Smoking is bad for you. We all know this. Yet I, and many others, make the choice to do it anyway. It is our right as citizens of the United States to put poison into our bodies if we so choose. And as it stands right now, I have the right to smoke a cigarette, inside a bar, with my beer. Starting on Jan. 1, 2009, I will no longer have that right. Oregon has decided to follow the lead of many other states and ban smoking in bars, which are the workplaces of many bartenders and servers.
Smoking is bad for you. We all know this. Yet I, and many others, make the choice to do it anyway. It is our right as citizens of the United States to put poison into our bodies if we so choose. And as it stands right now, I have the right to smoke a cigarette, inside a bar, with my beer. Starting on Jan. 1, 2009, I will no longer have that right.
Oregon has decided to follow the lead of many other states and ban smoking in bars, which are the workplaces of many bartenders and servers. Understandably, it is a health risk to breathe secondhand smoke for eight hours a day, five days a week; but what this boils down, once again, is choice.
Anyone who works at a bar knew, before they were hired, the risk involved. They chose to work there of their own free will. Secondhand smoke is an occupational hazard of the bartending and serving industries.
Now the Oregon Senate has deemed fit to rid us of this hazard and of our choice to endure it. I cannot help but be reminded of the smoking ban in Pioneer Square; an entire city block of completely open space upon which one can be fined for even having a lit cigarette between their fingers.
As much as I have tried, I cannot make logical sense of this idea. It is in complete disregard of the smoker’s civil liberties.
And yes, we do deserve the same liberties that everyone else shares.
This issue is about freedoms: my freedom to have a cigarette with my beer (indoors), your freedom to not have to breathe in my secondhand smoke and the business owner’s freedom to run their establishment how they see fit. Right now we all have these respective freedoms, but starting in 2009, the business owner and I will lose ours.
Yes, the non-smoker already has the freedom to not have to breathe my smoke. How? The answer is so simple I am almost embarrassed to provide it.
You have the freedom to choose a non-smoking bar. I, as a shameless smoker, will not even go to a non-smoking bar unless I absolutely must because there I already lack the freedom to smoke.
As citizens, smokers and non-smokers alike, we were not even provided the option to vote on this bill. Instead we have senators taking care of our health for us while at the same time taking away the choices of so many people.
The owners of many bars and clubs in Portland have decided, on their own, to ban smoking in their establishments, or to create smoking rooms separated from the rest of the patrons. A number of these places lost business by doing so, but they were fine with that.
They made the choice–just like I make the choice to smoke, and perhaps you make the choice not to, and bartenders make the choice to work in a smoking friendly environment.
This law is going to hurt business, business owners and smokers. The poor food service employees working in smoky bars don’t need saving. In fact, they are going to lose money as well. Fewer customers equals less tips.
Our choice, nay, our freedom is being taken away from us! Even if that choice may not be in our best interest. As autonomous actors, we have the right to hurt ourselves (to an extent) and we should have the right to establishments that will enable our actions.
In fevered dreams I envision a city almost entirely free of smoking. Nicotine addicts huddled together by the hundreds in the one designated smoking area in downtown Portland, spewing clouds of cigarette smoke from their midst, toeing the painted yellow line that separates us from the non-smokers who still possess their freedom.
Forgive my hyperbole, but where will the line be drawn? All the arguments I make boil down to a simple phrase. It’s just not fair.
It may not be a freedom you all agree with, but it is a freedom nonetheless. I, for one, am tired of being herded into painted boxes and shooed 15 feet away from any door or vent.