In Favor of Smoking Ban

RECEIVED Mon., April 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Louis Black's column was more evenhanded this time around ("Page Two," April 8), but I take exception to one of his remarks about my letter [“Postmarks,” April 8].
    When I pointed out that the possible economic damage of the smoking ban would only occur if smokers have more interest in their smoking than the music, Black quipped: "If the audience is not there for the 'right' reasons, are the musical performances of any value?" I said nothing about the value of the music – that's strictly Black's conclusion, not mine.
    The musical performances are, in fact, what really matter to me, but when is the cost of supporting things that have nothing to do with the music too high? Like Black, I've also left clubs because "my eyes were stinging from tobacco smoke" ("Page Two," April 1). But I've also been on lots of club stages as a musician where I didn't have that option. As both an Austin musician and clubgoer, I've logged plenty of time in the trenches feeling the effects of cigarette smoke.
    One thing I have noticed is that, while there are a few clubs like Elysium that seem to be smoker hangouts, the majority of clubs become smoke-filled by a small minority of the clubgoers. Meanwhile, all the eyes in the club are potentially burning, as well as lungs, and smelly clothes. It seems more like tyranny of the minority than the economic mandate that the club owners are claiming.
    The argument that the smoking ban could lead to further "lifestyle-inspired legislation" is weak. The smoking ban is no more insidious than the 1990 city ordinance that banned defecation on Austin's public streets and sidewalks. It's a public health issue and nothing more (unless the American Lung Association and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, among others, have some diabolical agenda that we have yet to discover).
    If the smoking ban passes, I'll be spending more time and money in Austin clubs.
Jason Levitt
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