In an editorial yesterday (copied below) that was featured by the Journal Gazette Michael J. Kirkhoff laments the idea of "revoking the smoking ban" While the editorial only had the usual feel good statements and statistics of justification it still doesn't address the core issues at hand and it has nothing to do with smoking, second hand smoke, or workplace conditions as Mister Kirkhoff fondles as prime reasons to leave the current planks intact.
When the original ordinance was passed back in the mid nineties it was met with skepticism and angst toward what eventually developed in the current ordinance. Secret reporting and everyone becoming an informant on businesses and individuals who decided to commit civil disobedience and a general unequal enforcement where people don't even know what the penalties are or the fine could be randomly based on the decision of many departments that can enforce the ordinance happened rampantly. But that is not the issue at hand with the current ordinance.
The issue is the unfunded mandate that was created in the original ordinance and then doubled over the barrel and shoved deep within the recess of certain orifices of small businesses in the second ordinance and the general safety of employees now forced to stand out in the cold for a ten minute break often with no place to sit and actually rest.
If this ordinance was a funded mandate in either of its incarnations we so wouldn't be dealing with the forty five million dollar debt of Harrison Square which wont be paid off now until February 2034. Do we really expect people to live financially sound when the City government can't do the same and then turn around and tell small business that all of the modifications that they made approximately ten years ago are now not good enough and they still have to make yet even more because of a TREND in society.
Just because it is trendy or a popular idea doesn't make it legal or morally right! BTW, smoking is still legal.
I am appalled that some City Council members are suggesting the smoking ban be “revisited.” What I can’t believe is why they would cater to that loud and small group that is opposed to the ban, particularly the bar owners. So the dangers of secondhand smoke and the fact that thousands die annually from smoking are irrelevant? What about the fact that 80 percent of us do not smoke and don’t like smoke?
Bar owners claim the ban has hurt their business, but they are not the first to experience negative impact from government regulation that seeks to protect people. Virtually every manufacturer is affected by OSHA and EPA laws and have adapted to the changing business environment. These bar owners, on the other hand, seem to want the environment to change for them. They need to wake up and accept the fact that smoking is no longer tolerated.If this city wants to grow and attract new business, we are going to have to follow proactive trends. And one trend is that smoking is just not cool. It stinks and it kills. Revoking the smoking ban is taking a step backward, and no one wants to come to a city that is going backward.
MICHAEL J. KIRKHOFF
Appreciation to Rachel Blakeman of BPOTS for the links to stories and original commentary.