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DAVE SEGAL: I loved your article on the smoking ban ["Take It Outside," Dec 15]. I believe it will have some very positive effects for all the nonsmokers out there. Here's my question: If public response is so positive, and most smokers are making do, why didn't bars and clubs implement this of their own free will long ago, rather than enact a law that prohibits the activity of smoking?
How do you justify closing a business designed with the premise of smoking, such as a hookah bar, which is now forced to close shop? It seems that this is an example of an establishment in which every single person who frequents it is willing, by choice, to subject themselves to both first and secondhand smoke. Do you feel the slightest remorse or guilt for passing a law that in essence has taken away the rights of this business owner? I bring up this question because it certainly seems like a violation of someone's constitutional right to operate their business in the way they see fit.
The problem, as I see it, was that establishments that catered to smoking and nonsmoking people were not proactively making the change to a totally nonsmoking environment. Business owners wanted to be nonsmoking because of the health risks, and to protect their employees and patrons, but did nothing because it might dip into their pockets/profits. However, now that it is a law, all businesses are on an even playing field financially. They are no longer at risk of losing smoker business, because smokers have no alternative.
This seems highly unfair to any business that wants to remain a smoking establishment. Wouldn't a better solution have been to require smoking bars/clubs to provide adequate air filtration, or perhaps a smoking room?
While I agree with your article in relation to the positives, there are many negatives that nonsmokers and supporters of this law have conveniently overlooked. A hookah bar is closing. Your lungs are clean while someone picks up the remnants of money invested in a business and tries to figure out how to feed his family. Other small taverns are hurt most. Large clubs won't lose as much business, but some of these darker, seedier places are completely reliant upon the smoking patron for business. This law has created a financial equality for all businesses in relation to smoking/nonsmoking, which is going to hurt the smaller bars the most. The Stranger seems to be an organization that would support anti-globalization and support local businesses. This law seems to have created a mini local-globalization of establishments.
What kills me is that ending a business owner's freedom to operate in the way they see fit is viewed as a positive at all. You want to operate as a nonsmoking venue? Great! Then do it. But don't make it a law. You have imposed your will upon those who may not wish the same.
Chris ShirleyAND MANY OF THE DIVES
SEAN NELSON: You put forth an anti-smoking argument ["A View from the Stage," Dec 15] that shares a common flaw with many of your sympathizers while you all grasp so desperately for a plausible rationalization for I-901. You simply cannot justify your unequivocal statement that I-901 is not "detrimental to business." I agree that most venues will see equal or greater revenues but that isn't what you wrote, is it? I think we both know that many of the dives won't fare as well.
Another nugget of your "essential, empirical truth" fails on the grounds that some hardcore smokers actually prefer the smell of tobacco in the air. I'm not saying it's cool; I'm saying I have witnessed it.
And then there was your next "Fact." Despite your dubious claim, it is quite possible to smoke indoors without "imposing noxious air on people around you." It's called "ventilation" and it works best with a high rate of air exchange and filtering. Just because most venue operators have been too fucking cheap all these years does not mean it hasn't been accomplished by some. I've been on the smokier stages to which you refer. I was playing blues nightclubs in Ft. Worth and Dallas back when you were probably shitting green and crawling up your mama's drapes. I know a little something about smoky venues and it's ALWAYS been a ventilation issue. Self-righteous rants by a bunch of little snot-nosed fucks will never change that.
Jeremy SmithANNIE WAGNER'S POISON PEN STRIKES AGAIN
ANNIE: I saw Restoration Comedy at a matinee last Sunday, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It wasn't perfect, but it was very well done, it was hilarious, and I believe it deserves a more thoughtful review than the one you wrote ["Not Without Smallpox," Dec 15]. I have seen shows at the Rep, ACT, and Intiman that deserved a lambasting, but Restoration Comedy is not one of them. We are fortunate in Seattle to have three very good professional acting companies that somehow survive abuse such as that you have to offer.
Tell the world how mad Annie Wagner makes you at forums.thestranger.com