Smoking in DeKalb

I have heard a lot of arguments against smoking bans in general. As an X-smoker I can relate to them in some ways. This even gets more accentuated considering I believe a smaller government is a better government. Where does the government get off telling me where and when I can smoke (or not in this case)? It gets off with the idea for the same reason I can’t spray bug spray in folk’s face. Cigarette smoke has been proven toxic, in lots of ways. It should be restricted in public places. Places such as restaurants and bars. I know, I know… as customers, if we can’t stand the smoke, we can leave the premises and find a place that doesn’t allow smoking. Wait! This works for the customers but what about the workers? Jobs don’t come easy for a lot of folks. I’m sure a lot of the people working in the bars and restaurants would love to work in a non-smoking environment but low and behold, the jobs are scarce!

Now I ask you, do the workers in bars and restaurants not deserve the same protection to their health that you do in your workplace? Have you not noticed that you cannot smoke in your office, store or (as so popular here in DeKalb) your warehouse? This is because there are laws protecting your health in those industries. I think it’s time to extend that same protection to everybody.

Now for all of you who say it will kill the industry. I doubt it will. First, folks will still want to eat and drink. Some may go to other cities where they can smoke, but most will probably just take the path of least resistance.

A second line of thought for those bars that insist on allowing smoking. Have you not noticed private clubs are exempt from the law? I remember Addison Tx. (I think that’s the city) had some silly rule about serving alcohol except to club members. So the restaurants simply became clubs and charge a couple of dollars each year for membership dues. I can see this as a possible solution. Become a private club! Charge dues, make folks fill out a simple membership form and away you go. Of course, we still have that nasty worker situation. If they paid their dues (maybe coerced), but they get paid, are they members or workers?

Food for thought. This is a hard issue with many sides and arguments. I’m interested in hearing some more arguments on both sides. Please don’t spew the stats. We all know the poisons that smoke has and all of the diseases it causes. Lets discuss this on the rational of individual rights, majority rule, politics and other fun angles.


14 thoughts on “Smoking in DeKalb”

  1. Joe,

    I smoke. I do not have a strong position on the DeKalb smoking ban but I would support a state or perhaps, but not likely, a county ban. I am always wary of sych an issue being regulated at a local level as I do not see it as a function of local government. I see value in the current debate, however, because it reminds me that to light up may be offensive to others so its my responsibility to find out and act accordingly.

    If the DeKalb city council is to ban smoking on ther merit of local health concerns then Lynn Fazekas’ letter to the editor was dead on the mark: They should also ban idling trucks, frivolous car drives and cutting weight for wrestling.

    It will have an adverse effect on some local establishments. It will likely turn the customers of several townie bars into packaged-liquor customers. The reports of studies that indicate no negative impact from a local smoking ban are biased and the studies are false. Enter “after smoking ban” (without quotes) as keywords in Google. It won’t take long to read several stories of related bar closings.

    It will foster poor decisions by the few bad apples, or malcontents, who would deliberately “take their business” to Sycamore. And while they would deserve the DUI ticket let us hope they do not kill anyone before they are removed from the road.

    Dave Baker made mention of a similar idea as yours in relation to local bars turning in to private clubs. That might be the solution but I hope it does not create the making of liars and cheaters for survival purposes.

    Baker also told me his support of a city-wide ban was based on personal belief and because a large majority of voters are non-smokers and public opinion was therefore on his side. That’s how democracy works, he said.

    I told him that a good democracy is judged not as much on its reaction to public opinion as it is on its performance in protecting the rights of its minorities.

    And it is the rights of employees that I would support a statewide ban.

  2. I don’t think these decisions should be made by government! Again, we have a choice to go in, or to work in these establishments. If it is fumes from trucks or busses that are idling by the side of the road or in a parking lot, we cannot make a choice to quit breathing. We can make a rule in our own homes. A few years ago, I was in Reno, a casino made the choice to go smoke free, and beleive it or not, it is closed.
    I say better air filtration systems.

  3. Hi, I’m b-a-a-a-ck, and agree with all of you! Workers’ rights, smokers’ rights, whether or not there are choices available already, and how not to screw small business are all good arguments.

    Especially when it comes to restaurants (since there are already many smoke-free ones) I’m against the ban because I feel most people have a choice one way or another when it comes to this situation. (Also I adore nurturing my inner Libertarian whenever possible.) However, as I e-mailed the city council the other day, I personally would choose to socialize in bars more often if they were smoke-free. A lot of my friends feel the same way. The tide has turned and it’s only a matter of time before a brave bar owner takes the plunge to cater to our preference. One that I know of already kinda does: PJ’s in Sycamore, which is lucky enough to have two rooms so has created a nonsmoking space that I find quite tolerable.

    I suggested to the council that instead of looking at either-or, they consider setting a target percentage of bars to go smoke-free voluntarily and offer some sort of tempting little incentive program. Even if it costs the city a little, wouldn’t it also cost us to enforce a ban? Not sure what would work, though: Help with publicizing those establishments going smoke-free? Discounted liquor licenses? Help me out here.

    Some of the council members who responded to my e-mail recognized that accomodations are needed at least for the smallest bars, so I suspect that compromise is in the works.

    Joe, looks like you’ve started a discussion that requires a new category!

    former smoker
    former small business owner

  4. Yinn, it sounds like that bill is still working it’s way through. Once it passes I can see the future, sports smoke shops. All they would need to do was get a byob license (if there is such a thing) and a license to sell buffalo wings.

    “Cutting wieght for wrestling” is where students on the wrestling team will do all sorts of things to lower their body wieght before a match to keep in their “class”.

  5. They have “byob” restaurants in Chi-town (they charge for “cork service,” great racket) so am sure DeKalb could have that license classification if it wanted to.

    They have smoke shops in Europe. In some countries also toke shops. I hear that “No Toking” signs are stolen continually by tourists.

    I don’t know if it’s more fascinating or disturbing that some members of the council who support the ban seem to take it personally that others don’t support it. In the Chronicle today, a letter to the editor brought up the mayor’s “dismay” with Conboy’s position; a couple weeks ago, Povlsen was quoted as saying something like, “They’re usually so rational” about council members who haven’t jumped on his bandwagon. I suspect they thought the ban would pass handily now that the council has flipped to a Dem majority. Oops. In fact, it’s a more interesting discussion because it’s not totally based on loyalty to a person or a party line, a welcome change from the past in this town.

  6. I don’t know, I smoke, I am against the ban but I would be if I didn’t smoke too. I say humbug to government intrustion under the guise of public safety.

    joe said:
    “It should be restricted in public places. Places such as restaurants and bars.”

    News flash: It already is.

  7. I’ve heard that Chicago restaurants are all going smoke-free by (the end of?) 2008 but they can get a waiver if their ventilation system is good enough to maintain air quality that’s the same as that outside their establishments. Is that possible? Would that be an option for us?

  8. Joe and I talked to Steve K and Donna G after last meeting. They are not wanting to have the smaller businesses put out a bunch of money for ventilation systems when the state is considering a ban. The paper is suggesting that there will probably be a compromise of some sort. Possibly a phase in for the bars. The proposed state law has only passed out of committee and still has go through the full House and Senate to be law.

  9. According to the Chronicle today, it looks like council will pass the citywide ban in two weeks. If the proposed state ban is no longer languishing in committee, why bother now? Why not just wait & see what happens at the state level first?

  10. As I have stated I would support a state ban as that would truly level the playing field. The legislation must be written to it cannot be exempted by home rule communities.

    That being said I will be glad when the DeKalb Smoking Ban ashtray gets emptied. There are other issues the city faces that are the responsibility of local government. Since First Rockford has divested from DeKalb and invested into Sycamore perhaps proactive measures to retain DeKalb businesses would be in order.

    Otherwise, that huge sucking wind we’ll soon hear will be the sound of businesses in the DeKalb retail centers being lured to the attractive demographics Sycamore will offer them.

  11. I am not a smoker and never have been. I don’t like the smell of smoke or the risks involved in second hand smoke, so I avoid bowling alleys and restaurants where there is not a defined non-smoking area. I have been eating out in Sycamore for about 10 years now & I really only recall ever having to change tables at AppleBees a couple of times. Grant it, I don’t hang out at bars. I find it harder to avoid second hand smoke outside of buildings than inside. I find these fleeting occurences much more annoying, so I walk away and stand somewhere else. I feel as much as it is my right to breath “clean” air, its a smoker’s right to smoke. It seems to me that if the intention of a ban is to make public places more comfortable & healthy, maybe the focus should be more on the health risks of smoking & public education instead of putting a band-aid on the problem and making the world a better place for just some of us? To be honest, I find it a lot more offensive that Chuck e Cheese sells beer… just some thoughts.

  12. Chuck E. Cheese sells beer?? I never noticed that.

    After more thought, my biggest problem with the smoking ban is that they didn’t even try a carrot before introducing the stick. But I must admit, when the ban goes into effect I will be visiting the bars more often where my favorite local blues band plays.

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