Monday, October 27, 2003

Productive Weekend 

That was an interesting weekend.

We're trying to finalize our starting menu and how many people we will need to hire because that impacts strongly on what we'll need for start-up.

And we discussed insurance needs and smoking policies.

Smoking regulations are insane - they attempt to protect the very few, very vocal people who don't want anyone to smoke. Ever. For any reason. Control freaks.

Mind you, neither Manager nor I smoke (that's a very expensive addiction, one we're glad we don't have). And I personally detest how filthy smokers tend to be, dropping their ashes and cigarette butts where-ever they want to and rarely inside the ashtrays provided for them. It's easy to train smoker-friends to clean up after themselves. It shouldn't be any more difficult to train cistomers to be responsible tidy people - at least in our establishment.

However, because cigarette smoke will definitely detract from the wonderful fragrances of our breads and cookies, we agree that smoking where the food is prepared and on display is a Very Bad Idea. This doesn't mean that smokers have no rights. We want to provide a smoking area. By law, though, we can't. All food establishments must be smoke-free within it, and within 100 feet of the entrances. This means we can't even provide a smoking porch for our smoking customers.

That's wrong.

People who smoke have as much right to enjoy our bakery as people who don't.

This is a dilemma we will have to resolve at some point, and may mean getting involved in legislation.

Smoking itself is not illegal. It may be a Bad Idea, but so are a lot of things, like trying to use fireplace tongs as arc welders, but it's not illegal. To me, this means it can be carried out pretty much anywhere if courtesy is observed - the "Do you mind if I smoke?" and accepting "Yes" gracefully. And there are areas where smoking is not suitable - around babies and small, running children (I've seen children burned who ran into a lit cigarette held low by the smoker. Had the smoker simply kept the cigarette near her face, no one would have been hurt.), in food preparation areas, in hospitals, and anywhere where sparks or flame would be hazardous. Those make sense. But to ban smokers everywhere, from bars (where you expect people to smoke) to public parks is insane. Smokers are no longer allowed to smoke indoors, and now those radical non-smokers are trying to get smokers banned from smoking outside. That's just wrong. Non-smokers do not have more rights than smokers.

If there is an allergy (a real one, not some faked up one) then it is the responsibility of the person with the allergy to either take medication to reduce the allergy or to avoid those things which set off the allergy. It is not the responsibility of the rest of hte world to make the world as hypo-allergenic as possible. That is too much of a burden to put on everybody else.

And what it does for retailers - the added costs and expenses of banning smokers, the reduced profits, the ill-will engendered by rude non-smokers (and I've met more rude non-smokers than smokers), and the all of the other burdens non-smokers demand retailers bear is just unconscionable.

But - we have to deal with it, and come up with some way to make it work in our bakery. There's got to be some compromise.

I hope we find it.

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