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sean mcdaniel

okay.

let's get this straight...

i totally agree with you...

on all of it...

what is wrong with me?

Ed Heath

So, do you agree with some science in this regard? Did the EPA designate second hand smoke a carcinogen? What about the reports of a drop in sudden heart attacks from cities that banned smoking in restaurants (Helena, Pueblo)? I there is enough science to engage in a discussion of whether we should limit harmful behaviors; I think you know or can work out the debate. And I think the science is there even if you think some of the anti smoking people are exaggerating their argument. Of course, if what you really want to do is complain about grammar maybe you should change your blog’s name to Anti-Participle or something …

Sam M

(Note: Numerous typos fixed from initial posting. I had to rush because I was losing my connection.)

Ed,

I'd be happy to engage in the science, although I don't think it's all that complicated; Smoking is bad for you. I am not contesting that. In fact, I will even accept that breathing other peoples' smoke isn't all that great. I don't know any serious people who think it is.

My problem is that the anti-smoking zealots are the ones perverting the numbers. The Post-Gazette calls working in a bar "flirting with death." I think that's clearly an exaggeration. I mean, how many people have you known over the course of your life who have worked in a bar? Of those that were nonsmokers, how many died of lung cancer? If it is really "flirting with death" or a "grave" danger, as positioned in the latest editorial, you ought to know at least a few nonsmoking waiters who have died, right?

So something is clearly going on. And like I mentioned (and linked) even the people who supprt the bans are beginning to question the hyperbole. Because it is so bad it has to be either wrong or dishonest. Remember, I didn't make that up. One of the leading anti-smoking activists said it.

Why does it matter? Because I don't think you (Ed) are either foolish or dishonest. But you are repeating an exaggeration when you tout those numbers from Helena. You HAVE to be. Think about it. Let's say you knew 200 people who were active, heavy smokers. Half of them quit one day. Would you see an "immediate" drop in heart disease among those people? Of course not. Heart disease develops over time. After years and years of exposure. That's why 22-year-olds do not typically die of smoking-related illnesses.

So why would people who get a lower dose of smoke through the second-hand method fare worse? That idea was completely dismantled here:

http://www.reason.com/sullum/040403.shtml

See, the "science" never did make sense. Check around. It has been debunked again and again, and the anti-smoking people have even backed away from it. (See previous link.) But you believed it. Why? Because zealots in the media (See the Post-Gazette) have repeated the claim constantly. To wit, they say that any exposure causes immediate danger. Grave dangers. That amount to flirting with death.

So I encourage you to write a letter to the Post-Gazette asking THEM to engage in the science.

But they won't. Why? Because that science will say something like, "OK. Smoking is bad. And so is secondhand smoke. But the latter is not as bad as the former."

And that will never justify a full-on ban, especially when that ban is based on claims of worker safety. Because we let people do all sorts of dangerous jobs. Logging is far more dangerous than tending bar. So is being a NASCAR driver. Or doing high iron work. But we let people take those risks.

So the only way to justify the smoking ban is to exaggerate the science. Which is exactly what the Post-Gazette has done. And in doing so they have misinformed readers like you.

Amos the Poker Cat

Ops, I chased an old link, and posted this comment there by mistake.


I bet you were thrilled that State Rep. Susan E. Cornell, R-Montgomery lost her primary ace. Surprised, or maybe just disappointed that she was a (R). Certainly not the libertarian (R) that I like to see in office.

Officials smolder as Legislature stalls on smoking ban

What about the news about WVa smoking ban? Oh, of course, except casinos. What do you think will happen to the casino in PIT if we make it smoke free, while WV's allow smoking?

W.Va. smoking ban yet to acquire teeth
After year, many Wheeling bars ignore law; health officials vow to crack down

While I agree with Sam's point on individual choice, and responsibility. I also see these bans as slowly marching forward, mainly because of the over the top emotional rhetoric.

Since California became the first state to regulate smoking in public 10 years ago, regulations on smoking have appeared with increasing frequency nationwide.

A dozen states have laws which prohibit smoking in most public places, including bars, restaurants and offices. Nine of those states prohibit smoking in casinos as well.

Curious as to the list of these 12 states.

Sam M

Amos,

I agree that the over-the-top rhetoric has a huge impact, which is why I take the Post-Gazette to task. But even more frustrating is a simpler answer: Fewer people smoke. And more people see government regulation as a good way to enforce their personal preferences.

Ultimately, that's why I am so furious with the Post-Gazette. I think newspapers are important. And will be for a while. And I think they can do important work in enforcing civil liberties.

No, smoking in bars is not the most important issue facing the nation. But I do think that it is a pretty good bellweather. And sadly, the Post-Gazette has failed miserably in presenting the issue fairly. Or interestingly, even. I am not saying they have to agree with me. But my goodness, make sound arguments. Buck up. Have some courage and conviction. Instead, we get a bunch of shabbily crafted hyperbole about french fries and flirting with death.

Pittsburgh deserves better on this issue. But even more worrisome is how the paper will treat something really, really serious. Because this issue shows that its standards aren't all that high. And it's really quite unbelievable to me that they chose such a piddling affair on which to waste their credibility.

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