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Smoke free

April 15, 2008 - Steve Murch
A story from the Associated Press that moved on Tuesday says a study released by Ken Sikkema, former Michigan Senate majority leader and now of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing think tank, states smoking bans don’t have any net economic effect on bars and restaurants.

I believe, but I also believe you can get figures to say whatever you want them to say. It’s like anything with statistics, it all depends on the person reading the data.

‘‘If it’s what their customers want, their potential customers want, then they’ll do it,’’ Sikkema said about bars and restaurants in the AP story.

There’s no denying that businesses will do what their customers want. If they don’t, they won’t be in business for very long.

The argument centers around individual rights. Should someone have the right to smoke where they want? And, does someone who doesn’t smoke have the right to expect a smoke-free environment when they go out to eat or for entertainment? And at what point does the right of someone who smokes infringe on the right of someone who doesn’t smoke?

As a non-smoker, I dislike coming home and smelling like the bar if I go out with friends. But I also go there knowing about it ahead of time.

I’ve always said that is someone opened a smoke-free bar/entertainment venue in Alpena they’d do fine for themselves. There are plenty of people who enjoy going out but either don’t, or don’t go for long, because they don’t like to contend with the smoke.

However, should an establishment be told it has to ban smoking if everyone there already knows the health risks of going to that place?

And what happens if a business actually does lose business because its clientele is mostly smokers and they quit going there because they can’t smoke while having a beer? Who’s going to help that businessman (and his employees) if the business fails after going smoke free?

I agree with Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop that businesses should be the ones who make the decision about whether to go smoke free. I’d love to go somewhere without the smoke, but if it’s not available, then I can choose not to go at all.

Hopefully there will be more businesses that make that an option. I'd prefer to go someplace without it.


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