Friday, March 30, 2007

Ban bans

Here is the down low. I value my freedoms of making decisions more than whatever is the current ban buzz. If I think that something is bad I have the ability myself to avoid the bad situation/product. The problem is that some people works everybody up on some pseudo-science and then they gets the public support for their pet ban. This is not a good idea. Take the following examples.

The "in" thing right now is for cities to ban smoking in public places. This is because "innocent" people (who choose to go to the restaurant or work at the restaurant) have to breathe the second hand smoke. People have been told that second hand smoke is very dangerous, when in fact if you look at the sighted studies most find that there is no statistical (real) effect on health with second hand smoke. If we really want to save lives let's ban alcohol. Alchol kills more innocent people than second hand smoke does. But since everyone drinks and not everyone smokes it is easier to ban smoking. And everyone has warm fuzzies inside because they are doing "the right thing".

The next hot topic is banning incandescent light bulbs. The reasoning is that light bulbs is a one cause in the release of green house gases that possibly leads to the ill-named "global warming." (It is a different post about why global warming is a bad label for what the scientists mean -global climate change.) But I have have a better solution, instead of banning cheap lighting for people lets ban bottled water. So much energy goes into making something that already comes out of the tap (which you can put your own filter on). It is really insane that people that are "champions for the environment" also drink bottled water. But I guess they only want to ban things that will not inconvenience them, just other people.

The real problem is that these bans will not stop, once something is banned they will move on the the next hot topic. I can see that we want to protect people in the workplace, so they don't want smoking, but it will not end there. What about high fat diets (already working on those bans), what about high sugar diets (started there too). What if Jenette finds that sound-making toys do reduce dramatic play, should we ban toys that make sound? It sounds stupid now but what if a movement gets going and starts to rally for that ban?

And that is what this all comes down to. I don't want to inhale second hand smoke, so I tent to go to restaurants that do not allow smoking, in fact I don't go to Bobby T's anymore becasue of the smoking there. But it was the restaurants choice to not allow smoking. I had hallogen bulbs in my home, but that is because of my choice. (I stoped getting them besuace the lamp that I put them in burned through them much quicker than normal light bulbs.) I avoid unnecessary fat and sugar in my diet. So if I want an extra large soda, or fries I can have it. The goverment should not be our babysitter. And with every ban that is passed we have one less freedom, and that is not the way America should be.

So go ahead and post why I am wrong. I know that for some contrary people out there that just the fact that I posted that bans are wrong will now make you believe that bans are the best thing ever, and that is ok. Just keep in mind that I think that people can think for themselves and that I value freedom. Try to form your rebuttal within that framework. If you can't that is fine, but realize that I already know that some people think that the government need to protect people at all costs, so I don't need to hear that one.


hockeyfrog said...

At least you're not totally bashing the idea of Australia's and the incandescent bulbs... From what I've read, the reasoning behind it was for several reasons: yes, it will save energy. This in turn saves people money (despite the slightly higher cost of the bulbs, the MythBusters proved that it indeed saves you money to use them). Also, there would be more jobs available still after giving all those incandescent bulb makers their jobs back, retooling them to make compact fluorescents. Besides, there will still be some uses for incandescents that have not been completely banned, like low wattage appliance bulbs and the like. And yes, it also was to cut down on greenhouse gasses, produced from the formation of electricity being used to operate them. Being a person of larger stature myself, we tend to sweat more. I don't need the Earth getting warmer and more humid from the ice caps melting and flooding out NYC to help me with that part!

Otherwise, bans tend to be a little silly. Of course, I could start my rant about not upholding a ban, causing people to get mad at you when its not your fault, but thats another time and place.

Ookami Snow said...

I'm not against the idea of switching from regular bulbs to more efficient ones, I am against government banning the latest hot topic.

It obviously is a good idea to not use more energy, besides costing more it is just wasteful. But it should be left to citizens to be the ones that switch.

I didn't hear about you having to uphold a ban... I don't think we have too many here in Manhattan.

Valerie said...

I have mixed feelings about the smoking bans. On the one hand, restaurant and bar owners ought to be able to decide whether they want to allow smoking. However, ever since they banned smoking in restaurants & bars in my county, I've realized that it's soooooo nice to walk out of a place and not have my clothes reek. I've never been that concerned about secondhand smoke and my health--for me it was the fact that I absolutely HATE cigarette smoke (and cigar smoke even more. Pipe tobacco I can deal with, for some reason).

They just started a ban in D.C., and I was so pleased that my friends and I came out of a bar last weekend smelling just as fresh as when we walked in. That's a really nice benefit. I'll have to take that over the owners' rights. The Maryland legislature is trying to ban smoking in public spaces for the whole state--this should be intersting!

Think Frustrated said...

The bottled water thing is very true. The petrolium and energy that goes into manufacturing the bottles, and the fuel used to ship them is the biggest waste of energy and resources.

Braveharte said...

First of all I think you are wrong about the lack of statistical significance in Second hand smoking. In my 5 minute search of PubMed, I found many studies with statistical significance linking second hand smoke to lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, increased asthma, inability of the body to heal wounds, and increased problems in pregnancy.

Next I think that you have no problem with many of the bans that the government put in place... Why can't I go out in nude in public? Why can't I do illegal drugs? Or go any speed that I want to on the highway? Are these bans a terrible government oppression? In fact, if people have the ability to think for themselves and make good decisions, then why have laws at all? People should have the right to do whatever they want! I doubt you believe this... So where do you draw the line?

A side note... they do have a ban on alcohol and driving (which is what I assume you are referencing when you talk about innocent people dying).

The government puts a ban on something when they feel that it causes significant risk to other people or to the environment (which affects all people). Let's think of other historic bans... asbestos, DDT, CFC's, leaded gasoline, lead paint... We could go on and on. Are these terrible infringements on the rights of the people? No, they have helped save the lives of people and animals alike. Many people are too stupid and short-sighted (or uninformed) to make good decisions. Most people think only about themselves and the immediate impact of their action and not about what impact their actions might have on others or at a later time. We need someone to protect us from ourselves (and to protect us from others).

Ookami Snow said...

@Braveharte- I have also found studies that link second hand smoking to lung cancer, unfortunately when I look at the statistics they are not statistically significant.

This is what really started me caring about smoking bans. I took a look at the study that the American Heart Association was championing to say that second hand smoking was bad. The study was a compilation of many studies about the subject, unfortunately almost all of the studies found no significant increase in risk in death among people that live with smokers that do not smoke themselves (This was the main focus of the study). As a matter of fact one of the most statistically significant results showed that kids actually had a much lower chance of getting lung cancer if they lived with a parent that smoked (strange huh)?

Anyways, this combined with my newfound knowledge of knowing how researchers will try to bend the numbers in favor of what they are trying to prove, and the general lack of statistical knowledge, made me jaded toward the risks of second hand smoke.

To further this problem Lawrence specifically cited a study in which no statistical significance was found to push their smoking ban in restaurants. Now cities around Kansas are looking at Lawrence's actions are reasons to ban the annoyance of smokers. So we are getting a whole state of smoking bans based off of one statistically insignificant study.

You can probably see why I take my stance on the numbers. I tried to find the report again but the AHA redid their website and i can not find any research anymore. I can only find summaries. I found a study that the WHO did and again very little statistical significance was found. Although the surgeon general has a study up that has a little more significant results, although these are usually for specific chemicals to be found in the blood, and not actually about links to second hand smoke and death or illness.

Anyways, I got to thinking about why these bans are getting to me, and one thing that it really it comes down to the flimsiness of the science that proponents are using to push the issue. I think that is really why I have a problem with this. And the more studies I read about second hand smoke the less convinced I am that we need to ban it.

The light bulb thing is more a pain because there are many things that we could do to improve the environment. That topic just has legs because it is (was) an election year.

But really it comes down to the last line in your comment. I do not want to have the government come in and protect me. I drank three Vaults in a 24hour period, I am sure that if we did a study we would find that drinking that much Vault in a short time is very dangerous and should be banned, possibly by limiting the amount of soda that can be purchased in a time period. It could be done, and I am sure that if we keep trying to "protect" everybody from everything it will happen eventually.

I think people that want to kill themselves should be able to, and those that are bit smarter can live happy freedom filled lives.

Braveharte said...

Cardiovascular Effects of Secondhand Smoke
Nearly as Large as Smoking
Joaquin Barnoya, MD, MPH; Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2006 Nov-Dec;21(6):457-62.

This is a nice meta-analysis reviewing the statistically significant results on shs and cardiovascular problems.

One for lung cancer...

Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Volume 608, Issue 2 , 28 September 2006, Pages 157-162

The relevant paragraph from the lung cancer review...

SHS is an established human carcinogen [12]. Over 50 epidemiological studies have reported relative risk (RR) of lung cancer for second-hand smoking; a recent meta-analysis of epidemiological studies of lung cancer and adult exposure to environmental tobacco smoke was conducted, resulting in RRs of 1.22 (95% CI 1.12–1.32) in women and 1.36 (95% CI 1.02–1.82) in men from spousal exposure and of 1.15 (95% CI 1.05–1.26) in women and 1.28 (95% CI 0.88–1.84) in men from workplace exposure [12]. Other meta-analyses have reached similar results [13] and [14]. In a large-scale European study of lung cancer, the proportion of never-smokers ever exposed to SHS among controls was 13% in men and 63% in women for spousal exposure and 71% in men and 47% in women for workplace exposure [15]. In a pooled analysis of case–control studies conducted in six European countries, 29% of lung cancers in women and 2% in men occur among never-smokers [16]. Based on these data, the annual numbers of cases attributable to spousal SHS are 175 in men and 2075 in women; the corresponding figures for workplace SHS are 649 cases among men and 1122 cases among women (Table 2). These figures correspond to 1.6% of all lung cancers. The evidence of a causal association between ETS exposure and cancers in organs other than the lung is inconclusive [12].

Additionally, it is not as though the big bad government is placing these smoking bans on us... almost all of them are voted upon as a public mandate. In GCK, the public voted... and thus it became law.

I understand your pain with public hype and misunderstandings of science... Good god... there are so many things that are not based on science (bans on silicon breast implants for example). I think however that this one has a pretty good scientific basis (at least from the studies I glanced at which admittedly were few).

The government does not believe you can kill yourself (as evidenced by the fact that attempting suicide is illegal...). Furthermore, it is not just about killing yourself, it is about hurting other people.

Why are the rights of the smokers greater than my own? They can smoke on their own time. They do not have to smoke at restaurants... Their stupid decisions to smoke hurt me (if nothing else they have given me an asthma attack). Why should I go eat somewhere else because they are stupid? Doesn't seem like a good plan of freedom to me...

Irene said...

Both arguments have value and I found myself nodding my head reading both. It depends on the fact or angle you are looking at it from. I totally agree we should have the right to decide what is best for a point. I also agree government has an obligation to protect it's a point. But where do the two lines meet? I think being informed is the best tool any person has to make a decision. Sad so many do not seek facts or information and sad so many purposely distort facts and information. So how to tell fact from fiction? That is something we can argue over because it is again, a personal opinion. Overall I still, with all the bad and good, rather be an American living in America than anyone or anyplace else in the world. I think it's good that someone can start a ban, and someone can argue it's wrong. Again, freedom. I'd like to think that even if a ban is brought up by the public, that the individual researches it before they chose to just follow the crowd. For those who don't it is there loss, After all public opinon isnt always my opinion, but I respect the fact that they CAN have an opinion differnt than mine. Government bans I believe are placed with the theory it is best for all. Some are, some arent. wont that always be someones opinion? I bet for every law I believe essential, someone else believes stupid. The nice thing is, in America, we can disagree with eachother, both privately and publicly without fear. so go ahead guys, Argue on, it's fun to read!