For many Americans, going out with friends and having a good time is a common form of entertainment. The great thing is that no matter what your interest, you are bound to find something to do with your friends. That is, unless you enjoy going to a bar, having some drinks, and smoking. The infamous "smoking ban" is spreading across this country like at a fever pitch. More and more towns are buying in to the pressure and banning smoking in public areas. The newest victim on that list is Oxford, Mississippi.
Last night, to the dismay of restaurant and bar owners, the city board passed the ordinance unanimously. The ban will "end smoking in all indoor spaces except residences and tobacco stores and outdoor areas as stadiums, arenas and amphitheaters." Along with this, establishments with outdoor areas must "reserve at least 50 percent of such areas for nonsmokers." Bars? What is this world coming to?
I'm not a smoker. I do know the negative affects of smoking. But I hate when government tries to micromanage people's lives with bogus laws like this. Restaurants have been divided into smoking and non-smoking sections for years. But bars have always been the last haven for smokers. Now, at least in the city of Oxford, that is going away for good. Why should these laws be passed? If you don't want to be around smoke, there are plenty of places to go and be away from it. Personally, it doesn't bother me all that much. I think this is completely ridiculous and may be a disaster for bars in Oxford.
The ban comes with some rather hefty fines too. Anyone violating the ordinance is "subject to a first-time fine of $50 and a $250 fine on subsequent offenses." Any business that wants to say, "The Hell with this law," will also be fined "$100 for the first violation, $200 for the second within a year and $500 for any subsequent violations within a year." If I was a successful business owner in Oxford and could afford it, I'd violate the hell out of this law. A little civil disobedience might just do the trick.
This may have a negative affect on the city of Oxford. The town is known for its bar scene and because of that, it is highly regulated. Those that oppose the ban say they are concerned with "potential business revenue losses, the rights of business owners to please their customers and the rights of smokers to choose to indulge their habit." And they are right. Why is it not up to the business owner? Why must the budgets and revenue of these owners be micromanaged and possibly driven to close their doors? I think there will be a sharp drop in the business to bars in Oxford. They will be hurt the most.
The question becomes, where will it end? Smoking is not illegal in this country. But many towns have taken the law into their own hands and made it illegal. If other towns follow this example, we may see a national prohibition on tobacco products that will lead the same thing a prohibition on alcohol did in the 1920s. If you are a business owner, stand up for your business and tell the city of Oxford to take their smoking ban and smoke it.