On Tuesday, a smoking ban went into effect in restaurants across Florida. Included in the ban are bars that earn 10 percent or more of their profits from food. While families dining in food-orientated restaurants deserve protection from the dangers of passive smoking, this does not justify the removal of choice for bar owners and patrons.
It seems probable that the majority of people who voted for this ban have not really considered the far-reaching effects, and some likely do not frequent bars.
Going to a bar is a personal choice to which only adults have access. It seems that smokers are being deprived of places to congregate because their habit offends a number of people. As adults we should be able to decide what is good or bad for us, where we hang out and the kinds of crowds we associate with. This should not be a decision made by the state.
As a result of the ban, some bar owners are closing restaurants, knowing the loss of smoking customers will have a serious economic impact. According to the St. Petersburg Times, restaurateur John Hernandez closed his business because of the new state law, saying that 80 percent of his clientele smoke, and it would be “economic suicide” not to cater to this part of his customer base.
A number of jobs are at stake because of this smoking ban. Yes, there is a need to protect the health of employees who are exposed to cigarette smoke, but their well-being will hardly be improved by unemployment.
Many bars are adult-only environments. Alcohol and alcohol-related diseases are as serious an issue as smoking, yet nobody is considering imposing a drinking ban in bars. The division of restaurants into smoking and non-smoking establishments is likely to divide friends, colleagues and even families.
When it comes to smoking in bars, this is a decision that should be left to the proprietor of the bar. They are business people and should have a right to tailor their business to attract as many customers as possible. If people are offended by smoke, they have the right to only frequent non-smoking establishments.