Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2010

De Soto bar managers, customers give smoking ban a thumbs down

March 18, 2010

Trey Heffner doesn't know how the JT’s Grill and Sports Bar he manages will respond to the new state smoking ban, but he knows he's concerned.

Gov. Mark Parkinson signed a bill Friday that would ban smoking in restaurants, bars, work areas and most other public places.

The bill, which will becomes law July 1, will replace local bans like those in Lawrence and Overland Park.

The bill also makes it illegal to smoke within a 10-foot radius of a doorway.

“Kansas won; special interests lost,” Parkinson said to cheering clean air advocates who crowded into the south wing on the second floor of the Capitol for the signing ceremony.

The losers stand to be bars, restaurants and smokers who frequent them, Heffner said.

"I'm concerned about the loss of business, but more so for the people who come to the bar to smoke," he said. "I read last year there was a 30 percent drop in business for bars and restaurants in townships and counties with bans."

JT’s hasn't yet had a discussion about the ban but soon would, Heffner said. One possibility was to have an outdoor dining and drinking area, a prospect complicated by the 10-foot doorway radius provision.

"We'll do what we need to do to protect our business," he said.

Sitting at the bar, customer Roger Jones said he, too, opposed the ban. He only smoked cigarettes when drinking beer and with smoking bans in Lawrence and larger Johnson County cities, De Soto was one of the few places he was allowed that right, he said.

"It was something we had here," he said. "Now it's going."

Connie Shackelford, owner of Beer Thirty, said as a private club the ban wouldn't affect her business. But, she said the state should butt out of how she and other bar owners run their businesses, especially in light of a taxes they pay on alcoholic beverages.

"I don't agree with it," she said. "When you own a business, you should have the right to decide whether to be a smoking on non-smoking establishment.

"Everybody has a choice. People choose to come in here knowing there is smoking."

Customer Tom Tilden, who doesn't smoke, said the ban was unnecessary.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "If the smoking gets to me, I can go to the other end of the bar and get away from it.

"It's avoidable."


snowbird 7 years, 9 months ago

Government gone wild

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling from sea to sea has nothing to do with protecting people from the "threat of second-hand smoke" but are themselves symptoms of a far more grievous threat: a cancer that has been spreading for decades throughout the body politic, reaching even the tiniest organs of local government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved - the cancer of unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom menace but rather, if it were harmful, what would be the proper reaction? Should anti-smoking activists satisfy themselves with educating people about the potential danger and allow them to make their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force people to make the “right” decision?

It seems they've made their choice. Loudly billed as measures that only affect “public places,” they have actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and offices - places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local bans even harass smokers outdoors.

The decision to smoke or to avoid “second-hand” smoke, should be made by each individual according to his own values and assessment of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend or love, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married or divorced, and so on.

All these decisions involve risks; some may have harmful consequences or invite disapproval from others. But the individual must be free to make these decisions because his life belongs to him, not to others, and only his own judgment can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Smokers are a minority, practicing a habit often considered annoying and unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

That is why these bans are far more threatening than few stray whiffs of tobacco smoke while waiting for a table at your favourite restaurant. The anti-smoking crusaders point in exaggerated alarm at those tiny wisps while they unleash the systematic and unlimited intrusion of government into our lives.


gene 7 years, 9 months ago

Poor snowbird! He can't sell enough ventilation systems in Canada, he has to spam every newspaper in America.

Don't come down here and lecture us about freedom, Laprade.


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