Smoking Regulations Or A Smoking Ban?

One thing I’ve yet to see from someone supporting bar and club smoking bans is a serious attempt to justify a ban as such. Even assuming that you’ve established that there’s a public interest in, say, protecting waiters from smoke, and that this interest justifies regulations, you still have to show that you can’t achieve your goal with something weaker than a ban. If incentives or regulatory “nudges” do roughly the same work, then they’re to be preferred.

In the case of smoking bans, there are a lot of replacement options, and it’s a heavy burden to argue that they wouldn’t suffice. Here are a few ideas I’ve brainstormed–someone more familiar with restaurant or OSHA regulations could surely find more:

  1. Require expensive licenses for bars that allow smoking
  2. Auction a limited number of smoking permits
  3. Mandate a wage-supplement for servers and bartenders in smoking restaurants (perhaps this wouldn’t work because it couldn’t apply to cooks, etc).

Bear in mind that roughly a third of the American public smokes, and food service workers are presumably no exception. There’s little reason to worry about them being exposed to second-hand smoke, so even a regulatory regime that leaves a substantial fraction of bars might be compatible with protection for workers.

There’s a lot of variance in state and local smoking bans, so this challenge applies quite differenly to them. Pennsylvania, for instance, allows smoking in any establishment that makes more than a certain percent (80% maybe?) of its income from alcohol sales. Such laws are much more forgiving, and I legitimately can’t be too bothered by them. That said, I think that they could still be better. Once you’ve admitted that some bars can have smoking, why is the relevant feature the percentage of income coming from booze?

Advertisements

Comments are closed.