Katie [userpic]
Austin Election Results and Smoking Ban Info
City Council Races:
Place 1: Lee Leffingwell (whom we all love dearly) 62.35%
Place 4: Betty Dunkerley (whom Kathryn loves dearly) 63.51%
Place 3... four very qualified people ran for this race and there will be a run off between Margot Clarke and Jennifer Kim. The results are:
Jennifer Kim - 27.25%
Margot Clarke - 40.36%
Mandy Dealey - 11.20%
Gregg Knaupe - 21.29%

Smoking Ban: Passed, 51.83% for, 48.17% against
Expanding ACC coverage: Passed, 79.40% for, 20.60% against

Ahh, the Smoking Ban. Besides the place 3 race for City Council, this was probably the most controversial issue during this election. It will ban smoking in all bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and billiard halls by Sept 1 and prohibit smoking within 15 ft of any public building entrances. Bingo parlors, any 'fraternal' organizations (not public), and restaurants with restricted permits can still allow smoking.

I supported the smoking ban. It was also supported by the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, Central Texas Oncology Nursing Society, Travis County Medical Society, University Democrats and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

A vote against the smoking ban is a vote against Lance Armstrong!! (j/k guys, I know lots of people who would actually love to vote against Lance Armstrong... like Patrick) Sara Hickman, who is a popular musician in Austin although I don't know how popular she is in other cities, also supports the ban. Not that that's a good reason to support it (always remember celebrities are just as stupid as normal people), it's just interesting.

Second-hand smoke causes 35,000 to 40,000 deaths per year from heart disease in adults who are not current smokers and about 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in otherwise healthy nonsmokers. In Travis County, 115 people die every year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. Yes, the ban infringes upon people's rights to smoke in public places. Yes, people smoking in public places infringes upon the right for everyone to have clean air. Which right is more important: clean air for everyone or carcinagens proven to be fatal and addictive?

For: http://www.onwardaustin.org/index.htm
Against: http://www.keepaustinfree.com/ (yes, a little late, I understand... whatever)
Election Results: http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20050507/enight_results.pdf


hey. i like you, i think like you, and i like that you use your lj as a political sounding board. i really do... and i philosophically and practically agree with you about this smoking issue.

but do i object to the way you're framing the issue... so... i hope that you understand my good intention and don't think i'm arrogantly trying to correct you. i just think it might be something that hasn't crossed your mind before.

is it really fair to ask "which right is more important: clean air for everyone or for carginogens proven to be fatal and addictive?"? i mean... i don't think any remotely reasonable person is going to vote for a law that says "we believe in the right to inhale carginogens that are fatal and addictive" you know? to me, it's kind of like when republicans say "which is more important: calling george bush a liar or saving countless numbers of oppressed iraqi civilians?"

no democrat, green, anarchist or communist will ever say that it is a bad idea to save people.
similarly, i think that there aren't any people who oppose the ban on smoking thinking that they have a constitutionally granted right to cake their lungs with tar.

it seems like through this reasoning we could fall into the trap that the supreme court often falls into... the trap that they fell into with bowers v hardwick, the case from georgia about homosexual sodomy which lawrence v texas overturned. the facts of the case were that two private, consenting adults had been arrested, somehow, for engaging in homosexual acts. the two parties sued on equal protection and due process grounds. the court said something like hey, clearly there's nothing found in the equal protection or due process clauses granting adults the right to sodomize each other, so of course the government behaved well in this case.

they framed the issue so narrowly that it ignored and silenced, for some time, the bigger constitutional and moral issue underlying the claims of each party, the issue of the right to privacy. so i think i'm just suggesting that there might be a broader right that smokers are looking for in voting against a ban, perhaps the right to privacy.

i think the government has been sufficiently granted police powers in the constitution to regulate health, safety, morals, and welfare. how else could the government justify seatbelt laws and osha standards, or outlaw the extremely dangerous illicit drugs? that's why smoking bans are okay and good. i also think that a smoking ban doesn't inherently destroy the right to smoke. we say to smokers, "it's not my desicion whether or not you smoke. you might like the taste, the thrill, the glamour, whatever. i'm not in the business of running your life. just please don't smoke in a way that could be detrimental to the health of others around you, and please be considerate of your fellow texas/americans who have chosen not to smoke. smoke at home, smoke in your car, smoke in your yard, just don't smoke in what we limitedly define as 'public'"

but i just want to highlight the potential good intentions of those who really believe in individual autonomy. i don't think the government through this law is trying to extend its long arm of authority in an effort to keep pacified those who they disagree with. i think they really are trying to help people be more healthy, but i just really also sympathize with those who don't perhaps fully understand these intentions. the most compelling thing for me might come from the keepaustinfree site where they quote c.s. lewis:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

food for thought for me, and for everyone i hope.

i would argue that the reason one can make a law about smoking is that it allows one person to make a choice that takes away other people's ability to make a similar choice - that is, to inhale cigarette smoke. it is fine to inhale cigarette smoke and damage your own lungs, but it is not fine to do it in an enclosed public area where you force others to do the same. i think this is closer to what is said in katie's last paragraph, not that the decision is all about what is healthier - it's about people's ability to choose to be healthy. it's possible that i have misinterpreted that, though.

similarly, i think that there aren't any people who oppose the ban on smoking thinking that they have a constitutionally granted right to cake their lungs with tar.

first, the constitution doesn't grant rights, it protects them. i think we probably agree on that and it is just a slight language error.
secondly, i think people do have a right to cake their lungs with tar, they just don't have the right to cake the lungs of whoever happens to be nearby.

i think the government has been sufficiently granted police powers in the constitution to regulate health, safety, morals, and welfare.

i don't think this should be the case - morals are for people to decide upon, not governments, so the law should serve to allow for the maximum freedom of people to be able to make this choice. as for seatbelt laws, the only reason i can think to argue for them is in the case of children - who, not really being able to make decisions for themselves, need to have decisions made for them by adults and should therefore be required to wear seatbelts.

the constitution doesn't grant rights, it protects them

Pssh, not the Texas constitution! ;)

they just don't have the right to cake the lungs of whoever happens to be nearby.

Amen! I'm glad I've got people who can reword what I ment to say to make it clearer.

as for seatbelt laws
This is where we disagree. People who don't put on seat belts are stupid. Stupid people have a right a live too. The difference between this and tabacco is that I don't think smokers are necessarily stupid... they're addicted. But that's another argument. :)

i do think that the constitution both grants and protects right. i think the privileges and immunities clause in the 14th amendment grants us things like the right to freely assemble, speak, worship, and petition the government (privileges) and protects us from the government if they want to establish a state church or come into our bedrooms while we're sodomizing each other. (immunities) in all seriousness, the courts have held that contraception, family choices, and education all fall under the category of immunity... so that does exist, buti don't think a single court has held that the right to smoke is either a privilege or an immunity.

i agree with the rest, too.

please be considerate of your fellow texas/americans who have chosen not to smoke

This is exactly what I was trying to say, you just have more eloquence than I do. I know I'm pretty biased and unfair to the other side, which is why I did my best to include facts and not my own crazy opinions. Cause really, I think tabacco should be illegal, but that's a whole other subject.

The Lewis quote is very good, and I do understand the other side of the argument that some people want to smoke, it's legal, and they want to do it in public. But I object to characterizing this as an "omnipotent moral busybody" issue. That's what homosexual marriage is. That's what abortion is. But this is an issue about something that has been scientifically proven over and over again to kill people. Killing people (and killing yourself) is against the law.

My viewpoint is that people should be able to go anywhere they want and not have to be subjected to something that is potentially fatal (and generally unhealthy). I tried to make my argument "pro-non-smoker" and not "anti-smoker", although I understand my last statement might be taken that way.

There was actually a pretty funny commercial running here before the elections that started with "The smoking ban is brought to you by the same people who brought you the seat-belt law, the helmet law, and [blah blah blah other public safety laws" When I first heard it, I thought it was going to be pro smoking ban. Because (according to a TxDPS commercial about seat belts currently running) putting on a seat belt increases your chances of survival in a crash 80%. That's good, right? But apparently it takes away your right to live the dangerous/stupid life, so some people don't like said public safety laws. And I think that's a little funny. [At least when you don't were your seat belt, you don't endanger those around you]

yeah. i think the lewis quote is fairly problematic, because the logic we use to make people not smoke and not wear seatbelts is the same logic that republicans use in their parental notification/consent laws and waiting period requirements. they say something to the effect of "we are protecting teenagers from making desicions they certainly will regret later in life"

the difference, i think, is that the smoking question doesn't concern issues that revolve around what exactly life is. my philosophy on reproductive freedom is, who better than the people who are living through these struggles to determine what happens in their body? the government doesn't understand, so the government doesn't get to decide.

with smoking though, it's an outside force that is plaguing living humans, something that is affecting life, not defining it, so the government can regulate that outside force - smoking in this case. there is massively accumulated evidence about how smoking kills people; there must be a compelling government interest in saving lives from smoke inhalation. i'm just not sure that it is so compelling on the issue of reproduction, since the evidence conflicts left and right.

overall, does anyone disagree that smoking is, on many levels, bad for you? i don't think so, so i think the ban is ok, in light of the fact that we need a benevolent government that is interested in the plight of its citizens

the logic we use to make people wear seatbelts, i meant

there is massively accumulated evidence about how smoking kills people; there must be a compelling government interest in saving lives from smoke inhalation.

i dunno, i still think people are perfectly within their own rights to destroy their own lungs or whatever else of their own that they want to destroy. the only issue with smoking is in public places where others are forced to inhale the smoke whether they want to or not. and the seatbelts and suicide still don't make sense to me either (as long as you're not committing suicide by jumping off of a cathedral onto people walking below or blowing yourself up in a crowd, and as long as you don't sue a car company because you flew out the window because you weren't wearing your seatbelt) for adults. i think it's just asking people to be considerate of others who might value their lungs, etc. i think tobacco and all drugs should be legal as long as you don't endanger anyone else while using them (sort of like how alcohol is handled)

i don't think the law can grant us any rights or freedom - it seems to mainly be there to put a check on our freedom to make sure we are allowing for everyone else to live how they want to, and to provide some services that also help this same cause.



I love her too!