Los Angeles Columnist Cites Widespread Civil Disobedience Surrounding Smoking Ban
TORRANCE, March 30 -- "Instead of a healthier barroom environment, in
most places this (smoking) ban has produced a wave of civil disobedience
larger than anything since the Vietnam war," read a portion of Tom Elias'
column published on March 30 in the Torrance Daily Breeze. In his column,
"Bar smoking ban spurs civil disobedience," Elias outlined the widespread
non-compliance with the smoking ban throughout California. Citing instances
of bar owners ignoring the law as far north as the Oregon border and down
south into Los Angeles County, Elias claims: "The civil disobedience is
so widespread that enforcement may not be possible."
Elias continued: "The civil disobedience stems both from smokers' determination to keep on puffing and from bar owners' conviction that the smoking ban is very bad for their business. "And very few cities are bothering to do anything about it," Elias continued. "Officials in many places say enforcement is virtually impossible both because of the no-smoking law's apparent loopholes and the mass refusal to comply." Elias concluded his column with a rhetorical question posed to lawmakers responsible for passing the ban: "When a large part of the populace seems determined to resist a new law, is it better to change it in the face of civil disobedience?"
Riverside Bar Owner Fed Up
RIVERSIDE, April 20 -- Mike Teaford, owner of Events in Riverside, is
fed up with the statewide smoking ban. For the first time in three years,
Teaford's business growth has come to a halt. With business down more than
15%, Teaford has been forced to cut back employee shifts and is subsequently
working more than 80 hours per week. Teaford is tired of the rhetoric of
anti-smoking advocates and wishes that prohibitionists and legislators
would open their eyes to those being affected most by the ban. As a small
business owner, Teaford has felt the negative effects of the ban first
hand. Teaford and partner, Jeff McKee, realized a dream when they first
built their bar and grill. They went to great lengths to create an atmosphere
that would cater to both smokers and non-smokers.
"What elected officials have failed to comprehend is that the only way a business can succeed is through knowledge, the proper resources and the right environment," said Teaford. Teaford, who has been in the bar and restaurant business for ten years, has long recognized the importance of treating employees not just fairly, but kindly. "Prohibitionists fail to realize that owners care about their workers," he said. "Employees are important to us, but we can't help them if we don't exist. "I paid my way through college by working at a restaurant and, unlike many of our legislators in Sacramento, I understand the value of this industry," said Teaford. "This industry creates substantial revenues and jobs and this ban is certainly putting a big dent in, if not crippling, the bar business for good. They have taken the option away from the workers, the owners and the customers."
Smoking Ban Leaves Bar Owner Alone in 'The Dog House'
SAN BRUNO, April 20 -- Business at The Dog House in San Bruno has plummeted
thirty percent since the beginning of 1998. In response, owner Barry Van
Otten was forced to lay off one employee and cut back employee shifts.
Unfortunately, Van Otten complains that he will soon have to lay off another
worker because customers will not come to his establishment now that it
is non-smoking. "The clientele that I serve is mostly smokers, as are my
employees. As one goes, so does the other," said Van Otten. "Now my customers
are smoking at another bar and my former employees will be smoking in the
unemployment line." Van Otten spent money to build an enclosed smoking
area in front of his establishment. Even so, this has not done much to
bring back business because it does not provide the customers with the
comforts they want, namely being able to smoke while enjoying a drink.
"To me, it's about the customers and personal choice," said Van Otten.
"You used to be able to decide how to run your business. Now the choice
is whether or not to obey the law, and those that decide to comply with
the law are being rewarded with lost revenues and angry customers."