Bars should not be exempt from the smoking ban


By Kathryn Minniti

Recently, an Illinois House Committee passed two bills that would grant exemptions to the smoking ban for bars and casinos. Is this a good idea? I think not. Keeping smoke away from public places will allow non-smokers to avoid the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Proponents of lifting the ban may argue about their individual freedoms being limited. Believe me; I was on this side of the argument for a while, when I used to smoke cigarettes. Since I have quit, I have realized that the smokers might be okay with their addiction and exposure to health hazards, but the people who have avoided smoking should not have to suffer.

As Americans, we do have the freedom to smoke, but citizens should also have the freedom for clean air. While a lot of people are aware of secondhand smoke, most do not realize how dangerous it is.

According to the American Lung Association, “secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 deaths from lung cancer.” Besides the non-smoking customers, employees of the establishments that would be affected by lifting the smoking ban must also be considered.

You can say that people who do not want to be around smoke should just avoid the bars and casinos that allow smoking, but it is much harder to do so when it is your place of work.

While their employees may suffer from the smoking ban exemption, many businesses are already complaining that their revenues are down due to the smoking ban. I believe that business owners should be able to run their businesses any way they want as long as they are not breaking the law. They must also consider, however, the fact that allowing people to smoke may drive away customers who do not want to be around such an atmosphere.

“I do not think they should adjust the ban at all,” said freshman communications major Allison Awerkamp. “I do not want to be exposed to the health hazards just because businesses want to make more money.”

Another common argument against the smoking ban is that bars are not exactly health centers in the first place.

While it is true that people who are doing shots at the bar are obviously not too concerned with their health in the first place, at least they are not putting anyone else’s health at risk in the process.

Also, it is not as if smokers are being told they cannot smoke at all. If you want to enjoy a drink and a cigarette, many establishments provide outdoor seating areas to do so in a more considerate manner. I know it is tough to do that in the dead of a typical DeKalb winter, but stepping outside for a few minutes is really not that much to ask.

Lifting the smoking ban in certain establishments in DeKalb is just not a good idea. It puts the health of too many people at risk and offers little reward in return.