Legend has it that there was once a sign on all of the bridges leading into Charleston, SC, the stated “Welcome to Charleston. Unencumbered by Progress for the Past 100 Years.” Putting together “cutting edge” and Charleston in the same sentence is an oxymoron. Recently the Charleston City Council heard a rumor about something called second smoke. After a bit of research they were shocked to discover that cities such as LA and New York had banned smoking from public places.
Now, being one of America’s favorite vacation destinations, they couldn’t let those other popular spots do something they weren’t doing. Especially them damn Yankees from New York City. The last time the City got this riled they launched a few cannonballs out into the bay at Ft. Sumter which started the American Civil War.
With much hand wringing and gnashing of teeth by local bar and restaurant owners, Charleston City Council passed a ban on all smoking in public places. The non-smokers in the Low Country are breathing a sigh of relief; the bar and restaurant folks are threatening a law suit. Apparently they haven’t noticed that it is easier to find a place to park a dumpster then it is to find a place to smoke these days. Courts from one end of the country to the other have upheld these bans.
Generally we come down on the side of the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment’s Freedom of Assembly clause. If people want to gather and smoke a legal and highly taxed product, what business is it of local government? If no one is being held against their will in these places, where is the problem? We would find these laws easier to swallow if they gave restaurant the option of being smoking or non-smoking with signs clearly marked on the door. But the promoters of the nanny state are never willing to go along with this.
As non-smokers we’ve figured out what places to avoid because they are smoked filled. Smoke billowing out to street whenever the front door is opened is usually the first clue. In the West Ashley suburb of Charleston, you learn pretty quickly that you can lose sight of your server in the haze of the smoke at Manny’s and the food at the Map Room starts tasting like a nicotine patch after 9 pm. If one of these places wants to become a private club for smokers then let them go at it. Make it illegal for anyone under 18 to enter. If the bar owners think they can make more money than honoring the ban, so be it.
The larger concern is what will they target next? McDonald’s french fries haven’t been the same since the quit cooking them in lard. Then “trans fats” were bad. Remember “saccharin?” After winning the anti-smoking battle does anyone seriously think the “health Nazis” will disband and start leading a normal, productive life? Don’t count on it.
They can pry my key lime pie from my cold dead fingers.