I think the Statesman article really misses the point. The issue that concerns me is not the health of bartenders, since nobody is forcing them to work as bartenders. I'm guessing that bartending is probably not a career frequently chosen by individuals intensely concerned with their respiratory health. Yet most of the articles I have read about the Austin smoking ban focus on employee health, implying that second-hand smoke is just a nuisance to non-smokers.
But to dismiss smoking as merely annoying to non-smoking patrons of bars and restaurants is ludicrous, considering how many people suffer from serious respiratory diseases, such as asthma and emphysema. I have a lung disorder that is exacerbated by smoke. My grandmother, who died of a rare lung disease, was on oxygen for the last few years of her life. It was almost impossible for her to go to restaurants because of the dangers second-hand smoke posed for her.
If she had been a drunk, she would also have been forced to avoid bars.
In all seriousness, though, smokers' rights should not even be an issue, since smoking necessarily limits the freedoms of people with illnesses. I understand that bars are worried about losing business, but frequent bar patrons are not likely to storm out of the bars en masse (not without a great deal of wobbling, at least).
I think that a reversal of the smoking ban (since this seems to be the way City Council is headed) would be a huge, disappointing step backwards.