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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Sopranos, Mar/Apr 2007

Dear Marvin,
Yes, another letter about losing the freedom to smoke. My home, my haven, Las Vegas, is now the latest victim of the antismoking police. Antismoking legislation was included on our November 7, 2006, ballot in Clark County. One measure passed. Now, thanks to the ignorance of well-meaning do-gooders, many people are going to lose their jobs and I have lost the freedom to think for myself.

The question on the ballot that passed read: Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended in order to prohibit smoking tobacco in certain public places, in all bars with a food-handling license, but excluding gaming areas of casinos and certain other locations?

How does this affect jobs, you ask? If an establishment serves food that is prepared in the establishment, smoking is forbidden. Now this makes wonderful sense for any business that is primarily a restaurant, but in the case of a bar or tavern, it is absolutely ludicrous. Most, if not all bars and taverns, have a menu from which you can order bar food: a plate of wings, burgers, sandwiches, fries, etc. With the passing of this law, if an establishment wants to continue to let its patrons smoke, it can no longer serve any of this food. Cooks, waitresses and waiters can say hello to the unemployment line. The people backing this law touted that the passage of this would protect our children. I don't know about you, but I sure as hell don't take my children to a bar.

The second question on the ballot—one that casinos and bars were supporting—also prohibited smoking. It read: Shall Chapter 202 of the Nevada Revised Statutes be amended in order to prohibit smoking tobacco in certain public places, except all areas of casinos, gaming areas within establishments holding gaming licenses, bars and certain other locations?

Under this law, bars, supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations that have a gaming section would still have been allowed to let their patrons smoke. Yes, you could have gambled and smoked in a supermarket here in Las Vegas. Yes, it is pathetic. Hence, the passing of this question wouldn't have changed anything and the public saw right through the smoke screen. The best scenario would have been for voters to vote "no" on both questions. Then, perhaps, an antismoking law could have been written that would have included some common sense. Yes, I know it's fantasy to assume anyone writing a law will use common sense, but I can dream, can't I?

As for the loss of my freedom to smoke a cigar in my favorite sports bar while catching a game or hearing a live band and being able to get some food, I'll manage. That's the problem. We as a nation are accepting being policed for our own good. Cigar smokers, wake up. Soon we won't even be able to smoke in our own backyards if this keeps up. Get out and vote against antismoking legislation when it appears on your community's election ballots.

Thanks for letting me vent. Your magazine may be one of the last freedoms I can enjoy anywhere I please.

Terrence Groom
Las Vegas, Nevada

P.S.—"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." —C. S. Lewis

Editor's note: Keep up the good work

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