Fighting Smoking Bans – Nobody Can Do It Better Than You
In this article, Denis Kay, the cigar blogger behind CigarInspector.com, shares his thoughts on the easiest – and the most efficient – thing cigar smokers can do to protect their rights.
Right now is not a great time to be a smoker. If you\’re old enough, you shouldn\’t have any trouble at all thinking back a few decades to remember a time before smoking was under attack from all sides. It hasn\’t been that long ago that smoking was not just considered an acceptable hobby, but a societal norm- something that was practically expected of you in a social situation. Even younger folks can watch movies and take in other forms of media from years ago and see for themselves how things used to be.
Unfortunately, things have gotten much worse over the past few years and if we, as smokers, do not do something to defend our rights then they will just continue to get worse. City-wide smoking bans are reaching the point where they are not only common, but quickly becoming the norm.
The huge anti-smoking push that we\’re seeing directly relates to the health studies that the anti-smoking lobby is constantly quoting to us. The problem with these studies is that they might not be entirely truthful and, even if they are, they\’re almost certainly exaggerated a significant amount in the interest of educating the general public. In order to defend ourselves we absolutely have to make sure that the information they are spreading is completely true.
This is a war that has to be fought with information, and one of the most important things that you can do to make sure that our remaining rights as smokers do not continue to erode is to make sure that you yourself are educated about the topic. There is a tremendous amount of false information that is having a huge effect on the popular opinion, but more important is the way that all of this is working its way into our legal system.
The way that so many of these smoking bans are coming to be all boils down to our elected officials and their responsibility to honor the desires of their constituents- our politicians have to do what we ask to make sure that they get reelected. This means that we have to match, or even surpass, all of the attention our representatives receive from the anti-smoking lobby. It\’s as simple as making sure that your representatives know exactly how you feel- write, email, and call. If we all just sit around grumbling to one another about how unfair the smoking bans are then the people that actually have the power to keep this from happening are going to continue to only here from the anti-smoking lobby.
As important as it is that our elected representatives hear from us and know exactly how we feel about dissolving smoker\’s rights, it\’s especially important that they hear from business owners- those who are feeling an economic impact from smoking bans. The people that own or operate restaurants, bars, or any other establishment where smoking is traditionally an important part of social relationships are feeling negative consequences from these bans.
It\’s fairly simple- whenever we smokers have to leave a restaurant or bar to smoke, that is time that we are not buying drinks, ordering food, and that means these bans are costing these businesses money. While that is bad enough, these smoking bans also disrespect the rights of these business owners to handle their own property.
If an owner or manager chooses not to allow smoking in their establishment, that is their right and it can be established with a simple sign at the entrance. There is no need whatsoever for a city, county, or state-wide ban. This blatantly interferes with the right of the business to create the type of environment that they want to be available for their patrons to enjoy. It\’s important that we let the owners and managers of these businesses know that we want to smoke at their establishment, and that they need to be contacting their representatives to ensure we have that right.
Just as an example, the other day I stopped in at a convenience store that has a small deli in the back- in the decades this store has been open, that deli has served as a meeting place for folks in the community to meet up, have a bite to eat, and enjoy a cigarette, a pipe, a cigar- whatever. They would sit for hours, drinking coffee, smoking, chatting, and supporting the establishment by purchasing these articles throughout the day. These folks didn\’t just show up every now and then- they were there every single day.
Last week I went inside, and the store was completely empty.
I\’d never seen the store that empty before, but there it was. The smell of sandwiches and fries hung in the air, mingled with the coffee brewed, sitting untouched in the pot. I thought it was odd, and I was getting ready to ask the clerk what was going on, but then I saw the sign.
Hanging above the door, hanging above the counter, hanging on the wall- a photocopy of a fine from the state, as well as a sign in large, bold letters from the owner, apologizing to their clientèle of years that their favorite spot had its hands tied- they couldn\’t allow smoking in their establishment anymore.
This is exactly the sort of thing that we are fighting- this deli has been established in the community for thirty years- everyone knew exactly what to expect when they walked through the door. The majority of their customers enjoyed coming in to eat, smoke, drink their coffee, and have a good time. Now those folks are gone because legislatures, pushed by the anti-smoking lobby, set down a state-wide ban that killed this business.
These congressmen have probably never set foot in this particular deli, they may not even know that it exists. They can\’t know that they drove away the business from these folks, and they never will know unless we are vocal in letting them know. We need to be writing and calling, we need to be getting the owners of these businesses to write or call- we need to make our representatives understand that it is the right of the property manager to decide whether or not their business allows smoking. We have to take back our rights, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Pick up the phone and call now- no one can do it for you.