It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis City-County Council tonight will pass an amended smoking ban that includes bars and taverns. And I think it’s fair to say that unless there is some hidden ticking time bomb in the measure, Mayor Greg Ballard will sign it. So when it is all said and done the only places where smoking will be allowed are private clubs, OTBs, and cigar and hookah bars. So when advocates declare their victory I hope they go celebrate at one of those bars that were formerly smoking but now have to go non-smoking.
I say this because I can already see a few places in town that have been struggling to stay open in this economy now getting pushed out of business because the people who would come out and smoke when they drink now just stay home. Now I do believe this is the part where the advocates come out and say “there is no net loss of business in communities where smoking bans have been in place.” The key word there is “net”. That means some places will gain business and others will to lose business, which means those workers that everyone talks about (many of whom smoke) will now have cleaner lungs and healthier bodies. That’s good because they are going to need it as they look for another job. But at least they won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke. They may not eat or be able to pay rent or make their car payments, but at least they have their health.
Yes, I am being a bit facetious here. Most of us cigar smokers are. But the more important thing is one of the arguments have been made since Indianapolis first started debating a smoking ban in 2005 was whether local places would lose business? Frankly, I think the free market system of choice has been working just fine for workers, owners and patrons. However, after tonight we will live in a different world. So with that being said, I hope the advocates that have been pushing this will run out and celebrate and continue to do so in places that used to be smoking. Better yet, I am sure they’ll also be contacting those bar owners and asking them how Smoke Free Indy and other such groups can help those businesses with promotions and getting new customers in the door. I figure it’s the least they could do.
Because if it’s true that nobody has ever gone out of business because of a smoking ban then there is no reason I should be back here in three months writing about the places that took it on the chin because the current compromise just wasn’t enough.