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Smoking Ban Picks Up Steam

A statewide smoking ban, a top priority of health activists this year, is gaining support from key legislative committees and is likely to reach the Senate floor next week.

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles) said he plans to break a tie vote today on a bill to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. In the House, Economic Matters Committee Chairman Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George's) said the measure has enough votes to pass his committee next week.

Said Middleton, who represents one of the state's tobacco-growing districts: "It's time to pass the bill. How many more years can we put this off?"

The long-debated Clean Indoor Air Act failed in the General Assembly for four consecutive years.

But health advocates found new momentum this year with the election of Martin O'Malley (D) as governor and a local restriction approved in Baltimore last month. Montgomery, Prince George's and two other counties have approved smoking bans for bars and restaurants.

The restaurant industry lobbied heavily against the bill. Lawmakers say much of state is covered by smoking bans.

-- Lisa Rein

By Phyllis Jordan  |  March 16, 2007; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly  
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Comments

Much of the state is indeed covered by a ban, so that indicates that this issue is working itself out on a countywide level. That's where it should remain. If some counties want to hurt their businesses and ban it, then let them. If other counties want to preserve freedom for their patrons, then let them do so, too. There is no need for statewide legislation.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

What ever happened to the notion of letting the market work this stuff out. People who run bars and restaurants clearly do it to make money - not to offer a haven for cancer development for people who can't bring themselves to quit smoking. More and more people have quit smoking and more and more are aware and actively seek to avoid being around second hand smoke. So.... if a restaurant sees that they have an opportunity to increase business and revenue by going smoke free and catering to the 80 percent of the population that doesn't smoke, then they will do so. If they want to be an entirely smoking environment and feel that is the best way to maximize their revenue, they will do that. If they want to try to split the difference and have a smoking section and non smoking section and feel that is a workable solution, they would pursue that idea. The market of supply and demand and maximizing revenue has been an overwhelmingly effective tool for the advancement of society in the last two centuries so why would we short circuit that and try to impose our own desires on the business owners who are in a much better position to worry about the well being and comfort of their customers, thus leading to higher profits for themselves? However well intentioned, the idea that we know better than the market how to run a business is laughable.

There is no doubt that drinking can cause harmful health effects as well as many social problems from drunk driving to domestic abuse to alcoholism and yet prohibition was a miserable failure and for good reason. While I understand that banning smoking in public places still allows for the private consumption in homes or outdoors, it is similarily inspired.

When, according to te story above, "Lawmakers say much of state is covered by smoking bans." why would we continue this path? While the government may in fact know what is best for me, whether it being no smoking, no drinking, wearing my seat belt, locking my door when I am away from the house, not crossing the street without looking both ways or avoiding high fat foods, it doesn't necessarily need to legislate these things that will work themselves out in the marketplace on their own.

Posted by: market guy | March 16, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

They should be working on lowering taxes to boost the economy and on improving the schools, but nooooooooo!

Posted by: Rufus | March 16, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

That government that governs least governs best!
This adage is over 100 years old and is still the best guide going.
Let the market decide if it wants to eat, and drink with smokers, NOT the gov.

And... all these no smoking bills are nothing but pacifiers. If there was real concern about this issue there would be a ban on the sales of cigarettes! When the gov is willing to take the loss of tax revenue to prevent the citizens of MD from becoming sick, then you will have a law with meat in it.

Posted by: Bobmo | March 16, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Screw the market, this is for the workers and for diners with breathing problems! I was a restaurant hostess in the 80's, and whenever I had to seat someone in the smoking section, I would try my best to hold my breath while still keeping a smile on my face. Try it sometime.

P.S. to Rufus: Apparently you didn't read the recent Post article about MD doubling the taxes on cigarettes to $2 per pack. That ought to help the schools quite a bit.

Posted by: momosity | March 16, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

This seems like such a no-brainer. There's nothing you can compare this to. You don't sit down and have a drink in a restaurant and have it passively kill the person serving it to you, and the people around you. If there was a steak that fired poisonous darts in a circle around you when you bit into it, the government would ban restaurants from selling it. People shouldn't have to be slowly killed just because they work in a bar or restaurant, and the government should be there to enforce it and protect us.

Posted by: albatross | March 16, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"People shouldn't have to be slowly killed just because they work in a bar or restaurant, and the government should be there to enforce it and protect us."

No one is forced to work in a bar or restaurant. If you don't like smoke, don't work in a place that allows smoking. Some people don't mind working in such places. Some people prefer to eat or drink in such places. Those people should have the freedom to do so. Those who don't like it can easily stay away.

People know the risks of second-hand smoke. If they choose to work or drink around such smoke, the government has no place to tell them they cannot do so.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

yes, screw the market. Calvert County politicians certainly know better than hundreds of years of human interaction.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Some people really don't have the luxury of picking and choosing where they can work. And, where do we draw the line--I'm sure tainted meat is cheaper. I'm sure it's easier not to clean up the asbestos in the ceiling. Let's let the free market decide. And people know the risk of being caught in a gunfight too, but I'd hope that the government would lend a hand in keeping me from having to deal with that. Is public health and safety really that negative?

Posted by: albatross | March 16, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

So, albatross, you are saying that people who work in restaurants and bars are forced to do so? Amazing, I was pretty sure that slavery was abolished in 1865. Perhaps I need to check my history.

As for drawing the line, thanks for the ridiculous comparisons. Yes, tainted meat is probably cheaper. If a company discloses that meat is tainted and people still buy it, knowing the risks, then I don't really care. However, I doubt anyone would intentionally buy tainted meat. People, however, intentionally choose to work and drink in bars that have smoke. Just because you don't like the choices they make shouldn't mean the government gets to ban it.

People freely choose these things. If you don't like it, don't patronize these places. Let others make up their own minds, however. This is nanny-state liberalism at its worst: "people are too stupid to make the right choice, so I'm going to tell them what to do."

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Time to step in and play the disabled vet card. I had a hole in my lung and was diagnosed with Asthma. Being near cigarette smoke sets me off. People smoking in public- whether inside restaurants, or just outside them cause me pain and discomfort. If I love the food somewhere, but can not stand the smoking- it does not seem fair that my choice is the one that is limited since I did nothing wrong and do not deserve the pain that someone is CHOOSING to put me through by smoking in a public place. Maybe their smoking pisses me off and makes me want to put my fist in their face so I can breathe freely. According to the logic some present here, the effects of personal actions are the choice of the other person... therefore, if I choose to punch you for hurting my lungs it is your own fault for smoking around me. You have the choice to smoke in your own home, but you have the choice to put yourself at risk by smoking in my presence. How do you like your own logic?
Seriously now- you can not exhibit behavior that is harmful to others in a public place and say it is everyone else's choice to go there and be hurt. When your free choices limit the ability of others to exercise their free choice, you are taking away the freedom of someone. I have a right to go eat where I please, and to do so without you interfering in my right to breath. You can make no logical counter argument.

Posted by: Chris | March 16, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I feel for you, but a restaurant is not a public place. It is a private business. If it allows smoking, that is the choice of the owner and those who patronize it. No one is forcing you to go there. Yes, it sucks that you cannot enjoy the food that is served there. You don't have the right to force the restaurant owner to cater to your whims, though, any more than I have the right to force you to cater to my whims if I visit your home.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

To those who argue that people can choose where to go, etc...please name for me one non-smoking bar (PRIOR to a ban being put into effect) and I will happily flock to it (sorry, smoking "sections" don't work so hot for an asthmatic as the smoke still drifts, it being smoke and all) & leave you to your addictions.

No, seriously, point me to one. I'd scoured DC looking for one and didn't find one until the ban went into effect. Maryland, so far same deal. The cities' economies that have put these into effect seem to be doing just as well without the smoke. Just as it is your "right" to smoke, it's my "right" to have a beer without my eyes watering and my lungs burning. ("Oh, having a beer in public's not a 'right,'" you say? By that logic, neither is being able to smoke indoors.)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, forgot to sign my comment at 2:22.

Posted by: ProSmokingBan | March 16, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but you don't have a "right" to drink a beer and force the owner to cater to your desire to avoid smoke. I never said anyone has a "right" to smoke in a bar. I said that an owner has a right to decide for himself if he wants to allow smoking. He owns the bar. As long as he lets people know if it is smoking or nonsmoking, then the state should leave him alone. People can make the choice for themselves. If they can't find a bar that caters to their choice, then oh, well. You don't have the right to force others to cater to your whims.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

This is only the beginning of the nanny-state, courtesy of Maryland Democrats. I suspect these silly politicians were bullied as kids, and now that they have weaseled their way into power, play bully through the tyranny of the majority [which our founding fathers dreaded.]

Posted by: gitarre | March 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Business owners can already ban smoking. They don't need a law forcing them to ban smoking. Most restaurants already DO ban smoking. All the law does is make business owners and smokers angry. If you don't want to be near smoke, don't go somewhere that they allow smoking.

A lot of people say it's about money, and that it hurts business, but I dont care about that. If I were ever going to run a bar, it would be about smokin and drinkin, not packing it with the richest healthiest clientele. This law just kills half the fun. Almost everyone I know and love liked to smoke and drink for a while, even the ones that quit. It's just good dirty unhealthy fun, and anyone who doesnt like it can go somewhere else!

It's a terrible idea for a law. Night life in PG, MoCo and Howard (just kidding, Howard has never had night life) is already screwed up.

Posted by: Jack | March 16, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Chris, for telling your story. The part about "makes me want to put my fist in your face" is hilarious and universal. I actually threw some water on a guy once in a bar to douse his cigarette; I was trying to utilize the dance floor while still breathing and I asked him to step away, but he refused.

And SmokingBan, you are so right. Before the ban in Montgomery County, I used to have to argue that sitting at the border of the smoking section (or right next to the bar) did not constitute a pleasant, smoke-free environment for eating. Restaurant owners pretty much laughed at the supposed dividing line.

As for "MK", you're obviously a tobacco lobbyist. Face it, your side is going down. The more bans that go into effect nullifies your argument (you didn't make it yet but you will) that people will just go to a nearby county/state to smoke. Won't work if it's banned EVERYWHERE. Sorry, Loser.

Defiant Smokers: If you want to kill yourself slowly by smoking, do it privately. Otherwise, grow a pair and just shoot yourself in the face. Thank you.

Posted by: momosity | March 16, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Momosity, I am not a tobacco lobbyist and have never been so. I'm not even a smoker. I don't like smoke and prefer not to be around it. I do like freedom, though, and I detest the attitude of people here who think that they should force others to comply with their desires.

Your bragging about assaulting a smoker doesn't surprise me. You don't seem to understand that in this nation, people have the freedom to live their life free from your meddling. Sure, you don't like it and push for laws to restrict this freedom (or throw water on people). Unfortunately, your type of self-righteous liberals are in the majority in this state. It's unfortunate that our freedom has to suffer because of you.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

If anyone has been on this board for any amount of time you would recognize MK's same libertarian arguments. You can rant about "self righteous liberals", but you sir completly live up to the stereotype of compassionless Republicans. Your deference to "market forces" regardless of consequences to the general public is quite frankly appaling. The market may or may nor respond, but before it ever does a lot of needless negative consequences occur.

Posted by: InMoCo | March 16, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

InMoCo, the market reflects what the public wants. It is merely an aggregation of numerous individual decisions by individual consumers. If you don't like what the market produces, then you don't like what your fellow man wants to do with his money. Attempts to put limits on things like smoking are indeed the product of liberals who think they are so much smarter than other people that they must try and use the law to "help" those who are too stupid to help themselves.

As far as being compassionless, I don't messure compassion by how many government policies I support. Compassion is how I treat my fellow man; compassion is not how I use government to force my fellow man to do what I want.

Posted by: MK | March 16, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I have Reactive Airway Disease and I can not tolerate even a whiff of cigarette smoke outside, so going to a restaurant that has a separate smoking section is not an option.

The only choice left for me in Baltimore County is Bertucci's (and their service is bad) or a Chinese restaurant (that gets old and my 12 year old dislikes Chinese). I would just like the right like any other person to go out to dinner with my family and not have an argument about where to go.

I feel like people in wheelchairs must have felt before laws forced establishments to accomodate them. People who can not tolerate cigarette smoke because of asthma and lung ailments are forced to stay in their homes.

I wonder what the public would choose if there were two identical restaurants/bars on opposite ends of a parking lot, one allowing smoking and one not, which would do a better business?

Posted by: RADS | March 16, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I have Reactive Airway Disease and I can not tolerate even a whiff of cigarette smoke outside, so going to a restaurant that has a separate smoking section is not an option.

The only choice left for me in Baltimore County is Bertucci's (and their service is bad) or a Chinese restaurant (that gets old and my 12 year old dislikes Chinese). I would just like the right like any other person to go out to dinner with my family and not have an argument about where to go.

I feel like people in wheelchairs must have felt before laws forced establishments to accomodate them. People who can not tolerate cigarette smoke because of asthma and lung ailments are forced to stay in their homes.

I wonder what the public would choose if there were two identical restaurants/bars on opposite ends of a parking lot, one allowing smoking and one not, which would do a better business?

Posted by: RADS | March 16, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I never thought much about the "smoking or non-smoking" question when being seated a restaurant until I moved to California and no longer get asked that question. I am always shocked when I return to Maryland to visit family and still hear this question. It's time for Maryland to get with the program. If New York and California can do it. I think Maryland can set an example too. There's something to be said for returning home from dinner out not smelling like an ashtray!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I never thought much about the "smoking or non-smoking" question when being seated a restaurant until I moved to California and no longer get asked that question. I am always shocked when I return to Maryland to visit family and still hear this question. It's time for Maryland to get with the program. If New York and California can do it. I think Maryland can set an example too. There's something to be said for returning home from dinner out not smelling like an ashtray!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Folks smoking is bad for you
Second hand smoke is bad for you
Paying more money to install a so called fan system to move the smoke from the non smoking section is expensive. It really is gross to come home and enter it smelling like you smoke when you don't. Its really gross to sit in a smokers home and breath second hand smoke and smell like it when you don't smoke. Smoking in front of your kids well is just plain stupid - what is the message your sending.
When you reference our Founding Fathers well that's dumb- we as a nation, and human race have developed in just about everything including our knowledge of health benefits and what can damage our bodies and systems. Folks who smoke finally succumb to those medical maladies such as lung cancer, pneumonia will sit in the hospital with all their family members around worrying about them and sometimes footing the bill are a burden on our healthcare system and themselves. They will not live without medical problems and when you self inflict illness from smoking is not SMART. So you can have this debate until the tobacco plant is ready for harvest .Everyone who has a brain if your using or not knows smoking is bad for you and those around you- it smells, ruins your complexion, teeth, gums and breath........ we could go on and on and on
Now give me a reason to smoke and why everyone should put up with this nasty habit OH I forgot YOUR ADDICTED- ITS NOT YOUR MORAL RIGHT OR YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BECOME ADDICTED TO A SUBSTANCE AND THE REST OF US TO SAY OK...... Don't throw that argument at us ere anymore it does not hold up.

Posted by: edra | March 17, 2007 3:01 AM | Report abuse

What a compelling argument, Edra. Smoking is bad for us so therefore we should not have the freedom to do it. Well, eating fatty foods is bad for us, drinking liquor is bad for us, refusing to exercise is bad for us, etc. Should these things be banned? Should the government go around forcing people to live healthy lifestyles?

You may think so, but I don't think it's the proper function of government to force people to be healthy. If people want to engage in unhealthy behavior, then they have the right to do so.

Posted by: MK | March 17, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

MK
I was not making a case that the Government should be our Nurse Mate or Mother- I was simply stating
Smoking is not good for you and those around you - its smelly and unattractive
Don't rationalize your addiction under the Constitution and NO you do not have the right as a Human to pollute your body or those around you.
Its the simple plain truth- addiction is addiction - not only does a smoker have to deal with addiction but they let themselves get hooked by the tobacco companies that strategically set up that addiction through the introduction of Nicotine which added to tobacco is an addictive carcinogenic. You are correct when you note all the other vices that are bad for you but the folks who put out ice cream - pizza and burgers are not adding a cancer causing carcinogenic YET - released into the air via second hand smoke.

Posted by: Edra | March 17, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

MK has obviously never had an asthma attack and thought he was going to die because of someone's smoking. After you have spent two months lying in bed taking 12 prescription medications and having 10-15 asthma attacks a day because you breathed someone else's secondhand smoke in a restaurant with a separate smoking section then you can comment on this issue. I doubt very seriously that your life has been impacted by someone else's choice to smoke in a public place and then not been able to live your life as you want because people do not understand the devastation their secondhand smoke causes or even worse do not care. The smell of smoke on someone else has caused me unbearable suffering, expense and illness, not to mention the toll my lung ailments has caused my family in taking care of me and the places we are unable to go together. Many times I have had to forego family outings and stay home in isolation because of someone elses right to smoke.

Smokers have the freedom to smoke as long as it doesn't impede upon the rights of people with illneeses that cannot tolerate it secondhand or even the smell on someone's clothes. It is not an annoyance to us; it is life threatening.

Someone choosing to eat unhealthy food, drink liquor or not exercise does not affect other people, that is their personal right. It would not be right for someone else to force me to eat unhealthy food, drink liquor or restrain me so I could not exercise, but that is exactly what their smoking does to me, it takes away my right to move freely in society and to breathe.

Smokers can be as unhealthy as they like, but not when it interferes with my right to breathe (i.e. live).

Posted by: RADS | March 17, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry MK, I stil have to disagree with you. The "free market" is a lie. First, the market is completely amoral. The market some times responds to demands of consumers, but some times it does not. The market is also easily manipulated by people with malevolent and greedy intentions. You seem to be putting all your faith in a system that is easily manipulated and hardly works in favor of the general public. Too much government regulation is bad, but none if fool hardy.

Posted by: InMoCo | March 17, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

RADS - I whole heartedly agree with you. The only people qualified to make a judgement on this issue are those who have spent two months lying in bed taking 12 prescription medications and having 10-15 asthma attacks a day because you breathed someone else's secondhand smoke in a restaurant with a separate smoking section. If any of our legislators who have introduced or intend to vote on this bill fit that criteria, then they should be allowed to vote on the bill. Otherwise, the bill must be abandoned because noone in the legislature fits your definition of being qualified to discuss this topic.

Excellent idea.

Should we have reminded them of this when they voted on the apology for slavery that only someone who had been beaten to a bluddy pulp in front of their wife and children and left to die in a ditch behind the plantation owner's house should be qualified to discuss slavery. These guys REALLY need to stop overstepping their boundaries.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 17, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

MK: Apparently you didn't get Edra'a argument, or you're just being a Richard and ignoring it.

One person's addiction is nobody else's business until they start spreading it pubicly. For example: A herion addict walks into a bar. Everyone there is either smoking or drinking, or perhaps both. The herion addict then proceeds to indiscriminately inject their particlar addiction into unwilling recipients via needle.

Tell me how this is different from addicted smokers "sharing" their addiction with non-smokers?

Posted by: momosity | March 17, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Restaurants aren't a "public" place. No one is forced to be there and they are not owned by the government. If you have asthma and you go into a place where there is smoking, it is your fault if you have an adverse reaction. That's like a person who has peanut allergies going into a nut factory. It makes no sense. If you choose to go into a bar where people are smoking, then you choose to be exposed to that smoke. You can avoid it by avoiding the bar. It's pretty simple.

Posted by: MK | March 17, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Good luck with your rational and this blog.
Your are correct a Restaurant is not a pubic place!!!!!! HELLO
What do you consider a public place?
Prison - many of those are owned by the state and subsidized by the Federal Govt.
Listen - go see a physician regarding carcinogens and second hand smoke- unless the Dr. is funded by the Tobacco industry he/she will give the straight facts regarding the poison that in being inhaled then exhaled in a public place- govt owned facility whatever you wish to call it.
Take care and I hope you are not a smoker and in good health

Posted by: edra | March 17, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Edra, I am indeed not a smoker. I don't even like being around smoke. However, I like freedom. I like that restaurant owners are free to determine whether or not they want their business to have smoking. That's what makes America great -- the freedom to choose.

As I've said before, people know that there is smoke in bars and certain restaurants. If you don't like smoke, you can avoid it by avoiding those places. Let the people who like those places continue to enjoy them, however.

Personally, I'd like going to bars much better if there was no smoking in them. I'm not selfish enough to try and force the owners of the bar I enjoy to cater to my whims, though.

Posted by: MK | March 17, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

MK, just because you keep repeating over and over and over again that "restaurants aren't public places" doesn't make you right. In fact, you are completely wrong. Restaurants that allow the public in are subject to all sorts of laws, from public health to non-discrimination. Your arguments, wrong as they are, betray a certain sentimentality for the pre-Civil Rights era South, when that same argument was made with a bit more success by bigoted business owners to claim that constitutional rights stopped at the door of their restaurant or other business.

So in addition to being wrong about the legal principle, you betray yourself as being a complete bigot as well. Nice work.

Posted by: uh, no, actually | March 17, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, so now it's the sick person's fault for wanting to eat a meal in public?

Actually, you're the sick one for expecting everyone affected by second-hand smoke to just iie down and take it. Why don't we try an experiment: you open a restaurtant for "smokers-only", and when you go bankrupt all of your non-smoking non-customers can have a party celebrating your stupidity?

Sounds like fun to me!

Posted by: momosity | March 17, 2007 11:23 PM | Report abuse

MK-The difference between smoking and other unhealthy behaviors, high fat foods, not exercising, etc., is that if I choose to eat high fat foods and not exercise, the only person who I'm hurting is ME. If you smoke in a public place, and yes restuarants are public places, everyone around you is hurt. Anyone with a respiratory disease can not be around cigarette smoke, and yes, the restuarantuer should provide for that by banning smoking. It's jusr like having a narrow doorway or stairs leading into your restuarant, or a "Whites Only" sign. By allowing smoking, you are excluding a large segment of the population.

Posted by: Sue | March 19, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

MK, if you're still reading this... I want to understand a different aspect of your position, as this conversation got hung up on whether restaurants are public places or not.

Would it be alright for the government to ban smoking in all public places? Or do the rights of smokers to light up in public trump my rights to breathe smoke-free air?

Posted by: For MK | March 19, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Smoking is the Number One health hazard.

Posted by: Robin Ficker | March 19, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"If you smoke in a public place, and yes restuarants are public places, everyone around you is hurt."

No, they are not. Brief exposure to second-hand smoke is not all that harmful to most people. Annoying, yes. A health threat? No. The simple fact is that if you don't want to encounter it, do not go in restaurants that allow it. You know that smoking is allowed in these places, so don't go in there. It's like being offended by nudity when you go in a strip club.

"Would it be alright for the government to ban smoking in all public places?"

It depends on what you mean by "public." I would say yes, if you mean truly public places like government buildings. The public essentially owns those buildings and smoking can, and probably should, be banned there.

If, however, by "public" you mean any place that people gather, like restaurants or bars, then no. These are private businesses. Their smoking policies should be determined by the owners and customers. If people don't like their policies, then people can go somewhere else.

"Or do the rights of smokers to light up in public trump my rights to breathe smoke-free air?"

Smokers have a right to smoke where the owners of the property allow it. People don't smoke in my house because I don't allow it. People smoke in the bar I drink at because the owner allows it. People do not smoke in the restaurant I like because the owner does not allow it. It's not about the rights of smokers vs. non-smokers. It's about the right of property owners.

You have a right to ban smoking on your property. You do not have a right to tell someone else that he must ban it on his.

Posted by: MK | March 19, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

RADS, thanks for posting! Americans With Disabilities have rights too and we should be protected- whether they involve walking, or breathing. I ask only that my right to breathe be protected.

Posted by: Chris | March 19, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Bars and restaurants are NOT public places. They are places of public accommodation. That means that while, so long as they open their doors to the general public, they cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, etc. Any restaurant owner could ban an individual from his/her establishment for any non-discriminatory reason.

In fact, a restaurant could ban people who wear the color pink. The reason they can do that is because they are private.

Moreover, if you don't like places where smoking is allowed, and you cannot find any that suit your requirements, the market as MK has discussed, allows you to start your own non-smoking establishment.

Finally, it has been shown in study after study that banning smoking does impact the bottom line of bars and restaurants in a negative way. That is to say, these places lose revenue. That loss of revenue is the market at work. You are all asking for a total smoking ban, why not explore less restrictive nanny state options such as zoning laws that prevent businesses from allowing smoking. One reason is that they would probably not work they way you wanted because those restaurants would not be nearly as successful as places where smoking is allowed.

On another note, the complaints here that are tied to the "gross" factor of smoking and don't even reference the highly debateable risks of second hand smoke, show nothing other than intolerance for those people who are different than yourselves.

Moreover, those who discuss the costs to society of hospitalization of smokers fail to recognize several factors. First, they refuse to recognize that everyone is going to die of something and thereby dismiss the chance that someone who dies of lung cancer (which may or may not be related to smoking) might very well have died five years later of pancreatic cancer - thus actually saving society money. That person might also be saving money by not collecting on Social Security or other government aid. So, that's not a very good argument.

Also, those who complain that people are addicts, do you not think it a bit strange that the government sued the tobacco companies for billions for making people "addicts" then turned around and raised taxes on those "victims of cigarette smoking" in order to generate revenue on those same reluctant addicts who are apparently unable to quit?

Finally, you all are actually complaining about the cost of smoking to each of you individually. For example, you might reject an offer to come into a bar allowing smoking for free drinks. However, if you're a stranded motorist, and someone comes by offering you a ride under the condition that they're going to smoke do you take the ride? Do you take it if it's a country road? How about a country road and it's 20 degrees outside?

One extra note, cars emit more harmful chemicals than cigarettes by far. Are you going to ban driving? How about living near a highway? I mean, if it saves even one life, it's worth it, right? Oh yeah, no one really means that - it just sounds nice.

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 19, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Kid Handsome
You seem to have covered all categories, angles and arguments..........
Your blog could defend and discuss its way out of a paper bag. Smoking is "gross" - it is an addiction - eventually if you smoke long enough you will succumb to some type of smoke related illness
OH and the best one is when you compare tobacco consumption/addiction to cars and pollution- This is the tobacco blog - go look for the emissions blog.
Enough already

Posted by: fourfor | March 19, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

MK sounds like a one trick pony to me. And actually, it seems that the public DID speak in Maryland. They threw out most of the people with similar attitudes to MK, and voted in, by a huge majority, those with similar attitudes. So I guess the people in Maryland did speak, and perhaps MK might like to go elsewhere to enjoy the company of smokers in restaurants.

Posted by: Rick | March 19, 2007 9:42 PM | Report abuse

One - I don't smoke.

Two - The purpose of rights, free speech, property rights, etc. is to protect people from the majority. Rights guarantee that an individual can live without interference from the teeming masses. This issue is about the property rights of bar and restaurant owners.

Three - With respect to emissions, you were discussing how the voluntary acts of some involuntarily affect others (eg. smoking). As automobile emissions are similar, more dangerous as an ambient source of carcinogens, etc., I believe the comparison is apt.

Four - Forfour, unsupported ad hominem attacks on a position that are seemingly unsupported by anything other than your personal beliefs are unlikely to convince anyone that my, or any other, argument is invalid.

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 20, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I did not go into a bar where there was smoking. I went into a restaurant that had a separate smoking section that is supposed to be adequate and is not. Someone with a cigarette walked into the non-smoking section and spread their addictin to me.

That is why now I am unable now to go into any restaurant with a non-smoking section as opposed to non-smoking period.

Please tell me where I can find such establishments, they do not exist and that is discrimination.

Posted by: RADS | March 20, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I did not go into a bar where there was smoking. I went into a restaurant that had a separate smoking section that is supposed to be adequate and is not. Someone with a cigarette walked into the non-smoking section and spread their addictin to me.

That is why now I am unable now to go into any restaurant with a non-smoking section as opposed to non-smoking period.

Please tell me where I can find such establishments, they do not exist and that is discrimination.

Posted by: RADS | March 20, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

MK, please tell me what non-smoking restaurant you enjoy.

As I said earlier the only place in Baltimore County that I know of is Bertucci's, Chinese and Olive Garden. My 12 year does not like Chinese and I am sick and tired of the poor service and bad food at Bertucci's and Olive Garden.

Should I limit my dining experiences to fast food places. If there was a choose, there wouldn't have to be a law.

Brief exposure to secondhand smoke is a growing problem for a large segment of the population. We are forced to live behind closed doors and keep our mouths shut. We are too sick to protest because we spend all out time in our homes unable to go out.

If restaurants are such private places maybe we should go back to segregation and have black ones and white ones. For someone with Reactive Airway Disease, Asthma etc. it is discrimination.

Breathing is not a whim. Going to dinner with friends and family should not be an impossible endeavor for those with lung diseases.

Kid Handsome, it is not my choose to have a lung disease. If I had to accept a ride with someone who smoked it is very likely I would die. It is not an annoyance, it is deadly to me. I do not have a choose if I want to live.

I thank the congressmen and woman who are finally waking up to the reality of the situation. I am not worried about cancer or heart disease in the future, I am worried about the immediate reaction I have of not breathing and the inflammation secondhand smoke causes that renders me unable to get out of bed to take a shower and be part of my family and life for months after that exposure.

MK, I suppose I am just collateral damage, expendable, like others with asthma etc.

Smokers, please be aware that the laws were created not to limit your rights but to allow others to live. To those smokers who light up in bathrooms in airports and fairgrounds, (yes MK, this has happened and I've become bedridden because of it) please remember that it could be deadly to someone with a lung ailment.

Posted by: RADS | March 20, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

It is a simple case of workplace safety. An employer is not permitted to maintain an unsafe working environment.
No employer in this country would be allowed to say "This facility is full of cancer-causing asbestos. If you don't like it you can quit."
We decided, long ago, that it is in the interests of our society to protect the rights of workers via legislation.

Posted by: paul k | March 21, 2007 6:14 AM | Report abuse

Paul K, you are wrong. There are many jobs that are wildly unsafe, where people choose to work because of higher pay. Hell, the Supreme Court said that a company couldn't transfer a pregnant woman away from her job handling mercury if she didn't want to go (so long as the sole reason was her pregnancy). What about oil workers out in Texas, etc.

As for whether there is a non-smoking restaurant in your area, if there isn't one, why don't you start one? Oh, yeah, you're just complaining about the cost to you of having a no-smoking environment. Or, lobby for restaurants you like to get rid of smoking. However, in Baltimore County, that argument is more than just a little bit disingenuous. There are plenty of places to eat that don't allow smoking. Plus if there weren't, you could just drive to Howard County - or, instead of a total ban, you could advocate for smoke-free zones - but you all won't even entertain that option.

As for RADS - nice story. If you had a problem, you could have gotten up and walked out and made a big stink about it. Get a picket sign and stand outside his restaurant. That is a market option. You want to limit someone's property rights.

Finally, for the person with lung ailments. First, I'm hard-pressed to believe that second-hand smoke is the worst bit of air that you encounter on your way to a restaurant. For example, cars put out much worse and harmful emissions than the debateable health risk caused by second-hand smoke. Did you know that Baltimore has the highest amount of ambient asbestos outside of Asbestos, Canada? Second, call ahead and there might be ways for the owner of the restaurant to accommodate you. Third, I'm sorry you have a disease. However, the fact that you have one doesn't give you the right to impose your will on others. Just as if someone has leukemia, they can't require establishments to have air purifiers or if someone has AIDS, they can't require everyone to wear latex gloves. I'm sorry you're inconvenienced, I really am. However, your turning your inconvenince into a means to deny rights to property owners.

Finally, as to the person who compared allowing bar owners to decide whether to allow smoking with racial segregation, that is the most inane argument I've ever heard. It's not even remotely the same and isn't worth consideration or discussion. You have a choice, minorities did not. See the difference?

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 21, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Kid, you must be one because your arguments are immature, unenlightened and incorrect.

We are not talking about pregnant woman and mercury or oil worker's in Texas, those issues are worthy of their own blogs and not relevant here.

Starting one non-smoking restaurant is not the point, that would not benefit the masses who want to enjoy the majority of restaurants as smoke free. Smokers who wish to smoke will still have that option. Smokers can stay home and smoke for a change. Bars are allowed to petition for a waiver. People who want smoke free restaurants have lobbied and we are succeeding. If there are so many places in Baltimore County to eat that don't allow smoking please name some for me, other than fast food restaurants. If the choice existed, there would be no need for the law. Why are these so called private establishments required by law to provide access for wheelchairs? Perhaps those people should just stay home or only go places that choose to provide them that access? Because that is discrimination!

I am not complaining about the cost of anything! I am complaining about not being able to eat at a restaurant.

Instead of my driving to Howard County why don't smokers just stay home or go to an establishment that has a waiver to allow smoking. I do believe that smokers have the right to smoke and kill themselves if they choose. I do not believe that their right should be forced on other people via their secondhand smoke. Perhaps smokers could all stay in one state that allows smoking everywhere, why don't you lobby for that, better yet start your own country. Of course that is a preposterous suggestion just like driving to another county is.

Smoke free zones, as in separate smoking sections, was tried and it failed. If you are talking about a true smoke free zone, as in no smoking in an entire county or state, I am all for that. As for my right to leave a restaurant that allows smoking, I did walk out and have never returned to that restaurant or any restaurant that allows smoking, which in fact is the vast majority. I and many people have made a stink about it and my side is winning and your side is losing.

I do not want to limit anyone's property rights, these are businesses that are open to the public and they have the right to petition for a waiver if it is such a hardship. The data in other states has shown that it is not a hardship for the majority of businesses.

There is no longer a debate on the health risk of secondhand smoke, if you think there is you are misinformed.

I never said that smoke filled air is the worst bit of air I encounter, you are putting words in my mouth and twisting the truth about secondhand smoke. This blog is about smoking in restaurants not about the bit of air I encounter on my way to the restaurant, that issue deserves another blog and I would be happy to debate that in the proper forum. You can no longer win this argument so you have to go off topic.

Legislators have finally woken up to the dangers of secondhand smoke because of the science behind it and hopefully they will address the emissions problem very soon. Again, that is another blog.

Again, asbestos in the air, what does that have to do with secondhand smoke? It does however make a great argument for clean air in general. Again, another blog.

If a restaurant allows smoking what good is calling ahead going to do for me or others? I and many others have called ahead and finally our calls are being listened to on the grand scale they deserve.

Please explain how an air purifier is going to help someone with leukemia or how latex gloves will help someone with AIDS. Smoke free air is a must for someone with a lung ailment or anyone who is concerned about heart disease or cancer. AIDS was not contracted from latex gloves and an air purifier will not cure leukemia. Cigarette smoke will cause an asthma attack (that could lead to death) (remember the woman on the airplane who died from an asthma attack because someone had to have a cigarette?). Cigarette smoke causes cancer and heart disease etc. Someone with AIDS or leukemia should not breathe smoke filled air, so that should definitely help them too though.

I am not inconvenienced, I am discriminated against. When my daughter's school has a night out at Carrabba's I cannot go, when my office has a Christmas party, I can not go, when my co-workers take someone out to lunch for a celebration, I cannot go. It is not my choice not to go, I want to go, but my disease does not allow it. If they could they would probably choose a smoke-free restaurant, but the simple fact is that choice does not exist.

Just like all your other arguments, "the right's of property owners" falls short.

I do not see the difference between racial segregation and non-smoking restaurants, they are both discrimination. Blacks were not allowed in certain restaurants and neither am I. It is not a choice for me or others with lung ailments, unless you consider breathing a choice. Minorities did have a choice separate but equal (which of course is inane) at present in Baltimore County there is no separate but equal for people who want to dine and breathe smoke free air.

Why is someone's right to smoke in a restaurant more important than my right to breathe in that restaurant?

Of course we can choose to stay home and the majority of us do, but the bottom line is that is discrimination!

Posted by: RADS | March 21, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"I do not want to limit anyone's property rights"

Yes, in fact, you do. If the property owner and the majority of his customers want the place to have smoking, you want to limit his ability to allow it. That is a direct infringement on his property rights. Argue for this ban as much as you want, but don't try to claim that you respect property rights. You do no such thing. You want to force property owners to cater to your desires. And while that may be legal, I don't view it as very moral.

Posted by: MK | March 21, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

"Why is someone's right to smoke in a restaurant more important than my right to breathe in that restaurant?"

No one has a "right" to smoke in a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant allows people to smoke in it. If you don't like what the owner is doing, then don't go in there. Go somewhere else. Since you can't seem to find somewhere else, then start your own restaurant.

Why should the vast majority of people who eat at bars and restaurants be forced to change a situation that is working quite well for them simply because you want to eat at a certain restaurant? Why should the owner of a restaurant be forced to change a situation that works for him and his customers in order to cater to you?

Yours is a sad situation, but it's certainly not discrimination. You have a medical condition that limits your ability to do certain things. I feel for you, but it is wrong to force the rest of the world to change in order to accommodate you.

Posted by: MK | March 21, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

MK - he doesn't understand that his reliance on the majority of the voting population is only a fallback because the majority of actual patrons at individual restaurants are not in support of his/her position.

My point regarding ambient air quality was a device I was using to show that your shrill cries about your presumed iminent death when encountering second-hand smoke is more than a little bit overblown. Second-hand smoke is probably one of the least dangerous parts of your trip to and from the restaurant - except that it's convenient for you to argue that it isn't.

I'd also point out that you do have a choice. You can go to the restaurant and risk getting sick or not. You can start your own no-smoking restaurant or get together with friends and convince an owner to have a couple non-smoking nights per week. That would certainly happen if you promised him or her a certain level of patronage. I guess that's not as easy as banning it for the rest of us. Probably because it means you'd have to exert effort.

Also, please show me a peer reviewed study that shows an actual increase in risks to non-smokers from second-hand smoke. I'm especially interested in the instant death portion of such a study with respect to asthmatics. Again, I'm not a smoker and might agree that cigarette smoke is annoying, but its far from deadly or even risky. If your asthma is triggered by second-hand smoke then, getting back to my point about ambient air quality, it is far and away more likely that you'll get sick by just going outside.

You keep asking why "someone's right to smoke in a restaurant is more important than my right to breathe in that restaurant?" You've got it wrong. No one has a right to smoke in a restaurant, or not be exposed to smoke in a restaurant - the owner of the restaurant allows people to smoke or does not allow people to smoke. Mostly, they allow people to smoke. That's because, despite your wildly incorrect claim that businesses don't suffer from smoking bans, it's good for business. Since you can't grasp the basic concept of what a "right" is, perhaps you should stop throwing the word around.

As for the ADA, it is a law (on its face unconstitutional - though I like it and so does the Supreme Court so it remains) that allows people certain accommodations so that they can be like everyone else - meaning that they can choose to go or not to go to smoke filled bars. If that's what you want, get smoking bans put into the ADA. It doesn't mean that you aren't limiting people's property rights. It just means that your happiness is more important to you than whether other people get to be happy or prosperous.

Further, you said "We are not talking about pregnant woman and mercury or oil worker's in Texas, those issues are worthy of their own blogs and not relevant here." I mentioned that in response to the statement that the whole issue was about workplace safety. I mentioned those two things and there are many more examples to counter that argument and instead argue that it's the choice of the employee to work in these places. That's why I put it there. The fact that you won't accept discussion of analogous issues leads me to believe that you are a populist. That is, you see every issue in isolation. I'm not a populist.

Finally, you say, "Of course we can choose to stay home and the majority of us do, but the bottom line is that is discrimination!" Actually, it isn't discrimination. You just mentioned your choice. Discrimination is when you don't give someone a choice - much like how you are discriminating against property owners and smokers by taking away their choice.

Again, I think if pro-smoking ban people were really interested in a solution they would try pressuring business owners directly or opening up competing non-smoking entites. Apparently, they'd rather just use the law to discriminate (choose to disallow a certain subset of the population) against smokers. That's a shame.

One more thing. My reference to AIDS sufferers or Leukemia sufferers was again comparative. If we have to accommodate your asthma, where do we draw the line? Must we provide completely germ-free environments to people with weak immune systems. How about natural light for people with sensitive eyes. What about vegetarians, must we ensure that all restaurants have suitable ingredients and dishes for vegans?

Face it, you have the same opportunities everyone else has. You just can't take advantage of them all. I'm guessing your life ain't so bad.

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 21, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

MK,

Smoking a cigarette anyplace someone with asthma could breathe it and die is moral though. Right!

Apparently the laws are about to say that someone who owns a restaurant that is open to the public does not have the property rights to allow smoking.

You have failed to tell me where else I and others can go, because there are very few places. Starting my own restaurant would not eliminate the problem for the vast majority of people who prefer a non-smoking environment. I don't want to eat at a certain restaurant I want to eat at any restaurant. Smokers will still be able to smoke at places that have obtained a waiver. Restaurants are not catering to me they are catering to what the majority of the voters want. I am not expecting anyone to accommodate me but to prevent future illness in others that refuse to believe or have not read the science that tells us secondhand cigarette smoke is bad for us.

I am concerned about the people who do not have lung ailments that will develop them as well as cancer and heart diseae. Before I developed asthma/RADS a few years ago I was unaware of the fact that someone in there 30s could develop asthma by being exposed to secondhand smoke. Until I developed asthma I had no idea of the devastation it caused. If the smoking bans restaurants help just one person avoid this it is worthwhile. Especially the children.

Kid,

I am not arguing that ambient air is not a problem, just that smoke free restaurants are one of many steps in improving the lives of people as a whole. If a restaurant allows smoking at all a couple non-smoking nights does not work for those sensitive to cigarette smoke, the chemicals in cigarette smoke are imbeded in carpets and drapes and attached to the walls. Just like I cannot get in a car or go in a house if someone smokes there, even if they are not presently smoking.

Exerting effort is not the problem, it has been exerted by many and we have decided we would like smoke-free restaurants not another bandaide like a smoke free night or a separate smoking section that does not work for people who cannot tolerate cigarette smoke. It is not that we dislike the smell, it makes people sick and kills them!

Please tell me that it is impossible for an asthmatic to die from cigarette smoke, the fact that it has happened at all is the only peer review I need.

What do you base the assumption of my going outside is worse than going to a restaurant where people smoke on, show me a peer reviewed study on that. I do not become ill from outdoor air, I become ill from cigarette smoke.

Outdoor air is far less contaminated than indoor air.

I do not have the same opportunities that someone else has. Just like someone in a wheelchair does not, but they are able to go to restaurants because the law says there has to be access. How can you begin to guess that my life ain't so bad.

You have no idea how this illness has impacted my life, my friends and most of all my family. You have no idea how many social events I have had to miss and how many places I cannot go. How many friends I have lost because they do not understand.

Soon, perhaps, I will be able to go out to dinner and enjoy a meal with my family in a smoke-free environment. That would be one small step in the right direction.


Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2007 8:12 PM | Report abuse

1. Having a place that allows wheelchairs does not prevent people who do not have wheelchairs from going to the restaurant.

2. You say, "I don't want to eat at a certain restaurant I want to eat at any restaurant. Smokers will still be able to smoke at places that have obtained a waiver. Restaurants are not catering to me they are catering to what the majority of the voters want." I'm glad that what you want gives you the moral authority to disallow what others want. How is that different from me saying that smokers don't want to go to places that obtain a waiver, they want to smoke in any place.

3. The majority of voters aren't necessarily the majority of people who patronize a particular restaurant. It is those people, by exerting their influence on a restaurant owner, who should decide, through their dollars and patronage, whether an establishment should allow smoking.

4. I'm allergic to various types of pollens. They don't threaten my life, but they definitely impact it negatively. By your logic, I should be able to ban people in a state from having certain plants and trees.

I'm obviously not going to convince you that what you want is bad - it isn't bad to want it. I just had hoped you would consider what others want as well as how your position takes away the autonomy of others. I guess that won't happen either. I guess I have to believe that you are ONLY allergic/triggered by second-hand cigarette smoke (though I'm dubious), but it's difficult to imagine that smokers have such a negative impact on your life given all the other pollutants in the world. I'll be honest, I'm terrified of a world where we have to accommodate every infirmity, phobia, or neurosis. That would be ridiculous and frightening for individual choice.

I'd love to be able to ban everything I didn't like or that could hurt me. I don't think you'd want to live in that world. The difference is that you are actually imposing your (collective) will on others, whereas I would never consider telling you what you can and can't do (so long as it's consentual).

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 22, 2007 12:46 AM | Report abuse

This should have read:

1. Having a place that allows wheelchairs does not prevent people who do not have wheelchairs from going to the restaurant AND WALKING.

2. Did you seriously use the "if it saves one life it is worth it," and the "for the children" argument in the same paragraph? Wow, you must be having real difficulty formulating a legitimate argument. First, nothing's ever for the children, and even if it is, I don't want my life altered because you decided to have a kid; Second, is anything that saves even one life worth it? Let's ban roller-coasters, skydiving, cars, fire. . . see the thing is, as I said above, people don't actually mean that.

How does that expression go? Give me liberty . . .

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 22, 2007 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Kid,

You've taken the time to write so much nonsense, but have not given me a list of where I can have dinner in a smoke free environment.

Bertucci's
Olive Garden
Chinese

fast food

come on help me out ...

MK, come on, don't keep it a secret, what smoke free restaurant do you enjoy ...

AL GORE FOR PRESIDENT! Grass Root efforts work. algore.org Sign the petition and ask him to run.

Save the World!

Posted by: RADS | March 22, 2007 3:55 AM | Report abuse

So much nonsense. Your argument is the same one a first grader might make. It's "I want it, so you should have to do it." That's really the entirety of your argument. You've never responded to any of my actual arguments or questions.

Here's one for you: If the majority of people were smokers and those people voted to have a law that said they could smoke anywhere - would you support it under the same ill-defined and obtuse principles that you are currently using (ie. might is right)?

You respond to my arguments rationally, and I'll go into Baltimore County and find you places that are smoke free. However, keep in mind that if there aren't many places that are smoke-free it's because non-smokers don't spend as much time or money in those places as do smokers.

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 22, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

As a member of the American legion I think American legion should not be exempt from the smoking ban in Maryland. Second hand smoke is just as bad for non-smokers and I would gladly vote to ban all American legions from smoking.

Thanks

Posted by: Don Worsham | March 23, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

There is some seriously bad legal analysis in this comment thread. One suspects it is far more political analysis than legal thinking, but whatever. One of my pet peeves is when non-lawyers think they know what they're talking about when discussing legal issues. The vast majority of the time, they have no clue.

Or did Kid Handsome, MK and a few others all stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

Posted by: jsmdlawyer | March 24, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I've been practicing for 6 years and am barred in D.C. and Maryland. Certainly, there are political issues involved in this argument. Please let me know of any errors in my legal analysis. Since you're a big-shot, there's no need to make baseless allusions - if you want to say something, say it.

Posted by: Kid Handsome | March 25, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree with both sides of this argument, but what I most want to say, whether smoking is right or wrong, the real question here is, do we really want to let the government to start taking our privileges away? If we allow that to happen, what's next? They've already taken prayer out of our schools and look how disrespectful our children are, in fact don't even have the substantial base to know what is right or wrong. Little by little, they are taking our rights away and these do-gooders will continue to do so. If they really want to fix something, get rid of our homeless situation. There should not be a homeless person in this country, let alone in our state. Shameless, we help so many countries but can't help our own.

Posted by: dav | April 1, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

This is just one of the many reasons I no longer live in Maryland, the state where my ancestors lived for the past 200 years.

Posted by: lurker37 | April 2, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

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