Saturday, April 18, 2009


There’s an old, albeit graphic, proverb that says “you don’t shit where you eat”. It refers to carrying on a romantic relationship at your place of employment. I guess it means that the unpleasantness that could result from screwing around romantically with a co-worker is tantamount to defecating in your breakfast nook. I could see that, considering I met my first ex-wife at work.

A more appropriate saying might be “you don’t smoke where you, or anyone else eats”. I quit smoking two years ago. I enjoyed a post-meal cigarette more than I’d like to admit, but I never had a problem waiting until I got outside to have one. I never smoked inside my own home. I didn’t think my addiction should affect my daughter or the other diners at a restaurant for that matter. Even before smoking sections were eliminated from most places, I didn’t sit in them.

I also spent years working in bars and restaurants where patrons smoked. I felt bad for my co-workers that didn’t smoke and were forced to suffer second hand smoke, which is a proven health hazard. I felt worse that we were subjected to piped in music which featured the likes of Pink, James Blunt and The Pussycat Dolls, but the adverse effects of that, though obvious, have not been scientifically born out.

Nevada lawmakers took the health hazards of second hand smoke into account when they introduced the Clean Indoor Air Act. So did the people who voted it into reality in 2006.

Now, almost three years later, the same lawmakers have decided that those health hazards aren’t nearly as important as kowtowing to businesses that claim to be drastically injured financially by the anti-smoking law. In December, when 36 months have passed and changes can be made to the law, businesses will be able to allow smoking inside as long as no minors are present or a wall is put up to separate a designated smoking area. I’d be more inclined to be excited about a wall being erected to separate me from any minors, but again, no confirmed health hazard in being exposed to pants worn low enough to show parts of the anatomy no one wants to be privy to.

There’s a reason the law doesn’t allow changes to be made to the act until three years have passed. Before that, no one can clearly see what the positive and negative effects are. The positive results of this one are that employees are no longer subjected to the dangers of second hand smoke, people who want to eat dinner at a sports bar don’t have to get a babysitter, and I don’t come home from a night of shooting pool smelling like stale Pall Malls.

The negative results? I don’t know. I haven’t done any research but I can’t think of any businesses off the top of my head that were forced to close up because the anti-smoking bill cost them too many customers. The last restaurant I worked at eliminated the smoking section before they were required to, and business increased.

Non-smokers and smokers are used to things they way they are. It’s been long enough for everyone to adapt. Changing things now would be like getting back together with your ex-girlfriend that your friends hated just when you were finally, really over her.

They say it only takes twenty one days to break a habit. Smokers have had over two years to get used to not smoking indoors in public. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

It doesn’t seem fair to ruin all that hard work.