In 2003, New York passed one of the strictest smoking bans in the country. The only place with harsher laws was California, and even then only by a slim margin. I was living in New York at the time, and back then I was also a smoker. One of the things that I used to enjoy the most was hanging out at a bar, cigarette in hand with a cocktail or three. When the laws passed banning smoking in virtually all public spaces including bars (no matter what the size) and restaurants (no matter what the size) we smokers were forced to go outside to indulge our habit.
Everyone clamored on about how all the bars in the city would close because, hell, no one will want to go out and drink if they can’t smoke! They’ll stay at home and smoke! Jobs will be lost, businesses will shutter, the economy will collapse, the commies will take over! It was the end of the world, smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em!
Prior to the ban smokers all over the city sat at the bars and complained and counted down the days before the end. When the ban was enacted they stood around outside the bars and complained. Then they went right back inside to the bar and complained some more while continuing to drink just as much, if not more than they did before. For the first six months or so, some local establishments fought the power, and allowed clandestine smoking late at night or on slow days. Some even tried to rally their colleagues into marches on city hall to protest. But one by one, each business complied (under threat of losing their liquor licenses).
It was not the end of the world and businesses were not forced to close because of it. People are going to go out to bars and restaurants regardless of whether they can smoke there or not. After all, it’s far cheaper to drink and eat at home and yet people continue to eat out. These days in New York, it is hard to remember a time when you could smoke indoors, it is just a simple reality.
I am overjoyed that St. Louis has enacted a ban on smoking, although it’s not clear to me why the small places, which would have the most dense smoke, are exempt. But I will certainly take what I can get.
Five Reasons Smoking Bans are Awesome
In a lot of ways, the smoking ban can be beneficial to everyone, even the smokers. Here are five reason smoking bans are awesome:
- This is good for everyone’s health. Seriously folks, we all know that smoking is bad for you. I know it’s super awesome and cool (and believe me, I miss it every day) but c’mon already. This is bad stuff. And for the non-smokers, bans mean no second hand smoke.
- Your food and drink will taste better when not marinated in smoke. Believe.
- The ban will save you money. You won’t have to spend a fortune on dry cleaning coats and outfits after having a couple drinks after work. Even as a smoker I never smelled as bad as when I did coming home from the bar and had to shower before bed so as not to stink up the sheets. At a bare minimum you’ll cut down on your Febreeze costs.
- Smokers can meet other smokers outside the bar having a cigarette and bond over how much the smoking ban sucks. Instant conversation starter. No, seriously, I’m not joking. I can say from experience, mutual discomfort = aphrodisiac.
- With the smokers all outside falling in love, non-smokers can bond with other non-smokers inside the warm bar, making fun of the smokers outside in the cold and talking about how awesome the ban is.
Congratulations to St. Louis for taking the first step in making my nightlife a lot more enjoyable.