Sunday, October 02, 2005

Chicago smoking ban looks like it's coming....

This is great news. According to this article in the Sun-Times, the big time lobbying push to get a smoking ban in Chicago might have the votes to pass the City Council.

As is consistent with parliamentary procedure in Chicago, most of the negotiation happened outside of public view. There were few hearings or amendments offered to an ordinance in a committee -- instead, the negotiations occur behind closed doors among competing interest groups. That's not ideal.

But that's a minor quibble. Banning smoking in Chicago bars and restaraunts is about four years overdue, and will make me, for one, go out more, not less.

If you want to kill yourself slowly, do it outside!

I would imagine that calls from Chicagoans to Mayor Daley might help over the next week or so. You can reach the Mayor's Office by calling 311. Just ask to leave a comment with Mayor Daley. And by the way, any time you see anything wrong with the City -- street light out, garbage not picked up, a rat in the alley, a broken sidewalk, call 311. Lots of city services are complaint-driven, and if you call, they will come. No clout needed.

One more thing: there is a smoking ban rally Monday, October 3rd from noon to 1:30 pm at the Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Adams. If you work in the Loop, check it out.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

here is more input on progressive taxation in IL

Consider GRADUALISM

if you ever went to something like 3%- 5%, it may pay to get there by moving to 4% one year and 5% the following (vs. moving to 5% right away). doing things small and gradually, vs. big massive changes, may soften impact on economy.

Anonymous said...

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=my&s=AMGN&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=abt

Anonymous said...

http://taxes.yahoo.com/statereport.html

Lazerlou said...

Got to disagree with you here DJW. Chicago is the city of big shoulders, of fantastic neighborhood bars filled with hard working and hard drinking people. I'm no cigarette smoker and I'm one of the worlds great haters of big tobacco, but that doesn't mean I think smoking should be eliminated from bars. It is lame here in SF - what's next, 2am closings?
If we learned anything in law school - and we didn't - its that ideally the market should take care of itself and establish the most efficient outcomes so long as decision makers are adequately informed, right? If you don't like smoky bars, don't go. If you are concerned about the effects of smoking on your helth, don't work at a bar. If there is money to be made attracting people who value smokeless envirnoments, let bars offer non smoking spaces or choose on their own to ban smoking completely. The Green Mill w/o smoking? The Charelston? Lava Lounge? Jimmy's? Going to see a show at Shubas or the Vic an dnot being able to have a smoke with your drink? While not offensive to me I know that these deas are offensive to many. What would Paris do? What would Jean Paul and Simone say?

If you think this is an issue of regulating the externalization of costs from second hand smoke, I will point you toward many other much less enjoyable human behaviors that costs more lives and suffring and which are crying out far more for regulation than smoking in bars.

Dan, the libertarian in me says it is a bad idea for government to ban smoking in drinking establishments. Slippery slope you know? Haven't you had enough of a bunch of zealots imposing morality on us in the last 5 years? Long live the classic drinking environment full of smoking and drinking and lively conversation. If you no likey, no goey, no doey.

respectful said...

Lou: Suppose an employer exposed his workers to harmful levels of asbestos and rejected government regulation with the argument that no one has to work there? I'm betting you wouldn't buy it. If I'm right, then why do you buy the argument when it comes to employees of bars and restaurants who are exposed to second hand smoke 40 hours a week?

respectful said...

Lou: Suppose an employer exposed his workers to harmful levels of asbestos and rejected government regulation with the argument that no one has to work there? I'm betting you wouldn't buy it. If I'm right, then why do you buy the argument when it comes to employees of bars and restaurants who are exposed to second hand smoke 40 hours a week?

Lazerlou said...

Well respectful, as far as I understand the risks associated with continuous exposure to aesbestos are far far worse than the risks associated with second hand smoke exposure. Further, I know people who not only don't mind working in a smokey bar environement, but actually quite enjoy it, with full knowledge of the risks (yes all of them are smokers already). The same can not be said for working at a place where you are exposed to aesbestos. Nobody would want to do that or choose to do that if there are alternatives, unlike working at a bar.

And that is really the distinction. People who work in places where there is not a lot of choice in terms of jobs must be protected far more than people who live in cities and have some meaningful choice in the matter.

The only argument that is compelling to me on this issue is that people, young women especially, often don't have choices for labor other than waitressing at a bar. If work options are truly limited for those who work in these dangerous environments, the need for regulation spikes dramatically. But as far as I can tell there are meaningful chocies in Chicago amongst wait staff labor.

But as an abstract matter, I have no problem with someone who is risk seeking to be paid more and agree to be exposed to aesbestos, so long as they have meaningful alternative options for gainful employment. As soon as there is even a hint of a lack of meaninful choice, regualtion is a must where dangers are real.

Aesbestos workers never knew of the risks when they were exposed, and if they did, it is clear no one would have chosen to work around it when they did. These were jobs even lower on the pay scale, involving more exploitation and coercion than waitressing at a bar in a city.

MDS said...

"If we learned anything in law school - and we didn't - its that ideally the market should take care of itself and establish the most efficient outcomes so long as decision makers are adequately informed, right?"

With all due respect, if you think that philosophy (which I generally support) applies to smoking, you really didn't learn anything in law school.

The market only works when everyone is choosing to be part of the market. Smoking imposes costs on others. Your argument that no one is forced to go to a bar or work in a bar is just as valid as the argument that no one is forced to own a bar (or live) in Chicago. Do you think bars should have to obey the fire codes, or can a bar crowd 200 people into a room with only one exit, since those 200 people chose to go to the bar?

Lazerlou said...

MDS, I'm not sure what you are saying. I understand about the externalization of the costs of smoking w/ through second hand smoke.

As for the laissez faire market argument, it is not the same thing to say that people can choose to work where they wish in conditions of free choice and that bars can choose to operate or not in Chicago in response to regulations. Saying choice conditions are the same in a regulated and unregulated market kind of misses the point about eliminating that dead weight loss that regulation creates. As the theory goes, and lord knows I don't believe it, regulation inherently inhibits choice and creates dead weight loss.

Lazerlou said...

Or were you refering to the externalities beyond the second hand smoke, like health care costs to the rest of us. If that is the case, then perhaps the issue we should be discussing is the propriety of a outright ban by the government on costly self-destructive behvior.

The real issue is the conduct of big tobacco companies and the effect it has had on society. But in banning smoking outright at the very places people would naturally have a smoke is throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. A typical liberal overreaction to a far more systematic problem.
The big tobacco comapnies are far more harmful to society than smoking itself. The pervasive manipulative marketing, the addiction facilitating, the manipulation of nicotine content, the additives, many synthetic additive designed to deliver nicotine. That is what is so fricking offensive about smoking. Bars are too smokey cause everyone is super addicted and constantly smokes, and the smoke is this nasty chemically shit.

But that doesn't mean we should run around banning smoking in every damn bar, it means people should be smoking less. That is what government should be promoting. If we regulate the tobacco companies and their pratices and have a natural tobacco revolution, and then we tax tobacco so it is truly a luxury, I'll bet we could solve the problem without knee-jerk thoughtless overregulation.

Again, it is about regulation in the right place. Eliminate the coercion involved in smoking and price people out of destructive behavior that has serious external costs to the rest of us and we have a happier world where a good University of Chicago intellectual can go to Jimmys smoke a pipe, sip a scotch and discuss Heidegger.

God bless fredom.

Anonymous said...

lazerlou nailed it.

"The real issue is the conduct of big tobacco companies and the effect it has had on society"
...
"The big tobacco comapnies are far more harmful to society than smoking itself. The pervasive manipulative marketing, the addiction facilitating, the manipulation of nicotine content, the additives, many synthetic additive designed to deliver nicotin"

My add:
Altria threatened to file for bankruptcy not too long ago if they were ordered by an IL court to pay a penalty attributed to Altria. This was the biggest bluff I've seen. Altria can afford to pay without going bankrupt. Look up how much cash Altria pays per year in dividends to shareholders, and how much this cash dividend has increased since the last couple years since Altria's "bluff". Lawyers out there: what are preferential transfers anyways?

Let individuals and businesses figure out in the market where to smoke.

Lawyers: any update on the Altria-IL litigation? Isn't it going to the IL Supreme Ct?

respectful said...

So Lou doesn't want to prohibit smoking in bars -- that's big gov'mnt. But he does want to raise the tax on cigarettes to discourage smoking. Whether you're talking about gov't taxes and gov't regulation, your still talking about limits on choice imposed by public policy.

Lazerlou said...

"Big government?" I'm not sure where you get that except from your Tom Delay fan club talking points. This has nothing to do with the size of government. It has to do with determining the optimal form of regulation for an agreed upon problem - smoking externalizes costs on the rest of us, whether in the form of second hand smoke or health care costs. We are all in agreement that smoking in general and smoking in bars in the instant case is something that needs regulation. Even the Chicago school says that when externalities are prensent.
And yes, respectful you are master of the obvious. Whether a total prohibition on smoking in bars or taxing cigarettes, there will be dead weight loss. People who value smoking (and smoking in bars) would be kept from from doing that which they enjoy either way.

But in an outright prohibition you are preventing all people, no matter how much they value having a smoke with their drink at the local bar, from smoking. The dead weight loss could be tremendous as there are people who value this luxury immensely.
But if you tax tobacco, you are pricing people out of smoking, not just in bars, but in general, which is better for society and health care costs, you cause those who value smoking the most to bear the taxes and account for most of the costs they externalize, and most importantly, you do not overrgulate and outright prohibit someone who really values smoking from doing something they love.

If the government can achieve a regulatory goal in a number of ways, it should always seek to do so in the least restrictive, most efficient way, and should certianly avoid outright bans on particular behaviors in favor of just pricing people out of that behavior such that any individual can, if they value that behavior enough, still be free enough to do as she pleases, just at a higher cost.

respectful said...

You convinced me about the benefits of another tax hike on cigarettes. But your plan leaves workers subject to breathing secondhand smoke 40 hours a week. It's not sufficient to say they have a choice, anymore than it is about exposure to other noxious substances on the job.

Anonymous said...

There is only one good reason to ban smoking in restaurants, but it is a very important reason: worker safety.

Lazerlou said...

Respectful, you need to recognize that it is not like working around just any other noxious substance. Some people who work at bars don't mind and or actively like the smokey envirnoment. That is not true for working in other dangerous envirnoments. And there is choice. Bar workers can work in restaurants and demand to work in non smoking sections.

If you want to regulate, require employers to pay more to people who work in smoking sections and allow anyone who refuses to do so to work in the non-smoking section. Even better, require that restaurants give their employees health insurance. That'll get a bunch of them to clean up their air right quick when they see those premiums to insure workers in a smokey restaurant. But bars are different. No bar should be required to be non-smoking if they don't want to be. There is not so little choice for service labor that any person is forced to work in a smokey place if they don't want to. I'm all for paternalism and preotectionism and regulation, but this is an over-reaction to a poltically charged topic.