On Tuesday, County Council member Mike Kruk, D-District E, introduced a proposal to expand the countywide smoking ban to include bars and restaurants.
Currently, both types of establishments are exempt from the ban under certain conditions.
In addition to bars and restaurants, the proposal would also ban smoking in private clubs and tobacco bars, and eliminate smoking rooms at places of business.
It would continue to exempt private residences, retail tobacco stores, designated hotel and motel rooms and outdoor areas at workplaces.
Smoking bans are interesting politically because they cut across lots of traditional ideological and tribal lines. It's also a place where I think reasonable people can disagree, and where an honest discussion has to account for tradeoffs.
Is a smoking ban an infringement on people's personal liberty? Yes!
Do smoking bans save lives and improve public health? Yes!
I've sometimes wondered just how united restaurant and bar owners are on smoking bans. As vocal as bar and restaurant owners are about not wanting to drive the smokers away from their businesses, in my experience it's much more common for nonsmokers to refuse to patronize a place than smokers. You have to figure there are some owners who privately hope for the chance to finally tell people not to light up without having to take the blame for the decision.