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Saturday, March 18, 2006


Referendum on Appleton's Smoking Ban: Shall We Soften It?

Appleton stands out among the cities in northeastern Wisconsin for its ban on smoking in public establishments. Many bars, taverns, and restaurants have complained that it has hurt business, and that former customers now go to other cities. Appleton residents will have a chance to consider easing up on the restrictions in a referendum vote on April 4, 2006. The proposed changes in the referendum passes are given in the document showing the question to appear on the ballot. I encourage you to think about it. According to that document, if you have questions you can call the city at (920) 832-6447.

My two cents? I am strongly against smoking, but feel that private property owners should have the right to determine if smoking is allowed on their property or not. Changing the rules on how a business can be run in midstream also seems unfair, especially when it gives an advantage to competitors in neighboring towns. If a restaurant wants to permit smoking, no one is forcing me to go there. On the other hand, non-smoking employees may be exposed to harmful levels of second-hand smoke, and it's a little harder to just tell an employee that if you don't like the air here, get a job somewhere else. It's a tough issue - but I prefer to air on the side of smaller government and fewer regulations, letting people vote with their feet instead of using force.
I agree with your post... my only objection is regarding the employee issue. We are talking about taverns... I think that when people apply for a job as a bartender, they're aware of the fact this is at a tavern, which typically includes smoke. If someone is against being around smoke, I suspect they don't have a strong desire to pursue a career in bartending...
I agree as well
Interesting arguments indeed. The one argument I struggle with is the bar owners who only blame the non smokers and the ban for their drop in sales. Shouldn't they be blaming themselves and their shallow smoking patrons as well? How is it that the smokers would rather drive 1, 2 maybe 5 miles away to smoke while they drink then to walk 10 feet out the front door? How transparent is that? What does that say for the establishment itself? The drop in sales is really the patrons fault, not the legislations. The bar owners need to look internal and adapt with the change.
I agree with Sparky that the patrons are really showing whether or not they have loyalty to a certain tavern. It would appear in many cases, they do not. But do keep in mind Wisconsin winters. Some people may have stayed in July and August but ran for the hills by November.
Sparky is obviously not a smoker. Sitting at the bar with a beer, and smoking WHILE sitting at the bar with a beer, is why the smoker is in the bar in the first place. Stepping outside for a smoke is not only an inconvenience, it defeats the whole reason for being in the bar. Plus, stepping outside for a smoke is tacit acceptance of one's status as a second class citizen--screw that! Further, what do you do if you smoke cigars? There's no such thing stepping outside for a "quick" cigar.

Gavin's comment about "loyalty" to the taverns is baffling. Since when do individuals owe a duty of loyalty to businesses? If the tavern owner supplies a product or service that I want, I'll keep coming back. But if bar owner doesn't supply what I want, such as the ability to smoke inside his bar (either because he voluntarily refuses to do so, or cannot, due to government regulation), then I owe the bar owner nothing.
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