Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I read about this phenomenon a couple weeks ago at Father Jim Tucker's Dappled Things, but the Washington Post has an article today: Hookah bars (click on headline above to see story).
A "hookah" is a water pipe, used for smoking. In this case, its for tobacco. As I recall, the hookah is a Turkish thing (as I was preparing a talk on the Crusades, I'm not feeling particularly warm about things Turkish, what with the fall of Constantinople fresh in my mind...but anyway).
Part of this is amusing. When I was a teenager, water pipes, aka "bongs," were used to smoke something more illicit; but, then again, what could be more illicit than smoking tobacco in a public place? It does look like a pleasant place, if the smoke won't bother you.
Part of this concerns me, however. I can't be all that sanguine about kids fresh out of high school pursuing smoking as a cool, trendy thing to do.
Then it dawned on me.
Wanna bet the tobacco industry is helping this along?
This is one of those issues where the Libertarian part of me and the moralist part of me go at it. No, I don't want smokers harrassed, taxed and sued, nor have I any patience for them suing the tobacco companies saying, "you tricked me!" or "you made me!" I don't particularly like public smoking bans and a lot of the mindset that goes with it.
On the other hand, smoking is a terrible thing for ones health. Oh, smoking an occasional cigar, and I guess a little pipe smoking, probably doesn't do too much harm. And in the interest of full disclosure, I used to enjoy cigars and a pipe. I gave it all up, not out of any great purpose, but that I found I didn't enjoy it anymore. Pipe smoking, in particular, is just too much trouble; and I found I got green from smoking cigars.
But pulling that stuff into ones lungs--I never understood how anyone could think that wouldn't be bad for a person.
And as for smoking bans, the one thing that recommends them to me is this: not the plight of the customer -- the customer in a business has no claim whatsoever, in my view, because he or she can go elsewhere, and also, the customer doesn't stay that long. No, my concern is for the employees who work in such establishments. Yes, they can "go elsewhere" too, but that's a harder thing to ask them to do.
I still oppose the laws, since I rather suspect the whole second-hand smoke thing is vastly overstated. I don't really know, and have no reason to do all the research; but we've all been burnt by junk, politicized, ideology-driven science in recent years, and I just don't take any of these claims on face value anymore.