Ah, the bar scene in Philadelphia. It reminds one of cheesy neon signs, random liquor advertising, crazy sports fans and cough-inducing clouds of smoke.
That could all change in a few months as City Councilman Michael A. Nutter has introduced a bill that would ban smoking in enclosed spaces, both public and private. Sounds like a decent idea, right?
On the surface it might, but in the end a smoking ban would be detrimental to the citizens of this fine city.
To me, public smoking bans seem like a violation of the rights of smokers and business owners. If you own a business it should be your responsibility to dictate smoking policy.
Most people would say the habit of smokers has a negative effect on not only their health, but also on the health and dining experience of others.
To that I offer a very complex and detailed solution: Leave.
A fundamental aspect of capitalism is that the better and more efficient should be more successful. If you don’t support the smoking policy of an establishment hit them where it hurts: their wallet. Take your business elsewhere. If there is one common language that any self-respecting entrepreneur can understand it is the power of the almighty dollar. And I’m pretty sure if a business owner loses customers due to its policy, their policy will change.
Any “free” government that tells its citizens how to run their business is a joke. Health codes are one thing, because the sanitary condition of food preparation can be deceptive since it is not in the plain view of customers.
It is also understandable for the government to have fire codes, building inspections and the like. Every citizen should expect businesses they walk into to be structurally sound and safe. And unless you have extensive experience in structural engineering, the common citizen is right to rely on its government to make sure public buildings are safe.
Smoking stands apart from these regulations for the simple reason that it is impossible to be misled. It’s not a mystery whether or not a bar or restaurant allows smoking; no one is deceived.
According to a list at www.smokefreeworld.com there are more than 70 smoke-free restaurants in Philadelphia. If you do not like what you see and smell at a particular restaurant, go eat at a competitor’s or watch the big game around the corner instead.
The last thing we need is a politician stepping into another aspect of our private lives. I say a line has to be drawn. When it comes to dictating smoking policy in private businesses, the citizens of this and any other city should be able to care for themselves.
If the city council wishes to enhance the image of the city, their efforts would be better spent elsewhere. Philadelphia is already having problems luring businesses to the city and a smoking ban would continue to make the council look unfriendly to businesses.
This issue transcends the smoking ban; it is about the rights of business owners. The city council should let owners decide their own indoor smoking policies in privately owned buildings. I beg the powers-that-be to roll up this resolution and burn it.
Sean Blanda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.