Monday, March 20, 2006

Smoking-ban sham

by Steve Sherman, DI columnist

Hey yo, I know we had one of these bozos in the column write about a smoking ban in Iowa City being a good idea or whatever. And no, I disagree. A smoking ban is a shortsighted stupid piece of legislation conceived by legislative fads and the idiocy of generalization.

Given how downtown is, there's at least two bars on every block. Our downtown isn't that big, in the first place, and the sidewalks aren't particularly wide. I notice the cries for the smoking ban are usually coming from the "clean up Iowa City" contingent (as if something were wrong in the first place). So they want to make the downtown air "safe."

Yeah, this is all fair and good and dandy in my drawers, until you realize that a smoking ban forces people to smoke outside. No, it's not like someone will magically quit only because the City Council passes this. Smoking's an addiction, and though it may slow the beast, legislation won't stop it. Friends of mine who live in New York City and Chicago, who are smokers, all say this. Some say they actually like the smoking ban - because it saves them money - they're less apt to over-smoke while out at a bar.

And the main reason this ban will not work is because of the density of bars in the downtown area. Smokers will go outside, and if you think that downtown is a zoo already and have a problem with that, wait until a smoking ban is passed, and all the smokers take to the sidewalk. The crowds on the sidewalk now would, after a smoking ban is passed, look as rowdy and congested as a the crowd watching a screening of Gone With the Wind in a geriatrics ward. Anyone who lives in the immediate downtown area would have to put up with double the noise they do now.

Chicago, Boston, New York all have smoking bans, yes, but the "downtowns" of these cities do not consist mostly of bars. And every city is unique. To refer to downtown Iowa City as a bar district, as disturbing as that may be for some people, is also wholly accurate. In order for a smoking ban to not wreak more havoc, the face of downtown needs to change immensely, which is not something I see happening in the near future.

If you have a problem with the air at the bars, go to Donnelly's. It does good business, because (surprise) a lot of people don't like the smell of smoke. And I thank Donnelly's for meeting that demand. What I'm trying to tell the ban-supporters is, YOU HAVE A CHOICE. EXERCISE IT.


And for all y'all who get on the smoking-ban train, I suggest taking a look at the Ped Mall at 3 a.m., before the cleaning crews come through. If a ban is passed, you will see an exponential increase in the cigarette butts there, added to the already existing pile of garbage and vomit. So, keep this town relatively pretty, and don't support this smoking-ban bullshit.

No comments: