Should smoking be banned at bars in Lafayette?
This smoker says yes.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Written by Walter Pierce
I smoke cigarettes. Roll-your-own cigarettes. I am accustomed to huddling near dumpsters and dodging rain to satisfy my nicotine addiction. Because that’s what it is — a chemical addiction, midwifed by a dying myth of sophistication embedded in my psyche by mass media. I have surely trimmed a decade off my life, although I’ve rationalized it by telling myself I’ve shorn off the geriatric years of aching joints, uncomely pustules, incontinence and loved ones dying around me. I’m curing myself of the loneliness and despair of old age. If I could quit smoking and get my 20s back, I’d kick the habit fast.
Yet I’m astonished that our community is debating banning smoking in its last public, indoor bastion: bars. There is no debate. Ban it. Yesterday.
I don’t go to bars often, but I had the good fortune of patronizing a local dive a couple of weeks ago where live music is performed and the customers smoke like a sailor fresh on shore. By “good” fortune I mean sucky. I typically step outside for a smoke when I’m at a bar, even smoker-friendly bars. At this place I didn’t need to: there was enough nico-haze to satisfy my fix — a miasma that burned my eyes and lungs. I’m not exaggerating.
At a forum last week at City Hall, supporters and opponents of a smoking ban at bars made their case. Opponents of a ban marched along the well-worn path of choice and individual rights. An attorney hired by local bar owners — a smart, elegant-thinking gentleman whom I’ve met and respect — argued, “I want my individual choice respected, and I think that’s the fundamental argument. Where does it stop? Are you ready for legislation that prevents you from smoking in your backyard?”
Hyperbole methinks. Where does it stop? It stops at bars, which along with casinos in Louisiana are virtually the only places of business where smoking is allowed indoors. These are places where the public gathers.
(As an aside, I have to wonder whether the bar owners would be lawyering up if they weren’t anticipating some type of legislative action on this issue? There may be more going on behind the scenes than the participants are acknowledging.)
The argument that bar employees including musicians, especially musicians, should simply “choose” to work elsewhere is a stretch, too. Musician/songwriter David Egan, who writes a music column for this newspaper and is a stand-up guy who battled lung cancer, made an indisputable point at the forum: this isn’t a matter of choice for him; musicians go where the work is, and in South Louisiana that work is most often in bars.
My right to smoke in a bar — or anywhere for that matter; why not a day care or hospital? — is also my “right” to subject people around me to something that causes cancer. To help them get sick.
Second-hand smoke is listed as a “known human carcinogen” by the EPA and other reputable groups run by scientists, physicians and people who know a lot of stuff. Second-hand smoke causes cancer. This seems simple.
The American Cancer Society classifies second-hand tobacco smoke in two categories: sidestream and mainstream. The former is the smoke that burns from the end of a cigar or cigarette. It’s much more chemically potent than mainstream smoke — what we smokers exhale — because many of those deadly chemicals are absorbed by the smoker. (You’re welcome.) But their combined effect is undeniably dangerous, especially for bar employees who are subjected to second-hand smoke for hours on end.
Government has a role in ensuring public health and safety. A vital role. Business long ago proved itself more than willing to jeopardize employee health to make or save a buck, especially in low-skill industries where workers are expendable. Construction didn’t self-regulate its use of asbestos and lead paint; the government had to do it. Had it not, construction workers would have been left to “choose” another line of work and consumers to “choose” what their cookie-cutter ranch houses are made of. My apologies for ending that last sentence in a preposition, and for this one being incomplete.
We smokers, most of us anyway, are accustomed to being marginalized, to stepping outside for a puff. We can handle it at bars. We’re ready.
Lafayette has a choice all right. I hope we make the right one.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
New Iberia colonial or Broussard traditional home
The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
Fiery style for game day
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Google vs. Amazon in drone race; more deaths in Syria; Russia escalates Ukraine conflict and more national and international news for Friday, August 29, 2014.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage