Let's just take it outside

It's time to end the debate and make Augusta smoke-free

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We don’t have much of a dog in this fight. We don’t smoke, and we don’t go to bars that allow smoking.

And restaurants that allow minors are already smoke-free under Georgia law.

But Augusta is debating a stronger smoking ban again, and the usual arguments are being aired.

Smokers and their supporters say it’s their right to smoke, and the right of business owners to allow it. Nonsmokers and their supporters argue it’s their right not to be exposed to smoke.

No one is more free market than us, but on balance we believe this is a public health issue, not a matter of individual rights, privileges and preferences. We come down heavily on the side of nonsmoking. Our view is that a right to be free from toxic, irritating, hazardous pollutants trumps other rights.

The pro-smoking argument of “well, just don’t go to those places” is frankly offensive. Everyone should have the right to frequent public places and businesses. They shouldn’t have to harm their health to do it, either.

We look at it this way: Does a bar or restaurant have the right to serve tainted water or food? Of course not. It’s a public health issue. Why wouldn’t healthy air be as much of a priority?

No establishment has the “right” to serve you hazardous food or drink. How could they possibly have the right to serve up sickening air?

One could argue that clean air should actually be more of a priority than safe food or drink. Not everybody orders a glass of water or the chicken pepperoni. That’s easily avoidable. (The state nonetheless has reams of regulations about how food and drink may be handled.) Yet, everyone breathes the air. That’s unavoidable.

Nor does the argument that businesses are hurt by smoking bans hold water. Alcohol tax revenues in Savannah, where bars went smoke-free in 2011, actually went up in the year that followed.

If you’re thinking that might have been due to an overall increase in sales taxes, think again. According to a Chronicle analysis, Savannah’s alcohol tax receipts went up more than overall sales tax revenues.

That may be because nonsmokers had been staying away from smoky bars in droves. Many nonsmokers enjoy a cocktail every now and then. All of them, last time we checked, eat.

It’s to Augusta’s discredit that we’re among the last to figure all this out.

But we also question the insistence of smokers who apparently don’t care what they impose on others. Yes, as the law currently stands, you have that right in bars. But in this country especially, one has the right to do a lot of rude, discourteous things. A better proposition might be to ask oneself what one ought to do.

There is simply no logical, scientific, social or moral justification for needlessly harming, or even inconveniencing, others, particularly with pollutants that have been ironclad shown to cause disease and inhibit one’s ability to breathe.

One would hope that mere courtesy would have resolved this issue.

It’s also arguable that smoking takes a disproportionate toll on blue-collar and low-wage workers who must endure the establishment’s air for shifts at a time.

Again, the pro-smoking argument is Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake” on steroids: “Well, get another job; no one’s forcing you to work there.” Technically, of course, this is true. But it’s callous in the extreme: “Either breathe my polluted air or go elsewhere!” Even at the expense of one’s ability to feed oneself.

Nor does federal law allow for such an argument with regard to other health and safety issues: When was the last time OSHA told a worker, “Hey, if you don’t like the hazardous working conditions here, move on down the road!”?

Well, it’s an immutable characteristic of societies and human nature that when you assert yourself and your rights to the point of other folks’ detriment, you can expect them to assert their own. The truth of the matter is, nonsmokers – who comprise the vast majority – have been beyond patient.

It’s time to end this debate once and for all. Augusta Commission, it’s time to make Augusta smoke-free.

Let’s end this argument by taking it outside.

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carcraft
27834
Points
carcraft 06/07/13 - 04:38 am
2
6
They are trying to block you from even taking it outside

Ever watch people try to catch a smoke at GRU ( or GHSU or MCG depending on the day)? They cross the street over to the VA, they litter the parking lot by Bo jangles, the huddle by the railroad tracks. Next thing they will have to stand 50 feet from a door in the down wind side etc. This is getting ridiculous!

myfather15
55844
Points
myfather15 06/07/13 - 04:55 am
7
5
This is just another letter

This is just another letter from a self-absorbing, snobbish bully; who believes THEIR opinion to be of a higher priority.

First of all, I'M A NON-SMOKER; to make that perfectly known. I don't like smoke; don't like smelling the stuff.

BUT, in total fairness in a FREE COUNTRY; I don't expect to be able to tell a business what they can and can't do.

Now, there IS some difference in relation to FOOD SERVICE. If it's a restaurant, their primary purpose is to SELL FOOD, not cigarettes. So there certainly should be and is requirements on the quality of food they may serve; so some that would, can't sell spoiled meat or veggies etc. Some disgusting human beings would probably sell us rat meat if it turned them a profit, so we definately need regulations in the food service industry.

But exactly what does that have to do with people being allowed to smoke in a restaurant? Again, I believe it should be left up to the owner of the restaurant whether he or she allows it or not. THEN, the people would decide the issue; because they would either go OUT of business or thrive. Either way, the people decided the issue; not more government regulation.

Ok let's take Longhorn's for example. If the OWNER banned smoking in this restaurant, then I thought I had an opportunity to make profit by opening a "Smoking" Longhorns; should I absolutely NOT be allowed to do so by government regulations? Wouldn't it be fair, since we would then have one non-smoking and one smoking Longhorns in the Augusta area? People could then decided which one THEY WANTED to go to and get the same food. But, then people would complain because the non-smoking Longhorns was too far from their house; and instead would probably sue to make the smoking Longhorns, non-smoking. You will NEVER please all the people, all the time.

Bodhisattva
6826
Points
Bodhisattva 06/07/13 - 05:40 am
5
5
I remember quite a few years

I remember quite a few years back an establishment placed people who had children in a separate location in the back of the restaurant. The reason, people without children who are paying a lot of money for their food and cocktails prefer the quiet and calm of not having crying or screaming babies and children interrupting their nice casual dinner. Of course those with children raised sand, wrote letters to the editor and acted like they were being treated like second class citizens. They were still allowed in the restaurant, still allowed to be served, they were just moved to an area where their children could not disturb others. That establishment is no longer in business. Businesses now are not even allowed to have a separate smoking area. It could even have a separate ventilation system, but it's still prohibited. There are a handful of places, under Georgia law that still allow smoking inside. A very small handful might I add. I would be willing to bet that that few to any of the people involved with this campaign or its supporters frequent or would frequent those businesses on a regular basis, smoking or not. The same applies to the few jobs involved with these businesses as compared with the tens of thousands that exist in non smoking establishments. As I have stated before, this isn't about health, it's about power. How dare that person 5 tables away smoke while I eat my deep fried onion appetizer followed by my triple decker bacon burger with extra cheese and mayo and chili bacon cheese sour cream fries and my giant chocolate fudge brownie whatever thing that every restaurant in the ever loving world seems to have for desert. Cough, cough.

justthefacts
23869
Points
justthefacts 06/07/13 - 07:03 am
6
1
Two days in a row

Bod calling for limited gov't! Wow. I guess it's OK for the gov't to control eveything but smoking protocols. Politics is local after all.

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 06/07/13 - 07:33 am
8
1
It is about time...

I am torn on this issue. No one has the right to pollute the air with deadly and toxic carcinogens and hurt other people. I am not anti-tobacco and I do not support a tobacco ban but I have a problem forcing people who work in food and beverage to breath poison just to have a job.

When I owned Hale tiki it was smoke free by choice, but we allowed smoking in the cafe area out front where we set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk. It worked well and I am glad I did it.

Stillwater Tap Room on Broad Street is going smoke free on June 1st, I will be taking my lovely wife there for a drink because I won't have to contend with a smoke headache or clothes and hair smelling like an ashtray when we get home.

Again, I am torn on this but I do feel this is a public health issue not a civil rights one.

Brad

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 06/07/13 - 07:38 am
2
5
"... it’s an immutable characteristic of societies

... when you assert yourself and your rights to the point of other folks’ detriment... " you become a socialist control freak, unable to see any view except your own, and are wrapped up in the unshakable belief in your own smug superiority.

myfather15
55844
Points
myfather15 06/07/13 - 07:57 am
2
6
How hard is this to understand?

Certainly, second hand smoke is a health concern; as well as being simply a disgusting, nasty smell.

BUT, I would rather have WE THE PEOPLE regulate it; rather than give the government MORE power over the people. I truly believe, with the Country going more and more healthy and less people smoking; this would take care of itself WITHOUT government intervention. A business would go broke if they continued to allow smoking, therefore THEY would change; of their own free will. But if they don't go broke; obviously the PEOPLE going there don't mind the smoke filled atmosphere.

The Republic is DOOMED if We The People continued to willfully give the government more power; in the name of safety and health concerns. If you're one who is concerned about your health; make a conscious CHOICE to not patron a business where smoking is allowed; and don't take a job where smoking is allowed. There are MORE than enough businesses which don't allow smoking, patron and apply for THOSE locations, instead of expecting the GOVERNMENT to save you from your own decisions!!

Again; if WE THE PEOPLE stand together and choose NOT to use businesses that allow smoking; the Free republic regulates itself, without Government assistance. It DOES WORK and we aren't giving more power to corrupt politicians!! Keep the power with We the People.

Riverman1
90291
Points
Riverman1 06/07/13 - 08:10 am
5
2
Tears I Cannot Hide

The editorial is an excellent summation of the issue. Whether it’s done voluntarily or by county ordinance, it’s time to get the smoke out of the air. Smoke gets in your eyes, when a lovely flame dies.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 06/07/13 - 08:11 am
1
0
Your rights end, where my rights begin.
Unpublished

The air we all breathe is an entirely different matter. When Waffle House had a special section for smoking. A ceiling barrier and a separate ventilation system. I DID NOT work. Waffle House has survived and even grown it business appeal. You can send the food back if it is a health hazard, like a fly in your soup. You cannot sent the air back. Let the market place decide. People used to not frequent any business that was offensive to their taste. Remember the "Playboy" in causal sight of minors? Now we have to make every business "suit our taste". How can businesses please everyone?

Pool halls and smoke filled bars were avoided, in the days of reason, by those who did not wish to breathe smoke, listen to vulgarity or be slobbered on by a drunk. It did not take a federal law in the days of reason.

myfather15
55844
Points
myfather15 06/07/13 - 08:14 am
1
6
But that is the problem this

But that is the problem this Country is experiencing more and more. People want to simply sit back, do nothing and expect government to fix everything for them.

Trust me, I've experienced this increase in the 16 years I've been in public service. People used to call law enforcement when something serious was going on. Now days people call for absolutely ANYTHING; from their children simply won't behave, landlord won't fix their AC, Squirrels eating their bird feed, bats or possums in the attic, they loaned a person 10 dollars and person won't pay them back, sister or brother is wearing their clothes without asking, entire family (8 or 9 adult persons) living in the same house and some members won't pick up their dirty laundry from in front of the washer and dryer; and this list could go on. YES, these are actual calls I've taken, just myself; not to mention how many similar calls other deputies have taken. The list could go on forever, these are just ones I remember off the top of my head.

The point is; people are getting so ridiculously dependent upon government (Yes, I'm a representative of local government); they simply can't handle making decisions on their own. They don't want to hear solutions on how THEY can fix the problem; they just want US to fix their problems. Goes back to the old saying "They expect us to fix a problem that took 10 years to create, in 10 minutes." Because THEY WANT IT FIXED!!! By the government!!!

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 06/07/13 - 08:15 am
6
5
‘First of all, I'M A
Unpublished

‘First of all, I'M A NON-SMOKER; to make that perfectly known. I don't like smoke; don't like smelling the stuff.
BUT, in total fairness in a FREE COUNTRY; I don't expect to be able to tell a business what they can and can't do. ‘
I agree 100% I hate cigarettes but if a person wants to kill themselves it is their right.

RMSHEFF
17800
Points
RMSHEFF 06/07/13 - 09:10 am
6
4
Choice

The government should have let the markets solve this problem. If a restaurant owner wants to allow smoking and can stay in business more power to him. I will choose to go to a restaurant where smoking is not allowed. This whole issue is a solution in search of a problem.

CobaltGeorge
170231
Points
CobaltGeorge 06/07/13 - 09:20 am
6
4
"Respect"

I am a smoker, quit many times especially when I was Scuba Diving. I know it is bad and diffidently not healthy.
I can only say one thing, in 73 years I have never smoked in a restaurant or any public area and I never will because of the common sense "respect" I have for those that don't. This whole debate would not be existing if all respected their fellow man.
myfather15 has covered my feelings pretty good.

dichotomy
36204
Points
dichotomy 06/07/13 - 09:52 am
5
4
"Again, I am torn on this but

"Again, I am torn on this but I do feel this is a public health issue not a civil rights one."

Of course you do Brad.....it's not your lifestyle or business owner's choice that is being infringed upon.

I say again...there is NO logical reason, health reason, legal reason...why a bar owner or a restaurant owner cannot have a smoking only business and cater to smoker's who want to eat out or have a drink. They non-smoking patrons don't have to enter and non-smoking employees don't have to apply.

People are allowed to drink and then get in a car and drive every day and they are a MUCH greater health hazard to innocent bystanders than a "smoking only" bar where you have a choice of entering or not.

25% of the population still smokes. If any other minority was being persecuted and discriminated against......for NO reason..... like legal, law abiding, taxpaying smokers.....there would be a civil rights uprising. The "problem" is completely cured by authorizing "Smoking Only" establishments. Anything else is simply a "we will show you" exercise in control and power. This does not have to be an "all or nothing" situation. But the crusaders want it that way.

Little Lamb
47928
Points
Little Lamb 06/07/13 - 10:03 am
4
5
Game Over

The results, you ask?

Freedom - - - - Loss

Fascism - - - - - Win

seenitB4
93491
Points
seenitB4 06/07/13 - 10:26 am
7
2
I love this bar says Toby Keith

Don't we have gay bars for gays...

Don't we have strip bars for voyeurs..

Don't we have drinking bars for drinkers...

Why in Sam Hill can't we have smoking bars for smokers......I would rather drive in traffic next to a smoker anytime than next to a heavy drinker...

I am not a smoker but I'll be dang if I think I have a right to tell others they can't smoke in a smoking bar...(yeh--I know the health risks....like driving a car but I still drive)

Bizkit
34269
Points
Bizkit 06/07/13 - 10:32 am
2
4
According to the World Bank

According to the World Bank income groups for countries, the cancer rates for all cancers combined (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) rose with increasing levels of country income. High income countries had more than double the rate of all cancers combined of low income countries. In countries with high smoking rates like US, Europe, and Western Pacific we have highest lung cancer rates, yet it isn't just tobacco but alcohol too. Really just eliminating cigarette use to prevent cancer is half the battle-you need to eliminate alcohol consumption too. Good luck on that one.

bigj706
1296
Points
bigj706 06/07/13 - 12:28 pm
4
3
The people saying don't take

The people saying don't take a job where smoking is allowed. What are you talking about like its just a landslide of jobs out there then they wont have a job and the same people complain about having to support the jobless and tell them to get a job make your mind up you are double talking yourselves just to try to sound right.

bigj706
1296
Points
bigj706 06/07/13 - 12:35 pm
1
0
Cobalt YOU SAID IT

Cobalt YOU SAID IT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If I could I would buy you a beer

bigj706
1296
Points
bigj706 06/07/13 - 12:40 pm
2
0
Cobalt I so agree with you If

Cobalt I so agree with you

If I could I would buy you a round on me nice statement sir!!

Dudeness
1546
Points
Dudeness 06/07/13 - 02:16 pm
3
3
I couldn't stomach reading

I couldn't stomach reading the whole article. One paragraph after another was just a rephrasing of why the government should be allowed to tell you how to do business in the establishment that you pay for. I don't smoke and don't want to eat around smoking. I also am aware that I have many other choices on where I can take my business rather than eat at a place that allows smoking. That is my choice though. If someone wants to cater to smokers, then that is their business.

Bizkit
34269
Points
Bizkit 06/07/13 - 02:20 pm
4
2
Why not apply free

Why not apply free market-capitalism and let there be smoke free and smoking establishments. Let's have a little freedom for all. If a smoke free establishment can't survive because not enough smoker customers-so be it. But likely it will grow into a successful chain. LOL> Life is filled with risks-most jobs have risks. I've been exposed to all sorts of hazardous chemicals and radiation-further I am a baby boomer so culturally everyone from parents, teachers, police, and preachers all smoked. The baby boomers should all be dropping dead from lung cancer and second hand smoke. Smoking increases the risks of having a cancer-just as HPV, alcohol, eating red meats, and a long lists of other agents which are allowed in our air and water at certain "safe" levels-well safe till they realize oops we need to change em. I quit worrying about that stuff a long time ago. Worrying about smoke is kind of ridiculous when you receive a stay inside harmful air warning in certain cities. If we can have hetero- and homo-sexual marriage it certainly doesn't seem too much to ask to have smoking and non-smoking.

myfather15
55844
Points
myfather15 06/07/13 - 02:53 pm
1
2
@bigj706

I also agree with you and Cobalt; this certainly IS about respect. First of all; respecting peoples RIGHT to make decisons about their personally owned businesses. Respecting the people's RIGHT to CHOOSE which businesses they patron and are employed at. Yes, they do have a the RIGHT to choose which business they work for; but they DO NOT have a right to work at a particular business. If so, then I immediately DEMAND to work for the AC as a journalist.

So yes, I believe this is about respect. Everyone should respect others and not do selfish things that disturb another. BUT, my question is; is it the governments responsibility to legislate RESPECT?

If so, then why stop there? Why don't we legislate everyone to be honorable, decent, law abiding citizens?

If we continue to give the government more and more power; they will NEVER limit themselves and we will be in huge trouble eventually.

Young Fred
19382
Points
Young Fred 06/07/13 - 03:21 pm
3
1
What the Heck?

Have not read the other comments - but

Just who In the hell do you think you are - you've shoved, snuffeled, and found a reason not to be a lover of freedom. You've "justified" your opinion, therefore thinking freedom does not apply.

I'm sorry - but that is frigging lame!

Are you champions of freedom, or are you just Pollyanna's? Can we count on you to be consistent, or can we count on you being politically expedient???

Gage Creed
18814
Points
Gage Creed 06/07/13 - 03:27 pm
4
2
What next? Vegans rally to

What next?

Vegans rally to ban meat in restaurants?

Darby
28343
Points
Darby 06/07/13 - 08:06 pm
4
1
George - We have a little in common.

My history is a bit different from yours. I started smoking in high school and quit before I graduated.

As a SCUBA diver (an instructor at the Army Ranger Camp @ Eglin AFB) I took pride in the fact that I could hold my breath for more than four minutes. I could never have done that if I had continued to smoke.

And you know just how much a few seconds under water and under duress can cost you.

Darby
28343
Points
Darby 06/07/13 - 08:10 pm
4
1
Anybody other than me remember that

old song by Phil Harris about an addicted smoker?

Contained the line, "Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate, that I hate to make him wait, but I gotta have another cigarette."

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 06/07/13 - 08:40 pm
2
1
Out in California

... they give tickets for smoking on the beach. That's where this is heading.

Darby
28343
Points
Darby 06/07/13 - 08:45 pm
2
1
"How dare that person 5 tables away smoke

while I eat my deep fried onion appetizer followed by my triple decker bacon burger with extra cheese and mayo and chili bacon cheese sour cream fries and my giant chocolate fudge brownie whatever thing that every restaurant in the ever loving world seems to have for desert."

.
Would you move over a bit please? You're blocking the sun and I'm trying to get a tan.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 06/07/13 - 09:40 pm
2
2
tobacco
Unpublished

Tobacco has cost this country more than Obama. The right to bear arms is plainly stated in the Constution, yet no one is allowed to walk down the street shooting people. Tobacco does not even get a mention in the Constution, yet it is pictured on our money, that is why it is still allowed at all, money. One day tobacco will go the way of DDT, leaded gas and other poisons. What we need to do today is to let our children go up free of it.

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