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On Smoking Bans

I've been remiss, posting less than usual while I undergo a bit of blogger burnout. It's cyclical, folks. Meanwhile, I slowly work on my Year in Review post, which will be out some time in 2009.

That said, while I may be burnt out from poker blogging, I do have a tangential poker issue that I wouldn't mind opining about.

In January 2006, New Jersey banned smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars, following a trend that has already touched New York and has reached as far as Ireland. The law is based upon the concept that restaurant employees are forcibly subjected to a dangerous condition - second hand smoke - while working. Since all restaurants and bars, for the most part, allow smoking somewhere in their premises, the employees in that industry have no choice but to work in these dangerous conditions.

This is by no means the first time that laws have been created to protect workers at the whim of their employers. A perfect example, coming out of New York, are the scaffolding Labor Laws. Under those laws, a construction worker need only prove that there was something wrong with the scaffold or that he lacked safety devices like a harness, to win a verdict against the property owner. That's the OWNER, folks, not his employer. His employer is "protected" under Workers' Compensation law, which also allows the employee easy access to medical treatment and supplemental income while injured. NY, however, realizing that Worker's Comp was often insufficient to fully compensate some injuries, created the scaffold (and ladder) Labor Law provisions making recovery against property owners relatively easy, with exceptions for one and two-family dwellings.

While that scintillating paragraph on NY Labor Law probably got you all excited, there was another point. It is nothing new for laws to be created that may appear unfair (in the Labor Law context, to the owner who has little oversight over scaffolding and ladders) to protect workers, who often do not have the resources of those who suffer. But while the NY Worker's Compensation and Labor Laws are effective, they are also (supposed to be) narrowly tailored to effectuate their purpose. The smoking ban does not do this.

In January 2006, when the law passed banning smoking in public places in New Jersey, the strong casino industry lobby was able to get an exception for the casinos. Now, it looks like that exception will be negated in the next coming months. The result is that casino profitability is expected to drop a whopping 20%, and the very employees to be protected will be laid off.

The bottom line, folks, is that the law is wrong. The law has always been wrong, it will continue to be wrong, and regardless of the positive aspects of the law, it remains wrong.

The positive aspects are readily apparent to any New Yorker (who doesn't smoke). First, when you are in a bar or restaurant, you don't leave stinking of smoke. Second, presumably the smokers smoke less because they have to leave the establishments to smoke. This probably helps the public's general health. Then, of course, there is the fact that second-hand smoke ingestion is reduced.

But at what cost? I'm not saying that the legislature should allow smoking in all these venues. I am saying, however, that there should be cut outs for certain places, places where there are no children to protect. This would be (1) bars, and (2) casinos.

You may be thinking, what about the employees? Well, first off, to think that someone who works in a bar or casino can ONLY work in those locations is a bit narrow-minded. Plus, when choosing a career or job, there are certain things that must be weighed by the potential employee, including where the hell he or she is working. If they choose a bar or casino, they CHOOSE to be in a smoking environment.

But let's ignore the fact that employees in those industries can move on to others. Let's assume we need to provide them with an opportunity to work in a non-smoking environment. Enter the tax-break. The anti-smoking law should be narrowly tailored to satisfy its purpose but not restrict businesses from operating as they see fit. By applying a tax to all businesses which allow smoking (and mind you, I ONLY think that children-free places should have the option of allowing smoking), you can provide deep tax incentives to those who ban smoking all together. This would allow the businesses to offset the loss of revenue from the ban by the tax incentive. It would also allow other places to operate as usual. Finally, it would give the bar and casino employees options on where to work in a given industry. They can choose to work in a smoking or non-smoking establishment.

Here is the other backup, one that may be allowed, for all I know. There should be a way to allow establishments to have fully-ventilated, indoor smoking rooms. They don't have to serve people in the rooms, but at least people wouldn't have to leave an establishment (and their drinks) to have a smoke. Let the room be as big or as small as the establishment wants. Don't serve in the room, so that the fragile little employees can protect their weak and feeble lungs. But don't just ban smoking outright in public.

If you need two other reasons why smoking should not be banned in public outright, here they are: (1) this nation was built on tobacco, our greatest export while we were growing into a world power, and (2) smoking is still legal. To suddenly punish smokers, most of whom are addicted to nicotine due to the availability of the legal tobacco, is just asinine. We are treating smokers like second-class citizens because they have a "dirty" habit that we, as a nation, have generally permitted.

Plain and simple, the government should tailor their laws to be as narrow as possible to effectuate their purpose. They should not hinder businesses or individuals with their overreaching laws.

For the record, I do not smoke and I prefer the smoke-free environment in restaurants and bars. I just don't think it will help the casinos and I sure-as-hell don't think that it is necessary or proper for the government to decide it. As I've stated, it's one thing to protect children who cannot protect themselves. But we are not children, and should not be treated as such.

Until next time, make mine cigarettes...er, um poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:55 PM,

9 Comments:

At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All valid points, I think, but 20% of casino business seems extremely steep. Did that number come from the article? Who put out that number? The casino lobby? What is it based off of?

I too enjoy the smoke free environment (I live in NY). Another thing to consider is casinos in AC are not "children-free" thanks to hotel/casinos and resorts.

And what about other "children free" areas like the office at work? Why can't you smoke there?

I think that I think the smoking ban is a good idea. I've never really examined it. As I said, all your points are good ones, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate a little bit.

 
At 11:48 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

20% was from the article and you SHOULD be cynical of statistics. That said, children are not permitted for an extended period of time on casino floors. A walkthrough is okay, but if they stop, security will usually usher them on. I saw it the last time I was there. A family stopped in the middle of the casino to fix their stroller and a guard told them to keep it moving (politely). I'm sure that is not the norm, but it is the law.

I believe that if smoking is legal, then it should be legal to smoke it indoors in certain places. I base the children-free environment rule based on who needs the most protection. But let's not overstep bounds. Children can be in a work place. By law they cannot be in a casino (or bar). All that said, thanks for the comment, jl.

 
At 11:53 PM, Anonymous 1st Rule said...

The gov should not have the right to make you stop smoking. But smokers should not have the right to negatively effect your health with second hand smoke. Because banning smoking in buildings does not stop you from smoking but does protect the health of others, I find it an acceptable solution.

I think it is almost impossible for smokers to stop smoking if they are around people smoking all the time. With out these laws it would be impossible for you to go to any adult business. They couldn’t drink, gamble, or play poker.

I think it is unfair that the casinos should have any exemption. Just because they have money they should not have more rights then a local bar.

Forcing people to go outside is wrong, especially in below freezing temps. Any association should have the right to build a “smoke” room. A sealed room with no entertainment or beverages and full ventilation.

Just as someone who is covered in shit would forced to leave the building so should smokers. Unless they all want to sit in a shit filled room.

Manny smokers say that we non smokers are discriminating against smokers, to that I say, we just stopped allowing you from forcing us to second hand smoke.


I would love to find a solution that would make everyone happy until then…..

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

 
At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First...being the "kick-ass" lawyer that you label yourself, quite obnoxiously I might add, you certainly know how to get the law WRONG. The revised Labor Law 240, commonly known as the Scaffold Law, PROTECTS Owners and Employers.

The Court of Appeals is no longer imposing absolute liability on owners and contractors the way it had for so many years holding that the obligations of owners and contractors do not extend beyond providing defect-free scaffolds and ladders to workers. If a worker then chooses not to use the ladder or scaffold or uses them in a negligent fashion and is injured as a result, the worker is solely responsible for his injuries and cannot recover under the statute.

Maybe you should study up before opening your mouth. I feel for your employer.

Second....please post a picture of your wife who you claim is a "piece and a half". We would all love to see this Wifey Kim that you talk about so much.

- Anonymous King

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Anonymous King, first off, I was giving an example of a law made to protect workers. While there have been more recent changes in the Court's analysis of Labor Law 240, the reason why it was originally crafted was to protect employees who had no control over their working conditions.

Second, the last thing I want is you wanking off to my wife. So, I'll pass on your request. I will, however, leave your comment up, because you are oh so cute when you get obnoxious.

Oh, and thank you for reading my blog. I can tell from your comment that you have been reading some of the archives. You must really love this blog. Should I send you an HoP bumper sticker?

 
At 3:10 PM, Anonymous 1st Rule said...

lol

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pwnt. Jordan - 1; Anonymous King - 0

 
At 12:51 AM, Anonymous MattyEbs said...

Actually have given the subject a lot of thought…I wrote a routine on how smokers are the next group to be discriminated against. Always thought the right to vote was the big issue looking at discrimination against women, blacks and now immigrants but because homosexual discrimination doesn’t fall into that category, I guess it isn’t voting that marks our discrimination so much as being able to die for your country in the army…Look out soon smokers won’t be able to serve in the armed forces. They’ll blame it on their “health conditions.”

Anyway to the issue at hand: I feel like there are at least two sides to any given argument and in this case it comes down to two issues that are popular in government these days: freedom and security. I personally am a big believer in the mentality, “Anyone who is willing to trade their liberty for security deserves neither.” Yes, in this case technically people are trading smoker’s liberties for non-smokers protection but that comes back to the second cornerstone of society: compromise.

There are no discernable reasons why tobacco and alcohol are legal while cocaine and marijuana are not. Why 15 year old kids can’t drive, 17 year old kids can’t vote and 19 year olds can’t drink. There are societal standards and traditions but those are always being broken or amended as is the case here. When did smoking in public become a sin…we’ll it started with airplanes. Couldn’t have smoggy travel, where people couldn’t get away, then theatres, museums, firehouses, or we’re those first. Work offices disallowing smoking probably boosted the industry among middle aged adults almost as much as Viagra due to a legitimate reason to take 8-18, 5 minute breaks a day. It then expanded to bars, restaurants, and clubs and soon we won’t be able to smoke in parks, zoos, or even our own cars. But right now we’re at casinos, where one good sin deserves another. They don’t want us combining smoking and gambling, they taking away alcohol too? What’s next, profanity being criminalized in public or does that already exist…people who don’t wear deodorant being banned from restaurants with our shirtless and shoeless brethren.

You don’t like smoking fine, let the market decide, there are already smoking and non-smoking casino areas in most places, Foxwoods is a good example. Don’t like swearing, wear earmuffs or let’s have a rating system, I think I’d play NC-17 poker if not XXX. It isn’t supposed to be a regulated industry, if it was it would be legal to begin with…but this is about smoking, the prohibition starting all over again. I mean you can’t even have smoking paraphernalia on planes anymore, they take those lighters away before you board…next thing you know, blackjack tables will come with seatbelts and airbags, play safe.

PS. Anonymous King – if you’re really interested in attractive picture of lawyer’s/poker player’s wives post with a name, address or even email address I think I can hook you up…

Still reading….25 more pages of ramble on the subject still circulating in my mind let me know If you want to discuss. Oh high on poker thank god I don’t read your posts stoned.

 
At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HoP...your a silly lil boy.

First, I read this blog for comic relief. I read this blog for the same reasons I watch Police Chases Gone Bad. I'm not watching cause of the skillful display of driving skills. I'm watching because I get a kick out of people making an ass out of themselves in public...exactly what you accomplish everyday with this useless, depth-less blog.

Second, TripJax is correct. Floating is NOT a pre-flop play. Floating is when you call a suspicious continuation bet of a preflop raiser AFTER the flop has been dealt with the intention of making a move on the pot on the turn or the river. Just like Labor Law 240…you got this concept all wrong. Thanks for the mid-afternoon laughs….haha.

Third, there is a continuous trend prevalent in your posts. You constantly feel the need to pat yourself on the back. You like to self-promote…constantly. Coming from a psychological background, I'll let you in on a lil secret as to why you do this. You suffer from a psychological disorder resulting from the belief that you are flawed in a way that makes you unacceptable to others. This belief exists below your conscious awareness…meaning, you would deny thinking such a thing if questioned. The BEST part is, in order to protect yourself against the intolerably painful rejection you imagine would follow if others recognized your defective nature, you make strong attempts to control others’ view of you.
That’s why you tell others that you are Superman, that you are a great lawyer, that your wife is hot, etc. The truth is…you are definitely not Superman…more like a member of The Ambiguously Gay Duo. You are definitely not a great lawyer…this became evident with your uneducated description of Labor Law 240. And finally, your wife is definitely not wack-off material. How about this…post a pic of her and let the readers decide. I promise you that you wont comply…I promise.

If you need any additional advice, just ask in your next post. Ill try to respond between laughs.

- Anonymous King

 

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