Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smoking Ban back Again

For the love. Do we once again have to waste our time focusing our attention on a smoking ban. Apparently so. It would seem to me that on the grand scheme of things this issue is one that frankly out to sit the next session out---thats right, lets focus our attention on real issues that need to be addressed. Like say the three billion dollar shortfall to the State budget.

Wait a second. Does the State need extra revenue generators? Is that the solution to our problems?

How about this?

If we do not want restaurants or bars (please lets not spend a month in Assembly debating the defintions) or simply want to limit those that do how about we pass legislation that requires a restaurant based on capacity to have a permit or license to allow smoking.

What you say?

Well, do we not require those serving alcohol to have an ABC license? is alcohol not every bit as a threat to public safety as smoking or even second hand smoke? What are the costs of alcholism to our health system or DUI's brought into our courts? An ABC permit can be on-premise, on-off premise as well as special event and we have been able to successful run that service for years. Why not do the same for smoking?

If a restaurant or bar seeks to permit smoking on its premise, let them do so by paying for that ability. Smokers will still have a place to go and smoke and watch a game or whatever and the public will know that that particular establishment is a smoke-zone establishment. If they do not want to expose themselves to the environment they do not have to. Its a choice, instead of having big brother deny all smoking everywhere outside ones home.

Do you folks realize just how much revenue that State generates from the ABC Board? Do you think that that revenue is the reason they have a hands off approach to alcohol, which arguebly can be more deadly and costly to society to those who are innocent, and instead concentrate so much of revisiting smoking bans.

Here a question. You have a cigarette tax right? What happens to that revenue generated for the State when the State tells smokers they can only smoke within the confines of their homes? Does it go down? What then happens to the funding that that tax revenue provided? In a word- shortfall.

That is what happens with government when they fail to think through all the dimensions of a proposal in my view. So we reduce smoking, I think most of us are all for that, but then if we lose that tax revenue will not the government have to increase taxes in other areas on folks who may NOT be smokers. Again, an unintended consequence.

So, let them smoke but make them pay for the right to provide an establishment that permits it just like the sale of alcohol. Think how much revenue we could generate on top of the alcohol permits. Think if every year a restaurant that wanted to allow smoking paid the State $500, one third the cost of an average ABC license---how much revenue would that bring I wonder?

And in the end, the public still has the right to be a patron or chose to go elsewhere where there is no-smoking. Could this not be a win-win for Virginia?


StrawberryFields said...

Interesting twist here. never considered that possibility. Are there any law makers endorsing this?

Anonymous said...

Local governments also charge the annual business license fees based on seating capacity so a smoke provision could easily be assigned in the same manner with regadr to capacity.

This would fill the demand for a place for smokers to be able to go out and be around those with like habits I guess. is this so different than other social norms?

Anonymous said...

Now that the new year is starting, the "new push" is returning to every state that has no ban, or a ban with ANY exemptions. Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and their Robert J. Wood Foundation and it's many political action committees (charites) have endless funding to keep armies of lobbyists throughout the nation employed for years to come. Their instructions are to keep returning EVERY YEAR until ALL exemptions are gone. They made the print of their book smaller to keep people from reading it, but you can CTRL and scroll to enlarge it. Here it is.

NonSmoker said...

Very true. Lobby groups and liberal groups especially see this as an opportunity to push for as much of their agenda as possible during the Obama 1st Qtr hysteria. Though this has been debated for years, it may get more traction this year, all be it sadly. This has government's as Alter addresses mixed messages as usual jusrt like the lottery; we do not want to endorse the lottery too much or allow smokers places to smoke to much and yet revenues are tied directly to these practices.

James said...

What are the hurdles here?

Why would a measure to make establishments pay for the ability to allow smoking in the same manner they pay for the right to provide beer and wine face opposition?

If the industry thinks that smoking bans will be anti-business for them you would think that if it was implemented that they would line up to pay for the ability OR better yet if the goal really is the limit them those that do not want to pay would cease providing the ability to smoke. WIN-WIN here Alter!!