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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Last Days of the Smoke-filled Pub

As we pull near the end of the year, we come to the end of an era. Come January first, you won't be inhaling smoke in pubs--either directly or indirectly. I plan to do another post with some of my own thoughts on it, but I'm interested to know what the mood among readers is. Presumably, you all are ground zero for this, so you should have a fairly well-formed opinion. So, what do you think, do you support the smoking ban or not?


  1. I can finally hang out at the Horse Brass. And spend my money on beer rather than dry cleaning.

  2. It'll be nice to have a pint and chat with friends or listen to music and not come home coughing and reeking of smoke!

  3. yeah, the Horse Brass has been off-limits for me. it'll be nice to have a pint there.

  4. I've never been to the Horse Brass. There are plenty of good places to get beer in Portland without the smoke. I know it's an icon and is sacrilege as a Portland beer drinker to not have been there. I'll go there now. However, we are all big boys and girls and we can choose where to work, drink and eat, that's why I voted against the smoking ban and why I voted the same way on the poll.

  5. Ditto on Horse Brass. Never been because of the smoke and look forward to going. Can't believe it took Portland this long to enact a smoking ban.

  6. I've been counting down the days since the law passed and I couldn't be happier.

    I'll second the many here in expressing particular enthusiasm for finally being able to hang out at the Horse Brass -- and I'll add Tugboat, downtown, too.

    I've been dragged to each a few times by friends and enjoyed the beers and the (non-smoking parts of) the atmosphere, but on every occasion I not only came home reeking and coughing but was sick the next day as well. Thus I've since steadfastly refused to enter either place.

    Hooray for progress! I agree with Jason that it's shocking it took us so long to get here, Hopefully next we'll legally define smoking in the presence of children as a form of child abuse.


  7. somewhere a Libertarian is crying...

  8. When a similar law passed in Tempe, AZ; it was heaven! And I can say from my experiences there, the great beer locations (Papago Brewing specificially) lost no business, and might have become busier after the ban!

    Only sad thing is that now I live on the West Side and the Horse Brass is quite a long haul home.

  9. I haven't been a smoker for some time now, but I think this is pretty lame. Bars are one of the few places for adults to go do what adults do. Many many great bars in Portland are smoke free and available to non-smokers.

    For whiney v*ginas to impose their PC rules on all the other establishments in town is weak. Perhaps the reason the Horse Brass had smoking was to keep people like you away.

  10. I'm of a mixed opinion on the matter. I do smoke occasionally, and have tried to quit uncountable times.

    So on the one hand, I think I may finally be able to kick the habit if the last place I do smoke goes smokeless.

    On the other hand, it's an odd thing to legislate behavior like this.

    In my bar, people wouldn't be allowed to play Britney Spears' music on the jukebox, but I would never support a legislative ban on it. To each his own.

    I know that smoking is unhealthy, but so is having more than 3 drinks a day. So is eating at McDonalds for every meal. Should we ban those things? Where does it stop?

  11. First let me say I quit smoking several years ago and honestly I won't miss the smoke. However, i think the sanctity of civil rights outweighs the other issues at hand and cannot support the ban.

    These are PRIVATELY OWNED adult only establishments and now they are being forced to cater to people who aren't even their customers!! If you don't like the food at a restaurant do you legislate that they adopt a new menu or go somewhere else?

    Banning smoking in parks (or any public place) would be more appropriate then forcing a private business to conform to your desires.

    The only argument that really can be made is that of the employees being forced to breathe the smoky air. Realistically, they can go work somewhere else if its that offensive. But I would probably support a higher wage requirement for people in that situation (hazard pay if you will).

    @Jeremy - Are you serious? Progress comes from voting away people's rights to do something in a private place???

    @ASG - there has never been anything stopping a bar that felt they would get more business by being non-smoking from doing so. Obviously, the places that have smoking are either happy with their business or don't care.

    Really, the Brass should be handing out "I was here before the ban" cards and charge everyone else $6+ for a pint!! That'll rake in the cash as the sheeple flock to the Brass on 1/1/9.

  12. While I appreciate the libertarian-minded folk finding moral outrage in this law, let's be clear about the actual law. Of COURSE legislators have a right to pass laws about behavior in private establishments. Being a business-owner does not grant you sovereignty--you may not conduct duels, dog fights, or slavery just because you have a bar.

    Smoking is not slavery, but the state may ban it.

    I am about 60% in favor of the ban, which makes me 40% against it. But it is worth noting that in terms of social cost, the state has more than just a passing interest: smoking costs millions a year in medical bills, lost work hours, and so on. Making smoking illegal in public places has cut the smoking rate to one of the lowest in the world. It's not just nannyism that provokes legislators to act.

  13. Now, when the warm weather comes back around will the non-smokers ban smoking on the patio and force all the smokers back inside so they can enjoy the outside space?

    I'm not a smoker, and I think the ban will improve business, it's just a funny thought, sort of like in Office Space when they keep moving Milton's desk.

    I think every bar should just install those glass cubes like they had in some airports, smokers could go in the chamber and do their thing. Maybe we could pay for them to be installed with the lottery money, hehe.

  14. Justin:

    respectfully, of course I'm serious.

    I can't beat my kids in the privacy of my own home; I can't hold gladiator battles or even cockfights in the privacy of the basement arena of my business.

    Two consenting adults can't make an agreement for one to enslave the other or even for one to employ the other at less than minimum wage or in unsafe working conditions.

    So, yes, I'd say the elimination of those "rights" and many others is one of the essential elements of progress.

    Personal liberty is a value, and a very high one, but only one of many that a society has to balance, since they are often mutually incompatible or at least in conflict.

    We could even argue that the state of nature is one in which everyone has perfect personal liberty, and that the history of civilization has been the history of the restriction of that liberty in favor of other, competing values.

    In a more conventional way it's usually expressed as the idea that some liberties have to be curtailed in order for others to exist.

    Anyway. Hooray for the smoking ban. See you at the Horse Brass, Justin.


  15. Like the Matrix, it all comes down to choice. I lose no freedoms by having smoking establishments. No one can force me to go to a smoking pub, be it to work or to drink. As an informed adult I make the choice by weighing the health/stinky factors against the pleasure. I chose to smell good.

    This has no correlation to cock fights (the chicken has no choice) or beating your kids (your kids don't choose to get hit). Slavery doesn't apply because slaves don't choose to be slaves. What sucks for places like the Horse Brass is that there a lot more voters that don't smoke. Let's just call it like it is, nonsmokers rejoice because their gain is a smokers loss. We can try to justify the ban for all sorts of reasons but in reality we're happy that more of the world is open to us to enjoy life while less is open for smokers to do the same. Being for smoking is like rooting for Voldamort, an unpopular side.

  16. Hi Joe:

    way to cherry pick the examples while dodging the real point.

    We do constrain people's ability to choose all the time, e.g., working conditions rules -- I cannot choose (legally, anyway) to be employed in working conditions the state deems unsafe; likewise I cannot choose to sell myself into slavery (hoping, for instance, to benefit someone else with the proceeds), even when there is a willing employer or buyer.

    As far as the examples of beating your kids and having a cockfight, the point there wasn't consent -- it was the supposedly sacrosanct nature of actions on private property.

    As far as kids or animals choosing -- everything parents do to kids or owners do to their animals is without their consent. Almost by definition, children and animals cannot give consent to anything as they are incapable of doing so; they are incapable of making rational decisions binding on themselves in the eyes of the law.

    My kid doesn't want to go to school; is it wrong that I and the state force him to? My cat didn't want to get a rabies shot; is it wrong that I and the state forced her to? My kid doesn't want to sit in time out -- is making him do so equivalent to beating him with a stick? If his ability to give informed consent is the standard, yes.

    I don't think there's any serious argument against the right of competent adults to make decisions, even serious and life-altering decisions, for or on behalf of the children and animals they're responsible for. the question is whether or not there are some legitimate limits to that right.

    And "freedom to choose" is elusive to define in reality even when it sounds so simple in theory -- I suppose you could argue that I am "free" to become homeless instead of taking a job tending bar at a smoky joint because it's the first place that makes me an offer. In some literal sense it's true, but not in a meaningful sense for most people.

    Whatever, internet arguments are kinda ridiculous and I need to go to bed. I respect your fervent love of individual liberty, but I don't agree that it's simply a majority imposing its meaningless desires on an oppressed minority. It's the legitimate use of state power through the democratic process to improve public health and eliminate a public nuisance.



  17. Jeremy -

    Without stupid internet arguments how would we get through the work day? As Ron Burgandy would say:

    "When in Rome."

    - Joe

  18. Deschutes Brewery has been non-smoking since 1989. At that time we were quite the maverick. Interestingly, when we did it, our business volume actually increased.
    I defend my right to make our place non-smoking as I defend Don's right to make his smoking. What we are talking about is legal activity on private property, not dog fighting or slavery.

  19. Great, now they should get moving and outlaw that other evil in private run businesses, alcohol!

  20. My point about dog fighting was intentionally extreme--the message is that as a matter of law, government has the right to make these regulations in a democracy.

    Speaking of democracy, this issue is a perfect example of how citizens negotiate competing interests. Democracies allow the people (that is, the majority) to make laws while ensuring the rights of the minority are respected. Reasonable people may disagree about this law, but asking smokers to step outside seems a reasonable measure.

    In fact it looks, based on how my poll's going, that a majority of smokers are in favor of the ban. So even the affected minority doesn't appear to regard this as an infringement.

  21. Jeff Alworth said...

    [I]t is worth noting that in terms of social cost, the state has more than just a passing interest: smoking costs millions a year in medical bills, lost work hours, and so on. Making smoking illegal in public places has cut the smoking rate to one of the lowest in the world. It's not just nannyism that provokes legislators to act.

    Millions in medical bills and lost work hours...same argument can be made for banning alcohol. (drunk driving costs (police, insurance, innocent lives))

    Lowest smoking rate in the world...what difference does that make? Bragging points?

    What gets me about this argument is that those who don't smoke and are in favor of the ban like to come up with all these reasons to justify their position. I'd rather someone take the position of saying "I don't like it so I think it should be outlawed" than making convoluted arguments to support a predetermined mindset.

    I am a non-smoker against the ban. I'm along the lines of Justin on this one. Let's have more common sense and less laws.

  22. Jeff / Jeremy - The arguments about dog-fighting, beating your kids, etc, simply do not apply. Those are specific activities that we as a society have already decided are immoral and that activity itself is illegal, regardless of where it takes place. These are activities in which the participants did not consent to be involved with. So unless you are arguing that smoking itself (regardless of where) is immoral and needs to be banned then its apples and oranges.

    Slavery by definition involves non-consent, if both people are consenting there are contracts you can enter to be a full time "aide" to a person, butlers, etc... But if you consent its not slavery, so again apples and oranges.

    What I am arguing about is the banning of an otherwise legal activity in a private place. Additionally, its an activity done with full consent of all the adults involved. Whether you smoke or not, you made the choice to go into the smoky bar... And going to a bar is in no way a necessary part of anyone's life plus there are numerous non-smoking bars for you already.

    Now ironically your ban is going to take this "nuisance" public and force non-consenting adults, and children to breathe the smoke of people in a public place. When the pack of 20 smokers step outside to light up, the people walking by on the street, who did not consent to (and should not have to) breathe smoky air while going for a walk on a public street, will be forced to if they want to get past that establishment.

    All that said, it is interesting as you pointed out, Jeff, that more smokers are in favor of the ban on this poll...

    Like I said, I won't miss the smoke. I just don't think my enjoyment should come at the expense of someone elses enjoyment of a legal activity on private property.

    "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they."
    -- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

    (one of my favorite quotes from political theory classes back in the day)

    See you all at the Brass!

  23. Ralph, your dissent is noted. There's no "right" answer on this one. It's a battle of competing interests. In a democracy, this is how we resolve them. I have, for the past 30 years, so often been in the minority on how we've made laws that I understand how frustrating it can be.

  24. Jeff and Jeremy: Thank you for saving me from myself. I've been waiting for dudes like you my whole life to step in and tell me how I need to do things. I really appreciate it. I feel more enlightened already.

    (P.S. I do appreciate you making it clear where the smuggest crowd is going to be in the new year: the Horse Brass. I'll steer clear.)

  25. Anon, I never said anything about saving you from yourself. I said the legislature has a right to make this law. The reason I support it 60% is for me, not you.

    (The 40% I oppose it is on your behalf.)

  26. Thankful Anon:

    I'm only interested in saving others, beginning with myself, from you.

    Please feel free to damage yourself as severely and with as much dispatch as your heart desires.