Kansas City residents will vote on banning smoking in April and for a change have a choice: they can uphold a bad law or embrace one that is far worse.
Already on the books is a law, which went into effect Monday, that bans smoking from most so-called public places. That law was passed by the city council in the probably vain hope that its passage can stave off a smoking ban voter initiative that throws business owners from the frying pan into the fire. On one side is the pharmaceutical industry, which wrote the voter initiative, and on the other are elected officials who are confused, unanchored to morality, historically ignorant, and indifferent to the ideals that once coursed through the country. Guess which side is likely to win, especially considering how much money Big Drugs will lay out to pass its smoking ban initiative.
The council’s ban will end smoking in all restaurants except those with a liquor license but only after 9:00 pm as long as no minors are allowed. Bars will not be affected at all. Smoking will be allowed in casino gaming areas. The pharmaceutical initiative will ban smoking in bars and restaurants completely, allowing smoking only in casino gaming areas, but only so long as neighboring counties permit smoking in casinos. In this day and age the city council’s ban is considered a soft ban while the initiative written by Big Drugs is moderately hard, as hard as they feel they can make it today in Kansas City. Both plans are outrages against personal liberty.
Proponents of the hard ban are pointing to smoking bans enacted in France, Ireland, and other European countries as harbingers of inevitable change. The loudest proponent is city council member Cathy Jolly, a cancer surviver as the reporter gratuitously informs the reader, who proclaims that it’s time that Kansas City become a "world-class" city, a designation forbidden to cities that persist in permitting business owners to set their own policies. A wine bar owner who voluntarily went smoke-free thinks all bars and restaurants should be forced to follow suit "for better health and the environment." Smokers, she says, will adjust.
The local business association begs the voters not to put the proprietors out of work and timidly suggests that smoking policies should be left to the business owners to decide. There’s no mention from the association, the reporter, or anyone else, that neither the city council smoking ban nor the one written by the drug industry are needed, since secondhand smoke doesn’t harm nonsmokers. So far hospitality associations from coast to coast, although very much aware that the secondhand smoke issue is based upon fraud, steer clear of confronting that fraud head-on, preferring instead to finagle minor concessions, dispute legal technicalities, and seek the holy grail of a "level playing field."
The depressing sameness of this story is alleviated by the director of Public Health who complains that the city council smoking ban law doesn’t provide him with any money for enforcement or education. He whines that he has no staff on duty at 9:00 pm and posits a conundrum so daffy it could only come from a bureaucratic hack isolated from the real world. Figuring out whether someone lights up a cigarette at 8:59 pm versus 9:01 pm, he says, could become “an enforcement nightmare.”
The nightmare is that this once proud nation has come to such a sad state that oceans of time and rivers of money are expended on a non-problem, which, when "fixed," cascades into real problems that hurt real people while the architects of the chaos move on to the next city or state or country to work their black magic on a new bunch of suckers and moral illiterates.