According to an article in the July 31 edition of the Glendale News-Press (“Smoking ban still unsettled”), a few Glendale restaurant owners complained to the City Council that an outdoor restaurant smoking ban would push potential clients out of the city when a depressed economy is already impacting their bottom lines.
The complaints were predictable.
In any group of business owners, there will always be those few who act only from fear and selfishness.
But those restaurant owners’ assumptions are wrong.
I personally had been a regular customer of restaurants in Glendale for more than 50 years, but now eat out almost exclusively in Burbank, where the air is smoke-free.
The risk of business loss due to smoking bans is illusory.
Glendale can approve a full outdoor ban, knowing it will not hurt business, but better the health and life enjoyment for 82% of the city’s population who don’t smoke.
When it comes to smoking bans, smokers in the past have threatened to abandon businesses. This is similar to when smoking was prohibited inside offices, restaurants, theaters, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, hospitals, elevators, busses, trains and airplanes.
And then, the smokers have continued to buy.
But even if these few restaurant owners are right, and such a ban would cost them business, that is no reason to deny the ban.
A major responsibility of government is to protect the population from unscrupulous business people.
If not for courageous public servants, we would continue to have received bad meat and other food products from certain butchers, grocers and restaurants.
We would still find restaurants infested with rodents and insects.
We would still have boxes and cans of food with no indication of nutritional or harmful ingredients.
No doubt, every time a protecting health law was passed, a few business owners scream that the cost would negatively impact their bottom line.
But when they were forced to do what the moral business owners had been doing all along, they went on making the same profits as before.
Just because someone opens a business, they are not guaranteed the status quo won’t change.
To remain profitable, business owners must constantly reevaluate socioeconomic conditions. They often must reinvent themselves in order to prosper.
The complaining Glendale restaurant owners should be ashamed of themselves for demanding that more than 80% of the city’s citizens and visitors sacrifice their health and quality of life because of the owners’ baseless fears of lost business.
Smokers are addicts who will smoke anywhere they can and will only refrain in locations where they are prevented to do so by an enlightened, forward-looking body of lawmakers.
I hope the City Council shows strength of character to adopt a strong comprehensive smoking ban at, among other places, outdoor eating areas, and is not bullied by a few loud misguided business people in the city.
ROBERT PHIPPS is a Burbank resident.