Quick updates on Kentucky, New York smoking ban

Here’s something you don’t see every day. In Newport, Kentucky (a suburb of Cincinnati), a county board overturned a smoking ban that never took effect. The county board had two or three new members voted on it in the November election and they immediately vowed to overturn a decision the previous board had just approved. Weird. You don’t see many local boards overturn local smoking bans. It’s only the second or third one I can remember.

The issue was highly contentious, with six public hearings held on it to packed audiences. More than 140 people spoke.

People care about smoking bans.

New York Times comes out against city’s strict smoking ban
Oh, oh, Jackhole won’t like this! 🙂
The New York City Council extended the city’s already fairly strict smoking ban to parks and beaches, something I honestly will be pretty hard to enforce in a city of 7 million. The New York Times, surprisingly to me, took issue with the extended smoking ban, saying Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council had “overreached.”
The NYT opined:

Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do — take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?

Anyway, I’m actually all for beach bans because of the mess cigarette butts make. Park bans are a tougher nut. Like I said, the biggest problem with it is good luck enforcing that ban.

Las Vegas hotel charged $20 extra per night … for a non-smoking room


OK, sorry, this was just FLAT STUPID.

A hotel in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, was actually charging non-smokers a surcharge of $20 a night for a non-smoking room. A surcharge for non-smoking. REALLY? That’s insane.

I guess the hotel management didn’t bother looking into how much smoking costs in extra cleaning costs to their carpet, walls, air ducts, furniture, etc. If anything, the surcharge should be charged to the smokers, not the non-smokers. From an economic standpoint, MGM Grande, it makes sense to reward non-smokers, not punish them.

What’s cute is after this was publicized by a Chicago Tribune columnist, the hotel immediately stopped the practise. Ah, the power of the press.

Court shoots down Jackson, Wyoming smoking ban


A state court in Wyoming overturned Teton County (Jackson’s) smoking ban, saying it violated the state constitution. This ban, implemented over a year ago, had been tied up in courts for months.

Essentially, the problem is one of process. The ban was imposed by the Teton County Board of Health, an appointed board. The judge ruled that only an elected entity, such as a city council or county board of commissioners, can impose such a ban according to the state constitution. I don’t know of any other bans around the country that were imposed by an appointed board, rather than an elected one.

So bans in Cheyenne and Laramie remain in place. Apparently, the Teton County board and Jackson council had declined to impose smoking bans, so the board of health took the reins in its teeth.

The county board of health says they will appeal. From a legal standpoint, they might not have that strong of a case.

Fuck you, GQ

And when I say, “Fuck you, GQ,” I do mean, go fuck yourselves…

GQ this month is featuring the “most cool athletes of all time” on its covers. Who was on the cover of GQ in OUR town. Arnold Palmer … smoking a cigarette … with a big headline “The Coolest Athletes Ever.” Remember, this is a magazine that anyone of any age can buy, too.

I’m sure there were lots and lots and LOTS of perfectly good photos available of Arnold Palmer NOT smoking.

Go fuck yourself, GQ. Jesus fucking Christ, in this day and fucking age, still equating smoking with “cool.”

Shaun Hill’s father dies in a tragic accident


On our refrigerator we have an autographed photo of Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill. Pepe liked him when he played for the 49ers and he met someone on HP, I will keep his name private if he wishes, who actually knows Shaun. He was at Shaun’s wedding and coached him when he was in Little League.

Shaun Hill was a star quarterback in a little town in Kansas, and wasn’t recruited to many colleges, so he had to play at a junior college. He got his big chance at the University of Maryland. As a senior, he led his team to a 10-2 record and the Orange Bowl — and Maryland almost never plays in big bowl games. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t recruited much.

Then, he wasn’t drafted in the NFL. He made the Minnesota Vikings’ roster as a free agent, then moved on to the 49ers. He got a chance to play there, starting the last month of the season in 2007. He started nine games in 2008, putting up solid numbers (2,000 yards in a little more than half a season, 13 TDs and 8 interceptions, for a quarterback rating of 87.5, which is excellent.)

Despite his good year, the 49ers were committed to their No. 1 draft pick, Alex Smith, who had a big contract, while Shaun didn’t, and Smith ended up starting most of the games last year for the 49ers. Shaun played decently enough again, but that was the direction the 49ers went (Interestingly the coach who made that decision, Mike Singletary, several times this past season couldn’t decide if he preferred Alex Smith or Troy Smith, and he was ultimately fired, partly for his poor handling of the quarterback positions. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is expected to leave the team as a free agent.).

Shaun Hill playing with a broken arm

Shaun saw the handwriting on the wall and accepted a trade to Detroit in 2009. Again his tough luck continued. After starter Matthew Stafford got hurt, Shaun again played well, better than many first string quarterbacks, but had his arm broken on a tackle. He only missed about a month and came back and led the Detroit Lions to their best season in many years, leading them to wins in their last two games. The Lions won 6 games, the most they had won in three years. He passed for 2,600 yards, had 16 TDs, 12 INTs and a QB rating of 81.7.

And still, very few people have heard of him. He has always had to fight to get onto teams, first because he came from a small town in Kansas, then because he wasn’t that highly regarded in college, then because he’s never had a real chance in the NFL or played for a good team. But his career QB rating of 84.6 is better than a lot of “stars” such as Eli Manning or Mark Sanchez. His career record as a starter is 13-13, mostly playing for bad teams with poor defenses. He’s probably the best backup quarterback in football and could probably start for at least half a dozen teams.

What’s more than being a good football player, our friend tells us he is a good guy. Shaun suffered a terrible tragedy this week when his father fell off the roof while working on his barn and was killed. He was only 60 years old. Every bit of that toughness that Shaun showed to stick around the NFL when he was never highly regarded, and to come back and play a month after having surgery on a broken arm is kid stuff compared to losing a parent, especially in such a tragic way. We wish him well in his time of need and send him our condolences. And we will continue pulling for him to succeed.

And his photo remains in an exulted spot on our fridge.

Fighting and violence in hockey is going down, not up

Dave SchultzOne thing that annoys me is when people claims they hate hockey because it is getting more violent every year and there are more fights every year.

With a whole family that plays hockey that bothers me. Because it simply isn’t true. In fact, the opposite is true. The problem is ESPN and HP and Youtube that focus on nothing but hockey fights. When that’s all people see of hockey, they assume that’s all there is. HuffPost is TERRIBLE for doing this!

It really chapped my hide yesterday that I tried to make this point on HP yesterday, but for some reason, HP wouldn’t let me.

Here are the FACTS. In the 1970s, there was an average of more than 1 fight every hockey game (and yes, there actually are people who keep track of this stuff). This year, there is an average of 0.57 fights per game, so there is actually HALF as many fights in hockey today as there was 35 years ago.

A website called hockeyfights.com has actually been tracking fighting in hockey for 10 years. In the 2001-2002 season, there were 803 fights in the NHL, for an average of .65 fights a game. In 2003-2004, there were 789 fights, for an average of .64 fights per game. This year, the league is on pace for 693 fights, a decrease of 12 percent from seven years ago.

Moreover, the all-time single season leader in penalty minutes is Dave Schultz, part of the infamous Broad Street Bullies of Philadelphia. Schultz had 472 penalty minutes in 1974-75, which was really the low point for violence in the NHL. Since the 2000 season, the closest anyone has come to that is Peter Worrell, who had 354 penalty minutes in 2001-2002 … that puts him 21st all-time for most penalty minutes in a season. Last season, the league leader was Zenon Konopka of the New York Islanders, who had 265 penalty minutes, barely half what Dave Schultz accumulated in 1974-75.

Oglethorpe!

What this means is that the era of the goons is fading out. The rules have been changed to give more emphasis on speed and skill. Sure, there’s some tough guys in the league, and the fighting will always play a role (honestly, there is a strategy to it. Don’t touch our stars or else you’ll pay, basically.) There are just more fighting highlights on round-the-clock sports TV and Internet. And because people can’t figure out that “Slap Shot” was satire (not only satire, but 35-year-old satire.). And honestly, if you pay attention, you notice players rarely get hurt fighting. They usually scrap for half a minute, then one of them falls down and a referee steps in and stops it. Most of the time, it’s FUNNY. It’s like slapstick. Most players get hurt when they crash into the boards or they get hit by an errant stick or puck.

Garr. I don’t know why HuffPost wouldn’t let me make this point yesterday.

Smoking bans in New York City, Indiana, Raleigh, Texas

Times Square Billboard

New York City this week banned smoking, well, everywhere.

Smoking is now banned at 1,700 city parks and beaches and in pedestrian plazas like Times Square. Needless to say, this was controversial, and the rhetoric ran hot and heavy over civil liberties, but in the end, the city council passed the ordinance by a vote of 36-12.

Good luck getting 7 million New Yorkers to stamp out their cigarettes in Central Park or Times Square, however. 😆

I know part of where smoking bans on beaches comes from is governments’ frustration with the littering. Whenever beach cleanups are done, the No. 1 item volunteers pick up is tons and tons of cigarette butts. Smokers have no one to blame but themselves, in my opinion, for beach smoking bans. If so many of them weren’t litterbugs, the bans wouldn’t have picked up so much steam.

Indiana
The Indiana House passed a smoking ban, that was watered down somewhat to exclude bars. Indiana is the only state left north of the Mason-Dixon line that has NO smoking ban whatsoever (Pennsylvania has a weak restaurant ban). Indiana is a very Republican state and Republicans tend to loathe new regulations, but this did pass by a 68-31 vote, and smoking bans aren’t quite as partisan as they used to be. This bill, though it is a watered-down ban, has a real chance to pass this year.

Texas
Speaking of Republicans.

This poll, funded by the Robert Wood Foundation, found that 70 percent of people in Texas favour a comprehensive smoking ban, including 67 percent of self-identified Republicans. One thing that bodes well for a smoking ban in Texas is several large cities in that state — Houston, Dallas, Austin, Corpus Christi and El Paso — have comprehensive smoking bans, and gosh, the sky really hasn’t fallen. The Smokefree Texas Coalition is backing a statewide ban; this group includes several national and Texas health organizations, including Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation, which is based in Austin. There are two bills in the Texas Legislature, one sponsored by a Democrat and the other sponsored by a Republican.

Raleigh, North Carolina
Speaking of parks.

The centre of the tobacco world, Raleigh, North Carolina, headquarters to Altria (Philip Morris), just banned smoking in city parks. That’s gotta chap those Altria execs!

Oh, this makes me so angry — Montana GOP trying to eliminate anti-tobacco programs

Excuse my French, but FUCKING REPUBLICANS. FUCK THEM!

Fucking batshit insane Montana Republicans on a budget subcommittee yesterday voted to gut the state’s highly successful anti-tobacco programs. Why? This is a lousy $15 million, a pittance in the state budget, and the programs have been noncontroversial and extremely successful. Why? Because Republicans are FUCKING ASSHATS. Montana’s teen smoking rate has dropped dramatically the last 10 years. Why? This highly successful program is one big reason why.

Like one Democrat said, “It seems to me at this point there are just random acts of cuts, when there is no reason to do this. We heard all the talk the other day about prevention, and what it’s done to prevent problems in Montana. This makes no sense. Here we go again.”

That came from Rep. Trudi Schmidt, D-Great Falls.

I think Republicans are doing this because they see these kinds of programs as nothing but “Nanny State Socialism.” It pisses me off. However, they have no problem with Nanny State Socialist laws telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

The one good news is, they can’t cut these funds without screwing with state law. These monies are designated specifically for anti-tobacco programs BY STATE LAW, which means they can’t SIMPLY BE CUT. You have to rewrite law. And we still have a sane Democratic governor with a veto pen.

Phenom Steven Strasburg quitting chew because Tony Gwynn has cancer


Steven Strasburg, collegiate pitching phenom and brief MLB phenom for the Nats (I remember watching this guys debut and literally saying, “Oh, my God” about a half a dozen times. He has some of the most vicious moving pitches I’ve ever seen), announced this week that he is quitting chewing tobacco.

This is an excellent article from the Washington Post, a stridently anti-tobacco newspaper, about Strasburg’s chew habit.

Strasburg said he took up chew in high school because — quell shock — he wanted to emulate Major League ballplayers he was watching on TV. He decided to try and quit chew — and he admitted he is addicted to tobacco — after learning that his college coach at San Diego State, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, is battling a malignant parotid cancer (cancer of the saliva glands. Yuck. Sounds awful.), which he blames on his longstanding chew habit. Gwynn has had several bouts of gland and mouth cancer over the last 15 years.

Smokeless tobacco has been banned in Minor League Baseball, and there is talk of banning it in Major League Baseball (meaning players couldn’t dip while on the field or in the dugout).

Strasburg had a 2.91 ERA and had a staggering 92 strikeouts in only 68 innings. Even though the Nats tried to baby him — 68 innings in 12 starts — he still hurt his elbow, which everyone was afraid of, and required Tommy John surgery last year. I don’t know if he’s expected to pitch in 2011.