Disappointed by 'Chronicle' Endorsements

RECEIVED Wed., May 11, 2005

Dear Editor,
    I'm very disappointed with your "Yes and No" endorsement on the smoking ban [“Endorsements,” May 6].
    I am a nonsmoking musician and bargoer, and I'd appreciate bars choosing to be nonsmoking, or, preferably, to have adequate ventilation.
    But the key word is choosing. Like we used to in America, and you used to support.
    Your “Yes” endorsement said smoking is a burden on taxpayers via medical expenses, and there's no hard evidence that bars will suffer.
    Well, nor is there hard evidence that they won't. And as for the health costs, this is a tired song. Remember the bike helmet law? My response: heart disease. Shall we ban red meat and biscuits and gravy? How about having state-mandated aerobics classes?!
    Your “No” endorsement said Austin claims to be the music capital but doesn't support the venues. But you'd just discounted the argument that the ban would affect music venues! Then a tiny mention of “freedom.” Freedom? Oh right, that pre-Bush stuff.
    The argument that allowing smoking in a bar forces nonsmokers to breathe secondhand smoke is ridiculous. Granted, the "It's a bar, stupid!" campaign was idiotic; nonetheless, it is a bar stupid! Absolutely no one is forced to go to a bar. If you don't like a scene, don't go. Don't drink there, don't work there. If the bar can't sustain itself, it'll choose to be nonsmoking, or go under.
    No laws force bars to allow smoking, and many bars are nonsmoking by choice.
    Your endorsement is that a nonsmoker's wants regarding a bar are more important than a smoker's, or even the bar owner's. (Because an intolerant nonsmoker may choose to go there and suffer.) Bars aren't airwaves, we don't all own them equally. Whether smoking is allowed should be decided by the owner and laws of commerce.
Dwayne Barnes
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