Sunday, March 30, 2008

Smoke and mirrors

(That's not my doctored photo. As penance, I refer you to Brand Obama: Would You Buy a Used Democrat? (Radical Left) It's an interesting piece. They're, well, pretty radical.)

The Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands (HANMI) supports Rep. Justo S. Quitugua's anti-smoking bill, but wants the number of smoke-free rooms to be voluntary.
Saipan Tribune Huh? What have they been smoking?

Why create a ban and then start carving out exceptions? Some of them have banned smoking already, according to HANMI chair Lynn Knight. That was easy, wasn't it?

I have mixed feelings about this. My wife and I have talked about smoking for years. A lot of customers say they don't like going home smelling like an ashtray (Especially if they told their significant other they were someplace else). I smoke, and when we ran Saipan's own 19th Hole I never felt that suicidal urge after 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. I constantly tried to improve ventilation, without success.

Blowing smoke

You can't divide a room into smoking and no-smoking areas. That's almost impossible unless you design it from scratch. Air is very democratic. The only foolproof method is to create a pressure difference with the smokies at the low end.

Even I notice the wretched smell when I first enter a room, unless someone is smoking a good cigar. Nobody touts the health benefits any more (wasn't that an interesting episode?)

Smoky Mountain high

Others say they need to smoke when they drink. A surprising number only smoke when they drink-- Ed Stevens always gave me a shiny quarter for every lung bullet; he didn't want to buy a pack.

Why should anyone tell me where I can smoke? Well, they already tell me I can't slap anyone. Second-hand smoke is an incremental assault. You can get me to admit it when I'm not in the throes of my addiction.

My youngest son has asthma; another reason I don't light up in the house. That actually started when my wife became pregnant. It wasn't a problem before, because she usually starts puffing when she doesn't have 'boo' (buuch, pugua, betelnut) or quits chewing.

Bottom's up

But the bottom line is that it's the bottom line. I'd bet that all of those managers spend at least four figures a year cleaning up after smokers. We do.

That's what those boring economists call an externality, like being downwind of a coal-fired plant or paper mill. It's your cost, not theirs. Somebody still pays.

Air conditioners have to be pulled and cleaned, frequently. Filters constantly need cleaning. Walls are washed and painted more often. Or not, and customers start noticing. When my wife worked at PIC, normally self-effacing Japanese would sometimes ask to change rooms because theirs were permeated with a garlic odor. Non-smokers have a similar gripe.

Smoke on the water

It's worse for a bar. Try the 'sweat test' the next time you're out. Just wipe the outside of your glass, can or bottle with a napkin to moisten it and dab the corner of a nearby mirror. I guarantee you'll get a disgusting yellow or brown residue, even if the glass is cleaned often.

Those pretty glasses and bottles on display? The ones that aren't used much have to be cleaned every few weeks to remove the sticky tracks of smokers past. Adding insult to injury, tobacco products generally have the lowest profit margin.

But nobody wants to be the bad guy, and what if somebody goes to your competitor? So let's blame it on the government.

It's easy to give up smoking. I must have done it a hundred times -- (not Mark Twain)


Bruce A. Bateman said...

You're right about all those sanitary issues, Ken.

I'm not a smoker and don't particularly like the smell (even of a 'good' cigar).

I see no reason to involve the government in this process. You said it eloquently when you said "That was easy wasen't it?"

If a hotel or a bar or the corner grocery store or Billy Bob's Bait House wants to ban smoking it is certainly their right to do so. If HANMI hotels want to ban smoking, then why don't they just do it? You don't need a policeman, a gun, a judge and a 300 page book of regulations to accomplish it. Just say no as Nancy used to say.

lil_hammerhead said...

I'm with Porks on this one. If you don't want smoking in your establishment.. ban smoking in your establishment.

If you don't want smoke.. don't patronize businesses who permit smoking.


Anonymous said...

What is unlawful Justo S. Quitugua trying to do to destroy everyone's freedom to breath, enjoy, and so to speak? Cigarette Smoking is not as bad as air pollution cause by cars, trucks, and have you. People die from carbon monoxide poisoning, not cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking harms human tissues and cells in long-term illnesses, but can medically get treatment and rehab. Carbon monoxide pollution kills suddenly and cannot get medical treatment. Justo S. Quitugua needs to introduce a bill for spousal abused. Who is the victim here? If there is a concern about people getting sensitve to cigarette smokes, then, it is appropriate for these people to just move away from the area of cigarette smoking. Stop trying to allow Justo S. Quitugua to destroy our human freedom. Adios!