Smoking Ban: The Cart Before the Horse

RECEIVED Fri., April 15, 2005

Dearest Editor,
    As a bartender and manager of a Red River bar that has ample patio seating, I'd probably be one of the first to profit from a de facto implementation of an indoor smoking ban. However, even if I could numb myself to the plight of my friends and neighbors, I just can't support the legislation of what should be a personal issue.
    I would think that if the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the American Cancer Society wanted the most for their anti-cancer buck, they could easily afford to set up and advertise a local nonprofit that offers counseling and services to individuals who are truly ready to quit smoking (or boost support to similar programs already in existence), instead of pushing a ban that will kill jobs, depress revenue, and seriously damage local culture. Then if they create an army of smoke-free showgoers, nonsmoking venues would have a viable demand. Although it has less press appeal, and would be a long-term effort, it would be putting the horse in front of the cart, which is where it belongs.
Trying to quit,
Benjamin Reed
P.S. p.s. Incidentally, I grew up near San Francisco and return often to see my family. And, of course, to go out. There are two obvious reasons the smoking ban hasn't devastated their bar industry. First, San Francisco's locally driven music scene can't hold a candle to Austin's, and isn't the primary reason their bars stay in business. Second, as it is in New York City, many bars just let people smoke anyway, and nobody seems to mind.
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