I just don’t get it.

I’m soooo confused over this whole smoking ban mess because what was once a clear cut ban on smoking in workplaces has turned into a big mass of bureaucratic wrangling and exemptions.

The County Council … who are now looking about as bright as City Council … voted yesterday on some modifications to the ban, thanks in part to Dan Onorato’s urgings.

Now, instead of ALL bars and restaurants being no-smoking, if you are a bar that earns less than 10% of your revenues on food sales AND you have less than 10 employees, you may continue to allow smoking until January 2009, at which point you must institute the no smoking rule.

Huh?  So we don’t care about the health of employees in small bars until January 1, 2009, at which point in time, we’ll care enough to do something about it?  That makes soooo much sense.

Cynthia Renshaw, manager of the Inn-Termission Lounge on the South Side, called the restriction “a devastating loss.”

“It will be devastating for every small bar I can think of,” she said. But if smoking wasn’t allowed at all, “that would be even worse.”

“A devastating loss”?  Yeah, that’s not TOO overdramatic is it?

I’m tired of this shit.  Pittsburgh is NOT the first place in the world to do this.  We’re never the first place in the world to do anything (except breaking records for zombie gatherings), so you tavern owners can rest assured that if it hasn’t run the bar industry into the ground in other cities … it isn’t likely to happen here.  After your business gets flooded or burned to the ground, then you can talk to me about a devastating loss, mmkay?

Other business owners noted after the meeting that it could take six months or longer for a system to be put in place to get waivers, which means that many establishments might have to go smoke-free when the law goes into effect in early January.

Oh. The. Horror.


  1. Bryan
    October 25, 2006 11:33 am

    couldn’t have said it better.. the world will end b/c people can’t smoke. I wonder if there is this much uproar in Chicago (They are doing the same thing)

  2. Zsa
    October 25, 2006 12:06 pm

    I don’t understand why the Inn-termission would hire people and start with food – I’ve been there – they can’t have more than 10 people, and I’ve never seen a morsel of food there. It sounds like the “10/10” thing is right up their alley. WTF??

    I also think the 2009 thing is stupid. Have a waiver or don’t – but don’t make it temporary.

    Just for shits and giggles, I googled about the NYC smoking ban and apparently you can apply for a waiver there if you can show your revenues went down because of it. That’ll be showing up here, I’m sure.

    And as I asked before, I want to know who’s going to be actually enforcing this ban. I think the cops on the South Side have other things to worry about – like people barfing on them and drunk driving and tacky ass groups of women trotting down the street to bachelorette parties.

  3. Matt H
    October 25, 2006 12:30 pm

    Danny O also said something along the lines that the bars/taverns/whatever would be responsible for the enforcement…do you really think that is going to happen?

  4. spoon
    October 25, 2006 12:34 pm

    If you want to do a smoking ban in outdoor areas that’s fine by me but forcing an establishment to be smoking or non is bullshit. The bar/restaurant should have a choice just like I do when I go knowingly into a smoke filled bar for a beer. But noooo we have to worry about the health of people who are “exposed” to the second hand smoke yet are sitting there drinking their alcohol and eating deep fried bar food. The whole things chaps my ass.

  5. AwsCom
    October 25, 2006 2:01 pm

    “I’m tired of this shit. Pittsburgh is NOT the first place in the world to do this. We’re never the first place in the world to do anything…”

    Preach on, preacher girl. You should take a stand more often.

  6. Frank
    October 25, 2006 7:12 pm

    I thought Dan speaking out of both sides of his mouth was the most ridiculous part.

    Dan was pissed when they loophole came up that Casinos would be exempt. His comment was that he wanted an even playing field so businesses and the casinos would all be equal.

    Then he turns around and proposes an ammendment that does the exact opposite. Now if my favorite happy hour place turns non-smoking, I may choose to go to another spot so that I can smoke. Not fair to the first place.

    Either way – my thoughts all along were that it all evens out. Since I’m not a smoker, and I hate being around smoke. I will pass by the bars still allowed to smoke and head to the ones without.

    Spoon – I get your point. But – as an asthmatic and a drinker I like to go out but I don’t like the smoke. I go to a bar. I sit away from the smoke, but within 10 mins someone will plop down next to me a start chain smoking right into my “space”.

    Sure – I can make the choice to stay home, but that’s not the choice I prefer. I should be able to go where I want to without having someone else’s smoke unwantingly forced upon me.

    Just my $.02

  7. Rich
    October 25, 2006 8:29 pm

    My right to breath clean air supercedes a person’s right to smoke and endanger my health. Any questions?

  8. Rich
    October 25, 2006 11:30 pm

    I’m a non-smoker. I also have an interest in a place that serves food that has a small outdoor patio. We don’t allow smoking inside, never have. But we do outside. All three tables are within 15 feet of the back door, which is NOT an entrance used by customers or staff except to get to the patio.

    The proposed ban says I can’t allow people to smoke out there because it’s within 15 feet of a door.

    That’s just a stupid nuisance law, not something that’s all about employee health — there are no employee health risks in our instance. Yet I will have to turn away some of my best customers who like to sit outside with a coffee and smoke.

    Btw, the Cancer Society, AMA and state commissions where similar bans have passed are anything but transparent on this issue. It is very true that overall restaurant and bar revenues go up slightly (after a small initial dip), but those gains are primarily for chain restaurants with bars, hotels, bars that are in center cities/near convention centers, or destination restaurant/bars/neighborhoods.

    When you parse the actual research info and look at blighted neighborhoods and those “off the beaten track” and in rural areas, you’ll find numerous closings in EVERY state that has a ban. It does affect people’s livelihoods, so there’s no need to be so friggin cold about it. These are bars you’d be unlikely to ever set a foot in.

    It has also been suggested that there is evidence of selective enforcement in some states – aimed at bars that attract “undesireable” clientele. Just passing that along as we haven’t investigated those claims.

    As for us, we’d happily give us our three smoking tables in exchange for a limited wine license for $1000 or so like we can could get in 33 other states, but not in PA. Compromise is good, no?

  9. Kay
    October 26, 2006 8:41 am

    This isn’t about smoker’s or non-smoker’s rights. There are no such laws in this country.

    There are, however, laws that protect employees. This is about the rights of employees to work in an environment safe from hazards. Second hand smoke is, indisputably, a health hazard. What I don’t understand is why the health of employees who work in smaller establishments is less important than that of larger establishments???? These are also the employees that are also less likely to have health insurance so maybe, if a bar decides that it must allow smoking, it should also be required to cover medical expenses for any non-smoking employees that are diagnosed with cancer.

    I also think that making casinos excempt is ridiculous. They will be getting enough of our money – why should we bend over backwards for them here as well?

  10. Zsa
    October 26, 2006 10:21 am

    Kay –

    Last I checked, this wasn’t Communist China where workers are assigned jobs. These employees are free to quit any time they want. Unless they’ve been living in a cave, they’re aware of all the studies that say secondhand smoke is hazardous, and they CHOSE to work in a place where it exists.

    I say the same thing to people who work in places that sell or manufacture chemicals (my father lost a great deal of his taste & smell doing so), and musicians who work next to very loud speakers that will most likely cause hearing loss. Those are both “hazards” to employee health (I’m sure I could think of more if I tried) but I don’t see anyone trying to pass a bill against those things.

    That’s all I’m going to say on that angle because I had a HUGE argument on this the other week and revisiting it isn’t something I feel like doing.

    And Rich, it’s spelled BREATHE.

  11. Zsa
    October 26, 2006 10:23 am

    Oh, and I forgot to add, we (Allegheny County we) are not making the casinos exempt. This is a statewide law. We are not “bending over backwards” for them, the state has forced us to.