Over a couple beers with friends on Thursday, local Billings man Doug voiced his concerns about the dramatic increase of coffee shops in the greater Billings area. “Why have them at every corner? I swear a new one opens every week. I’m tired of seeing them everywhere. Can’t these people just be content getting their drug at a gas station?”
Current Montana laws permit any number of coffee shops within city limits, and have no maximum limit on how many espresso machines can be in any one business. State laws also do not reflect any effort to provide assistance to those adversely affected by legalized coffee consumption, including compulsive drinkers and their families. Additionally, there has never been a legal age for coffee consumption in the state. In recent years, there has been public concern about the proximity of coffee shops to churches, and even rumors circulating that some churches are considering installing machines to promote consumption within the church.
According to one of Doug’s friends, he does see this as a public health concern: “He kept repeating things like ‘‘Everyone knows this is a drug, but then acts like it’s okay,’’ or ‘‘There’s no regulation on how much caffeine they can fit into one cup. Our kids could be getting God-knows-what in there.’’ But he also clearly cares about the landscape of Billings. He’s a good guy. He does mean well.”
In his concluding remarks, Doug ended with the rhetorical question: “Don’t people have better things to spend their money on?” After finishing his semi-drunken tirade, Doug admitted he needed to blow off some steam and excused himself to the corner to play some keno for a couple hours.