Austin Considers a Smoking Ban
Mayor Gus Garcia is pushing to ban smokers from lighting up in all public places -- including bars.
Some say when out at a music venue or bar, there's no butts about it-- drinking and smoking go hand in hand.
"These are beer joints, these are music venues and people smoke. In bars... they've been smoking in bars in Texas forever," smoker Poodie Locke said.
Mayor Gus Garcia wants to change that habit. His executive assistant, Adam Smith, is leading the charge.
"Right now, we're proposing to bring forward one ordinance and that would be a smoke free ordinance, which would ban smoking in all public places," Smith said.
The reason is second-hand smoke. The mayor's office cites statistics claiming 26,000 Texans die from tobacco related diseases each year.
"After looking at the recent data on the effects of second hand smoke the mayor almost feels obligated to bring forward smoke free," Smith said.
This is an issue with some history, history generated by the sickening predictability of politicians tripping over themselves to ban the risky and hurtful things in our lives. The history created with the caustic disregard for liberty.
The mayor apparently doesn't feel obligated to uphold individual responsibility and personal freedom. People in Round Rock, just north of Austin, are already rebelling against a smoking ban enacted last year. Is the mayor so stupid that he thinks a city that dwarfs Round Rock in size and dependence on live music and artsy entertainment won't stir up trouble here as well? Does he care so little for our freedom?
What the fuck is it with Texas? Dallas just restricted it. Del Rio is thinking about it. El Paso passed new laws. Is Texas trying to become New York or California? Is it all the negative publicity on our poor usage of state fund to prevent smoking? The state has started a new campaign to convince people to quit, and I bet it's done half out of political expediency and half out of a desire to reduce the state's costs on healthcare expenses related to smoking.
And, ignored and dismissed, are the smokers.
The argument goes that the government has the right to ban smoking because second-hand smoke hurt other people. Also argued is the fact that non-smokers have fewer places to hang out since non-smoking private clubs and bars are rare.
The first argument skips over the obvious: those who don't like inhaling cigarette smoke can simply choose to go elsewhere. Second-hand smoke indeed does cause damage, so anyone who is concerned about it SHOULD LEAVE THE FUCKING PREMISES. Either that or ask the owner to create a non-smoking section or have the place go completely non-smoking.
Which brings us to the second argument...if there was a serious consensus that non-smokers need a place to go to avoid second-hand smoke, then more non-smoking establishments would pop up to cater to them. That bars and clubs generally don't is NO FUCKING REASON to legislate them to. A better choice would be to reduce the costs to start businesses so that more people could afford to offer a service that non-smokers want.
I quit smoking back in October of 2000 after smoking for over five years. The explicit reason I quit was I had a hernia operation and any coughing hurt like the devil. I decided to quit temporarily for a few weeks to limit the tendency. After the wound began to heal, I noticed that I didn't really have smoking urges like I had feared. I decided to quit completely. I was tired of paying so much to smoke (fucking taxes you governmental prats!!!) and I was tired of the shortness of breath and chest pains I'd occasionally wake up with. Health and economic reasons.
However, nearly all of my friends smoke. I tolerate it because I know they can't always come over to my house, where I've requested that the only thing smoked is weed. I understand the trade-off between convenience and reasonable necessity.
These anti-smoking buffoons and their political mouth pieces don't care at all about that choice. They ultimately want to see smoking restricted to your home and vehicle...and I'm sure that in their final utopia, they'd demand smoking banned in those places too because some smoke will always leak out into outside air. They see this as a "public health issue," a keyword for other restrictions on personal liberty.
I sincerely hope this ordinance doesn't get passed. And I sincerely hope one of these bans/ordinances/restrictions in some city are challenged all the way to the Supreme Court and Constitutionally rejected.
The ban has passed 4-3. Fuckers.
How the city plans to enforce this:
The ban will be enforced on a complaint basis, handled by Health and Human Services.
Any person caught violating the ban can be fined up to $2,000 and an establishment could have its operating license revoked.
Good news: the Austin Smoking Task Force Report is in and it's definitely worth your read.
The ban, initially scheduled to take affect on May 1st, has been postponed:
The city of Austin's new smoking ordinance will likely be postponed a month until June 1. The main reason is to give restaurants more time to show they've improved their air quality.
Dan McClusky's owner Steve Batlin lucked out. His restaurant has always had a separate room for non-smokers and smokers.
"I really don't think it's necessary. I'm a non-smoker myself. I think it's coming," Batlin said.
The new smoking ordinance is coming, but now it may be one month later. Before they get a smoking permit, restaurants must show they have dual ventilation systems. Lots of business owners installed them to meet the previous ordinance, but the city didn't keep a list.
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