Michigan Radio News

NPR News

« Essay: Saving a Piece of History - 12.10.09 | Main | Essay: Sobering Up - 12.14.09 »

December 11, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great job. Very well written. However, the fight is not over.

I find it interesting that Jack Lessenberry finds this to be such an "imperfect" compromise.

The "perfect" solution, one presumes, would have been a complete, total, omnipresent social smoking ban. I cannot help but think that real perfection for Jack Lessenberry and other anti-smoking activists would be an outlawing of all tobacco products. (Politics, of course, makes strange bedfellows, and as someone who does not smoke cigarettes and who almost never smokes inside, I might join in a global tobacco ban if it meant an end to the river of tobacco money flowing through the lawyers who sue tobacco companies, and through state tobacco-lawsuit settlements, into the Democratic party.)

But let's look at the "imperfect" status quo ante. All bars and restaurants will be smoke-free. Only tobacconists (presumably, an outlaw target for future, "perfect" legislation) and cigar bars will be allowed to permit smoking. And, casinos. Let's set aside casinos for a moment. Casinos have enough political friends, in both parties, for obvious rea$on$.

That leaves "cigar bars;" a curiosity that in the past has drawn the particular ire of Mr. Lessenberry. Under the newly enacted statute, cigar bars are places that comprise a separate room or separate building, with ventilation, and which are more or less in the business of selling cigars as a defined part of their business. Clearly, nobody needs to go into a cigar bar if they don't want to. I'd defy anybody to point to a struggling waitress in Monroe, or Marine City, or Muskegon, or Marquette, who personally abhors smoking but who must keep her cigar-bar job for the sake of her hungry kids. That, of course was the main justification for the "workplace" ban on smoking in privately-owned bars in restaurants where consenting adults gathered to smoke and socialize; poor struggling workers who could find no other work except in local bars should not have to be exposed to second-hand smoke. I don't know what to say about the poor downriver worker who is dependent upon his local factory job but who does not want to be a part of the local union and who doesn't want to pay union dues.

Back to smoking: if anybody like Mr. Lessenberry thinks that this bill was "imperfect," it is because the bill allows some continued voluntary smoking, in a paltry few places where no one who didn't want to be there would be affected.

"Perfect" legislation for those like Mr. Lessenberry would absolutely deny to others in Michigan the right to make a purely private choice. They would ban all smoking -- presumably because they regard themselves as smarter, and better informed, with better judgment, and are more disciplined, more highly socialized people.

The "perfect" legislation for those like Mr. Lessenberry is a frighteningly patronizing view of social superiority.

Although some advocates and lawmakers might be anxious to remove the casino exemption and close the state's cigar bars, I doubt the legislature will have any interest in revisiting or reopening the issue anytime soon.

Too bad, too, since the ban apparently will encompass open-air smoking areas -- something almost no state bans, and advocates like Sen. Basham insisted he was not trying to close.

The comments to this entry are closed.

A Production of

***UPDATE 9/2/09: Read the user agreement, effective immediately.***

The Podcast


April 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30