The tyranny of the anti-smoking majority
February 1, 2009
By Rick Alm
By Rick Alm
A round of applause, please, and — what the heck — a standing ovation, too, for the Gladstone City Council.
That suburban community’s elected leaders appear on the brink of overthrowing the tyranny of the anti-smoking majority and approving what might be the metro area’s fairest and most sensible smoking ban. It is one that reasonable minds on both sides should be able to live with — albeit the non-smokers a little longer.
The Kansas City Star’s bi-weekly Northland Neighborhood News reported Saturday the measure could be approved as soon as Feb. 9 and be effect in 60 days.
Notable exceptions to its ban on public and workplace smoking include billiard halls and bowling alleys, as well as taverns and restaurants that seat fewer than 75 patrons, provided signs are posted announcing: “Non-smoking areas are not available.”
Also, any business with a liquor license operating in the city on Jan. 1 that customarily had allowed smoking would be grandfathered in to allow the practice so long as that business remained under the same ownership.
That last provision sets Gladstone’s proposed law in a class by itself in common sense and fairness.
In Kansas City and in an ever-increasing number of suburbs where blanket smoking bans have been imposed, neighborhood tavern owners and others have had the proverbial rug pulled out from under them.
Their generations-old business models crumbled as their smoking-patron regulars fled.
It simply was not fair.
All that these mostly mom-and-pop entrepreneurs wanted was the right to run their places of business — their livelihoods –as they saw fit, to have a choice to be a smoking or non-smoking neighborhood watering hole, pool hall, barber shop or whatever.
For many that freedom of choice was stripped away.
The mindset among an increasing number of public servants insists on nanny-state uniformity that bans tobacco use on any premises where any member of the general public might someday step foot.
Now, at long last, wiser minds somewhere have found no offense in a dual economy where smoking and non-smoking establishments shall be allowed to co-exist.
Gladstone council member Les Smith gets it. The Star reports he told fellow council members that second-hand smoke does not become a public health issue until someone walks through a door and makes it one.
“It is really simple,” he said. “You have a choice not to go in.”