Blowing Smoke

Mark Brnovich stands up and opposes the smoking ban

NT: Smoke-Eaters? Come on. Is that really an answer? That's not going to remove carcinogens from the air.

Brnovich: If it's eating the smoke and recirculating fresh air from outside, it would address those concerns. My point is that that's something that the bar owners are doing for their customers and employees to mitigate the smell of smoke or whatever, but it's the customers' or employees' choice to go in there in the first place.

NT: Lopez calls your position "self-serving."

Brnovich: People began impugning my motives as soon as I began addressing this issue. I've had e-mails attacking me personally, that I want to destroy the health of all children. In some ways it's surprising, because mine is a philosophical stand. It's all about individual responsibility, limited government and economic freedom.

NT: Maybe. But Lopez has big guns behind her: Representatives for the Arizona chapters of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association have agreed to support her. Can she get lawmakers to roll over on bar and restaurant owners?

Brnovich: I don't know. I don't really hang out at the Legislature, so I don't know what they're thinking. To quote Mark Twain again, "You shouldn't watch sausage and legislation being made." So I don't know what's going to happen down there. But I do think that one of the great traditions of Arizona is our rugged individualism. People here are skeptical that government can provide all the answers.

NT: Not just here.

Brnovich: Right, but I think we have that spirit and hopefully there are enough people in the Legislature or even in the Governor's Office that will say, "This isn't something we need to be involved with. Let's let adults make their own decisions."

NT: The Arizona Republic reported last month that 73 percent of Arizonans would support a smoking ban.

Brnovich: How does that Black Sabbath song go? "When you leave it to fools, the mob rules"?

NT: Mark Twain and Black Sabbath! You are a Renaissance man!

Brnovich: Now I'm gonna get even more hate mail. I'm not endorsing any brand of music or criticizing it, for the record. But what I'm saying is this: Just because the majority wants something doesn't make it right.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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