Monday, November 28, 2005

The Smoke Clears Slowly

It’s interesting to how the smoking ban debate is shaping up in Chicago much as it is here in Springfield. Initially, there was a near total ban proposed but as time goes on, any ban is looking more and more likely to be a compromise measure. Eric Zorn reports from the Windy (but not yet smoke-free) City:

Ideally, we'd never have to breathe another person's cigarette smoke and workers would never have to choose between taking a good job or being able to work in a smoke-free environment.

But realistically, Chicago's proposed ban on indoor smoking in nearly all indoor spaces open to the public looks like it may die this week unless proponents agree to go along with compromises to exempt free-standing bars and lounges in some restaurants.

Steve Derks, spokesman for the American Cancer Society and Smoke-Free Chicago, declared last month that "there's no compromise when it comes to worker health," but of course there is. There always is.


I see it as completely inevitable that [a strict smoking ban] will one day be law. But I see a halfway measure now as hastening that day, and still more delay as the sides remain intransigent as delaying the inevitable.

…ban proponents ought not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I guess that’s the way I see it too. Going into this I did not expect there to be a total ban on smoking in public places in Springfield. I figured I’d be happy with just getting the smoke out of restaurants. When it looked like a wider ban was possible, I of course got behind that. However, since it now looks like a compromise allowing smoking in bars and bowling alleys is going to be the legislation settled on, I’ll be satisfied with that for now.

But Zorn is right: the day will come when even the bars and bowling alleys will be sans smoke. It’s the irreversible direction society is going, all talk radio huffing and puffing (heh-heh) not withstanding.

Perhaps Illinois will get its act together and follow the lead of other states by imposing the ban statewide. However it happens, I’m content biding my time until that day comes.

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