Tuesday, December 18, 2007
But a startling 25% drop in takings was seen at some traditional pubs and working men’s clubs, which do not rely on food sales, the survey of more than 2,700 licensees found.
Some 58% said smokers were paying fewer visits to their pubs and 73% said customers who smoked were spending less time inside their pubs.
And although a quarter of respondents said more non-smokers were visiting their premises, they had seen an overall drop since the smoking ban came into force in Wales on April 2.
The poll was carried out by the Federation of Licensed Victuallers’ Associations (FLVA) and the BII (formerly British Institute of Innkeeping) who surveyed 2,708 licensees in Wales and England.
The BII predicts that around 5,000 pubs will close in the next three or four years accelerated by the ban.
The Welsh secretary of the FLVA is adamant the drops are due to the smoking ban.
John Price who runs the Bush Hotel, in Clydach Vale in the Rhondda said, “My takings are down 25%. A lot of my friends’ pubs are losing a lot, other pubs are losing a lot of money.
“The pub up the road from me is losing £1,500 per week and thinking of closing and takings at the local club, known as The Top Club, have fallen drastically.
“People are staying in and going to supermarkets to buy their alcohol because they can smoke at home. The worst thing about that is youngsters get the chance to get a beer from the fridge and drink it in the house.”
Miles Vaughan, chairman of the BII Wales, said sales at his pub have also plummeted.
He said, “I’m the tenant here at the Royal Victoria in Prestatyn and sales have gone down at least 25% if not 30% since the ban. It was predicted that pubs wouldn’t suffer because the people that didn’t smoke would go out and enjoy the atmosphere in public houses but this hasn’t happened.
“At a recent council meeting at the Churchill’s Hotel in Cardiff, there were 12 council members representing 20 pubs and only one said they had gained a new customer since the ban. Pub sales have been going down 5% every year over the last few years but the smoking ban was really the nail in the coffin for many.”
Mr Vaughan said that even those people that came out spent most of the night sitting outside so they didn’t drink that much.
The FLVA’s chief executive Tony Payne said 89% of survey respondents wanted rate relief for licensees who had lost business as a result of the smoking ban.
But ASH Wales, a voluntary organisation tackling tobacco use, said the ban was worth the benefit to public health.
Spokesperson Daniel Clayton said, “We know there’s been a fall in sales in pubs but the decrease is to do with the wet summer we’ve had and in part, due to the health message about drinking that’s in the news at present.
He added that in Scotland, 12 months after the ban, there had been no decrease in pub takings.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Q. When did you first start smoking?
At age 18
Q. What does smoking do for you?
It's an enjoyable hobby.
Q. What do you smoke? Quantity per day?
Q. Did you grow up in a smoking environment?
My father smoked for many years, but quit when I was 14, not due to health reasons. He's still alive and well at 83. My mother never smoked again once she became pregnant.
Q. When did you first promote smokers' rights? Have you always been fighting for rights of some kind?
I started in 2000 as a direct result of becoming fed up with TV ads for thetruth.com. I didn't like the fact that smokers were being villified and discriminated against just like other minorities, and felt we were being overly taxed without any representation. To this day tobacco tax increases and smokers have no say in the matter - we have no real "smoking lobby" in Washington lobbying for our rights. Then I started reading about the effects of secondhand smoke, and realized OSHA, the WHO, and other health organizations have actually determined that secondhand smoke is not harmful at all, so there is no need to demonize smokers, and no need to ban smoking. It has all been a large farce dreamed up by a few nuts who run anti-smoking groups and don't like the smell of smoke, so they lobby for smoking bans. And no, I have never bothered to fight for anyone's rights before this. I don't even donate to charity. And I hate children and small animals.
Q. Specifically, what do you hope to see accomplished for smokers' in the near future? What are you working towards?
All we really do is raise awareness of the fact that smokers are being censored and discriminated against, and taxed unfairly. I would love to see smoking bans overturned, but I'm far too lazy to get that involved.
Q. Right now, it is popular for civil rights advocacy groups to promote gay marriage rights. How do you justify what you do, when others might dismiss it as frivolous or only affecting a marginal amount of people (or, as the anti-smokers say, upsetting and harming a great many people)?
Smokers make up somewhere around 20% - 30% of the population, depending on who you listen to. Only 12% of America is African-American. Should we repeal the civil rights movements of the 60s since it only effects blacks? I don't know how many people are gay but I'm sure it's comparable, if not much less than, the amount of smokers in America. So why are these very small minority groups given rights, but smokers are denied them? It's because smokers are not a *vocal* minority, and because noone in mainstream liberal America will take up our cause. If no whites helped the black movement in the 60s there would be no movement. If straight liberals weren't pushing for gay marriage today it would never happen. Why? Because they can't swing a majority vote alone. Same goes for smokers. Even if we make up 30% of the population, we need 21% of everyone else to fight for our rights to get a majority vote to overturn smoking bans.
Q. How do smokers' rights benefit everybody?
In a free country, everyone's rights should be important. If the gov't and a small anti-smoking group can ban my activities, they can ban yours next. Like your chicken fried in oil? Not anymore - they banned trans fats. I think this is best answered with a poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power:
When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
Q. Have you attempted or considered any direct action protests? Were these successful? Why or why not?
I'm too lazy to get that involved. I see my involvement in the entire smoker's rights movement as one of distanced entitlement -- my motto is "I am better than everyone else, therefore I should be able to do what I want." Seriously. There are a lot of stupid people out there trying to pass laws which tell us what to do, how to behave, etc. Can't smoke here, can't eat that, gotta wear your seatbelt, etc. We are spiralling into a nanny state with the less intelligent few dictating the laws and actions the rest of us must follow. I would rather wait until the entire system destabilizes itself and then sweep in with a bloodless coup and take control of the White House. And then I would change the hiring system for gov't job applicants. Every position would require a simple IQ test. If you score less than 120, you can't serve in public office. If you score less than 100, you can't even drive. And if you score less than 80, we send you back home to the South with $5 and a bag of peanuts.
Q. What is your view of the U.S. Constitution? How do you justify smokers' rights by it?
I don't believe the consitution justifies any specific rights per se, it simplies protects the rights of free citizens. I shouldn't have to defend or justify my rights - smoking is a legal activity which hurts noone else. Thanks to our constitution, the burden of proof falls upon you to justify why you have a right to take some of mine away.
Q. How does the NY cultural climate help or hinder smokers? Is there more latitude here, or do you feel the line between the two opposing camps is drawn darker?
I guess it depends on who you talk to. Before the smoking ban, I don't think I could even find a non-smoker in a bar. It seemed like everyone was smoking everywhere. But the bar-going crowd tends to be a younger subset of the entire population. Today I don't think most people in bars care who smokes. Soon after the ban I forgot about it and lit up in a bar - several people actually cheered. Then the bouncer reminded me I had to go outside. But if you ask the older crowd, the family types who don't go to bars as much, or the conformist types who actually still own a gym membership in 2007, they are strongly against it. Unfortunately for us, those are the people who voted for the ban.
Q. Unlike racial minorities or homosexuals, people are not born smokers. This is a conscious choice, which is maybe why few non-smokers join in the fight for smokers' rights. How would you persuade a non-smoker to lobby for smokers' rights?
I think that is a poor comparison. There are many racial minorities who would be very upset to hear homosexuals compared to them - there is no definitive proof that homosexuality is a genetic trait. Regardless, everyone can quit. Smokers can quit smoking, just like homosexuals can stop being homosexual and people of ethnic diversity can have their skin bleached. If those sound like ridiculous suggestions, it's because they are. Smokers shouldn't have to quit.
Many things in life are choices, and we have to protect our right to choose. I may choose to eat meat. But if the meat lobby in Washington decided to pass laws making vegetarianism a crime, I would see the benefit in standing up for vegetarian rights. Not because I am one of them, but because I don't the idea of a gov't which censors and controls our personal behavior nor our free choices.
In order to persuade a non-smoker to help smokers' rights I would simply show them the findings and studies which demonstrate that second-hand smoke is simply not harmful. If non-smokers knew the truth, they wouldn't feel a need to ban smoking.
Q. You wrote: "In a free country, everyone's rights should be important." But in a country as large and diverse as America, rights will necessarily be competitive. One person's rights will impinge on another's rights. Smokers' status as a minority is fundamentally different than blacks or homosexuals since smokers choose their smoker identity. How can they vie for realized rights when smoking is not fundamental to their nature?
Again, a poor comparison. Just because I choose to smoke that does not make my right to smoke any less important. Some men choose to cross-dress like a woman, and that makes some people uncomfortable and even upset, but we don't ban or outlaw them. Some people choose to be Jewish, and we don't ban or outlaw them. Religion is not a genetic trait like ethnicity, so is that considered a less important right? I may be personally offended by seeing a Jew eating in the same restaurant as me just as easily as someone may be offended by seeing a smoker light up, so does that give me the right to request that all Jews be banned from restaurants?
We don't get to pick and choose the "popular" rights which we support in America, or at least we shouldn't. As long as smoking is legal, which it is, and hurts noone else, which it doesn't, it should be a protected right.
Q. Some anti-smokers desire restrictive policies on simple comfort grounds (eye irritation, smell, allergies; cf. smoking restrictions to No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service policies or No Pets Allowed). Can there be a compromise between these conflicting rights in a public space? What is your opinion on smoking sections or "glass cages"?
I definitely think so. I have no problem with smoking sections in restuarants or bars if they would agree with that compromise.
BUT - what we push most on smokinglobby.com is the right for business owners to choose. We should have bars or restaurants which are designated as Smoke-Free, or Smoke-Only. It should be entirely left up to the business owner - the gov't should not be telling private business owners what they can or can't do in their own establishment.
Q. Have you seen the film Thank You for Smoking? What was your reaction to it?
I thought it was a rather boring film and felt it had little to do with the smoking rights argument.
Q. You seem fairly convinced that smoking is not bad for your or anyone's health. Would your habit change if cigarettes were proven harmful to your health--beyond a doubt?
I think you misunderstood - I am convinced that smoking can be harmful to the smokers health - I just don't think secondhand smoke is harmful to anyone else. But I don't base this on my opinions - I cite many studies on smokinglobby which point out both of these points. So I know smoking may be dangerous, but yes I still do it. Because I don't think it's quite as dangerous as they want us all to believe. I know many smokers who have smoked for over 50 years and had no ill health effects. I have never met anyone who has cancer or any other illness due to smoking.
Q. What is the biggest or most frustrating challenge facing you as a smoker? Public space, taxation, or something else?
Personally, it is taxation and gov't censorship and the way in which small interest groups can pressure Washington through lobbying. I don't really care that much where I smoke, but I don't like the gov't passing legislation which effects our personal behaviour. I don't like what it can lead to. I believe in the next 10 years we will see laws, bans, etc., which will impact our diet and what we eat. NYC has already banned trans fats. It is not a far leap to assume they will begin banning how much we eat, because this is all driven by the insurance lobby.
Monday, December 3, 2007
The prohibition against smoking, which took effect in January, sent gamblers who want to light up while playing slot machines to traditional casinos or one of the few taverns built before 1992 that have 35 slot machines and are exempt because the businesses were classified as casinos.
"There are a lot more challenges for an operator than ever before," said Joseph Wilcock, president of the Nevada Tavern Owners Association.
Wilcock estimates that 75 of the association's roughly 300 members gave up food service to keep their gambling and smoking patrons. Most of the membership, he said, is complying with the smoking ban "but are losing their shirts."
None, Wilcock said, wanted to give up the moneymaking slot machines.
Roger Sachs, co-owner of the three Las Vegas-area Steiner's taverns, said friendly service, good food and a lively atmosphere help keep customers from taking their business to a more traditional restaurant.
Sachs said the gambling devices made Steiner's three locations profitable.
Since January, however, revenues from the slot machines are off 29 percent to 35 percent at each location.
"We probably do as well on food as anybody because that's something we wanted to establish," Sachs said. "But other places might take a monthly loss of $10,000 on food, but made it up with the gaming. That's not the case now because the business is not there."
Herbst Gaming is Nevada's largest slot route operator with approximately 7,200 slot machines in 700 locations throughout the state.
In the third quarter, Herbst said revenues from the company's route operations were $66.1 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, a 21 percent drop over the same period in 2006.
For the first nine months of 2007, Herbst's slot route operations generated $212.5 million, 19 percent less than the same nine-month period in 2006.
"There is no question the smoking ban had a dramatic impact on our route operations and has fundamentally changed the slot route industry," Herbst Gaming President Ed Herbst told gaming analysts following the earnings release.
United Coin Machine, which operates about 6,000 machines in more than 400 locations statewide, is experiencing similar losses in revenue.
United Coin President Grant Lincoln said the smoking ban created an uneven playing field for the tavern operators, who don't have the promotional budgets to match the customer incentives offered by the large casinos.
"There's not a lot we can do," Lincoln said. "As their volume suffers, our volume suffers. The question is, have we truly bottomed out? The smoking issue has been a fairly crushing blow for the average tavern operator."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The legal challenge will then be served on the Attorney General and the Secretary of State for Health: The Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt MP prior to new law coming into effect on 1st July.
Freedom to Choose say the ban is an erosion of freedom and personal liberties.
A pre-claim letter before action was sent on 12th June 2007 by the solicitor on behalf of the group and following an ‘unsatisfactory’ response the challenge is set to be launched.
Human rights lawyer Jaswinder Gill of law firm Ormerod’s told morningadvertiser.co.uk: “The Government has made clear that they will not consider our request for amendments so it gives us no choice but to issue proceedings on behalf of Freedom to Choose.”
Speaking after issuing the papers in the High Court this afternoon, Robert Feal-Martinez, Freedom to Choose spokesman, said: "This makes me feel really good to be honest.
"On a personal level I've suffered a lot of abuse over this and all I've ever wanted to do was represent the views of the membership of Freedom to Choose.
"This is the milestone we've been aiming at and we did it at our own pace - not the pace dictated by the anti-smoking lobby."
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Joel Thiel, co-owner of Otto’s Corner Bar & Grill, 38 N. Eighth St., and Betty Hamilton, owner of Tiger Club, 1116 Business Loop 70 E., showed the product of their efforts last week when they filed a petition with the city clerk’s office containing almost 3,000 signatures to repeal the ordinance.
"To me, this is not a smoking issue," Hamilton said. "This is a bar-owners’ rights issue."
Thiel and Hamilton said the ban on smoking, which the city enacted Jan. 9, unfairly takes away personal rights from residents as well as property rights from business owners. Thiel said many bars and restaurants, including his, have experienced a decrease in business since the ban. He said Otto’s is down 35 percent in sales for October compared with last year, which he attributes to the smoking ordinance.
"Even our regulars don’t come in near as much and don’t stay near as long, and I’ve heard from many that it’s because they don’t want to keep getting up to go outside to smoke," Thiel said.
City Clerk Sheela Amin said a petition to repeal an ordinance must have 2,579 signatures from qualified city voters to be considered valid. If the petition doesn’t have enough signatures, Amin said, Thiel and Hamilton will have 10 days to collect more.
The city is working with the Boone County clerk’s office to validate the signatures, and Amin hopes to finish by the end of this week.
If the petition is validated, an item to repeal the ordinance will come before the city council Nov. 19, and council members will most likely vote on it at their Dec. 3 meeting. If the city council votes against the petition, city voters will decide the issue in April.
Two new council members have joined the city council since it approved the smoking ordinance with a 4-3 vote on Oct. 10, 2006, citing public health concerns over second-hand smoke. However, both new members - Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala and Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade - said they support the smoking ban. Two council members remain who voted against the ban, First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser.
Thiel said he would like to see the issue put to a vote to let the people decide.
"If we at least got a chance to vote on it, I could swallow it a lot easier," Thiel said.
Hamilton agreed. "The people should have voted on it, not seven people," she said, referring to the city council.
Thiel said about 11 other restaurants and bars helped get the petition signed. He reviewed each signature and crossed off at least 500 that didn’t appear to be from city voters. To be on the safe side, Thiel said, the petition contains about 400 more signatures than required.
Ironically, if the petition gets on the April ballot, neither Thiel nor Hamilton will get to vote; both of them live in the county.
Thiel and Hamilton, whose business has a patio, said the ban also gives bars and restaurants with patios an unfair advantage; the ordinance allows smoking on patios as long as 50 percent of the space is designated nonsmoking.
Skala said although he is in favor of the smoking ban, he agreed that businesses with patios do have an unfair advantage. "That’s the only problem I can see with it," Skala said. "I see this as a public health issue, which for me trumps the property rights issue."
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The main statement people wanted to make against the clean air ordinance being considered by the commission that will ban smoking in public places was the local government was overstepping its boundaries and taking away the rights of the residents.
Others came to the podium to voice their concerns about the amount of business that would be lost if the ordinance is passed.
Tiara Boyd, manager of Prime Time, said she would lose business if smoking was prohibited in her convenience store.
"Many of the customers come in to play the lottery or lotto where they can smoke," she said. "We would lose our customers."
Not only do the customers smoke, but employees do as well, she said. Only one clerk is on duty at a time and going outside while customers are in the store is not an option.
"If smoke bothers you, you have the choice not to come to our store," Boyd said. "It’s not fair to ban something that is legal."
CJ’s Pancake owner, Charles Lanham, was at the meeting to again state he is against the city government telling him what he can do with his business in regards to smoking. He said people have a choice to come to his restaurant. People who don’t like smoking don’t have to patronize the establishment. Also on Sundays there is a non-smoking room in the back of the restaurant for people to use.
After several people voiced their objections to government regulating smoking, the issue went back to the commission for discussion.
People were willing to give their input against the ordinance, but a few were quick to leave once their piece was said.
The commission reviewed the ordinance by first looking at the general prohibition of enclosed public areas and places of employment. Enclosed public places is defined in the ordinance to mean the portion or portions of any building, structure or other enclosure to which the public is invited or permitted to perform business transactions or to engage in any activity. Examples given in the ordinance include retail stores, retail service establishments (restaurants and bars), professional offices, educational, health care, child care and adult day cares, and indoor recreational and sport facilities.
Enclosed places of employment is described as any enclosed space under the possession or control of a public or private employer where employees engage in employment-related and other necessary activities include work areas, lounges, dining and rest areas, restrooms, meeting rooms and hallways.
It will be recommended that business owners post no-smoking signs at their places of business.
Areas within 20 feet of public entrances to buildings and outdoor vendor areas, such as the farmer’s markets, also will have a 20-foot area around them in which smoking will be prohibited.
Other outside areas, such as concession stands, bleachers and restroom areas, were left out of the ordinance and smoking will be allowed in those areas.
Commissioner Ken Hall asked if fraternal organizations, such as the Eagle Lodge and American Legion, were considered public groups. After discussion that organizations like that ask for membership, fraternal organizations were left out of the ordinance. This means smoking will not be banned from those organizations’ gathering places.
Bars will become non-smoking if the ordinance passes.
Smoke shops, defined as businesses where the predominate product is tobacco and tobacco-related products, will have a non-smoking policy put in place in the ordinance if enacted.
Hotels and motels will be allowed to designate up to 25 percent of their rooms as smoking, if the business owner chooses to.
Private functions within public buildings will not be allowed to include lighting up a cigarette or other tobacco products.
"In summary, smoking will be banned from all restaurants, bars and retail businesses," Mayor Willis Heck said.
The commission will revisit the clean air ordinance at the next meeting after the changes are made to the ordinance. Violation ramifications will be addressed at the next meeting, as well as discussing the possibility of individual businesses being exempted from the ordinance based on objections by management to the proposed ordinance.
Friday, October 5, 2007
The City Council on Wednesday night reviewed an amendment to its second-hand smoke ordinance, which as originally drafted would have eventually barred all tenants from smoking inside their own apartments.
"In weighing the different rights, I feel that an individual has the right to engage in smoking inside their own residence," Mayor James Bozajian said. "I am not a smoker. I don't allow smoke in my home.
"As long as tobacco products are legal, it's something we shouldn't outlaw."
Last year, the city was the first to ban smoking in public places where anyone would be exposed to second-hand smoke.
"This is an extension of protection," said Councilwoman Mary Sue Maurer, who wrote the amendment along with Councilman Barry Groveman to include apartment complexes. "We're going to look further in separating buildings, having a percentage of buildings for smokers."
Under the revised proposal, apartment tenants would be prohibited from puffing on patios and balconies. But the council tossed out a recommendation that would have completely snuffed out smoking in local apartment complexes by designating units as nonsmoking once smokers leave.
Council members will revisit the issue in November when a revision is expected. They hope to have some form of anti-smoke policy pertaining to apartment complexes by the end of the year.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The story from San Jose Mercury News:
The long-smoldering battle over Belmont's proposed anti-smoking ordinance could flare up one more time before it goes on the books.
After voting 3-2 to approve the ordinance Sept. 11, the Belmont City Council was scheduled to finalize it without further discussion at its meeting Tuesday.
But because of some changes city staff made to the ordinance following its initial approval, another public hearing is needed.
The most significant of those changes is a 14-month grace period for smokers living in apartments and condominiums. There also have been a few tweaks to the "reasonable distance" clause that requires smokers to stand 20 feet from any entrance to a non-smoking facility.
The ordinance makes it illegal to smoke in indoor and outdoor workplaces, public spaces such as parks and sports fields, and, most controversially, inside condominiums, townhouses and apartments.
Mayor Coralin Feierbach, who helped push the ordinance, said she hopes Tuesday's discussion will be brief.
"There's just a few things that need to be corrected," she said.
However, Councilman Warren Lieberman, who first voted against the ordinance Sept. 11, hopes to air misgivings one more time.
"My concern primarily is that we take too hard-line an approach to prohibiting smoking in apartments," Lieberman said. "The fact that if you smoke in your apartment you could be evicted - the penalties are just too excessive."
Feierbach, who sees banning smoking in apartments as a key to protecting residents from secondhand smoke, said she won't be swayed by Lieberman's objections.
"My vote stands as is," Feierbach said.
The Belmont City Council is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Belmont City Hall, One Twin Pines Lane.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Colorado became the 13th state in the U.S. to ban smoking in public buildings in the spring of 2006.
According to the non-profit Coalition, OSHA (the federal occupational safety and health administration) typically considers a regulatory action to be economically unfeasible if said action would cause a decrease in related industry or sector revenue of at least one percent or cause a decline in profits in excess of ten percent. Furthermore, says the Coalition, OSHA typically considers a regulatory action economically unfeasible if the action would cause a change in the competitive structure of an industry.
"The Colorado smoking ban violates all three OSHA economic feasibility criteria. As of the first quarter 2007 the Colorado smoking ban has imposed at least $16.8 million in economic damages on bars and taverns in the state, 6.4 percent of previous revenues, and many of our members are experiencing profit declines in the range of fifteen to forty percent," said Allen Campbell, Senior Vice President of the Coalition.
The Colorado law met with very mixed reviews, including a lot of hostile ones, when it was first enacted, especially in light of the fact that if you work from home, your home office is considered a "public building" and if you're a smoker you are thus restricted in what you can do in a certain part of your own home.
Many non-smokers who enjoy going out to restaurants unsurprisingly praised the measure, saying the ban made their outings more enjoyable. Here and there, one could even find a bartender who would praise the measure as well, citing that they didn't have to go home every night after work smelling like smoke (needless to say, these bartenders were all non-smokers).
However, the ban has had an abundance of critics both professional and public. Many bar and tavern owners, and even some restaurateurs, have been saying that their business has suffered because their patrons who are smokers feel their civil rights have been violated and they will just go home and enjoy not only their smoking, but also their imbibing and eating there, too.
Smokers have consistently said that they can understand a high-end restaurant choosing to ban smoking on its premises, but that it's traditional for smoking to take place in places like taverns and that it should be the non-smokers, not themselves, who should have to make the choice to take their business elsewhere if they don't like a smoky room.
OSHA has stated that it's highly unusual for tobacco smoke constituents to exceed its Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) in the normal work environment, even in places such as taverns.
"OSHA regulations provide a safe harbor for business owners because compliance with OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL) protects them from unwarranted regulatory intrusion. Are Colorado bar and tavern small business owners deprived of equal protection of law through substitution of a special-interest smoking ban agenda for established federally regulatory policy?" asks CER consultant Norman E. Kjono.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Ironwood,MI -- The Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners rejected an anti-smoking ordinance Tuesday against the wishes of the health department.
Ontonagon became the first county in the Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department to reject the clean indoor air regulation. A health department had urged the commissioners to table any action until a public survey could be conducted.
Houghton, Baraga and Gogebic counties have all approved the regulation, but all the counties in the health department district must consent to it before the ordinance can take effect. The ordinance would prohibit smoking indoors at all worksites and public places, with the exception of bars, restaurants and tribal properties.
Former commissioner Al Slye questioned the cost of enforcing the ban with mandated inspections.
"Who enforces the ordinance?" Slye asked. "In my opinion, the (health department) has an ulterior motive, a hidden agenda, and more of this kind of ordinance will come down the line."
Health department director Guy St. Germain asked the board to postpone action on the ordinance until a survey of county residents could be conducted by an impartial body.
"I am concerned that we not rush into this because everything we read shows that a majority of citizens support the ordinance," St. Germain said.
He said a majority of states have already passed such an act.
Commissioner Skip Schulz told St. Germain that the health department didn't ask for a survey from the Village of Ontonagon before the village council voted on the issue, because he already knew the council supported the ordinance.
"You do not have support here, so you want to put it off," Schulz said.
Schulz also said that in the three months since the county board held a public hearing on the issue, there has been no outcry from the public to support more laws or such a ban.
The board agreed to vote and then defeated the proposal, saying it would be preferable for businesses to voluntarily take action. The motion also suggested it was the health department's responsibility to convince businesses to voluntarily support a ban.
Commissioner John Pelkola cast the lone dissenting vote.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Kevin Lipka is the true hero of Smoking Lobby, and this has got to stop!
Judge: Go-go bar must pay $41K in fines
Smoke-Free Air Act is 'flagrantly violated' by Smiles II
Thursday, August 16, 2007
A Superior Court judge on Wednesday upheld $41,103 in fines imposed against the owner of the Smiles II go-go bar in Roxbury, finding the owner flagrantly violated the state's law against smoking inside bars and restaurants.
Judge W. Hunt Dumont, sitting in Morristown, gave Smiles II owner Kevin Lipka 14 days to consider an appeal to the state's appellate division before being required to pay the fines first imposed last year by Roxbury Municipal Court Judge Carl Wronko. Lipka paid $5,000 of the fine already, but the rest was put on hold pending his appeal to Dumont.
Lipka, who has owned the go-go bar on Route 46 for 14 years, does not dispute he never posted no-smoking signs and allowed patrons and employees to smoke indoors after New Jersey's Smoke-Free Air Act went into effect on April 15, 2006. Instead, defense lawyer Jeffrey Advokat attacked the violations levied by a Roxbury health officer against Smiles II as unenforceable because the state had not finished formalizing administrative regulations to support the law when it went into effect.
Advokat also argued that Lipka, in the time frame the violations were issued, was actively seeking recognition from Roxbury as a cigar bar so Smiles II could be exempt from the law. Advokat contended that unless or until Roxbury decided whether Smiles II qualified for an exemption it should have refrained from giving him violations.
Dumont disagreed, siding with township attorney James Bryce's position that Lipka waited until two days before the law was in effect to try to get an exemption and should have barred smoking on his premises until he knew whether he qualified. Dumont said Lipka had months to prepare for the new law.
"Everyone knew this smoking ban was more than likely to become law in indoor establishments. Everyone saw this coming unless you had your head in the sand," Dumont said.
In Lipka's case, the judge said, "The violations are flagrant."
Lipka received 41 notices of violations of the law between April 27 and Oct. 13, 2006. Two days before the law's enactment, Lipka wrote the township a letter he hoped would serve as registration as a cigar bar. The town responded, in part, that a business must have generated 15 percent of its total annual gross income in the year ending Dec. 31, 2004 from the on-site sale of tobacco products to qualify.
Advokat told the judge Wednesday that the condition for an exemption is virtually impossible to meet because how could his client know in 2006 he would need specific revenue documents from 2004 to support an exemption? The judge agreed the condition is onerous -- likely designed to limit the number of available indoor places to smoke -- but said Lipka had no choice but to comply if he wanted to be free of the law.
Dumont noted that Roxbury sent certified letters to Lipka on April 20 and 21, 2006 ordering him to "cease and desist" smoking inside the bar. Another township-sent letter said an inspection for signage and smoking would be done on April 26, 2006. Smoking continued at Smiles II despite the warnings, and the first violation was issued April 27, 2006. They continued into October.
The judge at first questioned the need for 41 violation notices but then ruled the township was justified in its effort to get Lipka to comply. He found that the municipal court judge, Wronko, acted within his authority when he followed the law's penalty schedule to mete out $41,103 in fines.
Lipka, meanwhile, would not comment on whether he will appeal. He said he believes he generated, before the law, 15 percent of his income from cigar and cigarette sales and rentals of humidors. Since the law's passage, he said, only a handful of his 75 humidors are rented and passersby call the police department when they see his dancers outside smoking in their skimpy outfits.
"I have customers who are sitting mesmerized by the dancing. They want a cigarette with their drink. They have a nic-fit. It breaks the mood when they have to go outside," Lipka said during a break in the hearing.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Putnam County's smoking ban vote declared invalid last month
WEST VIRGINIA -- Bar owners in Putnam County are anxiously awaiting August 21. That's when the County Health Board is expected to take up the controversial smoking ban again.
In July the smoking ban vote was declared invalid. Still, bar owners like Bill Lanham are getting warning letters.
"Put your ashtrays up or the next time you will be taken to court and be fined," said Lanham, owner of Sneeker's Night Club in Teays Valley. While the letter bothers him, it doesn't scare him.
He says he's getting ready to battle the ban. He hopes both sides can still find middle ground because he said smokers and non-smokers can co-exist.
He believes the letter from the county is a message that a smoking ban will become a reality. Still, the invalid vote from last month has been good for bar business.
"It's doubled or tripled business, everybody coming in, all the bars I talked to it's really helped out," said Dave Frame, owner of Dave's Den in Hometown.
The health board is expected to consider the issue at their next meeting and they may even vote on a ban, but that may not be the end of the battle.
"I will appeal it. I will hire an attorney," said Lanham.
Board member Joe Haynes says he would be willing to listen to suggested modifications to the code.
Both Lanham and Frame say they hope to soon organize a Putnam County Bar Owners Association to deal with future issues pertaining to their businesses.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Members of the Houston Association of Alcoholic Beverage Permit Holders claim the ordinance will create an unfair competitive environment for them to operate.
The law extends the city's smoking ban to most public places, but continues to allow smoking in outdoor patios and in bars that promote cigar smoking and derive significant revenue from tobacco sales.
The City Council approved the ban in October to protect bar patrons and employees from the health effects of second-hand smoke.
The lawsuit claims the city does not have the authority under state law to create different regulations among businesses licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.
"They're creating an unbalanced playing field by stating that certain types of operators, such as tobacco bars, who meet their arbitrary definition of what a tobacco bar is, can allow smoking while the guy across the street (who) doesn't meet that definition cannot," said Al Van Huff, a lawyer representing the group.
The lawsuit asks the court to stop enforcement of the ordinance and rule it invalid for alcohol establishments licensed by the state.
City Attorney Arturo Michel said Houston's ordinance is legal. Various bars are not being treated differently in terms of alcohol, he said.
"We're actually not just regulating this industry in terms of smoking," he said. "We regulate a lot of other public places, in terms of smoking."
Van Huff also argued that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague. The ordinance allows smoking in "private functions." Some owners have wondered whether they could designate all or part of their establishments as private clubs.
Michel said the ordinance is modeled on rules from other cities and is not vague.
"We took care to look at that," he said. "We tried our best to make sure our terms were well defined for constitutional purposes."
Gregg Alston, the owner of two Houston bars, said the ordinance will make it harder for him to compete with nearby cigar bars. Alston's bars doesn't have a patio.
"It puts us at a disadvantage with cigar bars, or bars that sell tobacco, which are still allowed to have smoking because of the type of business that they are," he said.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
West Fargo City Commissioners voted 4-1 Monday night to have City residents decide the fate of a 100 percent citywide smoking ban in a special election that could occur this November or in June of 2008 during the general city election. Commissioner Mark Simmons made the motion, with Mayor Rich Mattern and Commissioners Bryan Schulz and Lou Bennett voting in support and Commissioner Brenda Warren opposing the motion.
Simmons' motion came on the heels of a first motion made by Warren to place on first reading a smoking ban more restrictive than the City's present ban, patterned after the one that will go into effect in Minnesota on Oct. 1. Warren's motion included a stipulation that West Fargo's ordinance be the same as the one acted upon Monday night by the city of Fargo. "As city commissioners we need to step up to the plate and move forward with our neighbors," she said, before the count on her motion that failed by a 2-3 vote, with Bennett joining her with a 'yes' vote.
Simmons countered by offering the second motion, stating "I believe this should go to a vote of the people."
Before the vote, Mattern said he felt the Commission should wait a year and see how the ordinance in Moorhead plays out. "We did vote on the issue a few years ago and a total ban was voted down. I think we should wait and see how Moorhead is doing after a year."
He also added that he felt a complete ban would hurt the businesses. "These are people with homes and mortgages and college tuition to deal with. It is going to hurt the businesses. The North Dakota Legislature voted down a total ban. It should be the North Dakota Legislature that makes the decision."
Following the second vote, Warren said she was "gravely disappointed," in the outcome.
Schulz said he supported a complete smoking ban but felt sending the matter to a vote of the people was inevitable, and by voting 'no' would speed the process up and resolve the issue sooner.
Bennett said he voted for the ordinance because it would give Commissioners time to hear from Fargo on how they went with their vote.
All this action came after almost three and a half hours of sometimes emotional and heated testimony from a packed Commission chamber of proponents and opponents of a stricter ban, with those for the ban touting their right to breathe smoke free air, and opponents acknowledging their right to be able to choose for themselves.
Michelle Donarski, both a West Fargo resident and chairman of the Fargo Cass Public Health Board of Health, urged Commissioners to support a complete smoking ban. "The need to breathe smoke free air should have priority over choice," she said.
Former Miss North Dakota, Kimberly Krueger, of Fargo, also an ambassador for the American Cancer Society, told the story of her grandmother who eventually succumbed to emphysema. "I don't think it's fair. This is a public health issue. Join the 100's of cities across the U.S. who are for smoke free air."
West Fargo resident Annette Thompson spoke of the ill effects of being in a smoke filled bar – a raspy voice and sore chest. "I think this issue is choice versus change. We need to support an ordinance like this in West Fargo."
Linda Coles, chairman of the SAFE coalition, spoke on behalf of West Fargo resident Brandon Carmichael, suffering from Berger's disease, who likes to visit bars but can't because of the effect on his illness from smoking. "He supports smoke free bars," she said. "This is a step-by-step process. That's why we'd like to see West Fargo and Fargo do this. The end result is to have all people protected from secondhand smoke."
Bette Deede, a resident of Villa Parkway, who said she was speaking on behalf of her children and grandchildren, told Commissioners "as elected officials you need to protect safety. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. How can you put a dollar value on any of your loved ones? I challenge you to quit passing the buck."
On the other side of the coin, Diane Kleven, who lives on 2nd Street West said "I thought when we voted a couple of years ago we voted for smoke free restaurants and leaving the bars alone. Why does this issue keep coming up? It should be a business owner's choice. I don't think smokers have been all that selfish. We need some places for those 21 and over to go."
Nikki Weissman, executive director of the North Dakota Hospitality Association, said she represented 800 bars throughout the state. "The decision should be left to the business owners. The freedom to make a responsible choice should be their guide."
Former City Commissioner and longtime West Fargo businessman Larry Lepird who also previously owned and operated the Silver Dollar Bar said, "Don't dictate. I would go to the people again. Let the people decide what they want to do."
West Fargo VFW Manager Richard Benson talked about the lost revenues when smoking wasn't allowed during the last ban, citing huge losses. "We had the biggest year before the smoking ban and then dropped $3 million in two years." He said gaming revenues are up considerably in the last six months after the revised ban allowed them to have smoking again. "This has been a bar issue, not a public workplace issue. Go after smoking instead of going after businesses. It's our duty if we believe in something to stand by it. We know what's good for business. Let us make that choice."
Deanna Dirks, who along with her husband Brian, operate the M&J Saloon, agreed with Benson about the choice issue. "People can make a choice to light up a cigarette and make a choice to walk into our establishment. We would lose 25 to 30 percent of our business. We can't do that and keep the doors open. I've talked to three other businesses that feel the same way. Nobody likes to be told what to do. We want things to stay the way they are."
Kurt Lepird, owner-operator of the Silver Dollar Bar, said there is more at stake than just his bar, adding that he has his family and employees to think about. "Health is important to me. My employees already smoke, so they are not being exposed to anything they didn't know about. We run our business as lean as possible. I worry about how this will affect my family, my future, their education and my retirement. I hope you make the right decision for everyone involved."
The passed motion also included directing City Attorney Brian Neugebauer to come up with smoking ban wording for the vote of the people to be approved by the Commission, with a time for the vote to be determined.
View Source - Discuss in the Smoker's Rights Forum
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Shoppers are threatening to boycott a Preston mall amid anger at a smoking ban in its outdoor car park.
Fishergate centre bosses who banned smoking in the open-air car park say people caught lighting up will be banned from shopping there for six months and fined £50.
A string of readers – many non-smokers – have contacted the Lancashire Evening Post to say the measures were too heavy-handed and would discourage them from visiting the centre.
A poll on the LEP website also showed 68% of people thought an outdoor ban was a step too far.
Smoking has been illegal in public buildings and substantially-enclosed spaces like covered bus shelters since July 1.
The laws do not apply to open-air parking but Fishergate managers say they are entitled to enforce their own rules as it is a private car park.
Andrew McCann from Penwortham said the car park ban was political correctness gone mad.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Congress is proposing yet another tax on adult smokers. This time, it would raise the cost of cigarettes by $0.61 per pack.
Tell Congress enough is enough! Take action now. Fill out the registration form here to send your email to Congress today! Or call toll-free (866) 527-4494 to speak with your legislators.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi cited concerns about enforcement costs and a provision that would allow local governments to enact stricter local smoking ordinances among his reasons for urging defeat of the measure, which was rejected by a 36-13 vote.
"This is not an attempt to derail this bill," Pileggi, R-Delaware, said on the Senate floor. "It is only an attempt to work out the differences between the Senate and the House, which are significant."
Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Pileggi, said after the vote that a conference committee of House and Senate members would likely meet in the fall to try to resolve the dispute.
The House voted 141-62 to send its bill to the Senate after the fourth consecutive day of debate over how strict to make the smoking ban sought by Gov. Ed Rendell. The governor has included the ban in his "Prescription for Pennsylvania" initiative aimed at lowering the cost of health care, broadening its availability and improving its quality.
Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo had no immediate comment on the Senate vote.
Both House and Senate versions would ban smoking in most public places and workplaces, including arenas, stores, restaurants, and convention halls. But the Senate allowed full or partial exceptions for more establishments, including a quarter of casino gambling floors, bars where food is one-fifth or less of gross sales, addiction treatment centers and nursing homes and other adult-care centers.
Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, said the House had improved the Senate's version and urged his colleagues to support the House bill.
"If we (reject the bill) today, we're not going to deal with this bill for months, and it goes a long way to try and kill this bill," Greenleaf said.
Rep. Mike Gerber, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the House version, said a joint House-Senate committee might be needed to craft a bill that both chambers could support.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
INDIANA - Elkhart Smoking Ban Debate to Begin
The "City with a Heart," is the latest to worry about your lungs.
Next week, the Elkhart City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed ban on smoking in public places.
The hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 17th, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
The council’s Health and Public Safety Committee will then reconvene on Wednesday the 18th for a possible vote on the measure.
If Elkhart is the next Indiana community to go smoke free, it apparently won’t go quietly.
"I'm not saying smoking is good for you,” says Al Usenick, the owner of the Franklin Street Tavern; “but it’s a choice that I should have the right to make.”
While bars have typically been exempt from smoking bans in other local communities, that doesn’t mean that will be the case in Elkhart.
"Its always puzzled me why people think that patrons of bars should be exposed to second hand smoke when patrons of restaurants shouldn't,” said Richard Pedler of the Elkhart Clean Air Coalition.
“Second hand smoke is second hand smoke. It doesn't matter who you are it will kill you, indiscriminately.”
On the other hand, there are some indications that Elkhart’s lack of a smoking ban has been good for the health of the economy.
"We had businesses that said they really noticed an up tick when St. Joseph County passed their ordinance,” said Kyle Hannon with the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. “There were some up by the toll road that said yeah, that benefited them greatly."
The chamber doesn’t oppose the idea of a smoking ban, although it does object to the idea of bans being passed on a city by city basis.
“Our chamber has taken a position that if there is a smoking ordinance it needs to be county-wide or state-wide,” said Hannon.
The Elkhart Clean Air Coalition not only shares that concern, it hopes the passage of an Elkhart City ban would lead to consideration of a county-wide ban.
"Our coalition approached the county first,” said Pedler. “We approached them back in January."
Pedler said he was told that the county would only be interested if the cities were interested.
"And so I think the message is, the cities are interested,” Pedler concluded.
A final vote on the proposed Elkhart city smoking ban could come sometime in August.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
HARRISBURG -- The state House yesterday changed tactics on legislation that would ban smoking in public places and workplaces, including offices, restaurants, taverns and casinos.
House members spent two hours Friday arguing about House Bill 1541, a restrictive bill offered by Rep. Michael Gerber, D-Montgomery. It allows for only limited exceptions where smoking would be allowed.
But yesterday, House members decided to shift their attention to Senate Bill 246, a weaker smoking ban that the Senate approved 10 days ago. The House could begin discussion of that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Yesterday, Mr. Gerber said he wants to make Senate Bill 246 tougher by going back to the original language offered by its sponsor, Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery. Both Mr. Gerber and Mr. Greenleaf want the legislation to permit smoking in only a few places, such as private clubs, retail tobacco shops, a portion of the rooms in a hotel or motel, and in private homes as long as the homes aren't used for day care.
Rep. Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne, however, plans to offer amendments to permit smoking in more places than that. "There is division in our [House Democratic] caucus over the bill," Mr. Gerber admitted.
Mr. Gerber's goal is to send a smoking-ban bill to Gov. Ed Rendell for signature before legislators leave for the summer. Mr. Rendell has insisted on banning smoking in most workplaces and public places as part of his Prescription for Pennsylvania, which also includes a push for health insurance for the 800,000 adults in the state who are not now covered.
Mr. Rendell said yesterday he hopes the bill that is sent to him for signature is tougher than the one the Senate approved. It permits smoking in private clubs (described as adults-only fraternal and social organizations); cigar bars, restaurants and taverns where food sales are less than 20 percent of the business; on 25 percent of a casino's gambling floor; and private rooms in nursing homes and treatment facilities.
Friday, July 6, 2007
In an article from the MSU State News:
A pair of bills introduced to the state House of Representatives would let certain Michigan bars and restaurants to allow their customers to smoke, even if a state law banning smoking in public places is passed.
Introduced June 21, the bills would work in tandem with the proposed statewide smoking ban, requiring bars and restaurants that want to allow smoking to apply for a permit.
In its current form, the bill would require bars and restaurants to pay a $600 fee for the initial permit with a $500 renewal fee.
"We're listening to both sides of the debate," Rep. Steve Beida, D-Macomb said. "We're sensitive to the fact that there are some unique market niches."
The bills would significantly affect businesses which are marketed as smoking bars, such as hookah bars and cigar bars.
While there is a large tendency to lean toward the overall abolition of smoking in public places. Beida said an overall ban would be unfair to niche businesses that rely on smoking for a large portion of their revenue.
This feeling was echoed by Rep. Paul Condino, D-Oakland, who co-sponsored the smoking permit bills.
"I'm very supportive of the smoking ban," he said. "I don't see it as an alternative, I see it as a supplement."
Condino recognized the importance of smoking for certain businesses and said these bills would allow places like cigar and hookah bars to continue their livelihood.
A statewide ban on public smoking is a big concern for Donald McGrath, owner of Blue Midnight Hookah Lounge, 330 Albert Ave.
"The bill as it is written would put us out of business," McGrath said of the proposed public smoking ban.
The public health concern of being exposed to secondhand smoke is nonexistent for a business such as Blue Midnight, he said.
"In our situation, it doesn't apply," he said. "We don't have nonsmokers. We are, by definition, a smoking establishment. Smoking is our business."
According to 2006 data from the National Restaurant Association, 22 states have banned smoking in all public places. Seventeen states, including Michigan, have some restrictions, and 12 states have no bans or restrictions at all.
If the smoking ban bill and the smoking permit bills pass, Michigan will join Colorado, New York and New Jersey as states who have exemptions in place for certain businesses to allow smoking, even with a general smoking ban in public places.
While the specific concerns for niche smoking bars are addressed, Condino emphasized other establishments could also apply for the permit.
In order for a bar or restaurant to be granted the proposed permit, Condino wants to require a smoking section to be completely separated by a full wall, not a partition, which he said is inadequate.
"What we want to be able to do is prevent a situation that would appall me as a parent," he said, explaining his concern over his children being exposed to secondhand smoke in restaurants, where smoke creeps beyond the smoking section.
For smoking to be permitted in restaurants and bars that serve food, Condino said there "would have to be a separate structure."
The bills do not specify any requirements for bars or restaurants to be approved, nor do they say how long they last until they must be renewed.
The permit fee is up for debate as well.
Both Beida and Condino emphasized the debate on the smoking issue is still very much alive, and the smoking permit bills are still open to amendments as they move through the state Legislature.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Councils, which have the power to fine smokers who light up inside work places, pubs or any public building, admitted that not a single fine was issued as they tried to implement the ban in a "softly, softly" way.
One pub defying the ban was the Dog Inn in Ewyas Harold, near Hereford, whose landlord is Tony Blows, part of the campaign group Freedom2Choose. He argued that as his pub was also his home he should be entitled to smoke anywhere within it.
"I'm doing it for the simple reason that this is my home. My wife and I work 200 hours a week in this pub. It's private property. There's no way they can stop us doing it," he said.
About 1,000 fellow publicans had also allowed their customers to light up yesterday, he claimed.
Mr Blows added that he would refuse to pay any fine, which can be up to £2,500 for publicans or other businesses that allow smoking on their premises. "I want my day in court. And I am prepared to go to prison, if needs be. At least I can smoke there."
There are about 1,200 council enforcement officers who will help police the ban, but few of them were on duty yesterday. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said only repeat offenders would be fined, and only after a warning.
He said: "Councils are taking a softly, softly approach to enforcing the ban as experience from Scotland and Wales shows it to be self-policing. Councils have made it clear that people will not be issued with a fine for their first offence."
In Scotland, where the smoking ban was introduced in March last year, just three individuals were fined in the first month. Since then, the rate of penalties has increased, with 238 individuals issued with fixed penalty notices in the first three months of this year.
Health officials greeted yesterday's ban with celebrations, saying it would significantly help reduce deaths from second-hand smoke.
Prof Ian Gilmore, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "I am blissfully happy. From a personal point of view, I can now go into any pub without inhaling smoke. And from a professional point of view, it is the culmination of over 40 years of work from doctors. It will save 11,000 lives every year."
Monday, July 2, 2007
Local authorities are preparing to enforce the ban and anyone lighting up illegally will face a fine of up to 200.
As a last minute gesture, smokers' parties have been held, something unheard of before, with free cigarettes and a tobacco-themed disco featuring only tobacco-related hits.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
What happened to America? Why aren't more people standing up to fight these control freaks and zealots who enact smoking bans against us?
From England's The Sun paper:
UK -- CAMPAIGNERS for the right to smoke today launched a High Court challenge over the Government's smoking ban.
The ban, which comes into effect on Sunday, applies to almost all enclosed public places including offices, factories, pubs and bars, but not outdoors or in private homes.
The pressure group Freedom2Choose lodged papers at the Royal Courts of Justice in London as they began their campaign for a judicial review.
A judge will now decide whether there is an "arguable case" raising genuine issues of law that should go to a full hearing.
Bob Feal-Martinez, for Freedom2Choose, said the case raised "questions of personal liberty" and highlighted the dangers of "a democracy becoming a dictatorship".
He said: "We are seeing the erosion of the personal liberty in this country people like my father and grandfather fought to achieve.
"Next on the agenda is alcohol, closely followed by food.
"If people don’t stand up for their rights and against governmental intereference, we will get a dictatorship, not democracy."
The Freedom2Choose legal challenge is based on the argument that the new smoking ban violates human rights laws.
And campaigners were not the only ones to lash out at the ban - a billionaire nightclub owner vowed to flout the new rules.
Dave West, who owns the Abracadabra restaurant and HeyJo erotic-themed club in central London, said he would allow people to smoke freely.
He has hired Cherie Blair to challenge the ban and advise on how it could breach the human rights of staff and guests at his club and restaurant.
Mr West, 63, fears the new legislation will force him to close.
He said today: "It will be business as usual at my exclusive restaurant and nightclub and with the backing of Cherie Booth QC in the High Court of Justice and the European Court, everyone - including the press - can smoke as usual, and when the old bill comes in I’ll pay everyone’s fine.
"And not just for the first day, but until hell freezes over.
"When the police come in, as they will, we shall puff in their faces, show them the writ with Cherie’s name on it and tell them to come back another time."
Smoker's Rights Forum
Friday, June 29, 2007
We still know second-hand smoke is not harmful, and does not cause cancer (based on the recent World Health Organization study), but I would be willing to concede that if a business owner did not want me to smoke in their restaurant or bar, then I would not. Conversely, everyone must agree that if a bar owner decides to make his pub allow smoking, than we must all respect his policy, and indeed his rights in a free society.
Letter to the Editor:
By John M. Jewett, Socorro
special to Mountain Mail
SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- This is my second letter to the editor regarding the smoking ban and will contain a few excerpts from my previous letter.
I would again like to make it clear that this smoking ban does not affect me at all. Nonetheless, what does affect me and many others is the method of legislation that was employed in passing this law.
I am a World War II veteran and I take exception to this law. I find it hard to believe that any small group of lawmakers in this country today can have the power to enact a law that so severely controls the masses without referendum.
It is my feeling that this smoking ban was passed by a wimpy legislature that bowed to a dictatorial governor with no regard for the U.S. constitution and without input from the constituency. This in turn destroyed our freedom of choice. Our lawmakers have now enacted a stringent and oppressive law where one size fits all, except for private clubs, which is government control of business and industry. This is the definition of fascism. Fascism is, of course, one of the foundations of any dictatorship.
It should always be remembered that ever since the birth of our nation, wars were fought and paid for in blood to preserve our American democratic way of life and all of its freedoms.
I find this current policy of legislation in New Mexico to be scary, with a potentially dangerous trend for the future. The present subject of controversy, as everyone knows, is the smoking ban, but it could be any number of other subjects. If this new policy is allowed to prevail, we the people could be faced with more undesirable, regulatory laws that further the loss of freedom.
I am certain that this smoking ban was necessary when applied to public buildings; however private enterprise of any kind should not come into the picture. Owners of private businesses should be allowed to make their own decisions concerning smoking.
I am thoroughly convinced that a smoking ban law could be enacted that would be reasonably palatable for everyone. In essence, this recently-enacted smoking ban could be and should be revised to meet all of the people’s needs and not just for any one select group, and bring back our freedom of choice.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Bob Beech wants to turn The Wellington Arms in Freemantle, Southampton, into the UK base of the uninhabited Redonda.
It follows the pub already being granted status as a consulate of Redonda by the island's king and Mr Beech receiving a Redondan knighthood.
But his plans are likely to be thwarted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The landlord said: "We came up with the idea that this pub could become the British consulate for the Kingdom of Redonda - and the king thought it was a good idea.
"We had a ceremony for that and I was made a knight.
"Subsequent to that it was decided that we wanted to become an embassy. Our legal team are waiting to hear if that's possible.
"We intend to go ahead with the full benefits of an embassy."
Those benefits could include not having to enforce the smoking ban when it comes into force on Sunday 1 July.
The ruler of the tiny Atlantic island, King Robert the Bald, sent the island's official cardinal to grant consulate status on the pub.
Cardinal Elder, also a regular drinker at the pub, said: "If it works we won't have to enforce the smoking ban - I think it will good for the pub and the Kingdom of Redonda."
But a Foreign Office spokeswoman said that Redonda was a territory of Antigua and Barbuda and therefore was not entitled to an embassy or high commission in the UK.
Councillor Gavin Dick, of Southampton City Council, said environmental health officers would be advising Sir Bob of the legal position when the smoke free legislation is implemented.
He added: "If they are not granted embassy status, which requires formal accreditation by the Foreign Office, then they will be covered by the new law, which we will be enforcing."
Monday, June 25, 2007
BUSINESSES could face escalating costs as a result of the smoking ban that starts on July 1.
In particular, the pub trade is set to be hit hard as many landlords who have not already done so face the prospect of putting up smoking shelters or having to pay fines for not complying with legislation.
The warning comes from Blackburn-based law firm Napthens, which believes that on average pubs can expect to spend £10,000 on preparing for the ban while there are going to be cost implications for other businesses.
There are more than 730 pubs, restaurants and hotels in Blackburn, Hyndburn, Darwen and the Ribble Valley that will need to get ready for the ban or they could be hit with fines of hundreds, or even thousands of pounds.
However, Chamber of Trade chiefs have hit out at the claims and said that businesses in the area have been given plenty or warning time to get ready for the change in law.
Naomi Holt, a licensing expert at Napthens, said: "There are many costs that businesses will have to look at, from the legal costs of preparing for the ban to the possibility of having to build exterior shelters to cater for smokers.
"The regulations state that smoking will no longer be permitted inside any public building or work place or, in any structure that consists of a roof and walls which are less than 50 per cent permanently open, even if the structure is outside.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
WINFIELD - Putnam County's smoking ban generated lots of heat as a crowd of citizens commented on the policy during a public hearing.
The regulation that was tightened earlier this year bans smoking in all public buildings, including taverns, gaming centers and bars.
The Putnam County Board of Health called the special meeting after some business owners became upset over the results of the ban. About 75 people attended Tuesday night's meeting.
A meeting last month drew an overflow crowd of about 100 people to the health board's offices, where officials commented that the fire marshal probably wouldn't approve the cramped conditions.
So Tuesday night's meeting was moved to the Putnam County Courthouse.
"It was unorderly," board member Brac Brown said of the previous hearing. "What we wanted to do is give the citizens an opportunity to have their opinions heard."
Steve Scott, vice president of operations for Mimi's restaurants, which has 30 video lottery establishments in West Virginia, started by telling the board the smoking ban isn't working.
"We can pinpoint every dollar we've lost because of the smoking ban," he said.
Harold Arbaugh, owner of Lisa's in Teays Valley, agreed.
"Economically, we are losing to Kanawha County," Arbaugh said. "I can get in my car, drive 10 minutes and be comfortable."
Others in attendance said the ban was against their fundamental rights both as business owners and as citizens. Sharon Hammond, owner of Silkey's in Winfield, told the board that the regulations have gone too far.
"If you're going to take smoking out of the bars and out of the restaurants, why not take them off the shelves?" she said.
Linda Hodges of Hurricane chimed in.
"If you take them off the shelves, you will see a fight," Hodges said.
Hodges, who said she has family members affected by the ban, continued.
"You can't come into my home and tell me whether or not to smoke. It's my property. I pay taxes on it," she said. "They pay taxes on their businesses. They deserve the same rights."
Southern Pride Lounge owner Rod Campbell expressed the same concerns.
"I'm paying $1,700 a year, and it doesn't matter," Campbell said of his east Hurricane business. "You're going to tell me what to do with my business."
Much of the discussion centered on the same issues brought to the board in May, including that the smoking ban should not affect adult-only facilities. Several speakers also mentioned that they were not properly informed of the ban before it was put into place.
"We didn't even know this was going to happen," Hurricane resident Sally Holstead said. "We needed to know what we know now: that you people are trying to make decisions for us when you're not even elected officials."
"You're leaving the smokers with one option: replace you all from the governor down," said Hurricane citizen H.D. Raines.
The crowd erupted in applause and shouts following his statement.
Joe Haynes, the Putnam County Commission representative on the Board of Health, said he is certain that the board will bring the ban to a vote.
"The best thing that can come out of this is for us to sit back down, debate the issues and ultimately decide what's best for Putnam County residents," Haynes said.
He also said that the board has only a few options: to rescind it completely, amend it for adult establishments or give business owners the opportunity to decide for themselves.
"Predict what's going to happen? I wouldn't dream of it," he said.
Haynes also emphasized that the board was only concerned with the health of its citizens, and health issues would be significantly considered during the vote.
Sneekers Nightclub owner Bill Lanham told the board that no one in attendance was in favor of keeping the ban in place. When he asked if there were any ban supporters in the room, not a single hand was raised.
"West Virginia's supposed to be 'open for business,' not closing businesses," Lanham said.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Jun. 15, 2007 05:53 PM
The smoke will finally clear from four Phoenix bars where the owner was fighting the statewide smoking ban on a technicality.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Pendleton Gaines on Friday granted the state's request for a preliminary injunction to stop smoking at the bars owned by Alfonso Larriva.
Larriva, the first business owner to run afoul of the smoking ban that went into effect May 1, argued that windows converted into vents with louvered slats meant his bars were not technically "enclosed areas" and therefore smoking was allowed.
Gaines was not persuaded by the semantical argument, which focused primarily on the definition of "window" and "enclosed."
"It is an effort to defend the indefensible and explain the inexplicable," he said. "I don't think you can take the glass out of a window and make it something else."
In granting the injunction, Gaines said the state has a strong likelihood of winning further arguments if the case goes to trial. The state is seeking more than $100,000 in fines for dozens of smoking violations at Larriva's four bars - Metro Sportz Bar, Boomerang, Maverick Saloon and River City Pockets.
The state argued that every day that smoking continues at those bars, Larriva's competitors could lose business and the state loses credibility.
"We are losing confidence with the public that we have the ability and are effective and can get folks subject to the law complying with the law," said Will Humble, deputy assistant director of the Arizona Department of Health Services. Humble pointed out that Larriva had sent a letter to other bar owners suggesting ways that they, too, could get around the law.
Gaines, a smoker himself, said he agreed that there was a strong public interest in stopping smoking at the bars. Voters passed the law in November, he noted, and it doesn't really matter if everyone likes it or not.
"It may be that a lot of people think it is a dumb law," Gaines said, noting that there is a price to living in a democracy.
"You either believe in a democracy or you don't believe in a democracy, but the people have spoken," he said.
In defending himself, Larriva and his attorney, Douglas Erickson, offered engineering definitions of enclosed spaces and dwelled on how the slats on the openings meant they were no longer windows but vents. Larriva also testified that other state employees with the liquor department and gaming department agreed with him that the law was stupid and that he had found a loophole.
Larriva is the only business owner that has been cited since the law went into effect, though officials have received nearly 1,500 complaints about smoking violations. Humble said that the health department has received more than 50 complaints about Larriva's businesses.
After the hearing, Larriva said that he is weighing an appeal. He is also considering how he can further modify his bars to comply with the law, such as by putting in a large door that could open up a full wall of the building.
The injunction goes into effect when signed by the judge, which is expected within the next 10 days. In the meantime, Humble said health officials will continue to visit Larriva's bars to see if they are coming into compliance and continue to issue citations.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"I think it is an infringement of property owner rights to operate their businesses. We interfere with businesses enough without trying to legislate morals," said Alderman Allen Gibson.
That is what we have been saying at Smoking Lobby every since the first smoking ban came into effect!!
"Gibson said he would like to see business owners make decisions for their own property."
Why can't we make decisions for ourselves any more in this society? Why must everything which "is good for us" be legislated upon us? Can't we just make up our minds in what used to be a free society?!??
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Rock guitarist Slash flouts the smoking ban
FORMER Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash proved he was far too rock and roll for Wales’ smoking ban – lighting up on stage in the capital last night.
While fans were told to go outside for a cigarette, Slash and frontman Scott Weiland chain-smoked their way through their hard-rock band Velvet Revolver’s set at Cardiff’s International Arena.
Flouting Wales’ ban on smoking in any enclosed space, which includes theatre stages, could mean the rock legends are now in line for a £50 fine each.
The CIA could face an even heftier fine of up to £2,500 for not stopping them smoking.
It is thought the American band’s breach of the ban is the first since Wales’ new legislation came into force on April 2.
The CIA was today unavailable for comment.
Cardiff council confirmed it would be investigating.
Velvet Revolver, which has three former Guns ‘n’ Roses members – English-born Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum – and Scott Weiland, the former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, were playing in the city as part of their Re-Evolution tour.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Cincinnati, OH (AHN) - Bar owners in Ohio say a statewide ban on smoking in public places is bringing small businesses to the breaking-point. Owners of small bars, bowling alleys and other establishments say an exemption should be written in to help bring back customers.
A coalition of 300 bar owners will lobby the state government to install exceptions allowing places that receive no more than 10 percent of their revenue from food, such as bars and taverns, to allow smoking.
Patrick Carroll, president of the Buckeye Liquor Permit Holders Association explains, "Too many places are losing too much money. Some are on the verge of closing their doors." The group has collected almost 1,500 signatures pushing for an exemption for bars.
According to the Cincinnati Post, the group must collect 140,000 signatures to force the legislature to consider it. About 400,000 signatures would be needed to put the issue on the ballot if lawmakers refuse.
Monday, June 4, 2007
"Since Ohio’s smoking ban began being enforced, business is down about 20 percent at Martini & Nuzzi’s bar in Maumee, where owner Cheryl Jiannuzzi now spends time sweeping up cigarette butts from the sidewalk, and customers such as Jeff Husnick of Toledo and Chris Havermale of Perrysburg fume."
Complaints pile up since Ohio's smoking-ban enforcement began
Friday, June 1, 2007
The move requested by city attorneys cancels a state court hearing scheduled for today where opponents hoped a judge would prevent the smoking ban from going into effect.
Nearly 20 Fort Wayne businesses are suing the city over the ban, saying the ordinance is too vague and too broad.
City attorneys say federal courts have jurisdiction because opponents say their constitutional rights are violated by the smoking ban. A hearing in federal court could be scheduled for today or tomorrow.
Fort Wayne's smoking ban would be one of the strictest in the state. It would bar smoking in almost all indoor city workplaces, including all bars, restaurants and bowling alleys.
(Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Ideally, this would be people who went and spread the word about smokinglobby.com and brought new people to the site to join in the debate. But all you really have to do is show the Smoking Lobby spirit by participating in the forum discussions! (this does NOT mean posting the most number of posts)
First of all, I would like to thank everyone on the site this month for coming back after the 2 major site hacks, and for putting up with lots of problems while I brought the site back online.
This month, those people whom I think showed the most spirit are linkup, Darkseid, and Lynda F.
linkup - for posting lots of newsworthy articles about smoking and smoker's rights issues.
Darkseid - for putting up with several site revisions which simply would not work on his antiquated 800x600 resolution screen! (and numerous cookie/login problems) Thanks for hangin' in there!
Lynda F - quite the Smoking Lobby Cheerleader, showed lots of spirit (and also had to put up with lots of login problems).
Your prize? You get to design your own t-shirt from the Smoking Lobby store. Just tell me what slogan you want on there, and whatever graphics you can dream up, and I will design the shirt for you and send it out. These shirts will also remain available in the storefront in case other people want to order them.
Thanks again for hanging at SmokingLobby.com!
- Bill Williams
Monday, May 28, 2007
Bar owners are even willing to face being shut down, because they all feel fundamentally the same way; Our freedom to operate our businesses as we see fit in a free market society can not be censored by the government!
From NY1 News:
"More and more bar and clubs across the five boroughs are reportedly allowing patrons to smoke – violating the city's four-year-old ban.
According to the New York Post, smokers have been lighting up freely in many expensive clubs and local pubs.
Smoking in city bars and restaurants has been a violation since 2003. Venues that do not comply can be hit with fines or even shut down after repeat offenses.
But some club workers told the paper they would rather pay fines than deal with neighbors who complain about smokers on the sidewalk.
The Department of Health says it has handed out about twice as many violations in the past year as the year before, and shut down nine businesses that didn't comply with the ban. "
Friday, May 25, 2007
I wonder how many of them who died in WWII fighting Nazis and Fascism would be proud of what has become of America today? I wonder if they ever thought our government would one day pass such things as fat food laws (which tell us what we can eat), seatbelt laws (which tell us what to wear), censor our free speech, enforce political correctness, and pass laws which banned smoking - a legal activity engaged in by free Americans.
I honor those great men and women who gave their lives in the defense of our country, as I hope we all will, by ignoring any of these laws and taking back our once free country.
Have a good Memorial Day Weekend, and I hope you all celebrate and enjoy it,
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
While it may seem laughable, bingo is big business for churches, hospitals, and charitable organizations. And according to a new survey, the smoking ban is going to hurt that business by 63% - effectivle taking a lot of money away from kids and patients who need it badly.
"A new survey, carried out by online gaming company St Minver, asked 3,000 bingo players their thoughts on how July’s new smoking ban will affect their bingo playing habits. Up to two-thirds of all regular bingo players being smokers, the results do not bode well for land-based operators with 63% of the smokers surveyed revealed they would spend more time playing online bingo once the ban is introduced."
Discuss at Smoking Lobby
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Our veterans, who fought hard to be excluded from the smoking ban, are being lumped in with the plight of the average business owner.
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Private clubs can't allow smoking despite language in Ohio's statewide smoking ban that seems to allow it, a judge ruled yesterday.From the Toledo Blade
Friday, May 18, 2007
The Governor is calling for swift action on a statewide smoking ban. Governor Jim Doyle says states surrounding Wisconsin are already banning smoking in the workplace. Doyle pointed to a recently passed ban in Illinois and the signing of legislation in Minnesota this week as proof that Wisconsin is already behind in the effort.