Well, we lost. The smoking ban passed.
Clearly conspiring against satire, speakers on both sides were articulate and sincere. In the good old Sound Ordinance days of 2014, the opposition was reliably dishonest and badly behaved, so press freedom could function properly.
And they will be again. The Sound Ordinance will soon emerge blinking from the dungeons, and we will be bombarded with disinformation and The New Nannyism. The game will be different this time. People know now that the noisiest neighborhood associations are certifiable and conceal their low membership numbers behind self-righteous posturing. A few leaders are disingenuously deceptive; most are probably just deluded by the few. But be careful: CM LaToya with her new Joan-of-Arc banner might be selling silence as hard as smoke-free. Don’t be surprised if you are told that a few million of us are dying from secondhand music.
I digress, but only a bit. The Harpies are trying to insert music and theater issues into the CZO as well. Zoning is as dry as small print and equally littered with traps. Watch out. As Dr Johnson said, Under cover of acrophobia, your wife, Sir, is sonophobic.
Back to business. CMs James Gray and Jason Williams supported amendments that took the police out of the frame, for two good reasons. Response to violent crime should not be compromised by calls to deal with a smoking complaint; and smoking should not become a broken-taillight pretext for pedestrian stops and searches, which could be translated: harassing African American men, with a little impromptu brutality by a cop in the mood to twist the Fourth Amendment out of shape.
Register that. It is important for street crime and the police, soon to be a front page issue.
Amendments were entered to remove most of the outdoors restrictions, such as no smoking within 200 feet of a church, school or playground. CM James Gray had gone out to check just how much of the city is within 200 feet of a supposedly sensitive site. It was a big chunk of the public real estate.
200 feet each side of a church? Did separation of church and state get lost in the cloud of secondhand smoke? Does a churchy ectoplasm drift over its property line to get spiritually soiled by secondhand smoke across the street? How about no Bible-thumping within two hundred feet of a bar? That would get those annoying Mardi Gras missionaries off Bourbon Street. I hope CM Gray got this one kicked out.
Mr Albin Guillot, who got a hard ride in NOLAscape last week for an inadvertent comic turn gave a rousing speech in favor of the ban with a special place in the cockles of his warm heart for musicians. A bit like an audition for King Lear, but he got a good round of applause. I even joined in. It sounded sincere and was well done, so credit where due.
Ploy alert: signs are accumulating that sentimental solicitude for musicians is a new Hoodie tactic to hook their squelch policies to the nanny fad. Be careful.
Harrah’s intends to renegotiate its arrangements with the city to share its anticipated losses with the people that imposed the ban. I guess that complies with US economic rules. Smaller businesses just have to struggle through on the general framework of law, regulation and rubbish, but a high cap enterprise like Harrah’s works on contracts of mutual expectation with the government, and exercise of dollar power. The Shock Doctrine suggests: keep an eye on your property tax bill.
Now the Gnomes of NOLAscape venture into the shadows.
>> Life and death.
If you do not currently fit in one of those two categories, you may not be interested. Look for alternative states in Dante.
What does it mean to “save lives”? What is this really about?
Dr King of the CDC said 50,000 people a year die of passive smoke. Madame CM Cantrell wrote that 2.5 million people have died of passive smoke since 1964, which looks like 50,000 times 50 years. It’s on the CDC web site, so it must be true, right? Our government would not deceive us, would it?
Why 1964? Because it is 50 years, so the multiplication gives us a nice round number?
The number of deaths a year must be a function of average life expectancy and population, with variations because population is a moving target. In 2010, the population was 308,745,538. Deaths were 2,468,435, or 0.8%. Average life expectancy here was 78.7 years, so the average dead person was born around 1932, when the US population was 124.000,000. The deaths were almost 2.0% of that number, so a bit high. Death rate is the result of a fairly complex mixture of ages and causes. CDC data include age bands and analysis by sex and a sampling of “races.” In 2010, 574,743 of the deaths, or 23.3%, were due to cancers. If 50,000 deaths were caused by passive smoking that would mean this one cause equals 8.7% of all cancer fatalities. Not all smoking-related illness is cancer, and not all cancer is smoking related, so this an interesting indicator more than a statistically defensible analysis – but it still makes me suspicious. Does second-hand smoke actually cause the problem, or is it the proximate cause affecting someone with a sensitivity to irritants, such that if smoke did not affect them, something else, perhaps another atmospheric carcinogen, would? I want a few second opinions.
An up-to-date statistic that the current annual death toll from tobacco is 480,000. That puts claimed deaths from passive smoking over 10.0%. Sorry, ban people – I don’t believe it. If someone knows how to verify the 50,000 claim, please let me know.
The population in 1964 was 192,000,000, so growth to 2013 is just over 65%. How come passive smoking death stays flat at 50,000? Does smoking decrease exactly offset population increase?
If new public health missions like smoking bans and maybe future bans of high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, GM crops (over Monsanto’s dead body), gluten, carbohydrates, protein, caffeine, puffer fish and whatever else can be banned; speed limits are reduced to 40 and yellow lines everywhere, so drivers are even less attentive than now; jaywalking is banned (another Cantrell issue); factories and extractionist polluters are finally forced to take care of their waste, and fracking toxicity is addressed, what is going to happen?
Another recent statistic is that 6 people per day die of alcohol poisoning. Why not ban drinking in bars, while council is still excited? Oh wait – that didn’t work out so well last time, did it?
Where are the 50,000 or 250,000 saved from death every year going to be? Scuba diving in Cozumel? Playing five-a-side in Barcelona? Heading for immortality? What am I missing? A certain percentage of the people are going to die every year and every day. From armed robbery, cop shooting, getting beaten to death in overcrowded prisons, domestic abuse, football injuries, “natural causes,” old age, a long list of diseases and imperial wars, a few million of us are going down every year.
A quote from Time magazine today:
Another analysis of studies found that when people walk just 1-74 minutes a week, they have a 19% reduced risk of death, compared to the most sedentary people.
This is common-or-garden journalese, and of course ridiculous. Pace the finest reasoning of David Hume and Karl Popper on the impossibility of reaching the level of Truth through inductive reasoning, as far as we know, every complex organism dies. Even if you walk, eat only Japanese food and join the right church, terrestrial immortality will elude you.
Journalistic standards in science writing are pretty low. Legislators passing laws to restrict liberty should be more careful. Whose liberty are they restricting? This is not like the Hobby Lobby injustice, where the Supremes gave the right to a family that follows a cult to restrict the liberty of thousands of others. This is council restricting the liberty not only of businesses, but of individuals. Even if they are right, by using the deceptive language of “saving lives” with unspecified outcomes, they are not living up to a high governmental standard, which really should be more careful than Time magazine.
The most dangerous effects of smoking are direct, on the smoker, not the bystander. Our new smoking ban does not stop people smoking. Some of the people it is designed to protect, such as employees of businesses that permit customers to smoke, are also smokers themselves. If we project the current trend forward, in about 5 years maybe 100 bars would still allow smoking indoors. So what really would have been the difference between the ban by statute and the ban by social evolution? My guess without an actuary on the case: statistical zero. But never mind: virtue has been served. LaToya of Arc’s banner flies high. The banning army celebrated victory, saying with a big win under their belts, they can now sally forth to convert the heathen in other Southern cities.
Some of the people behind the ban initiative feel this issue very personally, so they will think me insensitive to their great faith. In this instance, I really do not want to offend. Few are insensitive to their personal pain, but many don’t believe in their faith that this ban would have prevented it.
Personally, I will benefit from the ban. I don’t like smoky atmosphere in bars or anywhere. But this was the wrong issue at the wrong time. Maybe I will be proven wrong, but I see at least as much faith as science in it. It has the whiff of a gambit in a political program whose objective is to make us look modern and squeaky and quiet, like Denver or Portland, but without the marijuana. Louisiana will still want to sustain the War on Drugs so it carries idiotically on having the highest incarceration rate and percentage of people marginalized by the criminal justice machine in the civilized world.