I've gotten quite a few questions the past two days after PPP released their poll results on the smoking ban wondering how their results were basically the opposite of ours.
Well, it's all a matter of wording the question.
The thing is, smoking on its own is never going to poll well based on sheer numbers and emotion. 77 percent of the population doesn't smoke, so naturally a large percentage of that group is going to be in favor of any type of smoking restriction. So if you ask people should we ban smoking in bars and restaurants, as PPP did, I would expect somewhere close to 77 percent to say yes (the percentage equal to the incidence of non-smoking in the population)
What is interesting, however, is that only 64 percent said we should ban it in bars and restaurants. Banning smoking polled 13 points behind the percentage of people who smoke. So it vastly underperformed as a policy position.
When we polled the smoking ban, we took a different twist, we asked if bar and restaurant owners should be free to set their own smoking policy, so long as it is clearly posted on the entrance to the establishment. 62 percent said yes. Almost the exact inverse of PPP's numbers.
To say there is a "consensus" on the smoking ban as PPP attempted to do yesterday is pretty far fetched. There is a majority of non-smokers who don't want to be bothered by second-hand smoke. But a large number of those voters understand the rights of businesses to operate how they see fit.
That's why I still believe the best solution is to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants unless the establishment "opts-in" and clearly posts that it is a smoking allowed facility on each entrance. Non-smokers are then given information to make a decision on where to go, and the rights of private businesses to allow a consenting legal activity to take place is also protected.