btw: I didn't write the headline. My suggestion was the second part of it. ;^)
If you can’t tether a goat, why smoke?
Living longer good for business
The smoking ban, now set to begin July 2010, is causing a bit of grief among pundits and politicos. That’s appropriate. Giving up cigarettes is like the death of an old friend. Death requires grief – even when your old friend is toxic. Grief, as Elizabeth Kübler-Ross explained, has five stages: denial, anger, negotiation, depression and, finally, acceptance. The smoking ban passed through each stage on its way to becoming law. Let’s see if we can pick them out.
Denial: “Second hand smoke is a minor problem … .it’s not that dangerous a thing. Besides, working in smoky bars isn’t nearly as bad as working in a coal mine in West Virginia in 1915,” a local state senator asserted.
Denial only lasts as long as you can ignore the facts, like the fact that the EPA, the US National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (a branch of the World Health Organization) have classified secondhand smoke a “known human carcinogen.”
Back in January, the Journal Sentinel reported that an anti-smoking group in Milwaukee had taken air samples from 32 establishments between Nov. 7 and Dec. 6. They applied the DNR’s air quality standards and found that about 69 percent of the establishments scored “hazardous” for air quality – roughly the same levels you’d find downwind from a forest fire. That’s a pretty negative outcome. New York, one year after implementing its smoking ban, had a spectacularly positive outcome. The New York State Department of Health reported “an 8 percent reduction in hospital admissions for heart attacks resulting in a $56 million savings in health care costs.”
So, less smoking is good for you and saves money. Denial only gets you so far. Next step, get mad.
Anger: “You’ll kill the profits! Nobody will go out to the bars if they can’t smoke!”
First, the idea that dying from emphysema and lung cancer is OK so long as someone makes money is … bad. Second, the economic effects of eliminating smoking are minimal. Forbes magazine reports that “a March 2009 report by Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy found that 47 of 49 studies concluded smoke-free regulations hadn’t hurt the hospitality industry.” Two more happy factoids: after Minnesota implemented its smoking ban in 2007, liquor tax revenue actually increased from $221.8 million to $231.2 million in a year. Closer to home, the city of Madison has added 23 liquor licenses since its ban went into effect in 2005. Turns out you can drink without smoking.
Anger works for a little while but, when being angry plays out, negotiate to distract yourself.
Negotiation: “But then why can people still smoke in the casinos? Why do we have to ban smoking but they don’t?”
The casinos are excluded from the ban, of course, because tribal lands are not subject to Wisconsin statutes.
Still following along? You can’t deny the facts, money isn’t an excuse to stay mad, and you can’t negotiate your way around the grief so, what’s next? Get depressed.
Depression is anger turned inward. The last, sighing, gasp in the death rattle of the pro-smoking lobby went something like this: “But I pay the mortgage so it should be my rules.”
Here’s the problem: even though I pay my mortgage, there are all sorts of things I’m not allowed to do on my property. For instance, under the city of West Bend’s Municipal Code I can’t build a garage within 35 feet of the street (17.15, 3.c.1), I can’t keep goats or operate a lead smelter (17.37, 2.m) and I can’t even build a nuclear reactor (17.37, 2.n). None of these are allowed, even though I pay the mortgage.
Almost ready to stop grieving? Me too.
Acceptance: giving up smoking is not giving up something you actually want.
Some of the Ban-the-Ban pundits and politicos are still stuck in denial but Wisconsin’s Tavern League – the folks most affected by the ban – showed real backbone and got to acceptance ahead of everyone else. The Tavern League understood it was facing down a legislative tsunami and managed to insert some practical good sense into the bill: a year-long phase-in, pre-emption of local smoking ordinances – to make sure its members get consistent treatment across the state – and lower fines. Going cold turkey is tough. These ideas will make the transition easier on everyone.
And, of course, the local state senator in question was our own Glenn Grothman.