Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#ATXCouncil and Smoking: Another POINTLESS hornet's nest....

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way."
Psalm 119:37

We'd intended to comment upon the proposed expansion of the smoking ban, but Greg Harrison beat us to the punch:
A taxpayer-funded hospital district is hoping to expand an already existing violation of property rights by extending a previous ill-conceived municipal “smoking ban” to include all public outdoor patios — effectively criminalizing smoking (and vaping) in all public businesses.

The initiative comes from Austin’s Central Health, a publically funded hospital district in Travis County. Central Health’s Communication Director Ted Burton expects the initiative to come before Austin City Council between November and January — pending a councilmember sponsoring the initiative to bring it before council. Once the issue is brought up, it will require 3/4ths of councilmembers’ approval in order to be adopted.

Austin narrowly approved (by a 52% margin) the initial smoking ban back in 2005 — which removed a bar owners’ right to choose whether or not their establishment allowed smoking and imposed a blanket ban of indoor smoking in all public spaces. Adapting to the new regulations, property owners established ‘smoking patios’ to accommodate customers who smoke.
Obviously, this idea is dangerous and misguided.  We recommend Greg's piece in full for the policy ramifications.  We want to focus on something else.

If council chooses to go down this path, it will be yet another controversy that accomplishes nothing (ie. like Uber/Lyft and Short Term Rentals).  But the good news is that nothing has happened as of yet.  If council keeps it that way, they still have an opportunity to avoid inflaming the community.

Bottom Line: Remember what we said about "the other group of arrogant jerks."

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