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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

First They Came for the Smokers…

posted by on April 22 at 14:57 PM

…and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a smoker blah blah blah.

Actually, the Stranger did speak up: We urged a “no” vote on Washington state’s smoking ban because of its unenforceable (and largely unenforced) 25ft rule. We did, however, endorse the concept of a smoking ban. It was a perfect Stranger position on a controversial issue: We managed to piss off everybody. Anti-smoking crusaders were furious that we urged a “no” vote and smokers were furious that we endorsed the concept. Yahtzee!

Well, anyway, just as some outraged nicotine addicts predicted in our comments threads… now they’re coming for the drinkers.

The campaigns to combat the effects of “passive smoking” are widely credited for Europe’s growing number of smoking bans. Now alcohol is in the sights of the public health lobbyists, and they have invented the concept of “passive drinking” as their killer argument.

I have seen a leaked draft report for the European Commission, which is due to be published some time in June. It makes claims about the high environmental or social toll of alcohol, the “harm done by someone else’s drinking.” The report is likely to inform proposals for a European Union alcohol strategy later this year.


Via Sullivan.

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One major difference is that way, way more people drink than smoke, and that prohibition has already failed.

Posted by Gitai | April 22, 2008 3:05 PM

Passive drinkers? Well, it makes about as much sense as second-hand smoke, which is to say none. Better yet, why not ban air. Hey, everybody I know who breathes dies, so that shit must be bad for you, right?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | April 22, 2008 3:05 PM

yeah, prohibition worked so well the last time... to say nothing about the success of the drug war.

Posted by LMSW | April 22, 2008 3:05 PM

I'm gonna make me a fortune runnin' rum to Portual, see? Yeah, me an' Bugsy. We'll be livin' in high society in no time! With a doll on one arm and dame on the other. Yeah...

Posted by JC | April 22, 2008 3:06 PM

AHAHAHA! Soon you'll know the smoker's plight!

wait... I drink too! FUCK!!

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | April 22, 2008 3:06 PM

Europeans are generally more enlightened then us so prohibition would probably work over there.

Posted by El Seven | April 22, 2008 3:07 PM

Terrifying. If they ever decide to ban alcohol, they should have to announce it at halftime of an Arsenal-Chelsea match while standing at midfield.

Posted by thehim | April 22, 2008 3:08 PM

Slippery slopes only work if the slope isn't insanely fucking steep.

Posted by w7ngman | April 22, 2008 3:10 PM

As long as they don't come for our cars, or plastic bags.

5280@2, there was an article on yesterday about air being as bad as secondhand smoke for kids:

Posted by Peter F | April 22, 2008 3:11 PM

so we'll have to drink outdoors, at least 25 feet away from the door?

uh, okay.

Posted by infrequent | April 22, 2008 3:12 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | April 22, 2008 3:18 PM

But only right-wingers worry about the Nanny State. Um, yeah...

Posted by Mr. X | April 22, 2008 3:21 PM

I agree with whatever measure outlaws "passive" drinking. Alcoholic consumption should be done actively. Always.

Posted by not an alcoholic | April 22, 2008 3:22 PM

Pfft. "Passive drinking" sounds like a problem for the sober dorks, and they can eat my poo.

For the record, I voted against the smoking ban AND I disagree with the idea. I say that as a lifelong non-smoker.

Posted by T | April 22, 2008 3:23 PM

Oh, hell no. Hell. No.

Posted by Michigan Matt (soon to be Balt-o-matt) | April 22, 2008 3:24 PM

Ugh, the next thing you know I won't be able to walk down the street in Capitol Hill smoking a joint.

Posted by Emily | April 22, 2008 3:24 PM

Yeah, that's...crap. But you know, if the smoking ban movement hadn't been so successful, they wouldn't think they had a chance with this "passive drinking" bull.

Stuff like this is why I think you can only be 100% pro-Nanny State or 100% against it. Folks who try to control the social behavior of others are never satisfied with marginal gains - every little victory (i.e. smoking ban) just encourages them to broaden and expand their agendas.

Posted by Hernandez | April 22, 2008 3:27 PM

We're gonna risk-averse ourselves out of existence.

Posted by NaFun | April 22, 2008 3:29 PM

In New York and CT, the smoking ban wasn't AS much as an infingement of personal freedoms as you would think. New York City passed as a measure to garantee a safe working environment ... nothing to do with second hand smoke of the clubs patrons, but more to do with the people who have to work in the smoke ESPECIALLY pregnant women.

And for that ... well I guess I kind of support the smoking ban.

The other thing about the smoking ban, is that in the long term is actually better for the bars. People who like to drink and smoke still go out, but people who didn't go to the bars because of terrible/allergic reactions to smoke started going out again ... ie more business.

Banning alcohol in bars makes about as much sense and banning coffee in coffee shops.

Posted by OR Matt | April 22, 2008 3:35 PM

Smoking ban = Good idea

Drinking ban = Stupid idea and never going to happen

Posted by Mahtli69 | April 22, 2008 3:43 PM

The smoking bans are not really comparable, are they? The actual act of breathing out cigarette smoke directly causes harm to people near by. But although there are many potential problems with some drunk people, simply drinking doesn't cause damage to anyone.

Posted by El Seven | April 22, 2008 3:44 PM

yeah, slippery slope implies that there is a slope, not a cliff to traverse down.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 22, 2008 3:46 PM

also, europeans a bunch of statist twats to begin with.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | April 22, 2008 3:47 PM

Looks like it's time to pull out the Chriscraft and oil the Chicago Typewriter and get back in the business of running booze down from Canada....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 22, 2008 3:49 PM

Waitasec. Everyone's all "nanny state this, nanny state that". Who said anything about banning alcohol?

Every victim of a drunk driver and child or spouse or other punching bag of an abusive drunken asshole can attest to the damage of "passive drinking". And that's even before you get into the whole business of having to put up with all the other life-disrupting bullshit that comes with alcoholism.

I am well aware that you can drink sensibly. 95% of my drinking friends do. It's even kinda okay to be young and stupid and go through the "lame drunken stunts" phase.

But to call attention to, and take action on, the assholes who make a career of it - and who inflict all kinds of damage with some vague social acceptance that "oh, he's just got his drink on, ha ha" - sounds like a good idea to me.

Will it be done in a "nanny" fashion? I don't know. Europeans know the value of "harm reduction" with so-called "hard drugs". Alcohol may not be seen as one, but it is, IMNSHO. Let's wait and see what they actually do before crying about prohibition...

Posted by Breklor | April 22, 2008 3:51 PM

I'm also collecting plastic bags to mail to Mayor Nickels and the Council if they persist in their stoopit crusades.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 22, 2008 3:51 PM

@21 - True, you can't really compare them directly in terms of how alcohol can have a second-hand effect on non-drinkers versus how tobacco smoke can have a second-hand effect on non-smokers.

However, I doubt most pro-Nanny Staters see it that way - they just want to control other people's behavior to bring it in to conformance with their own narrow likings. To them, this is just another step toward state-regulated social behavior.

Posted by Hernandez | April 22, 2008 3:53 PM

@25 - I thought drunk driving and child abuse were already illegal.

Posted by Mahtli69 | April 22, 2008 3:55 PM

Maybe they'll make a rule about how many drinks you may be served in a night?

I read the article but not sure how they think they would make it work.

Posted by Dawgson | April 22, 2008 4:00 PM

@28: Exactly. We should punish the adverse results of excessive drinking not not the choice to drink in the first place.

Posted by Dawgson | April 22, 2008 4:04 PM

Haha - take that you non-smoking bastards.

Posted by Ed | April 22, 2008 4:11 PM

You can take my liquor away from my cold, dead fingers.

Posted by Dave Coffman | April 22, 2008 4:28 PM

passive stupidity

Posted by Slim | April 22, 2008 4:35 PM

@33 Now that I would support banning.

Posted by PopTart | April 22, 2008 4:58 PM

How prescient was Eddie Izzard:

"No smoking in bars in California now, and soon no drinking and no talking."

Posted by Greg | April 22, 2008 5:12 PM

They're not going to ban alcohol! This is nothing new. Many European countries already have high rates of alcoholism that directly impact others through drunk driving, physical abuse, loss of employment, etc. In Scandinavia they used to have corresponding high liquor taxes (partially) because of that, but it's all began to change recently with European integration as countries try to combat their citizens purchasing lower tax, cheap booze in nearby countries.

When I lived in Germany, I seem to recall talk of mandating that beer be priced higher than soda by law since in many places the opposite was true and some people felt it encouraged alcoholism.

Posted by Jeff | April 22, 2008 6:15 PM

Oh please, do introduce me to the "pro nanny state" contingent. I hear them referred to often, but have yet to actually hear from any of them.

Oh Straw-Red-Herring-Man of Considerable-Bullshit, what will they cry about when they don't have you?

I think I've soiled myself,why isn't the Nanny-State responding? I understand they are everywhere!


Posted by CryBaby | April 22, 2008 9:52 PM

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