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California Smoking Ban of 1998: a Closer Look

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In 1998, Drew Carey held a sit-in because of the smoking ban in the California bars. Even though Drew is not a smoker, he smoked that night and called the ban stupid. Three years ago, California enacted a state law that forbade smoking in bars and other work areas for the sake of the employees. Drew felt “It should be up to each bar owner and patron to decide if they want to smoke or not. Drew Carey was not cited by police for the incident, but the owner, Irwin Held, was. Held said, “It’s smoking today; tomorrow it will be beer, and the next day liquor. Hopefully they’ll rescind the ban and give people freedom of choice.” (Carey, Held qtd. Los Angeles Times 8) Smokers are losing their rights. If nothing is done to stop it, the government will be taking away all of the peoples rights. It may not make sense to believe such a fallacious statement, but if one persons rights are threatened, then the rights of all will be threatened at some point.

The California law came about when bartenders and other employees were complaining about breathing problems and eye irritations. Many people who have been around smoke do have problems with eye irritation and breathing, but secondhand smoke is not as dangerous as once thought. By taking a look at the study done by the World Health Organization(WHO), one might understand why. Secondhand smoke has long been thought to contribute to thousands of deaths by lung cancer. The WHO issued an article in March of 1998 stating that smoking did not cause lung cancer like previously thought and secondhand smoke might even have a protective effect on the lungs. (Dougherty) So, the push for making smokers quit is no longer understandable and taking the smokers rights away from them is absurd.

If the bartenders of California do not want smoke in the bars, then they should be allowed to put up signs and to take care of the problem. On the other hand, if they dont care about the smoke, then it shouldnt be up to the government to make it illegal. Two and a half years after the ban was put into effect, there were no smoking violations cited against bar owners. People have complained about the ineffective law, but to no avail. There is no point to the law. The bar owner is completely capable to enforce it, but since half of them are smokers they probably dont care.

Remembering back to the 1930s, Prohibition may come to mind. It first started out that a few places were not allowed to have alcohol, then it spread through the rest of the country. It remained for several years, first causing a decrease in consumption, and then a dramatic increase. Smoking is now following the same pattern. In Superior, Colorado, smoking has been banned from restaurant patios. (AP 7 Nov 2000) In Eugene, Oregon, smoking was banned from all cafes and diners and adult-only bars, taverns, lounges, and bingo parlors will be considered in November. (The Sunday Oregonian) The smokers are going to be forced outside to find their right to the pursuit of happiness. At Penn State, outside smoking wont even be allowed, because it litters the ground too much. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette A01) Soon, smokers are going to be outlawed altogether. They surely dont need rights.

“Children and their families should be able to play sports, eat in picnic areas and play in sandboxes, free of cigarette butts and smoke,” said Pat Etem, executive director of the Los Angeles Regional Tobacco Control Community Linkage Project. That is ridiculous! How much does a cigarette, being smoked outside, effect one person?

A few studies have shown that the ban of smoking in the bars of California did cause an increase in the bartenders health. The University of California performed a study on the effect of reducing secondhand smoke on the bartenders. They found that many of them did experience less irritation and less respiratory symptoms. However, almost half of the bartenders in the study were smokers. (Topeka Capital Journal)

Granted, Penn State has a point with the butts littering the campus, but that should be a good indication that more places are needed to be able to throw away the butts, it is not an indication that smokers are bad and must be punished. If the complaint is for the childrens sake then it wouldnt be totally out of the question to put in smoking areas so families can go elsewhere to avoid the areas and enjoy their smokefree air. Of course, it is important for employees to be able to work without the added problem of secondhand smoke, but if they do have a serious problem then the bar owner should consider it and act upon it, smoking should not be up to the government to decide.

Smokers must have a place to smoke, it can not be outlawed altogether because that is a violation of their rights. There needs to be a smoking section for every baseball game, workplace, restaurant, beach, and park. If secondhand smoke it not the issue because it isnt as harmful, then there is no reason to infringe on others rights.

Every nonsmoker needs to be a political smoker and stand up for the rights of the American people. If they dont, then the people will no longer have rights and be controlled by the government.

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California Smoking Ban of 1998: a Closer Look. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
“California Smoking Ban of 1998: a Closer Look.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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