And soon no drinking and no talking

Y’know, I’m still a little pissed about the smoking ban in bars. I pretty much took the Eddie Izzard view on the matter: “Yes, no smoking in bars, and soon there’ll be no drinking and no talking.” I’ve heard all sorts of “but it’s nicer to breathe clean(ish) air than all that cigarette smoke.” Sure. Whatever. It’s still government overreach… and doesn’t even pretend not to be.

So, you’d imagine I’d flip my shit when I saw this:

In an effort to rid its playgrounds and beaches of cigarette butts and secondhand smoke, Ramsey County is considering making many of its recreation areas tobacco-free zones.

But… no. I am having a really hard time getting my blood worked up about keeping cigarettes away from places where children play. I know in the depths of my political soul that it should not be the government doing this–that people should have the good sense not to smoke at a playground. But the plain truth is most people don’t.

And this placates me even more:

Tobacco use would still be allowed on Ramsey County golf courses and at picnic shelters.

Golf really isn’t golf without a cigar. And who of us has left a picnic satisfied without eating a cigarette or two.

Maybe you can come up with a good point to help piss me off about this?

21 Comments so far

  1. greg on May 12th, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

    This is one of my favorite Metblog posts about the subject. Here’s a key quote: …"once we gave local government the power to ban smoking in private businesses and use eminent domain to absorb private homes and business, it was really a slippery slope. Next thing they’ll be dictating which beer we can drink and which alleys we can walk down. Oh wait, one of those already happened…" Oh, nanny state governments…how do I even function without your permission?

  2. drivel on May 12th, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

    Honestly, regardless of the implications of slippery-slope policy making, the personal benefit to me is too great for me to care. I know I’m spoiled by the smoking ban. When I go to restaraunts in places other than Minneapolis and they ask me me smoking or non, I am momentarily confused. When I walk into a restaraunt or bar elsewhere in the country, and cigarette smoke stings my nose, I’m appalled. It seems almost uncivilized to me at this point.

    I grew up in North Carolina, where up until I was 14 or so, it was okay to smoke walking around inside the shopping mall. Disgusting. Public spaces like malls and the skyways downtown should unequivocably be smoke-free zones.

    Otherwise, I do think it should be decided on a business-by-business basis. But I think any establishment whose primary function is to dispense food would be wise to voluntarily ban smoking. It’s a habit that is potentially very offensive to non-smokers, especially when they want to sit down and enjoy a meal.

  3. David (jacc) on May 12th, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

    Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid! ~ Al Czervik

  4. Dave Huston (davehuston) on May 12th, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

    I’ll be happy to oblige you there.

    Smoking is absolutely the worst "personal" vice a person can take on. I couldn’t care less what you do to your own lungs, but then you think you should have the right to pollute my air? And naturally, the smokers’ defense is that if you don’t want to breathe it, don’t go there, but that sort of elitist idea coming from someone dumb enough to slowly rot away their own bodies is just silly.

    The government absolutely should ban smoking in public places. Keep your smoke within your own home and far away from me. Also, change clothes or douse yourself in Febreeze when you come inside from smoking. I have no desire to sit in close quarters with anyone who reeks of cigarette smoke.

  5. Donavon (brash) on May 13th, 2008 @ 8:21 am

    When considering this issue, you have to consider two things. The first is whether or not it is the government’s obligation or its place to tell its citizens when and where they can do something that is completely legal. And the answer that I keep coming up with is, "Yeah, sometimes, but don’t tell me how to live my life."

    Now, the second is whether or not a ban really accomplishes what you want to accomplish with it. Do you want to protect the health of bar and restaurant patrons? Or do smokers just irritate you? The latter seems to be the case for most who want a smoking ban, because even after a wholesale ban on smoking in buildings across the state, they are still not happy, and want more. Take Dave Huston for example:

    "Keep your smoke within your own home and far away from me. Also, change clothes or douse yourself in Febreeze when you come inside from smoking."

    You know, I stood by and let you ban smoking in all of my favorite bars and restaurants, and go through the trouble of standing outside in the effing cold – far, far away from you – to have my cigarette. I don’t stand under any windows when I smoke, and am forced to stand 25′ away from the door so, if you happen to be walking by, you won’t be inundated with unwanted fumes. I bend over backwards for people like you, but even after all of this, it’s still not enough, because God forbid that you have to smell the smoke on my person if I happen to be standing too close to you.

    I don’t know. Personally, I am not for making laws against people who just irritate you. But maybe that’s just me.

  6. dby2 on May 13th, 2008 @ 9:57 am

    How is this any different than the gov’t requiring you to wear a seat belt? In fact, it’s more justified. When you drive without a seatbelt you only unnecessary risk to your own health. When you smoke, you not only give yourself cancer but you expose other people to your toxic air. Why do people insist on believing that just because they have a serious addiction, that common decency does not apply? If people were remotely considerate in their behavior, we wouldn’t be in a place where government has no choice but to regulate this. It’s like that expression, if you act like Kindergarteners, then that’s how you’ll get treated.

  7. Art (artallen) on May 13th, 2008 @ 10:06 am

    How is this any different than the gov’t requiring you to wear a seat belt?

    Yup. Seatbelt laws are ridiculous too. And now they want to make not wearing your seatbelt a primary offense. I’ve been following this, waiting for the right moment to blog about it. Expect something on it before the session is done (next week).

    And Donavon: "I don’t know. Personally, I am not for making laws against people who just irritate you." Best way I’ve heard it framed yet. Well done.

  8. Dave Huston (davehuston) on May 13th, 2008 @ 3:09 pm


    The problem is that you, like the other smokers opposed to bans like this, have a limit to your consideration for others around you. It’s not unreasonable at all for me to ask that you not stink when you enter a room with me. If I were to go without bathing for 2 weeks and sat by you, you wouldn’t like it. Maybe it’s a matter of cigarette brand or maybe some smokers just smother themselves in their own smoke; either way, some smokers smell absolutely horrible when they return from their breaks. Why should I suffer through a stink that’s bad enough to give me a headache just so you can kill yourself?

  9. Donavon (brash) on May 13th, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    I don’t know, perhaps it’s because I’ve practically incinerated my sense of olfaction, but what you’re saying is that you don’t like smokers because they make you smell things, and I honestly don’t see the big deal in that.

  10. Dave Huston (davehuston) on May 13th, 2008 @ 4:15 pm


    I don’t mind smelling things. I love smelling things. Like BBQ, or freshly cut grass. There are things I don’t enjoy smelling, however. I wouldn’t hang out near a puddle of puke for too long, and I don’t care for smelling cigarette funk on a person sitting next to me.

    You and other smokers obviously don’t realize what you smell like and the effect it has on those of us who haven’t destroyed our senses. Then you have the nerve to think that you somehow have the right to make me uncomfortable just so you can maintain your addiction. That kind of self-centered thinking is exactly why the government has to step in and give you kids a spanking now and again.

    Hopefully one day there’ll be a national ban on nicotine. In the meantime, let’s jack up the taxes on cigarettes even more. $10 a pack I say. Whatever will keep the air a little cleaner.

  11. Donavon (brash) on May 13th, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

    Which proves my point; the reason there is a smoking ban is not because of the flimsy pretense of public health (which, honestly, I’d buy), but it’s because non-smokers are irritated by smokers, and have the power to eliminate that irritation with legislation. I am concerned about your health, and will try to limit your exposure to smoke – however, that your true intentions are to punish me for irritating you really makes me want to not care.

    I just hope that folks like you will realize that legislating away stuff that irritates you is not a good way to govern once the state outlaws drinking (liver damage and irritation by way of drunken people), red meat and other fatty foods (heart damage and irritation by way of obese people), and other things you take for granted right now. Believe me, once smoking is completely outlawed, the Anti-Whatever Lobby will move onto some other vice, and it will probably be a vice that you practice.

  12. Dave Huston (davehuston) on May 13th, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

    No, it doesn’t prove your point. I don’t want to get rid of smoking because smokers irritate me. I support a ban of smokers in public places because of those health concerns. The stink that smokers bring with them is a symptom of those health concerns the same way an unwashed person makes you worry about catching something.

    And Americans could do well to have drinking and red meat outlawed or at least limited, but every American citizen feels entitled to be as gluttonous and wasteful as possible. Every one feels entitled to do what they want, when they want, however they want.

    This is why we need the government to rein in anyone who thinks they can do whatever they want, including being stinky, annoying, AND a health risk.

  13. Art (artallen) on May 13th, 2008 @ 6:15 pm


    I am struggling not to invoke Godwin’s Law right about now.

  14. shesaturn01 on May 13th, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

    I think what people need to realize is we all have rights!! The problem is who rights are more important? We can look at the tax in one way. As a "use" or "consumption" tax which would allow smokers to "use" the product. Now the "use" should not be so limited to when, where or whoever deems appropriate. We all need to learn to co exist with each other and realize, as we were told by our parents learn to get along (or tolerate each others differences).

    I think Donavon is trying to point out that the more people whine about something to the point the government gets involve the more restrictive our country will become for everyone. This time the smokers next time some other group. I am kinda curios how a foreigner can come to this country and be allowed to break our laws for religious purposes hence no restriction. But a born bread American is expected to abide by all laws. Maybe smokers should have it written in a religion so they can bypass the smoking bans.

    Example: Dave has mentioned about smells. I think heavy perfumes should be banned. I am very sensitive to certain scents. Should I start lobbying to get this ban or learn to move away from the scent that is bothering me?

    As our economy is in turmoil I wonder how the extra tax on cigarettes maybe helping the "non smokers" who lobby to have smoking banned everywhere. Does it pave their road as well?

    I laugh when I hear people talk as if the only way to get lung cancer is from smoke or 2nd hand smoke. I guess they do not know what is in our "clean air".

    I will not patron a place that is non smoking. So I guess if more smokers stopped patron these establishments it would be the non smokers who would be keeping them in business. I am glad they are spending their money instead of mine. I truly believe it should be up to the owner of the business to determine how to run their establishment. That would be the best win win solution. This would allow owners to open one of each bar to capture both crowds. I still think the smoking establishments would be more crowded as there is a lot of non smokers who smoke while drinking.

  15. David (jacc) on May 13th, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

    Well, I’m a nonsmoker and I was against the ban against smoking in bars.

    None the less, let’s be realistic for just a minute. Many people are inconsiderate, smokers and nonsmokers alike.

    The problem when smokers are inconsiderate isn’t the smell to me. It’s the pollution. I see smokers toss cigarettes all the time. When they do it in parks, not only are they polluting, but kids pick up those half used cigs.

    I say raise the taxes so smokes are ten bucks a pack and start a national branding system. I want a license scan with every pack purchased and I want every cig numbered or considering the amount of toxic chemicals in a cigarette let’s make it a felony to litter with cigs.

    Smokers really can be the least personally responsible group on the planet. They get cancer from smoking and they sue like there haven’t been warning labels on cig packs for 50 years. They toss their cigs everywhere and then whine like little kids when they lose their "right" to smoke in public parks. Give me a break.

  16. Donavon (brash) on May 13th, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

    Well, there’s a very good reason for there being a cigarette litter problem. Business owners and municipalities are irresponsibly placing ash trays at obscure or non-existent locations to discourage smoking in certain areas. The problem is that smokers like to stand at the same exact places that non-smokers like to stand, regardless of whether or not there is an ash tray there.

    Cars are similarly not being manufactured with ash trays any more, forcing smokers to trow their butts out the windows. Part of it could be that smokers are inconsiderate, true; however, no one makes it easy for smokers to be considerate, either.

  17. Erica M (ericam) on May 14th, 2008 @ 8:40 am

    I think the ban as it currently exists makes sense. Smoking indoors, even with the most advanced HVAC systems, makes it harder to escape the smoke. It’s flimsy, though, to make an air quality argument against cigarette smoking outside considering all the cars we have driving around.

    As far as the butts go, leaving your butts around does already fall within the confines of litter laws, I believe. Whether or not they’re adequately enforced is another story. Folks could stand to be more considerate about where they toss their butts, but you can’t legislate common decency or common sense into people.

    Somewhat off topic, I am amused by smokers I know who do some crazy stuff to keep the cigarette smell out of their cars… when they drive around smoking in their cars. I’m also annoyed because this often means driving around in the dead of winter with windows down.

  18. David (jacc) on May 14th, 2008 @ 9:44 am

    to make an air quality argument against cigarette smoking outside considering all the cars we have driving around
    It seems to me they don’t want kids around cigarette smoke and I think there is some truth in Art’s title for this post. I wouldn’t be suprised to see legislation pushed to make it illegal to smoke within the presence of kids or within x amount of feet. I believe they already have laws like this in California.

    As far as the butts go, leaving your butts around does already fall within the confines of litter laws

    I guess the question is, is that enough? If people started dropping drugs around would we charge them with littering or with distribution or other more serious crimes? Cigarettes are a drug.

  19. drivel on May 14th, 2008 @ 10:29 am

    I guess the question is, is that enough? If people started dropping drugs around would we charge them with littering or with distribution or other more serious crimes? Cigarettes are a drug.

    Are you suggesting that kids are picking up cigarette butts and smoking them? Is this a widespread issue? ‘Cause that shit is gross…

  20. David (jacc) on May 14th, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

    Are you suggesting that kids are picking up cigarette butts and smoking them? Is this a widespread issue? ‘Cause that shit is gross…

    I have no idea how widespread it is, but I’ve seen it,stopped it, and you’re correct it’s gross.

    Kids . . .

  21. greg on May 14th, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    I’m so glad to see some new authors of MB and you fun commenters with whom I actually agree with for once. It’s been a longtime coming, but I had faith. Btw, there are some great nanny state jpegs here if you’re keeping score at home.

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