No Smoking Just Because It Hits All Bars the Same

RECEIVED Tue., April 12, 2005

Dear Editor,
    Mr. Black's “Page Two” [April 8] analysis of his position on the smoking in public places vote is based largely on what he thinks the effect of a smoking ban would be on small businesses that have live music. What he doesn't consider is what effect the flawed ordinance passed by the City Council last year is having right now. Under that ordinance a significant number of live music venues are classified as restaurants (not bars) and consequently are now nonsmoking. Following passage of that ordinance there are reports of fall-offs in business in some of those clubs. Patrons who wish to smoke are migrating to bars where smoking is possible. The current ordinance is arguably hurting the very live music scene Mr. Black so assiduously defends against attack. And it's likely that a number of those venues are the small ones Mr. Black has particular concerns about. If Austin voters pass the new ordinance the playing field will be leveled and all businesses can compete on their own merits with no more built-in disadvantages. If it fails we're back to the same flawed ordinance now on the books and some of the clubs Mr. Black voices support for will continue to have one hand tied behind their back.
    Austin voters should vote yes on the smoking initiative not only to treat all businesses equally but to address the very real public health hazards of smoke to both patrons and workers. And Mr. Black should reconsider his position as it certainly appears to run counter to the arguments he puts forth.
Kenneth Pfluger
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