Monday, 4 January 2010

Blowing smoke at a ban

In the New York Times Douglas Quenqua writes on Blowing Smoke at a Ban. He says
Six years after New York City passed a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, it is easier than ever to find smokers partying indoors like it’s 1999, or at least 2002. In November, called it “the worst kept secret in New York nightlife” that “smoking is now allowed in numerous nightspots, specifically just about any and every lounge and club with a doorman and a rope.” A few weeks later,, a blog about New York clubs and bars, posted a “smoker’s guide to N.Y.C. nightlife.”

“Everyone looks the other way,” said Billy Gray, 25, a reporter for Guest of a Guest, who says that he knows precisely which high-end bars and lounges, most of them in the meatpacking district or Lower East Side, will let him smoke inside. Far from deterring smoking indoors, the ban simply adds an allure to it, said Mr. Gray, a half-pack-a-day smoker.

“It’s more of an illicit thrill now,” he said. “Like when you were a teenager and snuck a beer in your parents’ basement.”
Does prohibition ever work? Is there a single example of where it has achieved its ends? Alcohol? Drugs? Smoking? The economics of such bans mean they will not work. At best prohibition just forces up the price of whatever is being banned which makes it that much more profitable to supply. Hence, where there is a demand there is a supply.

Why not just let the owners of bars and restaurants decide whether or not to allow smoking. They can put a notice on their front door saying smoking is or is not allowed and thus consumers can then decide to enter or not given that information. Simple.

As for employees, they to can decide whether or not to work in a smoking or non-smoking establishment. It would just be another factor to take into account when deciding to take a job or not.

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