological link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and tried to discourage smoking through public health measures, taxation, and advertising does not mean that efforts to ban indoor smoking must be a sign of incipient Nazi-ism or fascism or that the motivations of those who seek to decrease smoking or ban indoor smoking must derive from a lust for power. Let’s put it another way: The Nazis collected taxes on cigarettes; that doesn’t mean collecting taxes on cigarettes is a sign of incipient fascism. The Nazis had a rather interesting charitable program called the Winter Charity (Winterhilfswerk), where they collected money to distribute to the poor. (Its slogan was “None shall starve nor freeze” and the program was designed to provide food and fuel to indigent Germans.) That doesn’t mean that running a charity is a sign of incipient totalitarianism. The Nazis built the first superhighway, the Autobahn. That doesn’t make building superhighways a sign of incipient Nazi-ism. In other words, just because the Nazis did something that many governments might find legitimate reasons to do does not necessarily mean that our doing the same thing is a sign of Nazi-ism or fascism or that the motivation must be a lust for power. Unfortunately, what Tim said is only a slightly watered down version of the same analogy that one particularly loony commenter used. All that’s missing is the New World Order conspiracy-mongering and an explicit appeal to Hitler’s name.

As you can imagine, I don’t particularly like being compared to Hitler, regardless of how oh-so-coyly Tim couches his comparison. (By the way, you don’t have to mention Hitler’s name for Godwin’s law to apply, particularly when it is mind-numbingly clear to whom you are referring.) I like it even less when, after lamenting how many bars have supposedly closed as a result of smoking bans, Tim says:

But I wouldn’t expect Orac to understand. Some people just don’t care about the plight of the average Joe. To them it’s just about the numbers. It’s why I often find myself butting heads with Statists. I care more about the impact of Global Warming legislation on the economy today, than I worry about a projected 23 inches of ocean rise. I am more concerned about the real loss incurred by bar owners, than some mythological non-smoking waitress, who couldn’t find work anywhere else. But these people let their egos run out of control, and presuppose they know more than the individual business owners.

Quite frankly, it’s taking a lot of restraint on my part to refrain from violating my usual blog policy about not directing the f-word at Tim here. I highly resent Tim’s accusation. Even if his figures are correct (and, given the biased source from which they come, a blog run by a man who proclaims that his livelihood was destroyed by a smoking ban, I have my doubts that they tell the whole story but will have to investigate further to decide), I could retort that Tim apparently cares for the “little guy” even less than he thinks I do. After all, he apparently thinks nothing of expecting hospitality workers to expose themselves to potentially harmful smoke as a condition of employment and blithely says that they can just find another job doing something else if they don’t want to expose themselves to the elevated risk of heart disease and respiratory diseases due to prolonged exposure to SHS. He dismisses workers harmed by SHS and the concerns that they can’t find work in other industries as “mythical.” Unfortunately, these workers are not “mythical,” and fortunately there is emerging evidence that indoor smoking bans are already improving their health. Indeed, in New York, air quality in hospitality venues has improved markedly since the ban, and a recent study showed that the indoor smoking ban in New York has already resulted in lowered levels of biomarkers of SHS exposure. Such bans are also associated with improvements in symptoms, spirometry measurements, and systemic inflammation of bar workers. Tim also neglects to note that a 30% increase in heart disease due to SHS could be very significant, given how common heart disease is in the general population. Denying this evidence hardly shows “concern for the little guy” that Tim claims to value so highly, particularly since the economic impact in Minnesota may be neutral or not nearly as bad as the anti-ban advocates claim, results similar to New York City, where bar and restaurants do not seem to be hurting since the ban.

It’s too bad. There could have been a reasonable discussion about whether the hazards posed by SHS, which are moderate, merit indoor smoking bans, once Tim had reluctantly admitted that science supports the contention that SHS is harmful. I’ve said from the beginning that these issues are not necessarily black and white or easy to sort out and have even pointed out that extrapolating the data on SHS to try to support outdoor smoking bans, for example, is utterly ridiculous. Everything in politics–yes, even Libertarian politics–and law is a balance between competing interests, more than one of which are usually valid, in this case, avoiding unnecessary harm to workers versus the potential economic impact. Instead of basing an argument on why his favored interests (decreased regulation, personal freedom regardless of whether it might pose a risk to others) trump the scientifically demonstrated harmfulness of SHS, Tim seems to feel the need to label those who come down on the side of indoor smoking bans as, in essence, Nazis who don’t care about the little guy. And, no, that’s not a straw man. Read his entire post if you don’t believe me.

But, in fact, it’s even worse than that, because Tim finishes by returning to a theme that irritated the hell out of me enough in the first place to post about it originally. Yep, we nasty, fascistic scientists who want power and will supposedly abuse science to attain it, are once again portrayed as childhood geeks who are now getting even with the cool kids, who, apparently, besides being rich enough to afford Hummers and big houses that contribute to global warming, also smoked:

This whole argument started over a bit I did, about how scientists probably got beat up on the dodgeball court when they were kids. I was trying to illustrate how some nerdy kids will grow up bitter with a disregard for humanity, and they disguise this disregard as logic. Orac started this thread disputing my allegation.

He might think that a bar should be able to survive, just by providing a place to drink, but statistics prove otherwise. At least a hundred families in Minnesota have lost their life investment, and at least a thousand more people are now out looking for work. Meanwhile there has been a recession in the various industries surrounding food and beverage in the Twin Cities. How could anyone think that is, an acceptable sacrifice? Or maybe nobody really does. Maybe they are just getting even for Dodgeball.

Actually, this whole argument started about several bad arguments and misrepresentations of science that Tim used in his act, only one of which was his idiotic routine about geeks who got beat up and excluded from the cool kids’ parties, some of whom, according to Tim, grew up to become scientists who would later wreak horrible vengeance upon their former tormentors by exaggerating the dangers of global warming, the better to separate them from their CO2-belching SUVs and large houses. Now, apparently, we’re at it again, exercising our Maoist and Nazi tendencies (what, no mention of Stalin?–I’m disappointed), this time to use the dangers of SHS as a cudgel to beat the hospitality industry over the head with and bring about its demise and-cackle, cackle–get thousands of bartenders and wait staff fired. Why? Because, he seems to really think that we want power and don’t care about the little guy, hence our nefarious plan for vengeance on those drinking, smoking cool kids who are now adults.

I think the most revealing part of Tim’s post, though, is here:

The reason why I am suspicious of things like Second Hand Smoke, and Global Warming is not because I am anti-science. I actually enjoy science. I spent some time in college studying it, (and if I hadn’t decided I like beer and girls better, I might be studying it still.) Actually, I am antiregulation, and anytime somebody tells me that science has proven a need to regulate my life, I get really suspicious.

I retort that Tim appears to like science when it provides him useful and cool things like iPods, plasma TVs, the treatments of modern scientific medicine, computers, pictures of galaxies and supernovas, and all the wonders of technology and knowledge. Then science is neat. But when science tells Tim something that he doesn’t want to hear, something that he doesn’t like, something whose consequences suggest that some sort of government action or regulation might be advisable or that some sort of change in human behavior should be encouraged, for example, that human activity is contributing to global warming or that SHS exposes hospitality workers to an increased risk of respiratory ailments, lung cancer, and heart disease, suddenly Tim doesn’t like science so much anymore. Suddenly, in his eyes and his comedy routine, scientists become power-hungry geeks seeking to impose their will on the rich and/or cool kids who excluded them or beat them up. He can’t refute the science; so he attacks the messengers, the scientists whose work supports these findings, using his comedy as a weapon during his act.

That sort of thing may work in comedy, but it’s a sad excuse for an argument.

Comments

  1. #1 Thony C.
    July 31, 2007

    Just for the record Hitler was a vegetarian so we know that all those concerned people who don’t eat meat are in reality fascists.

    On the subject of people in bars restaurants etc losing their livelihoods the German State Governments are at the moment going through the pangs of introducing/not introducing anti-smoking laws, as a result the German press is full of stories about other countries that have already introduced such bans, in all countries that have done so the gastronomy industry has seen a substancial increase in turnover and not the decline that the defenders of smoking had prophesied.

  2. #2 Dangerous Bacon
    July 31, 2007

    “But I wouldn’t expect Orac to understand. Some people just don’t care about the plight of the average Joe.”

    I suspect that by “average Joe” Tim means “struggling comic who’s afraid some potential venues of employment will shut down if smoking is banned”.

    Even this self-centered view is pretty silly, since every well-conducted study I’ve seen, from El Paso to New York City, has shown that the economic effects of bar and restaurant smoking bans are either neutral or slightly positive. We just had a local newspaper story suggesting the same outcome in Ohio, which recently instituted a statewide smoking ban.

    The stuff about the nerds resenting the “cool kids” smoking is truly laughable. Far from picturing hip singles puffing away while savoring the good life, the image that comes to mind when I think of “smoker” is a wrinkled, prematurely aged emphysema sufferer hauling around a wheeled oxygen tank with a cannula in his nose.

  3. #3 Alaya
    July 31, 2007

    Orac, this guy is a complete moron. It’s useless to argue with him.

    And for the record, the smoking ban was the best thing to ever happen to NYC bars. Speaking as a music-loving patron.

  4. #4 plunge
    July 31, 2007

    Just to distract you again, Dean Esmay is back with a long series of how all cancer research is misfocused and has produced nothing but suffering for patients (I’m sure in the end the conclusion will be because it doesn’t look at THE one thing he thinks is the correct answer to all cancer… though I can’t remember whether it was DCA or Duesberg these days). Just check out his blog for all the articles (written somewhere else and reposted by him I believe).

    Looks to me like they are cherry-picking the data pretty crazily. For instance, picking 4 metastatic cancers that have seen the least improvement in survival rates to argue that decades and millions of dollars of work on cancer have nothing to show for it.

  5. #5 DCP
    July 31, 2007

    There’s also another problem with the “nerds resenting cool kids” stuff.

    This “cool kids”-phenomenon is something purely American, as far as I know. Different countries tend to have different education systems. This apparently didn’t occur to Tim. I, for example, attended the German education system. In Germany there is a three-tier system, after elementary school the pupils are grouped according to their previous accomplishments (changing the tier is still possibly, though.). Smart and nerdy kids attend “Gymnasium”, average kids attend “Realschule” and the rest attends “Hauptschule”. Thus there are no cool kids per se around the nerds, only slightly cooler nerds.

    And since not all scientists are American and since most SHS and Global Warming studies around the world tend to produce the same results the “nerds were bullied and now bully others themselves” story doesn’t fly at all.

  6. #6 plunge
    July 31, 2007

    And for the record, though I hope I don’t get lumped in with Tim, I still have far more sympathy for the libertarian policy side of things here. The fact is, some people want bars in which they can smoke and some workers are willing to work under those conditions. We shouldn’t legally prevent that from happening for those that want it (if you want to come down hard legally to make sure it’s fairly rare, ok, or demand that all sorts of special equipment is used to suck smoke away from others: but instead most of these policies have worked to COMPLETELY ban the practice no matter what safety precautions are taken, which goes too far). After we figure out the risk involved, the issue is not one of science anymore, but of not using the law to enforce your beliefs about acceptable health risks on others. Using the law to force an employer to ban smoking just isn’t comparable to an employer starting a bar that allows smoking, which still does not “force” any employee to work there no matter how much you fret about it.

    Whatever you say about the little guy, no one “deserves” to have SOMEONE ELSE provide them the particular job that they want. I don’t claim that this is about caring about the little guy: it’s caring about the rights of property owners and business people. I also don’t think they should be the ones who bare the burden of making their facilities compliant either: if there is a moral obligation to provide accessible restaurants and stores to the disabled, then this burden falls on EVERYONE (via taxes), not just people who happen to put up a store.

  7. #7 Robster, FCD
    July 31, 2007

    So… Because I wasn’t among the coolest cliques growing up, I am going to try to get back at the other kids (who mostly didn’t smoke, either) by researching cancer and supporting public health programs like no smoking laws? I understand that this is supposed to be a joke, it just isn’t a funny one. Since he’s just parroting somebody else’s lines, I have to call him the worst insult a comedian can be called. He is a hack.

  8. #8 Joseph Hertzlinger
    July 31, 2007

    geeks who are now getting even with the cool kids,

    I wish we had that kind of power. First, we’d hang the anti-nuclear activists…

  9. #9 Matt Penfold
    July 31, 2007

    Since when has liking girls and beer been an obstacle to being a scientist ?. More than a few times times in my life have I drunk more than was wise in the company of scientists.

  10. #10 Godless Geek
    July 31, 2007

    The forums for our local APA pool league recently had a topic concerning the viability of non-smoking pool halls (one just opened in town a few days ago), and many of the smokers, but by no means all, went immediately into a ranting screed about how not allowing smoking would infringe their rights and if they couldn’t smoke, they wouldn’t shoot and everyone else just needed to either get over it or just not come to the pool hall. They were the same group that wouldn’t hear that the rest of us weren’t asking them not to smoke, we were just asking them not to make us put up with it too.

    Every time this topic raises, you always have people screaming about how people want to outlaw smoking and take away their rights, when I honestly don’t care if they smoke or not, I just don’t want to have to smoke with them. they already can’t have their cigarettes over the tables, so if they are so much of a slave to their addiction that they can’t take a 5 minute break to step outside, or at least into a designated part of the room (a tactic that works quite well for the citywide tournament), I think they have far greater problems than a public smoking ban.

  11. #11 Dnagerous Bacon
    July 31, 2007

    “I don’t claim that this is about caring about the little guy: it’s caring about the rights of property owners and business people. I also don’t think they should be the ones who bare the burden of making their facilities compliant either…”

    Where this line of argument falls down is that _in no other business or industry_ do we excuse hazardous working conditions because of “the rights of property owners and business people”. In no other line of work does our society shrug and say “Well, you don’t have to work there.” In no other occupation does anyone seriously propose creating a class of workers who will, supposedly, gladly accept health hazards in return for jobs while their colleagues in similar positions elsewhere are protected.

    As special as smokers feel themselves to be, they are not special enough to put either employees or patrons of restaurants, bars and other facilities at risk.

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    July 31, 2007

    How many people get the equivalent of 7 cigarettes per month, second hand?

    That amount of exposure is shown to be sufficient to addict some kids.

    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/7/704

    I’d bet it works from second-hand smoke. I know cotinine, the breakdown product of nicotine, shows up in kids exposed to tobacco smoke. Quantify this, someone?

    No wonder this issue is important. It’s basic to marketing.
    The first seven are free, little child …..

  13. #13 Tim Slagle
    July 31, 2007

    Dnagerous Bacon writes: “Where this line of argument falls down is that _in no other business or industry_ do we excuse hazardous working conditions because of “the rights of property owners and business people”

    In no other business? I’m sorry, did you not see the reference to coal mines? According to the CDC, 3% of all coal miners will contract Black Lung Disease before they are fifty.

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5215a3.htm

  14. #14 Dangerous Bacon
    July 31, 2007

    Tim, it’s still a “breathtakingly bad analogy”. Read Orac’s demolition of your “argument”.

    Or if your lips get tired easily, focus on this: we have made strenuous efforts to limit hazards that are _inherent_ to coal mining. Surely if we can easily eliminate a hazard that is _not inherent_ to going to a bar or restaurant (except by easily relinquished custom), we should do so.

  15. #15 BEW
    July 31, 2007

    Orac,

    Tim said,
    ” But from what I had been told, any risk under 2.0, is negligible”

    At the risk of reopening old wounds, I thought that if there was only one study and the RR was 2 or less, the results are, at best, interesting but not definitive. The results could be meaningful or the result of error, bias, etc. On the other hand, if you had multiple studies, and the RR were 2 or less, then there was strong evidence that the risk factor was real (SHS indoors is health problem and should be regulated.)
    Is my interpretation correct?
    Thanks,

    Bruce.

  16. #16 plunge
    July 31, 2007

    “Where this line of argument falls down is that _in no other business or industry_ do we excuse hazardous working conditions because of “the rights of property owners and business people”.”

    I’m not sure why this argument is supposed to be compelling to me. “That’s the way we’ve always done it and everyone does it”?

    Furthermore, even if we take your “that’s not the way it works in most other places” argument and run with it, in most other risky industries, we don’t ban the industry altogether: we demand that appropriate safety precautions be taken. But according to most anti-smoking laws, you can’t even have a smoking bar in which all employees wear scuba masks and breathe clean air pumped in from outside, let alone having forced air filtration systems that suck smoke up and away. NO level of second hand smoke is apparently safe enough. That’s where reasonable turns into extreme, and you have to start to suspect that the purpose of the law is to punish smokers rather than just to protect employees. Reasonable compromises, even unreasonable ones (like scuba suits) are discarded in favor of an outright ban.

    “In no other occupation does anyone seriously propose creating a class of workers who will, supposedly, gladly accept health hazards in return for jobs while their colleagues in similar positions elsewhere are protected.”

    I’m not proposing “creating” anything. I think people should, in general, be allowed to choose, and that further, no one is OWED a job or money. I’m currently unemployed and hurting socially and financially from it. But I don’t “deserve” a job, let alone a job to my liking.

  17. #17 Rich Paul
    July 31, 2007

    Out of curiosity, do the fascists here believe that smokers, in general, prefer to work in non-smoking environments? There may be those that do, but as far as I can tell, they are few and far between.

    Since smoking is very common in the food service industry, you might want to remember that in general you’re trying to protect smokers from second hand smoke. This seems like the height of stupidity.

  18. #18 plunge
    July 31, 2007

    I don’t see any reason why a smoker would prefer that additional OTHER in addition to themselves smoke in the place of business: it does them no good, and lots of ambient smoke is at best not a problem, if not an annoyance, even for a smoker.

  19. #19 LCR
    July 31, 2007

    “Since smoking is very common in the food service industry, you might want to remember that in general you’re trying to protect smokers from second hand smoke.”

    Oh, yuck. Now I have an image in my head of a liberal sprinkling of cigarette ashes on the McDonald’s cheeseburger I had for lunch.

    And yes it would be odd to try to protect smokers from SHS, but that is not what is being argued here. The phrase “very common” does not equate with “all” by any means. There are non-smokers in the food service industry who should not be expected to sign on for lung cancer when they go to work.

  20. #20 Robin Levett
    July 31, 2007

    Rich

    Fascists? Are thetre any postign here? Most fo them are taking the opposite view – that the non-smokers’ freedom not to be harmed trumps the smokers’ freedom to harm them.

    As for your claim – if true, do you not realise that it is in fact a strike against your position? That given that non-smokers are in the majority in the general population, the (claimed) fact that they are in a minority in the food service industry suggests that the prevalence of smoking actively discriminates against them?

  21. #21 Tim Slagle
    July 31, 2007

    D Bacon writes: “Surely if we can easily eliminate a hazard that is _not inherent_ to going to a bar or restaurant (except by easily relinquished custom), we should do so.”

    If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that’s where the debate is right now: Whether smoking is inherent to certain businesses. Certainly if a solvent business closes, directly after the ban has been passed, it would indicate that smoking WAS inherent to that business.

    You can read my proof of that allegation, and my response to Orac here:

    http://www.timslagle.com/blog/2007/07/once-more-round-wheel.html

  22. #22 Dangerous Bacon
    July 31, 2007

    “Where the debate is right now” is whether smokers will get a sufficient grip to accept the new reality and adjust to their terrible privations, or to continue whining and wheedling until everyone is sick to death of it, and the prohibitions become more encompassing in response.

    Every pitiful smokers’ rights-type argument I’ve heard here (and many more) have been raised and thoroughly debunked elsewhere, for example in these threads (which are probably a lot more entertaining than T. Slagle’s blog (no offense, natch):

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=399501

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=381404

    http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=377541

    Enjoy.

    “But WHY can’t you make an exception for us smokers? It’s not fair! Please? (wheedle)

    No.

  23. #23 Davis
    July 31, 2007

    Certainly if a solvent business closes, directly after the ban has been passed, it would indicate that smoking WAS inherent to that business.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc is not a valid line of reasoning.

    Speaking of anecdotal evidence for the effect of smoking bans, I’ve spent many hundreds of dollars more going to shows and bars since Seattle instituted its smoking ban. I stayed away from both when smoking inside was legal.

  24. #24 Lisa
    July 31, 2007

    Wait. The legislation on smoking ban is a matter of “Pro Life” and “Pro Choice”. It’s a matter of health and morals on one side and individuals right on the other. People who has a stand in the middle like ban on late term and allow some kind of abortion should let some business owners and workers choose their poison.

    For those who love arts and upscale entertainment. Write to all opera company to ban smoking on stage when they perform “Carman”. Or they should delete that part of the opera. Better yet, write your legislators to censor “Carman”.

    So, if you are Pro Choice or Pro some Choice, quit posting your view point on pro smoking ban. Same for people who are Pro life to the point that government should outlaw abortion, quit talking about individual rights.

  25. #25 LCR
    July 31, 2007

    Lisa, do you mean “Carmen”?

    … and was that a serious post or are you joking?

  26. #26 wrg
    August 1, 2007

    Apparently, Lisa, you think that there are only two kinds of people in the world. As it happens, so do I: those who assume that all false dichotomies are valid, and those who don’t. Although it’s all too common a trope in politics to act as if there are only two possible combinations of opinions to hold (see “liberal” vs. “conservative” in America), it’s ridiculous to state it as if it were undeniable fact.

    Dangerous Bacon:

    Where this line of argument falls down is that _in no other business or industry_ do we excuse hazardous working conditions because of “the rights of property owners and business people

    Tim Slagle:

    In no other business? I’m sorry, did you not see the reference to coal mines? According to the CDC, 3% of all coal miners will contract Black Lung Disease before they are fifty.

    Sadly, I’m inclined to think you’re right. In principle, we should ensure safe working conditions so far as is practical, but all too often we fall short of that ideal. However, I do find it rather incongruous that you seem to be suggesting that other industries should be as unsafe as coal mining. So much for caring about the average Joe.

    To me, it sounds in the passage including the “average Joe” reference as if you don’t believe in the future, or at least you’re unwilling to believe any evidence suggesting that something should be done about future problems. Or maybe it’s just bad if it seems that a state might intervene.

    I consider Godwin’s Law descriptive rather than prescriptive (after all, how is “losing” more meaningful than the truth of a proposition except insofar as we’re biased by ego?), but the argumentum ad nazium doesn’t help the argument. At least you’ve the honesty to disclose an antiregulation bias, but exercising it in baseless conjecture about the motives of those with differing views doesn’t lead one to confidence in your conclusions.

  27. #27 plunge
    August 1, 2007

    Bacon, all other matters aside, it’s pretty darn stupid to cite a DEBATE (not to mention on a board I was a member of and debated this very subject on) as evidence that all rights/choice arguments have been “debunked.” The science side of SHS denial seems pretty settled, but the other issues are most certainly not, seeing as they hinge on a lot of very different policy and moral principles that honest people can disagree on.

  28. #28 James
    August 1, 2007

    What always irritates me about constant niggling over the science is that it distracts everyone from the policy issues, which as plunge pointed out are a lot more complex.

    I don’t know enough about epidemiology to dispute the science of second-hand smoke, so I don’t. But I am a policy wonk, both by profession and nature and there are steps beyond “SHS is dangerous” that have to be taken before a ban is justified. These steps involve evaluating different possible solutions and this is outside the expertise of epidemiologists (though they can inform on the specifics of the proposal.

    Other possible solutions to the dangers of SHS could include:
    1) Mandating ventilation in bars that allow smoking such that internal smoke levels are acceptably low.
    2) Permit smoking only in bars that are run entirely by their owners and/or smokers (the incremental health effect of a smoker can’t be high and owners can expose themselves to SHS at their own risk).
    3) Do nothing. As Orac pointed out this is about balancing rights. Assuming the balance favours the employees is begging the question.

    There are probably other options, I just can’t think of them now. Maybe there are good answers to these alternatives, but they do deserve an answer before we start banning things. The trouble with politicians is that they never use a scalpel when there is a meat cleaver handy.

  29. #29 MartinM
    August 1, 2007

    If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that’s where the debate is right now: Whether smoking is inherent to certain businesses. Certainly if a solvent business closes, directly after the ban has been passed, it would indicate that smoking WAS inherent to that business.

    No, it wouldn’t. All bars closing due to a smoking ban would indicate that smoking was inherent to the bar business. Some closing and some remaining open is proof positive that smoking is not inherent to the business; if your competitors manage to thrive even with a smoking ban in place, but you can’t cope, that doesn’t mean the smoking ban is at fault. It means your business sucks.

  30. #30 Mike Nilsen
    August 1, 2007

    Hitler ate applesauce. Therefore, applesauce is inherently and perpetually evil.

  31. #31 Dangerous Bacon
    August 1, 2007

    “Bacon, all other matters aside, it’s pretty darn stupid to cite a DEBATE (not to mention on a board I was a member of and debated this very subject on) as evidence that all rights/choice arguments have been “debunked.”

    Obviously the debates were not meant as “citations”, but as interesting reading, especially for anyone on the “smokers’ freedom” side who thinks he/she has come up with novel and irrefutable arguments as to why others should breathe their smoke. People aren’t buying into it, which is why antismoking ordinances keep spreading. The secondhand smoke hazards (for employees and patrons) are the final nail in the coffin.

    For James: ventilation systems haven’t been shown to work, there is no “acceptably safe” level of SHS according to the Surgeon General, one-owner/employee businesses are not a realistic alternative for serving the “needs” of smokers, and doing nothing is not an option. Nonsmokers (who make up about two-thirds of the population and are a growing percentage) will not accept a heightened risk of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease in order to serve the convenience of smokers.

  32. #32 Robin Levett
    August 1, 2007

    Ooops – lets try again, with speelign turned on.

    Rich

    Fascists? Are there any posting here? Most of the posters are taking the opposite view – that the non-smokers’ freedom not to be harmed trumps the smokers’ freedom to harm them.

    As for your claim – if true, do you not realise that it is in fact a strike against your position? That given that non-smokers are in the majority in the general population, the (claimed) fact that they are in a minority in the food service industry suggests that the prevalence of smoking actively discriminates against them?

  33. #33 kai
    August 1, 2007

    Certainly if a solvent business closes, directly after the ban has been passed, it would indicate that smoking WAS inherent to that business.

    Certainly if it closes directly after the ban has passed, it would not have had the time to even notice if there were losses due to the ban. It seems to be the ban was just a contrived excuse for closing. Certainly the experience in Sweden has been that since the smoking ban a few years back, the income of restaurants and bars has increased, thanks to more patrons. I, for one, am now able to eat in restaurants without getting sick.

  34. #34 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    wrg writes: ” I do find it rather incongruous that you seem to be suggesting that other industries should be as unsafe as coal mining. So much for caring about the average Joe.”

    I don’t think other businesses should be that dangerous. 3% of all coal mine workers is an enormous risk. Since incidences of Black Lung outside of coal mining areas are less than five per million, the relative risk of working a coal mine is probably around 6000. Compared to the 1.3 risk of working in a smoky bar, it would make more sense to close the coal mines, and leave the bars open.
    And if you had read my most recent response:

    http://www.timslagle.com/blog/2007/07/once-more-round-wheel.html

    You would see that I offered a compromise, that should satisfy all parties involved, if the interest in smoking bans was honestly a way of protecting the health of non smoking employees.
    But I don’t think it is. Look at the rage and anger behind some of the things people have said here. Bars must “relinquish”rights? Do you really doubt my speculation that for some, a smoking ban is more about power and control, than health and working conditions?

    Davis wrote: “Post hoc ergo propter hoc is not a valid line of reasoning.”

    On my blog, I clearly showed that revenue for Neighborhood bars in Minnesota was down 4.1% post ban. That’s pretty close to the profit margin of most Mom and Pop establishments.

    Martin M wrote: All bars closing due to a smoking ban would indicate that smoking was inherent to the bar business. Some closing and some remaining open is proof positive that smoking is not inherent to the business.”

    You’re making an incorrect assumption that All bars provide a similar function. For instance, an ordinance that requires women to keep their clothes on, would not affect All bars. But the Gentlemens Clubs would certainly close down. What a lot of you are failing to grasp is that there are places (Neighborhood Bars) where people go to smoke while they drink, and standing outside, in the Minnesota winter is NOT an option.

  35. #35 Dangerous Bacon
    August 1, 2007

    Tim: You must really be hoping that no one actually checks the link forming the basis for your claim about neighborhood bar revenue in Minneapolis following institution of the indoor smoking ordinance in 2005.

    What the report shows is that for the 353 businesses surveyed, revenue went UP over 7% after institution of the ban, compared to the previous year. For the subset of “neighborhood bars” there was a 4% drop, but the study authors noted that this occurred after a lowering of the allowable blood alcohol level for motorists and a hike in the minimum wage, never mind other potential economic factors. And your list of places that went out of business includes such joints as Perkins and Cracker Barrel, not especially known for hosting the “shot and a smoke” crowd.

    And while your example of the marketer of “Smoketeer” air filtration devices losing business is sad, somehow the “suffering” of this individual doesn’t really stack up against the suffering of people who will develop serious and fatal diseases thanks to secondhand smoke.

    “Do you really doubt my speculation that for some, a smoking ban is more about power and control, than health and working conditions?”

    I don’t doubt it at all. The increasingly small smoker minority wants to maintain the power to control the air that everyone has to breathe. The majority has decided not to put up with it anymore.

  36. #36 plunge
    August 1, 2007

    “For James: ventilation systems haven’t been shown to work, there is no “acceptably safe” level of SHS according to the Surgeon General, one-owner/employee businesses are not a realistic alternative for serving the “needs” of smokers, and doing nothing is not an option. ”

    All of this smacks as extremism, not reasonable policy. The fact that there is no acceptably safe levels of SHS is a pretty sure sign that science is not an issue: there’s no dose-effect measure? At all? Is SHS like homeopathy, where at some point the less of it there is, the more potent it’s effects?

    The fact that very reasonable compromises that seem to address all the stated concerns like owner/employee businesses or attempts at making SHS as safe as possible are discarded out of hand is a sign of extremism, not reason. The fact is, people like you don’t seem to CARE whether or not, say, special ventilation systems are effective at reducing SHS exposure. Smokers and smoke is evil, ban ban ban. That’s not a sign of good faith (not that all people who support smoking bans are working on such bad faith of course, but many of these laws do take the extreme point of view in effect)

    But if no amount of SHS exposure is small enough, then you must think Orac is insane for saying that banning outdoor smoking is unreasonable: after all, that sadist hater of public health is there endorsing the idea that some tiny amount of exposure is likely not worth worrying about.

  37. #37 Mindy
    August 1, 2007

    I’m so glad to see agreement here!
    POP not SODA

  38. #38 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    dnagerousbacon writes: “The increasingly small smoker minority wants to maintain the power to control the air that everyone has to breathe.”

    Please show me where I said that. The truth is, I would be hesitant to share any air with the likes of you.

    What I said is, that smokers should be able to open a business, exclusively for smokers, and staffed by smokers; or at least people who are aware and unconcerned by the risk.

    Isn’t this the same kind of reasoning that has allowed Gay Bath Houses to continue operating in Big Cities, despite the obvious risk of deadly blood borne diseases? (Including “second hand” exposures?)

    PS Mindy: I usually say, “soda” (unless it’s Faygo®, or I’m buying it at a Party Store).

  39. #39 LCR
    August 1, 2007

    Tim said:

    “3% of all coal mine workers is an enormous risk. … Compared to the 1.3 risk of working in a smoky bar, it would make more sense to close the coal mines, and leave the bars open.”

    First of all, no one is suggesting that we close the bars. Just ban the cigarettes.

    Second of all, it is still an absurd comparison. In order to run a mining business, you must mine coal which exposes you to coal dust. Even with the best OSHA restrictions, some exposure is unavoidable. On the other hand, bars do not need cigarettes in order to function and be profitable.

  40. #40 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    LCR writes: “bars do not need cigarettes in order to function and be profitable.”

    That is just an assumption on your part, (probably based solely on your personal preference and ego) and it is absolutely incorrect. I highly doubt you have ever run a bar.

    Some bars DO need cigarettes to function and remain profitable. Especially neighborhood bars.

  41. #41 LCR
    August 1, 2007

    “Some bars DO need cigarettes to function and remain profitable.”

    That is an absurd statement, “probably based solely upon your personal preference and ego”, because it is certainly NOT based upon empirical evidence. Dangerous Bacon, in a few posts up, has shown that even the cases you cite in support of your argument actually tear it down.

    The fact that a few bars go out of business after bans go into affect contributes only a correlative value to this discussion, not a causitive one. Many other factors could be the culprit. However the fact that the majority of businesses continue to run and even thrive after the ban is implimented more strongly supports the contention that the only ones being imposed upon to a significant degree by these smoking bans are not the bars and restaurants, but the smokers themselves.

  42. #42 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    LCR writes: “Dnagerous Bacon, in a few posts up, has shown that even the cases you cite in support of your argument actually tear it down.”

    Sorry, I though his remark was so ridiculous that it didn’t warrant a response. According to the report, revenue for neighborhood bars in Minnesota was down over 4%, at the same time that total bar revenue in the Twin Cities was UP 8%. All bars were affected by the same blood alcohol level. Hence, the Neighborhood bars had revenues 12% below the norm.

    I would also like to have you or DB show me, how a wage hike affects the gross sales. Wage hikes, affect the net, not the gross.

    Finally, Neighborhood Bars are fairly immune from increased DWI enforcement. The idea of a NEIGHBORHOOD bar, is a place you can walk to. Normally, neighborhood bars thrive when there is a crackdown on motorists.

  43. #43 Ahistoricality
    August 1, 2007

    Tim Slagle writes:
    standing outside, in the Minnesota winter is NOT an option.

    By your own logic, Tim, smokers have the freedom to move where standing outside is much more comfortable. Their choice to live in Minnesota doesn’t give them the right to impinge on the health of others.

  44. #44 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    Ahistoricality writes: “Their choice to live in Minnesota doesn’t give them the right to impinge on the health of others.”

    Did you see my comment above?

    Smokers should be able to open a business, exclusively for smokers, and staffed by smokers; or at least people who are aware and unconcerned by the risk.

    Isn’t this the same kind of reasoning that has allowed Gay Bath Houses to continue operating in Big Cities, despite the obvious risk of deadly blood borne diseases? (Including “second hand” exposures?)

    Have you read the Slagle Compromise?

    I don’t see why there has to be a conflict.

  45. #45 LCR
    August 1, 2007

    “Hence, the Neighborhood bars had revenues 12% below the norm.”

    No, that’s not how you calculate it. The value of 7% is not the average, it is the total increase in revenue for the entire region for combined sales of food and alcohol. Nice try mixing apples and oranges. You can only compare neighborhood bars with neighborhood bars for these numbers, in which case their revenue dropped a little over 4% in the months following the introduction of the ban… and amount of about $450 total for that span of time. That is what the bare numbers are saying.

    A couple of points to flesh those numbers out a bit:

    The researchers from this study (not dangerous bacon) are the ones citing the changes in alcohol laws and wage hikes as possibly confounding the data. They also acknowledge that there may be other factors (weather, population changes, economic changes in a community) that may be the main causitive factor for changes in business sub-populations. This does not take away from the overall view that for the majority of businesses, smoking bans do not appear have an overall negative impact on revenue.

    This study was also limited to the few short months after the ban went into affect. What happened after that? Did the neighborhood bars rebound? Did they all shut down? We don’t have a complete picture, and we still don’t have clear, uncontrovertible evidence that smoking bans harm business. On the contrary, the evidence seems to suggest that for the most part, they benefit business. For the few that didn’t benefit, they are hardly an argument against bans. They do not support the imposition of SHS on any non-smoker in those businesses. They are mearly an argument for further investigation.

  46. #46 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    Strange.

    When they suggest the ban was a benefit, those numbers are relevant,

    When they suggest that neighborhood bars had a downturn, “we still don’t have clear, uncontrovertible [sic] evidence that smoking bans harm business.” and “are mearly [sic] an argument for further investigation.

    Nice cherries you got there mister, gonna make a pie?

  47. #47 Dangerous Bacon
    August 1, 2007

    Something else to consider: “neighborhood bars” have been under economic pressure in many cities in recent years for reasons that have nothing to do with smoking bans – including higher property taxes, gentrification and competition from other venues. It would not be surprising if in the face of an impending smoking ban, faced with dire predictions from the bar and restaurant lobby and from smokers declaring they’d rather drink at home, some bar owners decided to sell out rather than take a chance on staying afloat. A short-term modest decline in “neighborhood bar” revenue (in the face of an overall healthy jump in bar and restaurant earnings) in Minneapolis does not support the apocalyptic warnings of smoking interests concerning business health.

    Tim Slagle says: “I would also like to have you or DB show me, how a wage hike affects the gross sales. Wage hikes, affect the net, not the gross.”

    Don’t you think they might just have an impact on the business closings you referred to previously?

    “The truth is, I would be hesitant to share any air with the likes of you.”

    Oooh. Such spite coming from someone who earlier said “Look at the rage and anger behind some of the things people have said here.”

    I wonder how the kindler, gentler side of Tim deals with hecklers during his comedy act.

    Heckler: “Hey, Slagle, you stink! Get some new material!!”

    Slagle: “My, someone needs a _hug_.
    :)

  48. #48 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    Bacon writes: ” in the face of an impending smoking ban, faced with dire predictions from … smokers declaring they’d rather drink at home, some bar owners decided to sell out rather than take a chance on staying afloat”

    Yes, that’s exactly what happened. The Smokers stayed at stayed at home. Glad to see we’re on the same page.

    Now please explain the problem with the Slagle Compromise. I can’t understand why no one here likes the idea. It protects both health AND rights.

  49. #49 DuWayne
    August 1, 2007

    I have to say that I really like the compromise. Living in Portland, I have gotten used to the fact that more than half the venues that serve alcohol, don’t allow smoking. I see absolutely no reason that a venue should not be allowed to apply for a smokers license – there are several bars in Washington, that would still be in business, if that were allowed. Considering that in most of the bars around here, the employees smoke, it doesn’t seem like any sort of imposition to me. Hell, at most of the ones that don’t allow indoor smoking (many of which are traditional bars, rather than restaurants that serve alcohol) you see the employees sneaking out for a smoke, with the smoking patrons.

    What a lot of you are failing to grasp is that there are places (Neighborhood Bars) where people go to smoke while they drink, and standing outside, in the Minnesota winter is NOT an option.

    Wimp. I’m a Michigan boy, spent a lot of time working in the U.P., haven’t smoked a cigarette indoors in years. Still smoke, just can’t stand smoking in a confined space. I used to get up in the morning, step out into the snow, in the buff to smoke. Woke me up as sure as the coffee that I took with me.

  50. #50 Dangerous Bacon
    August 1, 2007

    Tim’s “compromise” still would subject employees to secondhand smoke hazards. It would be as if we allowed a percentage of factories to disregard safety regulations because of purported convenience or economic benefit to the owners, along with the undocumented assumption that jobs are so plentiful that people could choose not to work in dangerous surroundings.

    But why compromise on 20% of bars/restaurants being allowed to have smoking? There’s an exemption currently in place in some if not most localities with ordinances banning smoking in public facilities. Anyone can establish a private club made up of smokers, who would pour their own drinks, bus their own tables and inhale their own gases without subjecting employees to them. There could be an unlimited number of these clubs. Perhaps nonsmoking Libertarians might join, eager to show the Man that they can’t be bossed around.

    Oh, and one regarding one more dubious Tim claim from earlier – that a lowering of the legal limit for drivers’ blood alcohol in Minneapolis couldn’t have been a cause of declining revenue at “neighborhood bars” because everyone walks to them.

    These bar patrons would have to be massive exceptions to the common American practice of driving even a few blocks rather than (horrors) having to walk, not to mention receptive to the idea of walking during frigid Minneapolis winters. So I suspect this claim is laden with as much BS as all the others he’s made.

  51. #51 Tim Slagle
    August 1, 2007

    Okay, let me get this straight:

    It would be acceptable to Dnagerous Bacon, for me to start a club, where I can invite smokers to drop by and have a shot and a beer with their cigarette, as long as they pour their own drinks.

    Can I ask a friend to pull out a beer for me, when he’s over by the cooler?

  52. #52 LCR
    August 2, 2007

    Tim said,

    “When they suggest the ban was a benefit, those numbers are relevant, When they suggest that neighborhood bars had a downturn, “we still don’t have clear, uncontrovertible [sic] evidence that smoking bans harm business.” and “are mearly [sic] an argument for further investigation.”

    The difference between my interpretation and yours is that you pick out a small part of the study and use it to hold up your main argument. I look at the trend of the overall study and find that it actually supports my argument. You have a skinny little supporting pole and I have a giant pillar. See the difference?

    By the way, I found something very interesting. Lets take a look at the raw numbers in the data tables at the end of the study. Starting with the third quarter total revenue numbers for neighborhood bars (keeping in mind that the ban was instituted after 2004) and moving forward in time…

    2003 Q3 $5,358,473
    2004 Q2 $5,291,808
    2004 Q3 $5,213,042
    2005 Q2 $5,137,402
    2005 Q3 $4,931,580

    Notice the trend? Neighborhood bars were experiencing a downturn 1 FULL YEAR BEFORE the smoking ban was put into effect. To put it another way, the smoking ban was instituted right in the middle of a economic downturn for the neighborhood bars. This is not to say that neighborhood bars did not feel the affect of the ban (the percentage decrease did rise in the 3rd quarter of 2005), but with no controls, it is impossible to tell how much (if any) of the downturn was due to the smoking ban and how much was due to existing forces.

    You need to realize that this means you can not use this study to support your argument… because it doesn’t support it. It does not reveal the pattern of negative affect that you want it to show.

  53. #53 Dangerous Bacon
    August 2, 2007

    “You have a skinny little supporting pole and I have a giant pillar. See the difference?”

    But Tim is using Natural Theoretical Enhancement techniques. Sooner or later his puny little argument will cease being an embarassment. ;)

  54. #54 LCR
    August 2, 2007

    I recognized the distinctly Freudian nature of the comment after I posted. But I’m afraid there are no “enhancement technigues” available that have the slightest chance of improving the performance of Tim’s argument.

  55. #55 Tim Slagle
    August 2, 2007

    LCR, you’re really broadcasting your ignorance on the bar business. Your ego has convinced you, that you understand more than you really do
    The bar business is seasonal. That’s why quarters can only be compared validly to previous years.
    Here’s the actual comparison:

    2003 Q2: $5035,886:
    2004 Q2:$5,291,808
2005 Q2: $5,137,402

    2003 Q3 $5,358,473
2004 Q3 $5,213,042
2005 Q3 $4,931,580

    The smoking ban want into effect on March 31, 2005 (right before Q2 2005) and is reflected in the drop in Q2 revenue, (vs, a sizable increase from the previous year) It’s not a big drop, but remember it was springtime in Minnesota, and people didn’t mind going outside. The big plunge happened in Q3 2005, down twice as much from the previous year.

    Finally, don’t you find it a little suspicious that the “Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support,” who prepared this report, didn’t find it necessary to include data from Q1 and Q4 in any year? That’s Minnesota Winter, and the big money quarters, for the Minnesota Bar industry.

    Looks like LCR isn’t the only one here, enjoying cherry pie.

  56. #56 LCR
    August 2, 2007

    Your insults don’t change the fact that, aside from that initial increase between the second quarters of 2003 and 2004, there was still a downward economic trend among neighborhood bars ACROSS (not just after) the time when the bans were instituted. Show the numbers my way or show them your way, the pre-existing downward trend is still there. You displayed the trend beautifully in your listing of 3rd quarter total revenue.

    “2003 Q3 $5,358,473
2004 Q3 $5,213,042
2005 Q3 $4,931,580″

    Beautifully done. Thank you for proving my point. As there weren’t controls used in this research to rule out the confounding factors (economic downtrends, in this case), there is no way of knowing how much (if any) of the downturn from 2004 to 2005, in both Q2 and Q3, was due to the smoking bans and how much was due to pre-existing economic factors.

    I would have been curious to see the other quarters, just for completeness. Seems like if the smoking bans would have had any impact, it would have been at the time when smokers would have been less likely to go outside for their smokes. I would have also liked to have seen individual bar data as even one bar going under (for any reason) would have done much to skew the data downward. But incomplete and deficiant in information as it is, this study still does not help you in your argument that smoking bans hurt businesses.

    Enjoy your pie.

  57. #57 Tim Slagle
    August 2, 2007

    LCR,

    Still picking?

    Q2 demonstrated an UPWARD trend before the ban.

    And in fact if you added both quarters together, you would get this:

    2003: 10,394,359
    2004: 10,504,850

    Nice growth. Now here comes the smoking ban:

    2005 10,068,982

    Ouch. That crashed almost as hard as your argument.

  58. #58 Orac
    August 2, 2007

    Oh, please, even though I’ve been too busy until now to jump into this little funfest, I do have time to say two things: Number one, give me a friggin’ break. A one year uptick (2003 to 2004) does not a “trend” equal.

    Number two: This is the same sort of argument that antivaxers use when they look at a brief downturn in the number of autism cases in the California Department of Developmental Services and claim that it’s a trend–and thus “evidence” that removing the thimerosal in vaccines in 2002 has led to a decrease in autism.

  59. #59 Tim Slagle
    August 2, 2007

    Orac writes: “A one year uptick (2003 to 2004) does not a “trend” equal.”

    You are correct. By the same token, a one year downtick, in one isolated quarter (LCR’s speculation) does not indicate a downward trend.

    And a study, that only looks at two years partial data before the ban, one year’s partial data post ban, andcompletely IGNORES any data from the first and fourth quarter of all three years, is not a study, but two use your lingo: “complete crap.”

    Which makes me wonder: Why did you cite this study, as scientific evidence?

  60. #60 Tim Slagle
    August 2, 2007

    Where did Orac go?

    I coulda sworn he posted here just a minute ago! Did he get teleported?

    Must be nice to have a “Delete” button.

  61. #61 LCR
    August 2, 2007

    Yes, if you play with the numbers (and add them up randomly here and there as you tried to do before), you can try very hard to make it look like business in those neighborhood bars was just fine and dandy before the bans.

    But when it comes down to it, there was only one single uptick. You can either see it between Q2 and Q3 of 2003 OR, since you don’t like that way, within Q2 from 2003 to 2004 (that doesn’t count as two ticks, by the way, just one seen from two perspectives).

    All of the other measures show a downward trend in the total revenue numbers of neighborhood bars, even before the ban went into affect.

    I’m curious. What caused the downward trend of 2.7% in revenue from the third quarters of 2003 and 2004? No bans to blame there. And then explain, using only the data from this study, how you can differentiate between the affects of this earlier causitive factor and the affects of the smoking ban in the subsequent drop in third quarter revenue from 2004 to 2005? How can you or me (or anyone) tell that the drop between 2004 and 2005 in Q3 was caused by the smoking ban and NOT by the factor that caused a drop in Q3 between 2003 and 2004?

    The only honest answer is that you can’t. The smoking ban may indeed have negatively affected neighborhood bars, I will allow for that, but there is no way see that from this data. You just want it to be so and are trying desperately to get the data to say what you want it to say. The only thing you are revealing is your own bias.

    You are not doing your cause any favors by arguing from this study. You should try to find another one that actually supports your argument. Or is this the best that you can find?

  62. #62 trrll
    August 3, 2007

    It would be acceptable to Dnagerous Bacon, for me to start a club, where I can invite smokers to drop by and have a shot and a beer with their cigarette, as long as they pour their own drinks.

    A lot of this seems to fall into the category of “Shouldn’t there be an exception allowing me to run a stoplight if it’s late at night, and there’s nobody visible on the road in any direction?” or “Why can’t I speed on a deserted desert road?” I can come up with a circumstance where almost any law is unfair, but laws are designed to yield an overall benefit and to be enforceable at reasonable cost, not necessarily to accommodate every conceivable situation. Is it possible to come up with a ventilation system that is adequate to protect the workers? Probably, but who’s going to monitor it, measure the airflow, and verify that it is working properly? Our laboratory ventilation systems have to be inspected a couple of times a year. Who’s going to pay for all that additional enforcement? And are there people who would willingly work in a smoky environment? Doubtless there are, but how do you verify that that is truly the case, and they aren’t simply saying that because they need a job?

    As for the supposed disastrous economic effect of smoking bans on bars and restaurants, I’m sure there must be some small bars here and there that lost some regular clients who were big drinkers and heavy smokers, and it was just enough to push them over the edge. And it wouldn’t surprise me if there were some short term losses of business right after the ban went into place, before smokers got into the habit of stepping outside. But I’ve lived in cities before and after the ban, and bars and restaurants haven’t vanished; they seem just as abundant as ever. That would seem to indicate that the long term effects of the smoking ban on the bar and restaurant business simply aren’t as devastating as some would like us to believe.

  63. #63 DuWayne
    August 3, 2007

    trrll -

    I haven’t heard of very many WA bars going out of business, since the statewide ban was implemented, however, some have. When the vast majority of your clientel are smokers and they can’t smoke anymore, and you can’t make allowances for comfortable, outdoor seating, you aren’t going to have a business anymore. In WA, it’s even harder to accomodate the smokers, because they can’t be within twenty feet of any door or openable window.

    I don’t find your argument for not allowing special licenses all that compelling. By and large, the majority of people that I see working in bars are smokers themselves. If most of the bars don’t allow smoking, I don’t see the problem with those who object to working in a smoky environment all that compelling. If eight out of ten bars, don’t allow it, then it would be far more difficult to find employment where one can smoke, if that is the preference.

    I just can’t help but harp on the situation in Portland. There is a very strong anti-smoking contingent in Portland. I think that the only reason that there hasn’t been a ban on smoking in bars here, is because most places that serve alcohol, including many traditional bars, do not allow smoking. I can almost guarantee that if a blanket ban went into effect, at the very least half those bars would close, if not considerably more. And the vast majority of people working in the one’s that didn’t close, would be going outside to smoke.

    As for enforcement of air quality standards, the bars would (and do) pay for them. There are a lot of places that already have air quality standards and places that allow smoking pay for it. They pay for the purifiers, they pay for the independent testing – simple as that.

  64. #64 tim Slagle
    August 3, 2007

    trrll writes: ” how do you verify that that is truly the case, and they aren’t simply saying that because they need a job?”

    How do we ever verify that anyone who takes a risky job, is aware of the risk? I guaranee there are very few coal miners, doing it just for the fun.

    And since the risk of heart problems, from working in a smoky bar is less than from drinking a can of pop everyday, how do we verify that the person drinking the pop knows what he is doing, and isn’t just drinking it because he’s thirsty?

    Why does our protection of people, from their own individual choices, only seem to be an issue, when it involves smoking?

    Maybe it’s not really about protection.

    Maybe it’s about power.

  65. #65 Dangerous Bacon
    August 4, 2007

    “When the vast majority of your clientel are smokers and they can’t smoke anymore, and you can’t make allowances for comfortable, outdoor seating, you aren’t going to have a business anymore…By and large, the majority of people that I see working in bars are smokers themselves.”

    I suspect this is a case of seeing what you want to see and arguing by anecdote.
    When there is compelling evidence showing a diehard connection between going to bars and smoking, and studies showing that bars cannot survive smoking bans, then smokers and their panicky allies in the bar/restaurant industry will have something to back up their hot air. The evidence to date points in the other direction – these businesses are surviving smoking bans quite nicely.

    “And since the risk of heart problems, from working in a smoky bar is less than from drinking a can of pop everyday”

    See, Tim, you really shouldn’t try to make arguments when you have no conception of what science is all about. On the one hand there’s a ton of evidence about the harm smoking and secondhand smoke does to cardiovascular function, and on the other a tenuous single study connecting soda consumption and possible heart problems. The two situations are not equivalent.

    Maybe, for those who make such pitiful arguments it’s not really about science, or economics.

    Maybe it’s about stubborn ignorance.

  66. #66 DuWayne
    August 4, 2007

    Dangerous Bacon -

    The problem here is that I am not trying to argue against smoking bans, I an arguing for licensed exceptions. It is a fact that some bars have in fact closed down, because of the smoking ban in WA. You are not making a reasonable argument against allowing bars to apply for a license to allow smoking.

    Certainly many bars are surviving quite nicely. In Vancouver, WA, right across the river from Portland, most of the bars were non-smoking already. Those that allowed smoking, were patronized and staffed by smokers. The same is true of the bars that allow smoking in Portland, where it is still legal. In both places, there are plenty of employment opportunities for non-smokers, in bars that don’t allow it. So much so, that a lot of smokers work in places that don’t allow it.

    Honestly, I don’t have a dog in the fight. I haven’t smoked indoors in years and won’t. I just think it’s ridiculous not to allow bars to apply for a license to allow smoking. Especially in areas where the majority of liquor licenses are held by non-smoking establishments.

  67. #67 LCR
    August 4, 2007

    DuWayne said:

    “I just think it’s ridiculous not to allow bars to apply for a license to allow smoking.”

    You mean like having to apply for a liquor license? I actually think that would be an acceptable compromise.

    When bars and restaurants apply for a liquor license, they have to jump through a few hoops to earn the right to sell alcohol. A few reasonable “hoops” could be set up to be exempted from the smoking ban as well. Part of that could be adequate air filtration systems, but I think it would also be good to require that the bar/restaurant offer an affordable health plan to all of its employees to help them cover the cost of treatment for illnesses related to working in an enclosed, smoking-permitted setting.

  68. #68 David D.G.
    August 4, 2007

    DuWayne wrote:

    I just can’t help but harp on the situation in Portland. There is a very strong anti-smoking contingent in Portland. I think that the only reason that there hasn’t been a ban on smoking in bars here, is because most places that serve alcohol, including many traditional bars, do not allow smoking. I can almost guarantee that if a blanket ban went into effect, at the very least half those bars would close, if not considerably more. And the vast majority of people working in the one’s that didn’t close, would be going outside to smoke.

    DuWayne, I’m confused by what you wrote here. How on Earth would a blanket ban cause “at least half of those bars” to close, when the majority of those bars and other establishments that serve alcohol, according to you, already do not allow smoking? It seems to me that, from your description, Portland should be singularly well positioned to have almost no economic fallout from such a ban at all.

    ~David D.G.

  69. #69 Tim Slagle
    August 4, 2007

    David D. G. writes: “Portland should be singularly well positioned to have almost no economic fallout from such a ban at all.”

    But why? Why suffer ANY economic fallout? Since most of Portland’s bars are already non-smoking, what is the purpose of an across the board ban?

    Can’t the smokers of Portland at least have a couple of places, where they can sit at the bar, and have a drink and a smoke?

    “Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community…I know very well what you’re talking about. You’re talking about something you can’t get your fingers on, and it’s galling you. That’s what you’re talking about, I know. ”

  70. #70 trrll
    August 4, 2007

    How do we ever verify that anyone who takes a risky job, is aware of the risk? I guaranee there are very few coal miners, doing it just for the fun.

    And we require the risk to be reduced to the extent feasible. In a coal mine, the risk of coal dust can be reduced, albeit not completely, but we do the best that we can. In a restaurant or a bar, the risk of SHS can be reduced completely by the simple expedient of requiring people to step outside to smoke.

    And since the risk of heart problems, from working in a smoky bar is less than from drinking a can of pop everyday, how do we verify that the person drinking the pop knows what he is doing, and isn’t just drinking it because he’s thirsty?

    I suppose that one could require warning labels on cans of pop similar to those on cigarette packages if one seriously believed that people were unaware that calories contribute to the risk of obesity. I’m not sure that that is true, but if you want to make the case for warning labels on pop, feel free to do so. However, in contrast to cigarettes, cans of pop seem to pose no particular risk to employes of establishments where they are consumed.

  71. #71 DuWayne
    August 4, 2007

    David D.G. -

    I meant half the bars that allow smoking. And that is simply because plenty of other venues, already function on the level that bars that currently allow smoking would have to adopt. Why would a non-smoker, who presumably has a bar, or several bars, that they already frequent, be drawn to one that recently was forced to disallow smoking? The primary reason that people go to the bars that allow smoking, is because they allow smoking. Take that away and the owner is forced to find another way to draw in a crowd. If they are operating on a tight budget, or fail to find the right gimmick, they’re sunk.

    Of course, the only way that Portland is likely to implement such a ban, is if a state wide initiative is passed. The reason being, that Tim’s suggested compromise, is already partially in effect here, by default. The downside is, that there is no real motivation in the status quo, to take steps, such as the installation of expensive air filtration, though that is changing as it becomes more apparent that no smoking bans are going to be forthcoming in the near future. Most Portland bars that have continued to allow smoking, have been leery of spending tens of thousands of dollars on high quality air purification equipment, with the fear of an all out ban hanging over them.

  72. #72 trrll
    August 4, 2007

    I don’t find your argument for not allowing special licenses all that compelling. By and large, the majority of people that I see working in bars are smokers themselves.

    I don’t see the relevance of this. I don’t see any parallel between the risk people choose to accept for personal enjoyment and the risk that is imposed upon them by their employer. Moreover, you seem to be assuming that the additional risk of SHS smoke is negligible for a smoker. I don’t know of any evidence that this is in fact the case, and I can think of a number of reasons why it might not be.

  73. #73 David D.G.
    August 4, 2007

    Tim, I can actually hear the whine in your voice on that petulant “But whyyyyy?” You’ve had that question answered, well and thoroughly, at least a dozen times over. I can’t help that you don’t like the answers you’ve been given, but asking for them to be given all over again is just ridiculous. You remind me of the creationists who continue to demand proof of evolution, ignoring every word spoken or written that provides it or directs them to it.

    Besides, I was not addressing you. I was asking DuWayne to explain what he meant by something in his own post. You not only cannot answer for him, but cannot help but distract from my question. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t.

    As for that quoted bit at the end of your post, I don’t recognize the reference, and I haven’t the faintest idea what point you thought it was making.

    ~David D.G.

  74. #74 WallyGator
    August 4, 2007

    DB writes: “When there is compelling evidence showing a diehard connection between going to bars and smoking, and studies showing that bars cannot survive smoking bans, then smokers and their panicky allies in the bar/restaurant industry will have something to back up their hot air.”

    “Ouch doctor, that hurts!”

    “Do you have any peer reviewed scientific evidence to prove that my cutting is causing it to hurt?”

    “Well it wasn’t hurting before you started cutting!”

    “That’s a Post hoc ergo proptor hoc fallacy. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. I haven’t even been cutting, for enough time to even establish a trend.”

    “Well, could you stop?”

    “No. Not unless you can provide compelling evidence showing a diehard connection between my cutting and your pain, and studies showing that you cannot bear pain.

    Until then I intend to continue. There is a legitimate scientific purpose behind this operation, and absolutely zero evidence that it’s causing you any pain.”

  75. #75 David D.G.
    August 4, 2007

    DuWayne wrote:

    Why would a non-smoker, who presumably has a bar, or several bars, that they already frequent, be drawn to one that recently was forced to disallow smoking?

    The first answer that comes to my mind is “Location, of course.” Just because someone is used to going to a place that doesn’t allow smoking doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the place where he’d rather go, all other things (including air quality) being equal. There are many times I’ve driven miles to get to a place where I could breathe while I eat, bypassing many otherwise intriguing places that I couldn’t even enter without choking. I wouldn’t travel so far if I didn’t have to, especially if the places closer to me were otherwise inviting.

    Other incentives could include ambience, drink selection, menu, or any specials the bar already regularly conducts. And of course nothing stands in the way of such establishments using a little imagination to market themselves positively in the event of having to change their smoking policy. They may lose some smoking patrons, but they surely stand to gain some nonsmoker patrons — and since those are far more numerous, I know which group I’d want to be trying to target.

    ~David D.G.

  76. #76 Orac
    August 4, 2007

    Tim, I can actually hear the whine in your voice on that petulant “But whyyyyy?” You’ve had that question answered, well and thoroughly, at least a dozen times over. I can’t help that you don’t like the answers you’ve been given, but asking for them to be given all over again is just ridiculous. You remind me of the creationists who continue to demand proof of evolution, ignoring every word spoken or written that provides it or directs them to it.

    I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that that’s an apt comparison. After all, witness how Tim keeps repeating his lame mantra about the power-hunger scientists supposedly pushing indoor smoking bans to prevent the health effects of secondhand smoke and telling us that global warming is a problem that requires action as part of their nefarious plan for vengeance on the world for indignities suffered on the dodgeball court in their youth, his lame comparisons to Hitler and Mao, or his oft-repeated claim that it’s “all about power” after being told over and over again just how mind-numbingly, jaw-droppingly stupid those “arguments” are. And, yes, Tim, friend or no friend, friend of my sister or not, you did make some really dumb arguments. If I were in a debate taking the anti-smoking ban position, I could come up with better arguments to support my position than your argumentum ad Nazi-ium and “revenge of the nerds” fantasy.

  77. #77 Tim Slagle
    August 5, 2007

    David writes: “You’ve had that question answered, well and thoroughly, at least a dozen times over.”

    No, I haven’t. No one has yet explained to me why ALL bars must be non smoking (other than some anti-smokers are control freaks). I understand the motivation for some bars to be non-smoking, since there are waitresses that might not want to expose themselves to the minor risk from SHS.

    But why must risk be homoginized across all bars evenly. We don’t do that anywhere else. We accept that Deep shaft mining is riskier than strip mining. Steel mills are riskier than toy factories. What’s wrong with different types of bars having different risk levels?

    There are bars where the staff all gets up on the bar and dances every hour. And those dances are not done for any reason other than tradition. I guarantee there is a much higher risk of injuries at those bars. Should we ban those as well?

    Of course not. It’s not about risk, it’s about SMOKING. You don’t like it. So you want everyone to stop. And if there is economic fallout, too bad.

  78. #78 DuWayne
    August 5, 2007

    David D.G. -

    You don’t seem to get it, in Portland, the smoking bars are the exception, not the other way around. The smoking bars are in the worse locations, for the most part. Their major gimmick, is that they allow smoking, that’s what makes them special. Want to go to a non-smoking bar, walk down the street to the neighborhood pub. Want to visit a trendy, gimmicky bar, don’t plan on smoking there. Want to smoke while you drink inside the bar, plan on a trip on the bus, or (gods forbid) driving. The only exceptions, are downtown clubs, where the split is pretty much even. They are the venues likely to survive a hypothetical ban. However, places that are off the beaten path, that have nothing special going for them except the smoking, are unlikely to survive.

    Like I said, I don’t frequent places that allow smoking. Have absolutely no desire to, in spite of the fact that I still smoke. But I find it incomprehensible, that special licensing to allow smoking is just so unacceptable. Especially if it requires serious air purification – which, while I can’t remember the exact figures, reduces the danger exponentially. Certainly more than enough to make up for the increased exposure, for someone who already smokes.

    Anyhow, I have to get back to watching Dr. Who, on DVD. My partner has never seen the new series, so we are watching it from series one.

  79. #79 LCR
    August 5, 2007

    In steel mills, and in your favorite example of coal mining, there is a level of necessary risk that can not be taken away from the job without eradicating the job itself. Some risks (such as coal dust) can be reduced with new technology and others (e.g., in steel mills) with better safety standards, but the risk can never be removed completely; in other words it is a necessary part of the job.

    Are you prepared to argue that SHS is a “necessary” risk to working in a bar or a restaurant? Are you prepared to say that drinks can not be sold and food can not be served without SHS? The fact that a significant majority of businesses appear to flourish in the presence of smoking bans supports the argument that it is NOT a necessary risk.

    And in case you are preparing to argue that the previously mentioned study showed that not all businesses fared well after the ban was introduced: Did you ever figure out, in the absence of a smoking ban, what precisely caused the drop of 2.7% in revenue from the third quarters of 2003 and 2004 in those neighborhood bars?

  80. #80 Tim Slagle
    August 5, 2007

    Orac writes: ” his lame comparisons to Hitler and Mao”

    Perhaps I’m just not making myself clear on those comparisons. I never meant to compare the horrific actions of Hitler, Mao, (and Stalin) to the anti smokers. As I said before, it’s silly to compare a smoking ban, to the horrors of those dictatorships. My comparison was meant to be a critique on the planned economies of the last century, which all failed miserably. And it wasn’t just because they they lost the wars.

    Planned economies always fail, because the intelligentsia of those nations, try to run things they know nothing about. They take over the factories, the farms and the mines, and assume that their advanced intellects and educations could run those things more efficiently than the original owners. It inevitably devolves into micromanagement, resulting in shortages, lines, and poverty.

    The success of capitalism is based on letting individuals with experience, make the important decisions, free from a micro managing authoritarian bureaucracy. We suppose in this country, that a guy who has worked up enough scratch to open a business, knows how to run that business best.

    I can tell that very few of my rivals here, have ever worked in a bar. LCR compared Q2 revenue to Q3 revenue, and claimed there was an indication of a downturn. Anybody who has ever worked in a Northern bar knows that April May and June are always going to be busier than July, August, and September. Comparing Q2 to Q3 is as specious as comparing November and December retail numbers to February and March.

    And he continues to insist, that because other bars are still open, it proves that smoking isn’t part of the bar business. I don’t know if he’s really that ignorant or just obstinate, but for the last time: all bars are not the same. Some offer food and drink, some offer entertainment, some have dancing, some have nekid girls, and some are just a place you can go to have a smoke with your beer, where your wife won’t complain about the smell. (What’s wrong with letting a few bars get smoking licenses?)

    And Orac was right. Two years revenue is not a scientifically large enough data sample to establish a trend (I repeat here, he didn’t seem to mind the limited data set, when he used the same numbers to support HIS argument). But in the Bar business, sometimes two years is all you’ve got. And I know the bar business in Minneapolis is hurting. I have enough friends in the industry there, and I trust their opinions. Perhaps I can’t write a convincing enough report for the politburo, but it is real.

    Here’s a question: If there is no negative economic impact from a smoking ban, why would bar owners say there was? How does it serve bar owners to make up such a lie? I guarantee that a lot of owners would like it if they didn’t have to come home smelling like stale smoke every morning. And the reductions on their fire insurance premiums should be more than enough incentive to go smoke free.

    The reason is, they KNOW it’s more profitable for a bar to be a smoking establishment. (And the way many of you are fighting it so fiercely, indicates that you probably know it as well.) But you don’t care. You pretend to know more than the individual bar owners. How many times has someone here repeated, that there is absolutely no reason for people to smoke inside of a bar? Well maybe the people who invested their time and money, know just a little more about it than you. Customers don’t want to go outside for a smoke. Once they’re out there, a lot of times they just go home. I’ve SEEN it. People used to hang at the bar in Minnesota after a show. Now they all leave.

    You might think my argument about power hungry science geeks is out of line, but I think most of the responses I’ve been getting more than proves my point. Look in the post above, how David G. feels he has a right to go into any bar without having to smell smoke. That somehow, every establishment should cater to HIS personal preferences. Would David be so quick to say, “I should be able to go into a Gay bar and enjoy a meal without having to worry about guys hitting on me?”

    Look how he doesn’t care about minor “economic fallout.” (At least he admits there will be some.) And the remark, ” They may lose some smoking patrons, but they surely stand to gain some nonsmoker patrons.” presupposes that David knows more about the bottom line than the bar owner. (I defy him to back up that point with any hard evidence.)

    I’m sorry, but thiis is the same kind of confidence that the dictators of the previous century had, when they nationalized the Auto plants.

    Remember the Yugo?

  81. #81 trrll
    August 5, 2007

    Here’s a question: If there is no negative economic impact from a smoking ban, why would bar owners say there was?

    It’s impossible to prove a negative. But when you have to quibble about the best way to analyze the statistics to see an impact that at most might be a few percent, when bars and restaurants seem to be about as abundant a few years after a ban as a before, it is obvious that there is not a large impact.

    Why would bar owners say there was? Are you serious? People are always looking for something to blame. Where do you think superstitions come from?

    Everywhere I’ve seen indoor smoking regulations imposed, bar and restaurant associations predicted that the bar & restaurant business would collapse if indoor smoking was regulated. It didn’t happen. Why would they say it if it wasn’t true?

    Was there a bar somewhere that suffered? Probably. Some people are going to go to bars less after the ban; some (those particularly bothered by smoke) are going to go more. Some bars are very small, with small clientele. So even though the overall effect, if any, is clearly very small, I’m sure that there were individual bars that were harmed or benefitted substantially.

  82. #82 Orac
    August 5, 2007

    rhaps I’m just not making myself clear on those comparisons. I never meant to compare the horrific actions of Hitler, Mao, (and Stalin) to the anti smokers. As I said before, it’s silly to compare a smoking ban, to the horrors of those dictatorships. My comparison was meant to be a critique on the planned economies of the last century, which all failed miserably. And it wasn’t just because they they lost the wars.

    Bullshit. You made yourself perfectly clear. The only reason to bring up Hitler in such an argument is to invoke the horrors of Nazi-ism, at least on a subconscious level. I’ve seen it enough times that I even have a recurring parody of such arguments that appears from time to time on the blog.

    Here’s a question: If there is no negative economic impact from a smoking ban, why would bar owners say there was? How does it serve bar owners to make up such a lie?

    You yourself gave the answer to this one:

    t’s beyond tradition, it’s why many people go into a bar in the first place. A place to smoke and drink. What he said is almost as ridiculous as as saying: “There is no reason to add Tequilla to a Margarita, other than tradition.” or “I just don’t see why exotic dancers need to take all their clothes off.”

    Bar owners don’t have to be lying to be wrong about this, after all. That’s a straw man to say that they are. Also, if bar owners sincerely believe something like that, then of course they would be afraid that changing that equation would hurt business, whether the premise is necessarily true or not. Have you ever heard of confirmation bias? It’s the all-too-human tendency to look for data that confirms preexisting beliefs and to forget, discount, or ignore evidence that does not. It’s a powerful bias that the scientific method is in large part designed to overcome. That’s why the word “KNOW” is an exaggeration. It should be they “BELIEVE” that it’s more profitable to run a smoking bar. In some circumstances and locations, maybe it is. In others, it is not. The data are not conclusive. At the very least they don’t support a huge drop in business.

    You might think my argument about power hungry science geeks is out of line, but I think most of the responses I’ve been getting more than proves my point. Look in the post above, how David G. feels he has a right to go into any bar without having to smell smoke.

    That argument cuts both ways, you know. Smokers apparently feel that they have the right to go into any bar and smoke up, nonsmokers be damned. Maybe we should reframe the debate as power-hungry smokers wanting to inflict their habit upon the majority of the population who do not smoke. It’s no more silly an argument than yours.

  83. #83 Dangerous Bacon
    August 5, 2007

    Sez Tim: “Planned economies always fail, because the intelligentsia of those nations, try to run things they know nothing about. They take over the factories, the farms and the mines, and assume that their advanced intellects and educations could run those things more efficiently than the original owners. It inevitably devolves into micromanagement, resulting in shortages, lines, and poverty.”

    Yeah, if we’d just kept the intelligentsia from instituting child labor laws, worker safety mandates and let companies adulterate their products with whatever crap they wanted, we’d have a healthy economy now.

    (Paraphrasing here) “But secondhand smoke in bars is different!”

    “Why?”

    “It just is!”

    Uh-huh.

    “Here’s a question: If there is no negative economic impact from a smoking ban, why would bar owners say there was? How does it serve bar owners to make up such a lie?”

    Some are panicked by gloomy predictions from the tobacco industry (who, along with the bar and restaurant lobby have been spreading false information during campaigns against antismoking ordinances). Many, like yourself, apparently view this as a power struggle. “No one’s going to tell me what to do!!!” So they invent facts to try to defeat regulation.

    “People used to hang at the bar in Minnesota after a show. Now they all leave.”

    Pay closer attention, Tim. In your case, they’re probably leaving DURING the show.

  84. #84 LCR
    August 5, 2007

    Tim asks:

    “What’s wrong with letting a few bars get smoking licenses?”

    I have already addressed this in a prior post. I agree that bars could apply for a “smoking license” just like they apply for a liquor license. In this way, local governments could make sure the bar is meeting air filtration standards and providing affordable health care to help offset the cost to their employees of treating any smoking-related illnesses they might develop.

    But I’m still waiting for an answer to a couple of questions:

    Are you prepared to argue that SHS is a necessary risk to certain bars and restaurants, meaning that their business cannot be run without it?

    And what caused the drop of 2.7% in revenue from the third quarters of 2003 and 2004 in those neighborhood bars before the smoking ban was imposed?

  85. #85 David D.G.
    August 5, 2007

    Tim Slagle said:

    You might think my argument about power hungry science geeks is out of line, but I think most of the responses I’ve been getting more than proves my point. Look in the post above, how David G. feels he has a right to go into any bar without having to smell smoke. That somehow, every establishment should cater to HIS personal preferences. Would David be so quick to say, “I should be able to go into a Gay bar and enjoy a meal without having to worry about guys hitting on me?”

    As Orac pointed out, it’s more a matter of not wanting to be on the receiving end of smokers feeling they have the right to foul my air wherever they go. That’s how it had been for freakin’ ages, and I’ve always found it revolting. It’s about time that oxygen breathers got their rights respected for a change.

    And as for gay bars, I don’t know of any health hazard posed by being propositioned, whether by gays or straights.

    Besides, the gay bar analogy is worthless on other grounds anyway; we are talking here about secondhand exposure to an otherwise personal activity not directly aimed at anyone. I don’t get secondhand calories from someone eating too much pecan pie, but I do get second-hand smoke from somebody puffing on a Marlboro. It’s a simple concept, and it boils down to “Your right to smoke ends where my nose begins.”

    Look how he doesn’t care about minor “economic fallout.” (At least he admits there will be some.)

    That was poor phrasing on my part, actually; I’m not admitting that there WILL be any, but I acknowledge that it is possible that there MAY be some. And with the further information that DuWayne supplied later, to the effect that smoking is pretty much all that these few bars have to offer, I have to agree that they might suffer — unless they come up with something ELSE to offer. I agree that some businesses may founder, despite good efforts and good ideas, and that’s unfortunate. But balanced against the health and well-being of others, my position stands. That’s not callousness toward the bars so much as greater empathy for the victims of secondhand smoke.

    And the remark, ” They may lose some smoking patrons, but they surely stand to gain some nonsmoker patrons.” presupposes that David knows more about the bottom line than the bar owner. (I defy him to back up that point with any hard evidence.)

    All right, granted, I have none; that was pure opinion, based on nothing but the fact that nonsmokers outnumber smokers nowadays (I forget the exact figure, and I’m afraid I don’t have a citation, but I do recall reading that nonsmokers far outnumber smokers now, and the ratio was fairly high) — but from the way I phrased it, I think it was obvious that I was just speculating, not claiming authority on the subject. It isn’t technically defensible as a scientific or economic prediction, but it also seems reasonably plausible, given that premise. Still, you can feel free to ignore this part, since it is just speculation.

    ~David D.G.

  86. #86 plunge
    August 5, 2007

    “Maybe we should reframe the debate as power-hungry smokers wanting to inflict their habit upon the majority of the population who do not smoke. It’s no more silly an argument than yours.”

    Sort of a giant gaping hole in this one: the public doesn’t own any bars.

    Again, while I don’t find Tim credible, I’m also fairly unconvinced that people who are completely unwilling to compromise or accept any kind of health standards or employee protection outside of outright bans are really just trying to objectively protect public health. Heck, half the people here come just shy of saying that they want to stick it to smokers to “get back” at them and turn things around.

  87. #87 DuWayne
    August 5, 2007

    David DG -

    But balanced against the health and well-being of others, my position stands. That’s not callousness toward the bars so much as greater empathy for the victims of secondhand smoke.

    What victims? Under the compromise that I am looking for here, the only “victims” are smokers and those who choose to go to one of the few bars that allows smoking and contains air filtration that will eliminate the majority of the smoke. If the vast majority of bars will not have smoking and the bars that do are required to get a special license to allow it and have to take extreme measures to minimize the effects, what exactly is the problem?

    I’m with plunge here, this seriously smacks of people who want to get back at the asshole smokers that were allowed to run roughshod over them, for so many years, rather than people who are simply interested in public health concerns.

  88. #88 Dangerous Bacon
    August 5, 2007

    According to the American Council for Drug Education, about 23% of American adults smoke. So nonsmokers outnumber them by well over three to one.

    http://www.acde.org/common/Tobacco.htm

    Some highlights of the recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke which are relevant to this discussion (my editorial comments in parentheses):

    “Levels of a chemical called cotinine, a biomarker of secondhand smoke exposure, fell by 70 percent from 1988-91 to 2001-02. In national surveys, however, 43 percent of U.S. nonsmokers still have detectable levels of cotinine.

    (Nonsmokers do not appreciate involuntarily enjoying the “benefits” of smoking)

    Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke.

    Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing), including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide.
    Secondhand smoke has been designated as a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has concluded that secondhand smoke is an occupational carcinogen.

    Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

    Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
    Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and interferes with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of a heart attack.

    Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing lung cancer by 20 – 30 percent.

    The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
    Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of a heart attack.
    Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways.

    (Once again, for the comprehension-impaired, there is no “safe” level for SHS and even brief exposures can cause serious harm.)

    Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces fully protects nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.

    Conventional air cleaning systems can remove large particles, but not the smaller particles or the gases found in secondhand smoke.
    Routine operation of a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system can distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building.
    The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the preeminent U.S. body on ventilation issues, has concluded that ventilation technology cannot be relied on to control health risks from secondhand smoke exposure.

    (There goes the argument that bars and restaurants can install ventilation systems to protect customers).

    http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/factsheets/factsheet6.html

    Some apologists for smokers might read the Surgeon General’s report and see evidence that he just wants to get revenge on smokers and exert power. This view is, frankly, loony.

  89. #89 DuWayne
    August 5, 2007

    DB -

    According to the American Council for Drug Education, about 23% of American adults smoke. So nonsmokers outnumber them by well over three to one.

    So if say, fifteen percent of bars are allowed a license for smoking, some will still be stuck going to non-smoking establishments. I’d say ten percent would be quite reasonable. No problems for non-smokers to get a job at or frequent non-smoking bars, problem solved.

    There goes the argument that bars and restaurants can install ventilation systems to protect customers.

    What argument for ventilation? I was mentioning airfiltration. Sorry, I wasn’t specifically mentioning unconventional filtration, but when I mentioned the tens of thousands of dollars in a previous comment, I thought that was implied. Filtration that is designed to handle the gasses is available and even mandated in some municipalities. Filtration that is commonly used in industrial settings, where gas is an issue.

    I also was not making the claim that even this, would entirely mitigate the effects of second hand smoke. All that I am asserting, is that this would mitigate the effects of extreme exposure, on the part of people who already smoke. I.e. it would provide an environment where the SHS isn’t any worse than it is in their own home, due to their own smoking. Remember, under the compromise that I am suggesting, there are plenty of non-smoking establishments for non-smokers to work in or frequent. So the only non-smokers that would be there, are there because they choose to be there.

    Yes indeed, this smacks of attempting to get revenge on all those nasty smokers who think it’s ok to smoke wherever and whenever they please. People who, honestly, I have no sympathy and extreme distaste for. Dealing with them on a daily basis, at public trans stops, I would love to see them get cited more often. Especially when they see it as their gods given right to blow their smoke at my kid. I can certainly understand wanting to reek vengeance upon them, but call it what it is. No quarter, no compromise, is not a crusade for public health, it’s a witch hunt.

    For full disclosure, I am struggling to quit smoking, have been for years. Looking forward to getting insurance that will help with smoking cessation medication, in a couple of months – hoping to be entirely smoke free, by the time my next son is born in Dec. I have been hovering around 3-6 smokes a day for almost a year now. I have every confidence that with a little help from big pharma, I will be smoke free for the birth of my next son. I am very anti-smoking, especially in places like public trans shelters, light rail platforms, around schools and public libraries. I have, on more than one occasion, called trimet (Port. public trans auth) security about people smoking on the platforms. I would love to be able to go out and about with my family and not smell a single cigarette, excepting a whiff on the wind in passing. I just think that this absolutely no compromise attitude is absolutely insane.

  90. #90 trrll
    August 6, 2007

    No problems for non-smokers to get a job at or frequent non-smoking bars, problem solved.

    This is an amazingly naive (or deceptive) argument. If there are more nonsmoking bars, then there is no competition for jobs working at them? There are also more nonsmokers competing for those jobs, as well as smokers who don’t want to add any more to their already substantial risk. We do not have 100% employment, which means that there are always going to be people on the margin who are having a problem finding a job and who cannot afford to be picky about safety conditions at work.

  91. #91 trrll
    August 6, 2007

    No problems for non-smokers to get a job at or frequent non-smoking bars, problem solved.

    This is an amazingly naive (or deceptive) argument. If there are more nonsmoking bars, then there is no competition for jobs working at them? There are also more nonsmokers competing for those jobs, as well as smokers who don’t want to add any more to their already substantial risk. We do not have 100% employment, which means that there are always going to be people on the margin who are having a problem finding a job and who cannot afford to be picky about safety conditions at work.

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