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sean mcdaniel

i'll say this...

it's hard to get a smoking advocate...

ever notice when someone smoke in a restaurant (and it's getting harder to find a place where one can light up) the smoker tends to take a puff, maybe inhale a bit and then turns his head away from his plate of food or eating companion...and exhales. you never ever see smokers blowing food into their meal or across the table towards the people their with...wonder why?

all that being said, if a restaurant allows smoking, that's fine with me. if the smoke is overbearing, i'll move on.

sam, just hold your own informational meeting about the benefits of smoking. i can't wait to see the stellar crew you'll attract. bet they'll all be from murrysville...because a lot of those cultured shadyside folks will be in lockstep on the anti-smoking side.

Sam M

Actually, I think the benefits of smoking are quite obvious. It delivers nicotine. And many people also enjoy the flavor. The smell, even. So much so that for hundreds and hundreds of years (and likely thousands of years before that) culture after culture has become enthralled with the vicious little weed.

I think this is true of a lot of things. Drinking. Sex. Driving too fast. Dangerous? You bet. But to act like the allure does not exist is to be disingenuous. And to tell young people that these things aren't "cool" is foolish. Because they decide what's cool. They always have.

I think the better, more honest message is, "OK. So it's cool. But sometimes you don't get to do what's cool. And if you do it anyway, you pay the price, whether that comes in the form of a baby out of wedlock, a smashed up car, liver disease or, in the case of smoking, lung disease."

But even more importantly, being against a smoking ban is not--I repeat, is not--in any way equivalent to endorsing smoking. It just isn't. In the same way that being against laws that regulate bedroom behavior is not objectively pro-promiscuity. And in the same way that being against 1920s-style prohibition is not in any way an endorsement of heavy drinking. And in the same way that being against the war was not objectively "pro-Saddam."

Rather, it is an acknowlegement that while many things are dangerous and should, in many cases, be proscribed, legislation is not always the best way to curb undesirable behavior. In fact, go to any college campus, Pitt included. You have thousands upon thousands of kids drinking unsupervised in their apartments. When the drinking age was 18, these people were in bars, where the rowdiest could be culled form the herd one at a time. And in many of the most problematic "riot schools," such as Ohio State, some public officials are finally beginning to ask whether raising the age to 21 made things better or worse. That's an open question, of course. But it points to the fact that, as always, legislation has unintended consequences.

Like, you, I am a nonsmoker. And I leave if the smoke gets too bad. And many, many people are beginning to do the same. Which has led more than 170 establishments in the Pittsburgh area to go smoke free. And there are more all the time.

I think the smoking ban is a solution in search of a problem.


Sam, I'm not sure I'd go to this meeting if I could, but I hope you can make it. You'll be a proxy for all the pro-pollution advocates. Seriously, I do think someone should speak up not necessarily for smokers, but for the idea that people who are easily offended by smoke, perfume, the display of secondary sexual characteristics, stumbling down streets, rude language, etc. should ease up. At a certain point, I'm not sure when, the pursuit of a smoke-free environment has more to do with projecting aesthetic sensibilities and feeding an appetite for prohibition than with protecting the health of the public.

I'm reminded of a recent study of internet habits and that the more sexually restrictive the society was, the more people searched for porn sites.

I searched around for this study, but couldn't find it. So please take what I say with a grain or two of salt. But I do believe we're only as sick as our secrets.

Sam M

In case you are owndering about that Ohio State thing, I went looking to find a link. I couldn;t find one, but I do know that it was in the Columbus Dispatch on September 14, 2003. Here's a bit of it (Everything that follows is from the article):

(Attorney General) Petro has said he plans to seek the GOP gubernatorial nomination. In his comments last week, Petro also suggested that changes to the campus area and the state's drinking law have created an environment more conducive to alcohol abuse -- and the reckless behavior that often follows it.

"I honestly think we would be better off by putting alcohol use in public places," Petro said.

That's challenging when students don't have a place to drink, he said. Most campus-area bars shut down and were leveled in recent years to make way for OSU's Gateway Project, a $125 million retail and apartment development being built just south of campus along High Street.

Petro noted his opposition to the Ohio law that did away with low-alcohol, 3.2 percent beer while he served as an Ohio legislator in the 1980s.

In 1982, 3.2 percent beer became obsolete when Ohio raised the drinking age from 18 to 19. Previously, 18-year-olds could legally drink only the low-alcohol beer.

In 1987, the state raised the drinking age for all alcohol to 21.

Petro isn't the only one who thinks the higher drinking age is fueling rowdy behavior. College substance-abuse counselors, campus-area landlords and students are among those who have voiced opposition.

Bill Hall, OSU's vice president for student affairs, has helped devise multiple strategies -- which cost OSU millions -- to combat what the university terms "celebratory riots." He's also witnessed them firsthand.

Hall's opinion?

"We need a drinking-age change," he said.

An OSU employee of 26 years, Hall recalled university-sponsored student parties on the Oval and south Oval, complete with bands and 3.2 beer, before the drinking age was raised.

The biggest bashes were during Michigan weekend, when 8,000 or 9,000 students came.

"It was fenced, permitted and controlled, and generally it was very successful," Hall said.

During Michigan weekend last November, students rioted off-campus after the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines. Sixty arrests were made, six students were suspended and one was expelled. The riot cost the city $135,000 in overtime.

The stricter drinking laws have pushed student drinking into neighborhoods, Hall said. "It created an illegal, underground activity, and it's continued to spread."

When the drinking age was raised in 1982, High Street bar owners' complaints reflected the popularity of bars with 18-year-olds.

"Some nights, we'd have up to 30 percent 18-year-olds in here," the manager of one -- My Bar at 1560 N. High St. -- told The Dispatch.

Sam M

My point, of course, is not that drinking laws and smoking laws are the same thing. But it is possible to be against a ban on something without actively promoting it. For instance, I doubt this Petro guy really wants kids at OSU getting bombed at bars. On the other hand, he has a sneaking suspicion that banning them from bars has resulted in them getting more bombed than they otherwise would.

It's a bit counterintuitive. But it works for me.

sean mcdaniel

hey i like the idea that if you let 18 year olds drink in public that they'll be more responsible.

but what about all the high school kids who keg parties in fields or drink in the homes of parents who are away...or who let them. just where do you draw the line? voting age? driving age. consensual sex age? would you rather have your kids getting smashed, legally, hundreds of miles away from home at a college bar or closer to home, after the friday night football game, so you could kick his or her ass when they got home?

don't know about you guys but i think drinking habits of 2006 are different than those of 1986, just as sexual habits are different too. i'm not saying it's good or bad...but stuff happens sooner with kids these days...and today's toddlers will be shocking the hell out of their parents, oh just about 2014...just wait, you'll see.

just check out kids coming from a christian rock concert...a lot of them dress just the kids coming from a brittany spears concert...low rider jeans, bare midriffs, piercings, tattoos...and that's just what the boys are wearing.

seriously, standards of "sensible" and "respectable" and "responsible" change all the time. and the guidelines aren't getting tougher.

Sam M

Are "kids these days" worse than kinds in days of yore? I think that's a tough call.

I mean, have you heard about the discipline problems at West Point? The Eggnog Riot? The cadets got all pissed because the brass cracked down on booze in the barracks (dorm?)A riot ensued, which included about a third of the cadets and an attempted murder. Yet only nine got booted out of the service. Some discipline, huh? Well, you probably didn't hear about it. Because it happened in 1826. The ringleader of the mutinous cadets was one Jefferson Davis. He did not get kicked out, despite numerous alcohol-related infractions already staining his record.

Or did you hear the one about the guy at Yale known as the "College Bully"? Students elected the biggest, meanest member of every class to the position. And handed said bully a huge club with which to smite uppity townies. (Riots between the groups were so frequent that such a leader was necessary.) Or how about the drunken Yalies who regularly got into it with a local firehouse--and one day actually shot and killed one of the firefighters. Rather than reigning in the students, Yale paid to have the firehouse moved. Some discipline.

Probably didnt read about those, either. As the College Bully was outlawed in 1840. The shooting happened in the late 1850s.

I also understand that drunken students at Penn State used to steal as many wagons as they could and burn them in an enormous bonfire once a year. Keep in mind that this was in a farming community, where a wagon was an immensely important and expensive piece of capital equipment.

So, you know. I guess the kids take too much ecstasy and show a little too much belly. But I haven't heard of many riots at West Point or shootings at Yale lately. A lot of burned up couches at OSU and turned-over cars at U-Maryland, sure. But riots are nothing new. If anything, they are less serious than they have been in the past. And what momentum they do gain does seem to have a lot to do with the fact that the kids drink on their own, without any responsible supervision.

But let's be clear--I might have libertarian leanings, but I am no utopian. The law of unintended consequences works both ways. I think you mentioned that before with regard to legalizing drugs. I am for doing that. But there will certainly be costs. And there are costs associated with lowering the drinking age. I just think that the benefits outweigh costs. (And for me, one of the benefits is clearly one of justice--doesn't it strike you as odd that a lot of those guys dodging IDFs over in Iraq come home and can't have a beer at the VFW with their dad?)

But even closer to home: let's say the world is cruel and I have a daughter. One who decides to go to college at UCLA. Would I rather have her chugging beers at local bars and university sanctioned parties under the watchful eyes of doormen and RAs--or funnelling beers under the ogling eyes of Biff, king of the Roofies?

Yeah yeah yeah. I would rather have her at the library. But why should she be any less of a partier than Jefferson Freaking Davis?

sean mcdaniel

as for the IDFs, couldn't agree with you more. hell, they shouldn't be dodging there or in afghanistan. a friend of my oldest son's being deployed in two months...just before he turns 21. honest, to god, i don't understand how we can say youth is the nation's greatest resource and then send them off to die...and no, i don't think is a war merely for oil...the nation's leader has bigger goals in mind.

as for the watchful eyes of that bar owner...maybe you ought to watch a girls gone wild DVD to see what happens in bars these days...and when you finish...please send it my way.

yes, i know that students of olden days misbehaved too. but i really think the drinking is more thoroughly part of the culture, and more thoroughly accepted.

ah, old jeff davis...always the rebel.

as for PSU wagon burning...if you remember, the town experienced a few riots in recent years before the beginning of the school year.

finally, in the good old days, guys were the idiots who got too drunk, got too rowdy and got into too much trouble...girls tended not to behave badly...well, now the fairer sex is fully capable and within their rights to be just as stupid as guys. all i've got to say is that you've come a long way, ladies. i really thought they were smarter than us.


Hey, Sam, it's Keith Brown. I'll email you about some other things.

I've always wondered why people won't try a "third way" with the establishments, and the license sale proceeds could even be used to reimburse employees of the licensed estabishments for their risk from secondhand smoke.


Wow, my last comment got chewed up, and reads like a Neanderthal wrote it.

I'll try again:

I've always wondered why people won't consider a "third way" with the establishments. The localities could issue and sell smoking permits, and the localities could even use the proceed from the smoking permits to reimburse employees of the estabishments for their risk from secondhand smoke.

risks from second hand smoke? sam will tell you there's proof of no such thing. so what's the need for insurance to protect workers from it?

Sam M

Sean said:

"risks from second hand smoke? sam will tell you there's proof of no such thing."

No. Sam won't tell you that. Anyone who has ever read anything I ever wrote on the topic and subsequently concluded that I would tell anyone such a thing would be engaging in a reading process known as...


Sean, seriously: Try to read more carefully. Or take a qualude.

Amos the Poker Cat

Recently, Honzberger actually interviewed PUMP's prez of directors, Belinda Yeager. PUMP did get an 11th hour token advocate for the other side, someone from a restaurant association. She also said PUMP would have to get a vote of something like 80% of the members in order to take a position on an issue.

Amos the Poker Cat

Oh, here is the link to the follow up article, Proposed county smoking ban aired. "Pennsylvania Restaurant Association President Kevin Joyce" was the token "pro" advocate, but he is more concerned that a set of restaurant in a particular city or county is disadvantaged by local laws, not the generic freedom argument.

"Mr. Joyce said he supported a statewide ban without exemptions for some workplaces, such as bars. He questioned the legality of any ordinance that the county might pass.

Heck of an advocate, even if it might be illegal in PA.

Even Finnerty thinks nothing will happen state-wide for a couple of years, and even then there are those "legal issues".

'He acknowledged that a smoking ban ordinance will likely be challenged in the courts, and that no plan is yet in place to respond to potential legal hurdles.

"I have a cigarette myself now and then," Mr. Finnerty said. "But every freedom demands a responsibility." '


Amos the Poker Cat

Ohh, "eisegesis". Nice. I am sure Bill Buckley is nodding approvingly. Which reminds me, where did my old Buckley word-of-the-day calendar go? Got some people I want to leave gobsmacked.

sean mcdaniel

that's right, sam. you really don't tell us anything. you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger...and rail against those who say it is. sorry for thinking that you might really have a message in anything you say.

gotta admit, it's a great way to snipe at everything you find disagreeable, but without actually endorsing the opposing point of view. very clever.

so you're policy seems to be, "hey, here's what i don't agree with and here are some points of view from others to support my contention. but that's not saying i agree with the dissenting side, either." you are the wily one.

now does that mean you don't agree with jane jacobs' views on cities, but are merely referring to her to prove your point and for the readers' edification?

once again for the record, i oppose a ban too. but only because i think that anyone who thinks that they can die of secondhand smoke after an exposure or two isn't too bright...and if you can't find another job besides working in restaurant/bar where smoking is permitted, then you have bigger issues to deal with.

Sam M

Sean wrote:

"you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger"

Um, did you actually follow any of the links? Like this one?


And by "read it," Sean, I mean read it CAREFULLY. Doctor Michael Siegel is a recognized expert on secondhand smoke and an outspoken ADVOCATE of tobacco control policies. And somehow, either through an attempt to misrepresent my position or sheer sloppiness (or is it eisegesis?) you think this guy is one of my preferred "sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger."

Great. Except this is what the Siegel's post ACTUALLY says in that regard. At least for those who can read:

"I want to make it clear that I agree with most of the conclusions of the Surgeon General's report itself and that I certainly (and have for many years) believed that chronic secondhand smoke exposure is a cause of heart disease and lung cancer. I believe that the conclusions of the Surgeon General's report are sufficient to justify smoke-free workplace laws."

So it turns out the major link I provided is not to someone who argues that secondhand smoke poses no danger.

In fact, the link I provided is exactly the opposite of that.

Seriously, dude. You are embarrasing yourself.

Amos the Poker Cat

Actually, this should be something that you remember since you commented in that thread. Back from the end of June, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board is Dishonest, Immoral and Securely in the Pocket of Special Interests. Or Stupid., Sam linked to Hit and Run which pointed to this original blog post, Surgeon General's Communications Misrepresent Findings of Report; Tobacco Control Practitioners Appear Unable to Accurately Portray the Science.

sean mcdaniel

Sam says:

"So it turns out the major link I provided is not to someone who argues that secondhand smoke poses no danger."

Yeah, but you also crowed about Myron Cope kicking PG ass with a link to his letter that included this:(your actual words were--"Because today the great Myron Cope beat the hell out of the Post-Gazette. It is beautiful. Please read it.")okay, sorry to interject. Here's myron's overwhelming proof from his letter to the editors:

"You were presented with scientific fact, gift-wrapped in a letter from Marc J. Schneiderman, M.D., who stated that, although he does not recommend use of tobacco, the largest study to date has shown no significant relationship between secondhand smoke and cancer -- or, I think it logically follows, between secondhand smoke and any disease of the PG's choice. For all I know, the PG fears smokers will cause an outbreak of beriberi or mad cow disease."

The post included this heading...which i assume you wrote:

"Go Myron! The Post-Gazette is Looking More and More Foolish on Smoking. And Less and Less Honest."

then again, you were probably only presenting info in the name of a well-rounded debate.

that's what i was referring to sam...would you say that you sounded a bit gleeful that myron's letter supported your argumentabout the anti-smoking lobby's ban movement? or do i need to read more carefully...or do you need to write more carefully?

Sam M

But Sean, you did not say that "Sam links to aricles about Myron Cope in addition to articles by experts who support smoking bans but oppose the exaggeration of the relevant science."

You said:

""you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger"

Show me one such post. Then another.

You can't. Because what you said is incorrect.

Incorrect, Sean.

What you posted is not true. I did not post such things. You can go back and reposition your complaint however you want.

But it was false. Wrong. A load of crap. And you got caught. Again.

I can hear it now... Yeah but... Yeah but... Yeah but... But what I meant to say... But how about...

Yeah but nothing. You got all flustered and screwed up. Again. Period.

Sam M

What's more disconcerting is that these blunders should have been so easy to catch. I mean, I caught them. And it didn;t take a lot of exhaustive research. I simply remembered your posts. How?

I think by reading them.


Keep that in mind the next time you use foul language then chastise others for it. Or accuse me of linking to things I never linked to. Or accuse me of failing to link to things I did link to.

Just scroll up to see what you wrote a few minutes prior. It's easy. And it will save you a lot of embarrasment.

To reiterate, you wrote:

""you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger""

And that wasn't true, in fact or in spirit.

sean mcdaniel


the myron post doesn't include a link that says secondhand smoke isn't a danger? really? please point out what i'm missing.

sean mcdaniel

"the largest study to date has shown no significant relationship between secondhand smoke and cancer -- or, I think it logically follows, between secondhand smoke and any disease of the PG's choice."

that's from myron's letter...which you linked to. honestly, what am i missing? maybe it wasn't your post?

sean mcdaniel

yeah, you're right. sometimes i get a little sloppy reading your stuff — and responding. as i said, you complain about everything, endlessly. is there anything that meets your approval?

you know, it seems that nothing seems to be right for those of the libertarian mindset who think that less meddling from the top is a good thing. and yet you chose to work in the most bureaucratic and bloated and smokefree settings of all, where every thing is micromanaged for political correctness...the state subsidized university setting. i would think a true libertarian would deplore and avoid at all costs such an environment.

hell, i'm not a libertarian and i know i'd get terribly frustrated with red tape and procedural speed bumps that impede just about every aspect of university doings. and yeah, i worked in pitt's communication department for a year...watching people publish vanity projects on pitt's IMAGE as a good neighbor, and pitt magazine writers writing three or four stories a year for the university magazine, and a vice chancellor of communications spending far more time at conferences in san diego and miami in the winter than in his office on craig street.

face it sam. the university is a cozy sinecure for many many people. i'm not saying that about you. but if you think city/county/state politics are a mess, universities are ten times worse. a job at pitt makes the city's row office patronage position seem like risky business.

and yet you made a careful, conscious choice to be become part of such a system. not only that, a hyge state supported one. curious.

yeah,that's my main point of contention with you. i think your basic premise is hard to accept (goverment meddling/subsidies should be kept to the minimum) when you work for an insitution that can't seem to change a roll of toilet paper without a forming a commission to study the tissue issue and looking into whether such a move will affect state funding.

Sam M

Sean wrote:

"the myron post doesn't include a link that says secondhand smoke isn't a danger? really? please point out what i'm missing."

O. I'll point out what you are missing. Again. Despite the fact that you wrote it:

"you really don't tell us anything. you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger...and rail against those who say it is."

See the difference? Now, you would have been right on if you had written, "Sam has provided quite a few links. Even links to people who disagree with his position about the push to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. And he has done so to illustrate the point that even these people disagree with the Post-Gazette's rhetoric regarding the issue. And in one case he provided a link to a delightfully cranky piece by Myron Cope that actually called the newspaper on its views."

You might have also pointed out that Myron Cope is a Pittsburgh icon. Not as a doctor or a public health official but as a sportscaster and, ultimately, a local personality. And that the other links I proveded were to serious people--medical doctors--who addressed the issue in a more serious way.

But instead: ""you really don't tell us anything. you just post one piece of "evidence" after another from sources that say secondhand smoke isn't a danger...and rail against those who say it is."

Is that sloppy? Or is that a deliberate attempt to misrepresent my position in order to make attacking my position easier? I might accept the more charitable "sloppines" explanation more readily had you not earlier written:

"risks from second hand smoke? sam will tell you there's proof of no such thing."

Which is untrue.

Look. You got miffed and went on a tirade. Fine by me.

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