If there were any lingering questions about the efficacy of my website’s weekly Mini-Polls in starting conversations, the volume of responses and comments the polls have received would settle it.
This week’s topic — views about a smoking ban — has already drawn a couple thousand responses and more than a hundred emailed comments.
Although the overall poll results are skewing towards support of some sort of regulation of smoke, the emailed comments are more evenly divided. Almost all of them are polite and heartfelt; a few are extremely impolite and heartfelt. All of them get read. Most of them get responses (not everyone is willing to send along a valid email address).
Most of the people who send comments supporting a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance cite concerns about their own family’s health or the health of workers in bars and restaurants. A few are angry about their dry cleaner bills.
Those sending comments opposing a smoking ban have more arguments. They worry about property rights, the prohibition of a legal activity they enjoy, encroaching government, the cost of enforcement, the economic impact on local businesses, and the existence of a secret (apparently, not-so-secret) "cartel" that has made a smoking ban its credo. Some of them doubt the rigor of the science behind studies showing the dangers of second-hand smoke; and others are sure that air filtration technology works as well as prohibition.
This is just the sort of discussion that should occur at the Board of Aldermen when Ald. Lyda Krewson’s bill is heard.