Educational Articles Additional articles can be found at GASP of Colorado

Response To The Restaurant Association's Arguments (1985)

Written in 1985

Don Quinn, director of the local Restaurant Association wrote, "As in most of the positions we take in regard to governmental interference, our position on this matter is clear: that the private owner and manager is best equipped to size up his clientele and to accommodate guests properly." Further in the article he states, "We believe that no outsiders should be able to insist on the methods of operation of the establishment any more than they should be able to set the prices on the menu or demand a different brand of milk be served."

Since GASP first began publishing restaurant guides in 1978, there has been a big increase in the number of restaurants all over Colorado. Yet even though the number of restaurants has increased dramatically, the percentage of restaurants offering nonsmoking areas to the public throughout Colorado has not. At the same time, the number of people quitting smoking is on the increase. The latest national polls now show that 72% of the adult population in the United States does not smoke.

Voluntary Approach Does Not Work!

The hospitality industry in Colorado feels that restaurateurs should enact nonsmoking provisions on a voluntary basis. Yet most restaurateurs are continuing to sit on their hands--as demonstated by the fact that there has not been a significant increase in the percentage of restaurants providing nonsmoking areas on a voluntary basis in Colorado. The restaurant associations are not doing much to encourage the implementation of nonsmoking sections in restaurants, either. The Colorado Restaurant Association continues to advocate the voluntary position on the one hand, while on the other hand it fails to present restaurateurs with information on the advantages, popularity, and success of providing nonsmoking areas.

More people than ever are going out to eat. Experts agree that this is primarily due to our changing lifestyles, such as more couples working, etc. The more often we eat out in smoke-filled restaurants, the greater our exposure to secondhand smoke, and the greater the risk of becoming ill from breathing tobacco smoke pollution. The key issue is the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of the general public, and not the hospitality arguments presented by the restaurant association. Those arguments seem to thrive on mimicking the tobacco industry's tactic of distracting the public attention from the health issues.

On Government Interference

Without government in our lives, we would have total chaos and anarchy. In a democracy there is a need for some level of government protection. Without this protection people would be able to do whatever they pleased no matter how it affected others. This protection benefits everybody in the long run--consumer and business owner. For instance, if the government did not have any health regulations to cover the foods and beverages restaurateurs purchase to serve their customers, there would probably be many more outbreaks of botulism, food poisoning, and other diseases.

In our society, we try to control all the dangerous elements. Murderers are imprisoned because they constitute a threat to our welfare. We don't allow people to poison our water if we can avoid it, and the same thing should go for our air. Government has a right and an obligation to protect the health, welfare, and safety of its citizens.

Restaurateurs often say that the public should not be able to dictate methods of operation or what brand of milk a restaurant serves. Yet if a brand of milk or a method of operation is making customers ill or affecting their health, it is within the public interest and the responsibility of the restaurant owner to remove or correct the source of the problem.

In many instances, we would agree with the objective of reducing some "government interference", but not when it comes to something that affects the health of the public. The bottom line is that restaurateurs have accepted the implementation of other public health measures as necessary aspects of their business. Preventing the risk and danger of breathing the 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, many of which are toxic or carcinogenic, deserves equal protection and should be considered from the same perspective.

(Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution)

* While some of this is outdated, there are many good points.

Working towards creating a safe and healthy workplace free of tobacco smoke.