Statewide smoking ban?

Several municipalities in Alabama have already passed smoking bans, but that’s evidently not good enough for the bureaucrats at Goat Hill (Bama’s version of Capitol Hill in Montgomery). This AP article provides details on the proposal. Here’s the money graf:

Her [Sen. Vivian D. Figures (D-Mobile)] bill would prohibit smoking in all workplaces and nearly all public places, including restaurants. Entities exempted would include bars that derive no more than 20 percent of their revenue from food; hotel or motel rooms designated as smoking; private clubs; nursing home or long-term care facility rooms in certain situations; tobacco retail stores; and cigar bars.

My predictions: SB 229, the designation for Senator Figures’ bill, will increase the number of bars, deriving less than twenty percent of their revenue from food, which will mean more drunk drivers on the road because food in the stomach slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. If you’re a bar owner on the food/smoking margin, whose revenue from allowing smoking are greater than that from serving food, which will you get rid of? Bye bye food. Thus, bars that serve sandwiches or other light food will likely cut back to just pre-prepared snacks to keep their smoking status. More smoking patrons will go to these places and eat less food than they otherwise would, while consuming the same amount or perhaps more alcohol. Fewer people eating while enjoying libations means more intoxicated folks driving home. “Private clubs,” the places that you have to fill out a “membership card” and pay a cover charge (“membership dues”) merely to skirt the law are also likely to proliferate under such a regime. This is already the case under Birmingham’s smoking ban at places like Bell Bottoms at 5 Points and Nana Funk’s in Lakeview. Such a ban will of course be a boon to tobacco stores and cigar bars.

Not only is this ban a bad idea at best and likely to accomplish nothing, but its morally repugnant as well. If workers and customers want to fill their lungs with toxins, why not allow them to do it. If they don’t, then they can go elsewhere. A business’ smoking policy should be determined by that business owner catering to the desires of his patrons and employees. The state, and for that matter local municipalities, ought to have no say in the matter. Such nannying efforts remind of this salient quote from C.S. Lewis’ essay The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” Remember: “Smoking is Healthier than Fascism.”

You can contact Senator Figures here.

Previous smoking ban/tobacco regulation blogging here, including a previous attempt at a statewide ban.

Props to Jacob for alerting me to this story. He’s been an indefatigable crusader against this sort of nonsense for some time.