Friday, May 28, 2010

Once Upon a Time in Smokerville

Once upon a time, I wrote a letter to the McDonald’s Corporation encouraging them to share the secret to ending male pattern baldness that they had discovered but had yet to market to the world. It was sure to be an enormous money maker for the hamburger giant. I became aware of this discovery when I noticed that almost all McDonald’s managers and shift supervisors do not wear head covers while working around food even though they require all of their employees to cover their heads in order to keep hair from falling in their food products. This wasn’t just another case of do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do management. Obviously, McDonald’s management knew something that the rest of us did not. They had discovered the secret to preventing hair loss. The BIG question was, why haven’t we seen McRogain on the market? McDonald’s corporate offices responded with a form letter and certificates for two free Big Macs.

I am about to put pen to paper to congratulate several Michigan casinos and the Michigan state government for an equally astounding discovery that they absolutely must share with the entire world. These two groups have discovered the secret to rendering second-hand smoke completely harmless to human beings. This is the only rational explanation for the holier-than-thou anti-smoking crowd’s recent anti-smoking regulations in the state of Michigan that ban smoking everywhere except in beer tents and Michigan casinos. Second hand smoke must not affect people in beer tents and on a casino’s gaming floors. Oddly enough, second-hand smoke does affect human beings in restaurants at casinos, as smoking has been banned in all restaurants within the state. I’ll bet that the secret to ending the harmful effects of second-hand smoke lies within the effects of blinking lights and gaming machines on cigarettes. The legislature is probably trying to write a law that requires residents who want to smoke to wear green felt suits or carry personal slot machines with large blinking lights wherever they go. Maybe they need to drink a can of Schlitz while walking underneath an umbrella. Portable beer tents, you know. They’re all the rage.

If I have confused you by now, please allow me to explain. “The Michigan legislature passed the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke-Free Air Law on December 10, 2009 to preserve and improve the health, comfort, and environment of the people of the state by limiting exposure to secondhand smoke. Governor Granholm signed the bill into law on December 18, 2009” (page 1). The law banned smoking in most public places, granting exemptions to “Cigar bars, tobacco specialty retail stores, and the gaming floors of casinos” (page 9) as well as beer tents that are not enclosed (page 7). What is completely unclear is why the Michigan state legislature would allow any exemptions at all. Either second-hand smoke is dangerous or it is not. If it is dangerous then outlaw the product. Ban smoking completely. If the state doesn’t have the courage of its convictions to completely ban smoking then they should stop sanctimoniously whittling away at smoker’s rights to practice a legal activity. Why the exemptions? Like an addicted smoker lighting a Camel from the butt of his last cigarette, the state legislature is addicted to the casino tax profits that line the dwindling coffers of the state treasury. The state of Michigan collected 36.2 million dollars in casino taxes between January and April of 2010. The city of Detroit collected 52.6 million in taxes during that same time period. This was their share of the 472.5 million dollar gross receipts collected at Michigan casinos earlier this year. Do you think Michigan casino owners believe a smoking ban on gaming floors will hurt their bottom line? You bet they do. And legislators know such a ban would hurt their bottom line, too. Suddenly, second-hand smoke in the enclosed spaces of a Michigan casino isn’t so bad after all.

Let’s not forget that Michigan “tobacco tax revenue totaled $1,179.9 million in fiscal year (FY) 2005, up $187.1 million from FY2004,” or that “this represented an 18.8 percent increase in tobacco tax revenues over FY 2004.” I thought that smoking was so horrible that it must be banned, but once again we see that Michigan legislators do not have the courage of their convictions. Smoking sure is profitable. With the state facing a $920 million budget deficit, Michigan does not appear to be too concerned about the health and safety of smokers and their neighbors after all. No one wants to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, even if that goose smokes.

If anyone thinks that I am picking on Michigan, I am. The Kansas legislature is about to enact the same hypocritical laws, too. All I’m asking for is a little consistency. If smoking is so bad, outlaw it completely. Otherwise, leave it alone.


L. said...

You are right on target, Arby. That's a great big AMEN, Good Buddy.

Kathleen said...

It's politics. Do you honestly expect consistency?

Michelle said...

A consistant politician? You MUST be dreaming! Or on some deserted island somewhere! Have a great holiday weekend. We'll be camping again, in the rain again.

Linda said...

Politics is about money. Period. Great post.

L. said...

Just because it's politics doesn't make the inconsistency right, moral or ethical. It's plain out wrong and dishonest and we shouldn't be sitting back and taking it as though it were acceptable and/or inevitable. We need more backbone. We need to fight back, constructively.

Linda said...

I disagree for once, respectably. I like limited government. That said, to ban smoking where there are children, or families, makes sense. I'm talking about common, everyday places like restaraunts. However, to ban smoking in a cigar shop is, well, ridiculous. After all, people are there by choice, and if you don't want to breath smoke, don't go to smoke shop. These are privately owned businesses who make their money on smoking. Casinos, well, are you going to take your child to a casino? or a bar? Probably not. Those are places where smokers group, but families typically do not.
Would you want your government to outlaw tobacco? Do you want that kind of government control? If you owned a cigar shop, would you want the gov't telling you how to run your business? On the other hand, do you not appreciate being able to go out to eat with your children without worrying about second hand smoke?
Just my thoughts....

The_Kid said...

Just like the seat belt law, it's all about the money as you point out.
In Ohio, they have a seat belt law but no helmet law for motorcyclists. And as pointed out many times - millions of KIDS ride School Buses twice a day with no seat belts.

It's just this wonderful topsy-turvey day care center country we live in now and especially with the equivalent of 5 year olds running the show - liberals

Arby said...

Linda, you are always welcome to disagree.

Brownie said...

I think I agree with Linda disagreeing. Limited government. However, I do appreciate eating in a restaurant with no smoking. There are smoking bans in the two states that I frequent - but I couldn't tell you what they are, but I do notice fewer smokers and am surprised when I see someone lighting up.

Although, I must confess. When I'm at a farm auction I like the smell of a cigarette or pipe wafting across the crowd.

Linda said...

Thank you. I won't argue though, about it being about money. The Kid brings up a good point about seat belts.

Papa Bear said...

1. Politicians are liars and hypocrites. I think we all know that by now.
2. That doesn't make it right.
3. We as citizens have the right, nay, the duty, to call them on it, and make some effort to correct it.
4. Smokers have the right to slowly kill themselves.
5. Non-smokers have the right not to be poisoned by their neighbors.
6. Good manners would dictate that smokers not smoke where other people are trying to breathe. That would pretty much limit smoking to inside their own homes and cars (assuming no children or non-smokers are present), or outdoors AND downwind, or in indoor areas designated as smoking areas. Any area not designated a smoking area should be assumed to be a non-smoking area.
7. I have met a number of polite smokers who follow these rules automatically. The vast majority of smokers, however, do not. They have deadened their sense of smell to the point that they think their sh.. er, smoke doesn't stink. That's why most public spaces have rules permitting smoking in some places and not others. (Cigar smoke is the worst, cigarette smoke is second, and pipe tobacco can actually smell pleasant if it's not too thick. IIRC, they're all equally unhealthy, though. And heavy smokers stink even when they're not smoking.)
8. I would rather let property owners decide if and where smoking is allowed than turn that decision over to the government. The government tries to micromanage too much of our lives already.
9. Private property owners have done a better job of setting reasonable smoking policies, and have done it more quickly. When I was a kid, you could count on coming back from any public building, except possibly church, stinking of smoke. Even doctor's offices and hospitals had ashtrays in their waiting rooms. First came non-smoking sections in restaurants. Then local fire marshals began giving orders or getting ordinances passed against smoking in department stores. Next, individual doctors and hospitals began restricting smoking to designated areas. Then local, state, and federal government offices began to follow suit. Private colleges and universities had long limited smoking to designated areas or been smoke free. When my father went back to school to work on his master's in the late 1970's, professors at the state university were still smoking while lecturing. By the time I enrolled, smoking was only allowed outdoors. You had to run a gauntlet of smokers to get to the building, but once you were inside, you could breathe. Non-smoking restaurants began to appear in the 1990's. Since then, I have seen non-smoking skating rinks, bowling alleys, laundromats, and even bars. People can choose to patronize the businesses that meet preferences, smoking or non. The government came late to the party, and now wants to take credit for hosting it.

Some Guy said...

I agree with Brownie's agreeing with Linda's disagreement. I forget what that was, but I wanted to type that sentence.

Arby, it sounds like there will be consistency - all states will enact smoking bans with exemptions.

L. said...

There is such a lack of personal discipline and self control in our society it is no wonder that the government has had to come up with so many laws.

We cannot have it both ways, folks. Those who flat out refuse to comply with not engaging in behaviors that endanger themselves and/or others, i.e., driving drunk, exceeding speed limits, smoking, insurance fraud, constructing with inferior building materials, speeding past stopped school buses, texting while driving, going around downed railroad crossing gates, driving buzzed (which IS driving drunk), abusing drugs, using fire crackers illegally, and countless other common sense and legal infractions have brought about the government's getting involved in our daily lives. Someone had to do something to address the inumerable violations that bring chaos and grief into the lives of the many.

Just because one doesn't agree with something doesn't mean that it's okay to go against it. Just because we have freedom of speech in our wonderful USA doesn't give license to flaunt the rules or laws. Just because one has voice doesn't mean that it's okay to yell fire in a crowded theater. The government laws do not have to take away our choices. We can and must choose to do what is right, considerate, honest, conscientious and in the best interest of the many. If we do not agree with something we can choose to work to bring about changes that are needed by using the tools our constitution provides. We can choose to pay attention to the backgrounds of our candidates for office and make informed choices when we vote. We can choose to vote the crooked and lazy politicians out of office.

Choosing to misbehave, not comply, break the rules only gives cause to the government making more laws. The principal is so simple. It's not easy. It is just simple. We cannot have it both ways.

We teach our children by example. Teaching them to engage in whatever kind of negative behavior we choose does nothing but continue to erode our and their rights by giving the government more reason to make more laws. It becomes a never ending circle that accomplishes little.

We cannot have it both ways.