Written by Austin Lewis
“Mind Your Business”
The Fugio cent, the first coin minted in the United States, bore those three words, oft-recited by Benjamin Franklin.
It seems that the time has come to remind people of that fact, yet again, since everyone seems to feel entitled to tell small business owners what to do with their bars and restaurants.
It’s the utmost hilarity to suggest that the vast minority of bars and restaurants in the Northern Kentucky region that allow people to smoke indoors are some sort of widespread problem that ‘needs’ ‘solving’ by legislation. Frankly, the only thing less conscionable than such a wild distortion of the impact of a minor phenomenon is the ‘tie-in’ of a stereotypical ‘but think of the children’ tale of a local mother and her 14-year-old daughter, as if people smoking cigarettes and cigars at the Bellevue Vets, and not failures elsewhere, allowed her to access vaping materials (possibly illegal ones, given how many articles about the family’s story talked about THC cartridges).
I would also point out that many bars and restaurants allow people to vape while there, including in jurisdictions where smoking indoors has been banned.
While on the topic of the Bellevue Vets, let’s talk about the ‘conservative’ Mayor of Bellevue Charlie Cleves. One can be glad he somehow found 100 people who told him it was great that he was telling three bars/restaurants in town they could no longer smoke indoors. One is left to wonder whether he ever actually showed up to the Bellevue Vets, or any other establishment, to ask impacted customers and business owners, managers, and bartenders how they felt, because it seems he went out of his way to avoid any such interaction.
And, while he’s busy patting himself on the back, it should be noted that in the jurisdictions on either side of Bellevue, there’s evidence that the CDC’s estimation of the damage done by forced cessation of smoking is about as accurate as anything else the CDC produces for public consumption. The article mentioned the Dayton business struggling since the ban signed by Dayton Mayor Ben Baker (himself a cigar smoker) but overlooks the drop in attendance at similar ‘dive bars’ in Newport since said businesses adopted ‘non-smoking’ policies.
Of course, the ‘slam-dunk’ claim that there’s no financial impact to the businesses comes from a link from the ‘scholarly’ website ‘tobaccofreekids.com,’ an advocacy organization, which draws that conclusion from a lot of (mostly advocacy organization-generated) research utilizing questionable methodology to reach a correlative conclusion (in instances where the links actually led anywhere at all, as many were invalid). What none of the methodology seems to look at is whether impacted bars and restaurants closed, switched owners, or simply stopped paying the lease and were replaced by another; it’s easier, instead, and takes less effort, to track revenue year over year, or employment numbers in the jurisdiction, and then say ‘well, the small minority of businesses we targeted didn’t suffer!’ As they’re seeing in Dayton, and are likely to see in Bellevue, the businesses probably will suffer, but Charlie Cleves doesn’t care; he was a jeweler, and he’ll tell you how to run your bar and serve your customers. One need only drive by the Bellevue Vets and see how empty the parking lot is since the smoking ban to realize that such claims simply don’t hold water.
Incidentally, if we’re talking about the health impact of businesses, at the turn of the century 3.7 million people were living in conflict zones with ongoing unrest and violence, funded by the sale of ‘conflict diamonds,’ which get mixed in with legally-mined diamonds prior to export from Africa. In a ten-year span, at least 50,000 people died in engagements funded by these diamonds in three African nations, to say nothing of those who died mining them.
Today, conflict diamonds don’t just fund regional warlords; they fund organizations like the Wagner Group. All so a few people could have a specific sparkly rock that wasn’t grown in a lab, one which holds almost no value once purchased from a jeweler.
Physician, heal thyself.
The worst part, though, is the moral busybodyism, the idea that because some people, even a majority of people, find something distasteful, they can, should, and even are righteous and should be celebrated for using force to ensure it’s nearly impossible to enjoy.
Former State Rep. John Linder has it right, while Kentucky Senator John Schickel (R-Union) forces one to question the value of an MPA in Northern Kentucky when it leaves a person involved in ‘Public Administration’ unaware that diabetics ARE a protected class under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and also unaware that alcoholics (those who have an addiction or dependency upon alcohol) are generally covered under the ADA, so long as their demand is not that they be allowed to drink on the clock.
If we’re going to take an even-handed stance on this busybodying, why not target really widespread phenomena? Massive fines for restaurants whose food can cause obesity, with additional fines per menu item that contains more than 800 calories per serving! Massive fines for ‘overserving’ drinkers in ways damaging to their long-term health (recent studies have suggested that drinking in general is correlated to increased likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease and various forms of dementia). Why, even fines for selling coffee, due to the possible link between cancers and acrylamide, a naturally-occurring compound in coffee.
What’s the harm to you, or to society, precisely? People will still be able to light cigarettes and cigars in the Bellevue Vets? Pepper Pod will remain a greasy spoon that’s also smoky? People will be doing things you disapprove of?
Good news! You can simply not go to such places. There were three places in Bellevue where one could actually smoke inside, one of which was a private organization with membership dues. You could go to one of the dozens of places that not only don’t allow smoking, but that were openly angling for the more family-friendly market, like Paul Shanley’s Molly Malones in Covington.
However, not everything has to be family and child-friendly or accessible. Indeed, not everything has to be accessible to you.
At the end of the day, the proper response to ‘I don’t like what they do in that restaurant’ shouldn’t be ‘so they should be forced to adhere to my whims.’ It should be ‘so I won’t go there,’ or ‘I won’t work there,’ or ‘I won’t spend a dollar there.’ If you don’t want to smoke, feel free not to. If you don’t want to be around smoking, feel free not to go to the tiny handful of bars and restaurants that have it. And if you don’t want your kids to smoke or vape, spend less time worrying about other people enjoying themselves, and more time being an involved parent.
Don’t kid yourself; most of America enjoys doing something that’s detrimental to their well-being. Many make their living doing such things. Rather than trying to control all that behavior, remember the Fugio cent, and its message: ‘Mind Your Business.’