The Nonsmoking Hordes of Michigan are now pushing for a complete ban on smoking in most businesses. The principal targets would be restaurants and bars, with mercy granted toward tobacconists and cigar bars...for now.
We believe there is a whopper being told as part of this campaign, namely the suggestion that some 1800 Michiganders die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke. This is more than the yearly death toll in motor vehicle accidents in the state. There is likely an imaginative use of statistics is involved in this claim; the level of risk from second-hand smoke (or environmental tobacco smoke, ETS) has been claimed to be significant in some studies, and almost negligible in others. There are also other mitigating factors, such as proper ventilation, that are not considered by the pro-ban forces. Moreover, other occupational hazards involved in restaurants and bars are taken for granted, such as prolonged exposure to burning oils and liquids, grill smoke and aerosols, cutting tools, etc. How many grillcooks lives may have been cut short because of our love for a charburger?
There are many businesses that have voluntarily become smoke-free. Fine - it is the proprietor's rights to do so, and if the marketplace supports their stand, so be it. But there is no inherent right for a nonsmoker to demand that every proprietor provide an entirely smoke free environment. Nonsmokers do have a legitimate recourse to this insult to their sensibilities: refuse to patronize such unelightented establishments. And we'll celebrate your freedom of choice as you walk on by with the ignition of a fine premium cigar.