Thursday, October 18, 2007

Smoking Ban Implemented: Minorities Hardest Hit

The City Pages would like us to feel sorry for some of the unintended victims of the state's new smoking ban.

Here's one of them fancy hyper links so you can read it yourself:

Sounds strange, don't it? Why would a notoriously left wing paper want us to feel sorry for business owners?

Perhaps because business owners are getting hosed by this meddling in their commerce. Or because VFWs and other neighborhood bars may be shuttered due to this onerous legislation.

No, that doesn't fit any tidy lefty template. But when a minority group is involved, NOW we've got a story!

A centuries-old tradition in the Middle East--think corner bars with water pipes and backgammon instead of beer and darts--hookah bars have in recent years gained popularity in the Twin Cities and beyond, embraced by recent immigrants and college students alike. But thanks to Minnesota's smoking ban, which took effect October 1, they are in all likelihood a thing of the past here.

Correct me, but wasn't tipping pints and smoking also a centuries-old tradition in...America?

So why does it only rise to the level of an article when a minority group is involved?

Daniel Disrud, an environmental health specialist with Anoka County who has met recently with owners of hookah bars, says they have been put in an unfair position.

"The rules were changed on them," he says. "The ban affects how they are going to have to operate the most."

Ummm...the rules were changed on everyone across the board. All business owners. Some of whom I'm sure relied on smokers as much if not more than the hookah bars. Ever been to a Legion hall?

"It's so sad," Sakallah says. "They're killing our culture."

Again I'm not sure why non-American cultures seem to have more intrinsic worth and should be honored more, but that is the theme of the piece.

It's an argument that Mohamed Hassan, owner of Pyramids Cafe, has trouble understanding. Last Tuesday, one day after Minnesota's smoking ban went into effect, Hassan sat forlornly in the corner of his once-bustling Columbia Heights store. It was still early, but he'd already sent home one of his three waitresses. Soon, he says, he'll have to start laying them off.

Hassan, a thin man with deep-set, piercing eyes, bought the place less than a year ago for $100,000. To do so, he refinanced his house and took out a small-business loan.
"Forget my culture," he says. "The government gave me the loan for this business. How am I going to pay it back?"

Oh, I'm sure they will think of some way of letting you out of the deal. Now some poor schlub in Northeast Minneapolis who sadly happens to be from Polish stock? (shivers) I don't think he will be so lucky.

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