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Posted at 4:16 PM ET, 01/ 4/2006

Lighters Down

By Fritz Hahn

As expected, the D.C. Council passed a city-wide smoking ban today by a margin of 11 to 1; all restaurants, bars, taverns and dance clubs will become smoke-free on January 1, 2007. Mayor Anthony Williams still has to sign the legislation, but even if he vetoes the bill, the council has enough votes to override him. Then there's a 30-day Congressional review ... but this looks like a done deal.

The most immediate impact will be felt in local restaurants, as the bill calls for all "restaurant seating areas" to be smoke-free as soon as the law takes effect. (Any "brew pub, club, nightclub, or tavern" is exempted until Jan. 1, 2007, as are "the bar and bar areas of a restaurant.") Of course, you'll still be able to smoke in cigar bars and at any outdoor seating area, such as a patio or rooftop deck.

This makes me wonder about places like Chi-Cha Lounge. Where do you draw the line between the dining area (folks lounging and possibly eating tapas on couches) and the bar? I'm not sure I'd call most of the couch-strewn room a "dining area," especially at night, when it seems like everyone has a cocktail and no one is snacking on empanadas. Really, how do you make the smoke stay on one side of the line or the other?

Interestingly, reading the text of the bill, it seems the "economic hardship waiver" has survived (see sec. 4919). This clause, which anti-smoking groups tried to have removed, allows the owner(s) of any bar where business drops precipitously after the ban to petition the mayor for the right to reinstate smoking.

We're interested to hear your views on this topic, so feel free to weigh in by posting a comment below. Play nice, and please, no parroting of pro- or anti-smoking propaganda. Thanks.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | January 4, 2006; 4:16 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Restaurants  
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Comments

My only complaint about the ban is that it doesn't cover the bars and clubs soon enough. So many times I've wanted to go out for a drink just because or to catch the game but didn't feel like coming home smelling like an ashtray or dealing with the watery eyes and coughing smoking causes. I know come 2007 I'll definitely hang out more (hear that bar owners?) just because it will be more pleasant.

Posted by: Al | January 4, 2006 5:37 PM | Report abuse

It's a no-brainer. Keep your non-smoking employees and patrons healthier and happier. Why should any employee be forced to endure 2nd-hand smoke?
It's been 15-20 years since smoking was banned in most white-collar job areas--why should low-wage workers be denied the same clean air?!

Posted by: SK | January 4, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

This is the best thing to happen to DC in over a decade.

Posted by: 7G | January 4, 2006 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Everyone wins. Now we can dine out and not be doused in smoke trying to get to the table. Many times there are only 1-2 people smoking but their smoke affects everyone because they make sure to blow it away from themselves and they hold it so it goes in eveyones face, but theirs!

Posted by: Wayne | January 4, 2006 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I am a non-smoker..however I think this is terrible. First it's this..then, the lady at the checkout is going to tell you that you have already purchased too much red meat, wine, beer, or any other thing that could be harmful to you. Don't you think the best option is to let bar,restauarant, club owners decide on their OWN how they want their establishment run. We need to stop chipping away at the rights of others..and by the way..the non smokers DO NOT have to work in those establishments if they are really concerned about their health.. just a thought..

Posted by: freedom | January 4, 2006 5:51 PM | Report abuse

lovin' the slippery slope

Posted by: dcsobstory | January 4, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

As a rabid red meat eater, I think the libertarian concerns in this case are a little overblown. If I ran a factory, I would be required the build my smokestacks to be a certain height. Why? Because my freedom to burn stuff doesn't give me the right to pollute the air in my community. Saying "well, people can move to another community" just doesn't fly in this day and age.

Likewise the freedom to smoke in a bar by oneself makes sense only if it doesn't bother anyone else.

That said, I think that the real issue here is whether DC keeps pace with other moden cities (NYC, LA, etc.) or falls behind.

If bars are annoyed at this legislation, perhaps they should press for an extension of the hours during which they can sell alcohol. I'm sure I'd stay longer at establishments that were smokefree *and* were able to serve me past three. Perhaps the pro-smoke forces could make such an argument even more clearly than I can.

Posted by: edward | January 4, 2006 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm a former smoker who's never been a fan of second hand smoke and think this is pretty lame. None of the other workplace analogies apply since peppermint schnapps isn't usually served in Accounts Payable. These are BARS people! They are populated by people over 21 who have made the decision to go there. Same for workers. If you are that concerned with second-hand smoke (the harmfullness of which the scientific evidence is dubious at best - though, yes, common sense would tell you that it's not good for you) there are plenty of other non-smoking places and non-smoking sections in which to spend your time.
While I don't necessarily think this will lead to Big Brother telling us no steak for dinner, it is increasing the "nanny state" to ridiculous levels of juridification. Laws must be enforced after all, and given the other problems DC residents contend with, busting smokers shouldn't really be a priority. There is also still a huge gray area surrounding enforcement in hookah joints (since many serve no alcohol).
Smoke 'em if ya got 'em!

Posted by: Stitt | January 4, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I really don't get what the big deal is. Bars in NY and LA are a far more pleasurable experience than the ones in DC, even as a smoker. Is it really all that difficult to go outside for a couple minutes and save your friends and the nice person pouring your beverage/serving your food from the secondhand smoke? I've done it, it's never been a problem, and in fact, I've made new friends that way. Why should the person NOT causing anyone any bother have to move or give up their favorite watering hole?

Posted by: JA | January 4, 2006 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Best news ever. Was at a smoke-free bar over New Years, EVERYONE was loving it.

Someone said you are "making that choice" if you decide to go to a bar. A few years ago would you have also said you're making that choice by flying, or by going to a baseball game?

Besides, how many other options do you have if you want to go out to meet people and have some drinks? Silver Diner is nice, but not quite the singles scene.

Posted by: Nephew | January 4, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Lovin' it. RE Mayor Williams concerns that DC smokers will bring their business to NoVa, I live in Arlington and will be bringing my business to DC's smokefree nightspots. So will many other of my 20/30-something friends.....

Posted by: CAC | January 4, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I've lived in or near four different cities in the past three years where a smoking ban was considered. The same objection about the public losing freedom comes up every time. It has never hurt a bar's bottom line, and over 75% of people end up loving it. Most people only smoke when they drink, but have a friend who smokes - therefore when they go out, they have to go somewhere smoking is allowed for that one friend. If they're not allowed to smoke, it's a big relief for everyone but the sole smoker - who can easily slip outside when necessary. This is, however, going to help people live longer, thus causing more Social Security problems...

Posted by: Traveler | January 4, 2006 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Some people have noted the precedents of work places and airplanes. Y'know, you're right. I oppose smoking laws covering those places as well.

Someone else noted smokestacks. But that's quite different--they pollute public spaces. You can easily avoid smoke in a bar by not entering the bar, a bar which you don't own by any measure.

The ban really saddens me. It shows complete disrespect for smokers and intolerance of their lifestyle. Yes, yes, I know, smokers intrude upon others with their smoke. But that cuts both ways, you know. If I'm allowed to smoke, I intrude upon you. If force me to stop smoking, you intrude upon me. This sort of conflict comes up in a million different contexts and the usual solution is the best--let the property owner decide. Then we can have some bars for the smokers and some for the non-smokers, which is exactly what we already have today, rougly in proportion to the demand for the two different types of amenities.

Even if legal intervention is necessary, it clearly doesn't need to be a near-complete ban on smoking in these establishments.

Posted by: Matt | January 4, 2006 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone ever thought about simply letting the owners of establishments decide what kind of establishment they want to run? There are some of us who really like the ambience of a smoky, honky-tonk dive bar playing blues and I can honestly say that going to NYC doesn't hold the same charm for me that it once did. If the owner of an establishment believes that there are enough people who have the same affection for that type of mood, and he or she is willing to take that economic risk, why can't they open such a place? Why can't there be a general ban in establishments that serve food and allow other business to decide whether they want to cater to a non-smoking crowd or a smoking crowd? If one or two business owners want to carve their own niche with a dive bar atmosphere, I don't think the law should interfere.

Posted by: Balance-Seeker | January 4, 2006 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Also.... if the government wants to seriously get involved in protecting rights and in looking out for the public's best interest, shouldn't we perhaps be talking about the rights of the homeless to some sort of shelter or the rights of the mentally ill to treatment? In comparison to the fundamental rights of individuals, complaining about a little smoke, when you're choosing to enter that environment, seems just a little petty when there are people who don't have choices at all about much more difficult circumstances.

Posted by: Balance-Seeker | January 4, 2006 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at some other laws on the books in DC. The 21-year-old drinking age: rarely enforced. The ban on cell phones while driving: rarely, if ever, enforced (just take a look at drivers the next time you're walking around in DC). Rush-hour parking restrictions: NEVER enforced, especially if you work for FedEx or the USPS.

Anyone who thinks the smoking ban will be any different is living in a dream world. DC is the capital of not only the U.S., but of creating laws they know they won't enforce.

The proprietors of the bar I frequent the most have already said they'll turn a blind eye to lawbreakers.

Congress is going to overturn the law anyway, just because they can.

Posted by: Matt | January 4, 2006 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Dude, this is great. I've moved to NYC (for school; don't worry DC, I'll be back), and the smoking ban here has saved me so much in laundry money, shampoo, and lung capacity I just can't imagine why anyone would be against it.

The "little smoke" argument is bogus. Smoking is the number one (bigger than alcohol or obesity people) killer in the country. Drinking people are more likely to try smoking than sober people. If we separate smoking and drinking, we will have fewer regular smokers in the long-term. In New York I've met former social smokers; it's the social bar smokers who turn into regulars who then run up our medical insurance rates and Medicare in the long-term. If we want to have the money to help the homeless, driving down the smoking rate is a way to start. Prohibiting smoking in bars is a step in the right direction.

If proprieters of bars I go to don't enforce the law, I'm calling the cops.

Posted by: DC lover | January 4, 2006 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Great, the nannies win again.

Get ready for impassable sidewalks in A-M & G'town, as we'll be out there all night having a smoke.

Posted by: Pedestrian | January 4, 2006 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Restaurants, bars, and dance clubs are privately owned, but they are public accomodations. There are all kinds of regulations that apply to them that do not apply to residences and private clubs.

I think this is primarily a matter of public health. Restaurants and bars are some of the few workplaces left where employees are constantly exposed to tobacco smoke. These are primarily low-paying jobs with weak or no health care benfits. Even if they happen to love working in smoke-filled establishments, who is going to pay the bills when bartenders and waitstaff are undergoing expensive treatments for cancer and emphysema? Taxpayers.

Posted by: BreathingEasier | January 4, 2006 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Love it. I'm gunna start going out again and throw away my Febreez..

Posted by: Dan | January 4, 2006 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Are those who oppose the smoking ban also in disfavor of health and safety inspections of these establishments? It seems the same arguments against the ban apply to those same restrictions. If you claim bar/club/restaurant owners are free to run their establishments anyway they want to, then why not allow them to have cockroaches run around the kitchen, or for bar glasses to be used more than once without being cleaned? After all, you say people can choose to avoid these places. So, are you anti-health code too? If you don't like moldy meat and bugs floating in your dirty glass of dish-water, would you be accepting of someone who does enjoy this type of lifestyle telling you, "Tough...if you don't like it, don't eat or drink out!" Something tells me you're thankful for these health inspections by the government. Don't be such hypocrites - the smoking ban is principally the same thing.

In my mind, these bars and restaurants will flourish with a smoking ban (the same way they flourish with health/safety inspections). The vast majority of people do not smoke (the same way the majority enjoys clean dishes and safe food). Finally, we don't have to skip going out at the mercy of the tiny portion of the population that wants to stink up the place. Majority wins - Amen!

Bar and restaurant owners get ready....we're coming.

Posted by: Smoke Free | January 4, 2006 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The "Stop the Ban" guys did themselves no favors by being dishonest in their campaign, grossly distorting any supposed harm to their industry, saying things like 95% of smoking bans exempt bars (just ain't true), etc.

I find the 'this is intolerant of smokers lifestyle' argument to be weak. By definition people smoking in public are being intolerant of EVERYONE around them by forcing their smoke on them. It's a question of boorish behavior. Why should anyone be allowed to slime others with their cancer-causing habit in public? We wouldn't allow people to spit on us in public. We wouldn't allow people to sneeze on us in public. Would we accept the argument that we should be more 'tolerant' of the rights of spitters?

This has been a long time coming, and I for one am quite glad.

As for those that say you aren't forced to go to bars, that's technically true. But a vibrant entertainment scene is one of the reasons people congregate in cities. It's part of the social contract - we all agree to get along in public. That's why we don't spit on each other on public sidewalks. The same premise should apply in bars. It's always struck me as odd that we should insist people have a right to a filthy public (and, yes, bars are public accomodations) habit that by definition harms everyone around them.

Posted by: Hillguy | January 4, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

To stand around, nurse a beer or two, and go home early. Bars make no money off you. The last thing they need is a packed house ponying up a fiver for two hours, sipping.

Posted by: Bar and restaurant owners get ready....we're coming. | January 4, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

People who want to ban smoking in bars seem to have no problem with people drinking themselves silly or into bed with strangers. Legislating against the "naughty" behavior of others is a nasty habit, especially when very few people go to a bar for the positive health effects. If there are so many people waiting to spend their hard-earned cash in smoke-free bars, the market would regulate itself. They would patronize the clubs without smoke, those clubs would make higher profits than others, and the others would realize they were only hurting their bottom line. Funny that all the "fun" places to go out are filled with smokers... maybe they're the only ones who can lighten up and enjoy themselves anymore? You'll miss us when we're not there, no matter how good you smell in the morning.

Posted by: EleanorsTrousers | January 4, 2006 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Some bar (or several bars) on Capitol Hill and environs will be getting my income once this goes into effect. I love eating out and watching a game on the big screen. I don't do it because I can't breathe afterwards and I can't afford the laundry. And I'll invite my friends. I think bar owners who think this will affect business are right. Business is going to improve!

Posted by: K | January 5, 2006 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Will I miss people that were willing to slime me with their filthy, life-shortening habit simply because I had the audacity to want to socialize in a public place? Not likely.

Not any more than I would miss someone that wanted to defecate or spit on me in public, all in the name of fun.

We're not legislating against the 'naughty behavior' of others. We're legislating against the astonishing boorish and selfish behavior of a few that have decided it's their God-given right to slime others with an unpleasant carcinogen in public gathering spots.

As for the comparison to the 'nanny state' regulating red meat or whatnot, the difference is pretty clear. I don't see anyone force-feeding others red meat. But I do see an awful lot of people force-feeding total strangers their cancer-causing smoke.

Sure, this will be an inconvenience for smokers, and that's a bit sad. But they've been doing a lot more than inconveniencing the rest of us for years now, and only a few of them seem to ever be sorry about that.

I for one will stay a lot longer in bars now that I'm not feeling dirty and exhausted 20 minutes after entering.

Posted by: Hillguy | January 5, 2006 12:07 AM | Report abuse

DC lover, you might be the biggest tool on earth.

Posted by: Ben | January 5, 2006 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I'll be able to breath again.

Having a smoking and a non-smoking section in a bar/restaurant is like having a urinating and non-urinating section in a swimming pool.

Finally the city council has done something right.

Posted by: Steve | January 5, 2006 8:54 AM | Report abuse

So long economic boom. Hello recession.

San Francisco has been smokefree for years, and you can still find "smoke-easys" with covert ashtrays (usually cans of Boddingtons half full of water). More nanny state nonsense for gullible morons.

If only we had more LAWS we'd finally be safe from the big bad rabbit. Which councilmember will propose a bold initiative like the Protection from the Big Bad Rabbit Act of 2006?

Posted by: William Garner | January 5, 2006 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Thank God for Virginia.

I love smoking and honestly can't believe the ban is coming to DC. My last couple trips to NYC brought a pleasant surprise though - I thought the bars seemed clearer and that it wasn't that bad of an inconvenience during decent weather. That said, I will definitely be staying in VA more, especially on rainy or cold nights.

Posted by: Kristin | January 5, 2006 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I was in San Diego recently - obviously smoke free - and while I did enjoy the lack of smokey clothing when I left the bars, I did notice one downside. The streets looked like ashtrays. Literally all the smokers were outside (and there were a lot of them!), lighting up and then pitching their butts in the street. It was really gross. Don't think this is going to be a problem in some areas, but in a place like Adams Morgan? You bet. And it's already dirty enough there - add all the cigarette butts, and City Council is going to be looking to increase their street sweeping budget...

Posted by: annab | January 5, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The smoking ban will increase my patronage of those venues that chose to obey the law. My wife has asthma. Many of my friends can't stand the smell of tobacco smoke. (I can stand the smell, I find, but only after I've imbibed a fair amount of alcohal). I like to have a snack if I'm gonna be out drinking for very long. I find the combination of cigarette smoke and food aroma to be generally disgusting. This new law, if enforced, will open up the number of venues I can enjoy patronizing. It will increase the amount of time I can enjoy patronizing them. As a result my fequency of going out will almost certainly increase.

I admit that I don't understand the pleasures that are being denied to others as a result of this law. For their sacrifice, however, many people like me, my wife, and my friends will be able to enjoy pleasures that up until now had been denied THEM. That is what a law does. It denies some in order that others may benefit. It sets out rules that we all agree to live by in order that we may peacfully co-exist. The smoking ban is a bad law only if it serves to deny a large majority of the people in order to benefit a small minority.

Posted by: Jay | January 5, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Okay, everyone agrees that a smoke free bar may be a "healthier" environment, but guess what, not everyone wants to go to a smoke free bar. The Government should not step in and tell a bar that they can not allow their patrons to smoke. The choice should be up to the bar owner to make it smoke free or not. The Government should not be allowed to pass a law which prohibits bar owners from attracting the patrons that they want. Those people that do not want to go to a bar that allows smoking can go to a bar that doesn't allow it. I myself am not a smoker and although the bar scene may be "healthier", may I remind everyone that people don't go to a bar to be "healthy". Smoking is just as much part of a bar scene as drinking.

Posted by: Joe | January 5, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Im a non-smoker, but i don't care about the smoke in bars. i see it as part of the territory. that being said, I have made trips out bethesda bars just cuz its smoke free. i have to say that clear air is nicer.

Also, Ben is right, DC Lover sounds like a tool.

Posted by: pete | January 5, 2006 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Smoker here. I don't mind going outside to smoke when I'm in LA or NYC, and in fact I find my interest in smoking decreases drastically when I am in a smoke-free environment. I'm concerned for the survival of my local bar and for the intrusive nature of this sort of governance, but I have to agree that it's for the best. Just don't start treating me like a pariah when I step outside for a cigarette after my beer, please.

Posted by: RH | January 5, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Hang on, what does this mean for hookah bars??? Can they get permits, like cigar bars?

Posted by: Bethesda | January 5, 2006 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Here's my only problem with the plan.. its bringing whores back into DC. Most of my friends go to the bars in DC because they like DC. Sure, it sucks to smell like smoke, but its a bar.. no big deal. The only person I know that won't come to DC to go to the bars dresses like a slut and generally makes the casual, laid back experience that we all enjoy at DC bars become an annoying catastrophe. So thanks, DC Council, for bringing the annoying people back to the city.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Best thing that ever happened to DC. And personally, I am an occasional smoker. But with less opportunity to smoke, this will help me quit altogether.

Posted by: K from VA | January 5, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

As a bartender in Union Station for over 5 years, this will have a major impact on our business. More than 70% of our regular customers are smokers, and the other 30% still come regularly. The decision as to whether or not allow smoking in a establishment should be left to business owners. Whatever they decide should be posted clearly at the entrance and left to individuals to decide whether or not to patronize. As far as employees are concerned, owners should make employees sign waivers absolving them of future lawsuits. If they don't sign it, fire them.
And as a city resident, the city council has more pressing issues they should be addressing...ie.public schools...crime and basic public services. I am a democrat who is sick and tired of cry baby whinny democrats thinking they know what's best for me. Now you messing with my MONEY as most of our regulars said they will start going to VA when the law goes into effect.

Posted by: Pissst off Bartender in DC | January 5, 2006 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I am not a smoker, however I think that this law is essentially a nanny law and one of the many ways in which the DC council has does one tiny good thing to try and cover up their general lack of action and screw ups.
Since I don't smoke, I'm sure I'll appreciate not having my clothes smell like a bar when I get home, however I'm not really looking forward to having to walk though additional amounts of people when I go to Adams Morgan. Only these people have mini fire sticks. Yay, I can't wait to have burn holes in my clothes now.
Also it's not like DC is the safest place in the world. Having officers enforcing smoking laws seems like a waste of their time and DC's money where there are so many more important things they could and should be doing.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I find it offensive when other people curse in bars. Can we find a way to ban this? This would enable all the non-cursers go to out and enjoy these public areas again.

Posted by: mindfreak | January 5, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Re loss of business: have you been to NY or LA or any city/state that has already banned smoking? Their bars and restaurants are as full and as successful as ever. Smokers simpy deal or quit, as they should. And re the suggestion that DC smokers will flock to Virginia to smoke in their bars and restaurants: Please. That simply ain't gonna happen. HORRAY! We're finally gonna be free to dine and drink anywhere without thought about having to shower and doing laundry immediately upon returning home.

Posted by: thrilled | January 5, 2006 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Does this mean people will keep their screaming children at home, too? I mean that really annoys me and ruins my dinner experience - AND may even be bad for my health since it jacks up my blood pressure and makes me want to squash the little thing that keeps saying, "Hey mom, hey mom, look at this, hey, hey, mom, mom, mom, mom!!!!" I can understand restaurants -- you're eating. But bars? I know I can do nothing to stop it, but it really really irritates me. So it's fine for "Maggie 21 year old" to vomit in the corner but god forbid I light a cigarette - I mean have you seen some of the bars in this town? Smoking is by far not the most unpleasant occurrence. Come on all ye self righteous anti-smokers -- this is your time to rejoice. Just keep your screaming brats at home while your at it.

Posted by: annoyed | January 5, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Thank goodness. It's about time.

Posted by: Mike | January 5, 2006 12:01 PM | Report abuse

In response to the smoking vs obesity argument: Fat people are more expensive to the health care system than smokers. I'd love a ban on fat people. Or require the fat people to run a half hour on a treadmill everytime I see them horsing down a double fat grease burger.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

All of this tripe about smokers' "lifestyles" and "habts" sickens me. It's a drug addiction, people, plain and simple! If you want to cry libertarian caa-caa over the smoking ban, how about we let people shoot herion or smoke meth or snort cocaine in the bars, too? It's the same difference.

Posted by: cleanlung | January 5, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

if a non-smoking environment is what everyone is looking for ... howcome no one opens a "new" non-smoking venue ... ??? i'll just stay home and spend my $$$ on take-out!

Posted by: i'll just stay home | January 5, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to enjoy seeing smoke-free shows. I'm sorry about the inconvience and lost revenue this will cost people, and I wasn't out compagning for this but for me, a non-smoker I'll like it

Posted by: personally | January 5, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

To all the people who are going to go out now that there is no smoking. Thank god I have another year without you. If that is what is keeping you in at night then you probably weren't that much fun to begin with.

Posted by: John | January 5, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I am impressed at the comparison between smoking cigarettes, heroin, and cocaine. Great argument there. I am sure everyone will take that seriously.

Posted by: Alex | January 5, 2006 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"simply letting the owners of establishments decide what kind of establishment they want to run"
It sounds great, but the reality is sad. People take advantage of the freedoms and the privileges we have, that are defined in our constitution. That's why we have gun laws. That's why we have speed limits. Second hand smoke is a health hazard, it causes lung cancer.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 12:24 PM | Report abuse

we will not miss you a bit. Don't let the cancer hit you on the way out! but count on it.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm...smoking bans in NYC, LA, San Fran, now in DC, Montgomery and Howard! There's even a smoking ban in IRELAND!!!! What makes you think Virginia counties aren't going to follow along? Wake-up smokers....you're a dying breed (literally).

Posted by: Smoke Free | January 5, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Why so malicious, Smoke Free? It's unnecessary.

Posted by: Washington, DC | January 5, 2006 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Can a smoker reading this please explain to me why walking outside to smoke instead of staying inside to smoke is such an intolerable infringement on their human rights? As an asthmatic non-smoker who lived in California before DC (begin writing your clever "west coast asthmatic tool" rejoinders now), I can confirm that I will be frequenting more bars after the ban goes into effect. And my experience is that DC's smokers will be frequenting those same bars, drinking inside, conversing inside, and periodically smoking outside. To all the doubters, please grant yourself a well-deserved break from leaning over your ashtray and take a trip to NYC, California, or even Bethesda, and observe: the lure of alcohol and social interaction regularly trumps the slight inconvenience of lighting up on the sidewalk. Seriously - only deluded, chain-smoking, lazy sociopaths would whine to their nannies about this ban.

Posted by: Call me a 'tool,' but... | January 5, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

How can so many people make it to adulthood and function day to day as such absolute pussies? My clothes smell, I have to buy Febreze, I'm this I'm that boo hoo look over here I need a tissue sob sob. I've never seen so much pantywaist crybabying in my life. It's a bar not a church, deal with it.

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I for one am looking forward to the day where I can go out for an evening and not come home smelling like an ashtray. I only wish that Virginia localities were allowed to pass anti-smoking legislation, unfortunately it has to be passed at the state level. If this does go into effect I will definitely be spending more of my hard earned cash in DC!

Posted by: Falls Church | January 5, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

malicious? Is only the truth

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Whee I can't wait to go to D.C. now that the evil smokey monster is gone. Although when I'm there I better not see any scary minorities or hear any of that awful devil music because that would possibly scare me which I find totally inconvenient!! I mean this is great!!! Our Nation's capitol was such a wonderful place and I would have like totally gone out there ALL the time except for the smoke but now that it's gone I won't spend any more of my nights camped in front of my TV set watching Gilmore Girls and stuffing my gaping trough with Ben and Jerry's. From now on it's PARTY GIRLZ GO WYLD DOWNTOWN YEEHAH!!!!

What a bunch of crap. None of you freaks will make any more effort to get off your asses than you do now and you know it.

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

You make many assumptions about people you don't know. Try sticking to your own experiences B-more

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

This demonization of smokers is ridiculous: smokers are not awful, slimy people. They are PEOPLE, and they just happen to enjoy smoking, just like some people happen to enjoy eating meat even though it kills animals and is an inefficient way to obtain nourishment. Some people like to smoke, and some people like to eat brussel sprouts. Both are questionable actions, but neither makes a person bad.

Posted by: Nonsmoker | January 5, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

My own experience DC is that people who whine about why they won't do something generally aren't inclined to do anything in the first place. The reason just gives them an excuse for being lame.

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Since we're banning things, why don't we ban having cars in the city? They guzzle up precious gasoline, pollute the air that everyone breathes, and jam up traffic that more efficient and energy-conserving buses could avoid. Cars' toxic fumes are emitted all over the city; there is no escape anywhere, public or private, from their noxious pollutants.

So, let's ban'em, along with meat, French fries, farting, PDA, cursing, women not shaving their legs, electricity, and anything that is unhealthy, offensive or slightly inconvenient!

(But not cell phones--even though you might get brain cancer from them and it hurts my ears when someone near me at a bar talks too loudly on her phone. Lord, we could never ban those!)

Posted by: EG | January 5, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

For all the arguments about "choice", well, smoking is a Choice... nobody is born a smoker. Everyone who smokes chooses not only if, but when, where and how often to smoke. If a smoker chooses to smoke somewhere in proximity to someone who is not smoking, they are forcing a choice on the non-smoker - to participate in the smokers' habit (something they have chosen NOT to do) or leave the establishment.

If I have entered a restaurant, and have ordered and recieved my food, and then a smoker lights up, they are forcing me to choose between my financial and contractual obligation to the restaurant (not to mention my basic human need for food) and my desire to avoid being bathed in industrial effluent (let's face it- if a factory belched out what cigarettes emit, that factory would be cited by the EPA and the target of a Superfund cleanup!).

I have no issue with allowing establishments to label themselves "Smoking" bars/restaurants/etc. But as long as a restaurant/bar is trying to cater to both smokers and non-smokers, then it is not right to force the non-smoker to participate in the smoking habits of smokers in order to consume food which they have already paid for.

Posted by: Scott | January 5, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Being a non-smoking regular at a local sportsbar on the Hill, I must note that I am very happy about this recent development. I will agree that several other regulars at the bar tend to be smokers who claim they only smoke when they are there. We have respected each other for many years. They not smoking while I'm eating watching a game and me not coughing and glaring at them when they do light up. This new law may not stop them from smoking when they are out. They may simply go outside while I watch over their stool. However, as a result all of my well earned money previously spent on dry cleaning and febreeze from their smoking next to me will no longer be an added expense in my life for their smokey habit. For that I am grateful. Boston has adopted beautifully without loosing business and I do not anticipate anything different in DC.

Posted by: CR | January 5, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

After reading some of the post from the angry smokers, who result to name calling (wang chung) its no wonder they are losing the fight.
And to your response B-moore, I understand that is you opinion, but the reason why smoking is ban in DC is because people DID something about it.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

To say DC bars are going to lose business because of the ban is ridiculous. Just like I don't think many people will choose VA bars over DC bars despite the ban, almost no one goes to New Jersey bars instead of NYC bars just to smoke.

Posted by: Cheeba | January 5, 2006 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, enjoy your game! Sounds fun

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Considering people who don't smoke already subsidize smokers' FAR higher health care bills, I think the least that they can do is go outside.

The economic concerns are way overblown, I would guess the amount of people who actually significantly change their bar-attending behavior based on this ban is marginal at best. Are people really going to go to Arlington just to smoke? I'd would guess that it's much more likely that people in Arlington make the trip into DC to avoid having to dryclean everything they own after each trip to the bar.

Also, those "you chose to go to the bar" arguments don't make much sense. While there is plenty of competition among bars as to which one to go to, the idea of going to a bar on a weekend is close to synonymous with the idea of "going out" if you're in your 20's or early 30's. There's not really much of a "choice," other than bars for late night destinations, is there?

Majority rules, the overwhelming majority of the DC area doesn't smoke, it's a slight infrigement of personal rights, but smoking is an infringement of my health. You'll thank us when you live to see 2050.

Posted by: CAS | January 5, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I have no problem going outside to smoke, but I want to hear absolutely zero flack from so-called neighborhood advisory councils about the noise levels after midnight, the sheer volume of cigarette butts in the streets or anything else. Additionally, for the so-called non-smokers, IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND DESIST asking me for a cigarette. Informing me that you "really don't smoke" while you bum a cigarette is showing me how common you really are. Please take your business to Virginia with the other smokers that can't stand outside.

Posted by: ST | January 5, 2006 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I smoke but in all honesty will probably use the ban as an aide to quit. So I guess I'm fifty-fifty in love/hate with the ban. I do, however, have challenges with the fact that the people who "never went out" because they couldn't afford the dry cleaning or laundry costs will suddenly flood the bars. I don't know a single bar where you can use that "extra" five dollars to go out all night. If your finances are that tight, please stay home because there's nothing worse that a cheap tipper.

Posted by: Scott | January 5, 2006 2:30 PM | Report abuse

i think the ban is not necessary- there are already a number of non-smoking bars and restaurants that people can frequent if they don't care to be around smoke--and a number of the newer ones are more interesting than their counterparts (with exceptions) so i find myself as a smoker going to them...

the only upside of this i can see is if the line is true that arlington people will stay in va instead of invading dc bars--this could be an unintended positive...i'll give up smoking if i don't have to deal with the suburbs

Posted by: loganer | January 5, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Native Washingtonian here who is THRILLED that the DC Council got it right with the smoking ban. The right to breathe cleaner, healthier air in a public establishment trumps any one individual's right to smoke wherever they want. It's such a nobrainer. I'm thrilled.

Posted by: NT | January 5, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Putting aside the questions about what this ban will do to already dirty and overcrowded sidewalks and the clouds of smoke we'll all be walking through on the sidewalks even when we haven't chosen to go in to a bar, my main concern about the smoking ban is the question of why this couldn't have been resolved in such a way as to leave the widest number of choices open. The government certainly has the right to regulate the environment in bars and that regulation should come down on the side of the majority - sorry smokers, your habit anis harmful to you and the second hand smoke is harmful to others (although I was a smoker and occasionally still smoke, so I feel the pain with you) - and it's far easier to move us outside than to ensure that a non-smoker doesn't inhale our smoke inside and, sorry Libertarians, this is a choice that injures others and should be free game for regulation even if we don't like it. However, I'm disturbed that more and more often people who aren't getting what they want in our society feel the need to resort to the most extreme measures of redress often at the expense of others rather than choosing to seek out other solutions that are more encompassing of everyone's wants.

The smoking ban is exactly what it sounds like, a "BAN". A choice has been taken from consenting adults and it's a choice to use a product that's still legal. The very nature of a ban is that it hurts some one to some degree, because if some one weren't out there doing it others wouldn't feel the need to ban it. The hurdle for passing legislation that eliminates a free choice, particularly to use a lawful product should be fairly high. If there is such a large percentage of the population who strongly support a ban why didn't these people first attempt to vote with their wallets and their feet. If a large portion of an establishments patrons stopped showing up and made the management aware of the reason those bars would probably change with the market. That would have left bars where the clientele is mostly smokers or those who don't mind the smoke enough to leave open to cater to those choices and a choice of establishments where smoking wasn't allowed. The problem with this for ban advocates is twofold - it requires a short term sacrifice in not patronizing smoking establishments and it leaves open the risk that maybe people really aren't all that supportive enough of their cause to make the same sacrifice or that the bars they really want to go might not be ones that end up catering to their views, but if they're expecting us to sacrifice a choice shouldn't they have at least put forth the effort with a public campaign to change people habits and thus maybe the environments of the bars they frequent before going to the extreme of seeking a legislative ban. If that failed at least then a ban could be supported as the only recourse and we'd all have to learn to cope with that because it's the right thing to do for the health of others.

The possibility exists that we all could have gotten what we want which is really more choice, but because it's easier for a lot of self-righteous people to cater to our own desires and marginalize the choices of others by curtailing those choices rather than make some sacrifices - we get fewer choices, a society where we're increasingly less tolerant of other peoples choices, a community where we'd rather have everything we want rather than trying our hardest to see if we can't give everyone a little something they want as well even if it means we have to give up a little for the good of the community and oh yes, whole new thing to ban when people get tired of walking through groups of smokers blocking the sidewalks.

Posted by: Chris | January 5, 2006 2:56 PM | Report abuse

o.k. seriously Red meat? Eating meat affects only the person choosing to eat it (well, and the animal it used to be). "Naughty" behavior too, only affects those choosing to behave in a naughty way with themselves or with other consenting naughty people. If these naughty by choice people do affect other people, it becomes "drunk in public" and is governed by law. In the heat of the debate it's true that smokers can be demonized and that's not fair, but cancer is no laughing matter; and for the record they cannot, as of yet, make any connection between cell phones and brain cancer in any of the studies done. Smokers make the choice to increase their risk of cancer, non-smokers make a choice not to increase theirs. A smoking ban is a way that both choices can be respected. Children are not generally allowed in pubs and bars anyway so your beef over whiny children eating out only applies to restaurants and they will have smoking sections. As for requiring employees to sign lawsuit waivers to work at a bar or restaurant where smoking is allowed - well, no-one would apply, except the ones that smoke, which means patrons would never get their meals on time, drink refills, or probably even the check because the employees would all be out the kitchen backdoor stealin' a smoke. Not to mention the fact that the waivers would never hold up in a court of law. Besides, if second hand smoke wasn't so bad why would they need a waiver at all?

Posted by: public health cancer specialist | January 5, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If there are sufficient smokers demanding a space to drink and puff at the same time, shouldn't the market be allowed to satisfy that demand and capture the profits? And if there are sufficient non-smokers who demand a smoke-free space to drink, shouldn't the market be allowed to satisfy that demand and capture the profits? Why can't we just let restaurant and bar owners decide to whom they want to cater, and let their employees decide what risks they want to tolerate?

And, can someone explain why there is an exception for CIGAR bars? Are cigars somehow less harmful? Or is it because there is no such thing as cigarette bars, or pipe bars? (sooo...the ban in fact creates an incentive to open MORE cigar bars?, sort of a mini-monopoly scheme?)

Posted by: MSH | January 5, 2006 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow I didn't know that smokers were the next group to hate. Well at least the gays can take a break for a little bit. Seriously though if you didn't go out before because there was smoking at a bar I highly doubt you will be going out come January 2007.

Posted by: John | January 5, 2006 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The ban isn't to save on dry-cleaning, that's a perk. The ban is to protect the employees from cancer causing second-hand smoke. And while I respect the opponents of the ban, my challenge is in understanding why this is so difficult to comprehend. Furthermore it will be my choice to voice my opinion on "noise levels after midnight, the sheer volume of cigarette butts in the streets or anything else" because just because you are forced to go outside to smoke it does not make you exempt from the noise ordinance and pollution laws.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

The next step should be to combat alcoholism. After all, drunk drivers kill far more than second-hand smoke, and alcoholics hurt their families, office productivity, etc etc etc. As far as I understand, alcoholism is not illegal, only socially objectionable (and that, only in some parts of the country ;-). Why not a ban on alcoholism?

It should be illegal for alcoholics to get drunk in bars and restaurants; but, since we cannot distinguish an alcoholic from a run-of-the-mill drunk, we should make it illegal to serve more than one drink per person per night. How bout that? Also, it should be illegal to hire an alcoholic (jacks up insurance costs), or to rent to an alcoholic (security threat), or to allow alcoholics to get pregnant or have children (potential dysfunctional family situation).

Posted by: Ban alcoholics | January 5, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm thrilled about the ban -- now we can go out without the fun experience of burning eyes and lungs (not to mention the nasty smell that permeates your hair, clothes and skin). The only downside is that the sidewalks will be shrouded in smoke from the smokers huddled outside, and covered with smoking paraphernalia tossed to the ground by inconsiderate smokers who can't be bothered to put their butts in ashtrays or trash bins. It's too bad that, to get into a smokefree establishment, we'll still have to walk through clouds of smoke and litter. But hallelujah! Come 2007, we can eat in bars and restaurants and not have our food ruined by smoke wafting over from the bar. That day can't come soon enough.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 3:25 PM | Report abuse

As a smoker I can say I really don't mind the ban. Sometimes it is disgusting in bars or clubs and the less I smoke when I am drinking the better. I do however have a problem with the smug pro-ban people behaving like they won some moral battle over the evils of smokers. Smokers aren't evil! Willing to accept the ban but I don't need it shoved in my face. Oh and to T. Get over your it, you live in a city (or most likely the suburbs)and you can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Smoker | January 5, 2006 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I live in the city, and have every right to clean air and clean streets. How does living in the city mean I must accept lower standards of living? Lame.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Because thats the natural expectation of being around people in a condensed area. If you live in the city you are already accepting higher crime, higher rent, less space, higher taxes. Really is people outside a bar smoking affecting the cleanliness of the air around you outside of two seconds? Will anything ever be good enough for you when it comes to smoking? Why don't we just round all the smokers up and put them in special smoker camps?

Posted by: Smoker | January 5, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Roofie coladas and under-the-bar fondling is still allowed, right?

I'm kidding, stop crying ;p

Posted by: Quagmire | January 5, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

As I stated, DC I don't have a problem going outside to smoke. Treat it as compromise; however, for my efforts in said compromise, I don't want to hear sanctimonious chatter about the fact that I may be having a conversation outside after midnight. And yes there are enough crazy DC residents that complain about conversations. Furthermore, as someone who has consistently tried to be a conscientious smoker...waiting for people eating at a bar to complete their meals before lighting up, attempting to blow my smoke away from non-smokers and asking others if they mind when no one else is smoking...I DO become offended when I comply with the legislation and get potential backlash from my compliance.

As for the drycleaning perk, I too find it incredulous that people are justifying that they can go out NOW that they won't be spening the money on laundry. Where oh where in DC does one drink for such cheap rates?

Posted by: ST | January 5, 2006 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The mindset of the boneheads who are for the smoking ban is the same as the harridans who got all up in arms and mammaries about being asked to not breast feed in the middle of Starbucks. This has nothing to do with worker protection just like that had nothing to do with the welfare of babies. It has everything to do with a bunch of loudmouthed crybabies who feel so entitled that they want everything that doesn't suit their whim turned into an item of national importance in the State of the Union Address. If you don't go out now it's not because of smoke it's because you simply don't go out. Deal with your lameness and don't push it on other people to suffer because you can't come to grips with the fact that you're a fatass who's either too scared or too lazy to leave your house.

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Accepting higher rent (or mortgage payments -- I own) does not mean I have to acquiesce to higher crime. I still have the right to push the police to do more to prevent and solve crimes. Neither does paying more to live in DC mean I have to accept having carcinogens with my restaurant meals.

This is not a "Free to Be, You and Me" kind of issue. We always legislate when private rights bump up against one another. No one is saying you can't smoke in your own home -- it's when you take that habit and foist it on others that it becomes a matter of public interest. You want to run around your house naked? Have relations with your spouse/partner/date on the living room floor? Fine. It's legal. But don't do it on a public street. You can get falling-down drunk at home if you want. That's legal too. But you might get arrested if you do it in public, especially if you're harassing people. Or if you get behind a wheel. Got a problem with these rules too? Why should smoking be immune from regulation? You can still smoke in public, just not inside a public establishment.

Special smoker camps aren't necessary -- I really like those glass enclosures that some airports have set aside for smokers -- keeps the smoke away from others and smokers don't have to huddle by the doorways. Maybe more places should have sealed-off smoking rooms.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse

GREAT ODIN'S RAVEN!!!!!!!

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

We all have our vices... some are just more visible than others. I DARE anyone to disagree with me.

That being said, smokers understand that smoking is a hideous habit. I don't know too many who have the "Smoker... and proud of it!" mentality.

If we choose to do it anyway, just as other people continue to indulge less obvious vices every day, why can't we just have our own bars to do it in? For god's sake... we should just let the freakin owners decide. That's the only FAIR thing to do.

And to all those people yapping about how smokers ultimately make us pay more in medicare, etc. I hope you never eat at McDonald's. Oh yeah... and you better not be a pound overweight. Give it up... please. The list could go on and on.

Posted by: AM | January 5, 2006 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Didn't I say I didn't mind the smoking ban? So now that you can't smoke in restaurants, bars, or clubs that's not good enough for you? You really think banning smoking on public streets is reasonable? I really feel so bad I didn't understand the plight that normal people were exposed to every day now that my eyes have been opened I repent.

Posted by: Smoker | January 5, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Another reason to quit smoking: evidently it inhibits one's reading comprehension.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

So if you are okay with people don't put comments like, " The only downside is that the sidewalks will be shrouded in smoke from the smokers huddled outside, and covered with smoking paraphernalia tossed to the ground by inconsiderate smokers who can't be bothered to put their butts in ashtrays or trash bins. It's too bad that, to get into a smokefree establishment, we'll still have to walk through clouds of smoke and litter." You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Smoker | January 5, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

But I can always dream.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

How soon we forget the importance of the great tobacco plant to the birth of our Nation! If we hadn't enjoyed such success growing and selling this marvelous plant around the world during colonial times, we never would have been able to finance the War of Independence. If not for tobacco, we'd all be speaking English today instead of American!

All true Patriots smoke tobacco!

Posted by: Thomas Jefferson | January 5, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Treat it as compromise? It's your choice to go outside to smoke. As it is your choice to hear sanctimonious chatter and whether you allow it to bother you. What I am saying is that just because you have to go outside now if you chose to have a smoke does not mean that you are compromising, or are owed something in return. It's not a compromise it is the law (almost)...

B-moore,
To call a mother a harridan for speaking her mind and for standing up for her right to feed her child when need be is pretty lame. And to make assumptions about how large someone's backside is also lame. And, if you really believe that a bunch of people that only sit around on the couch fought tooth and nail on this ban, you are indeed lame.

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"All true Patriots smoke tobacco!"

Yay, tobacco. A major reason behind our slave-holding past.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

My comment has nothing to do with non-smokers smelling like an ashtray, or the rights of smokers to fire up in the comfort of heat/AC while downing a cold one. My question is simple: when did private business owners lose their right to determine what activity takes place in their establishment, on their property? I know how my family in the restaurant industry feels about this, but I'd like to hear from other business owners.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 5:05 PM | Report abuse

She has the right to feed her child Dopey, the problem is when she makes a federal case of being asked to show a modicum of modesty and manners and either cover her breast or feed her child in a more private booth instead of the middle of the store and wants to stage a boycott over it. It's not that she doesn't have the right, it's just simply stupid.

I'd like to see how many of the smoking ban flag wavers who are so concerned about the poor downtrodden workers in D.C. are beating the drums about the conditions of the schools, poverty, homelessness, disease and fiscal malfeasance in the Government that cause more danger to the residents of D.C. than a cigarette at the Velvet Lounge ever will.

Posted by: B-More | January 5, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Feel good about what you do for those people

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

"My question is simple: when did private business owners lose their right to determine what activity takes place in their establishment, on their property?"

Answer: the moment they decided to open their "private" business to the public. For example, you can serve alcohol and food in your home to your friends and not have to get approval from the ABC or the health inspector. You can take care of your kids at home without any governmental oversight, but if you want to run a legal day care, you have to submit to the rules and regulations for getting a license. There are plenty of legal activities that you can do in a private home that you can't if you want to run -- and profit from -- a public establishment. You don't want to comply, you don't get a license. Simple as that.

Posted by: T | January 5, 2006 5:13 PM | Report abuse

That is the best explanation and analogy use I have heard!

Posted by: DC | January 5, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

It's no accident that the State Theater is doing so well without smoking. I am a music nut and given conflicting concerts between the two venues, i speak with my wallet and choose the State over the 9:30.

BTW, The State was named by Homegrwon Music Network as the Best club in the US.

Also as a musician, I will be more than happy not to lug my gear home at the end of the night smelling like an ashtray.

Syngltrack
www.magnoliablueband.com

Posted by: syngltrack | January 5, 2006 5:23 PM | Report abuse

All I have to say is that I'm waiting...and with baited breath, for the Dupont Circle ANC to get ahold of a couple of hundred screaming homos (and before you have a meltdown I'm one too), to be standing outside after midnight having a smoke. This is the same ANC that tried to shut down a restaurant before it even opened earlier this year because it would bring too much traffic to an already over populated, over parked neighborhood. The sheer joy of the whirlwind that they will create trying to overturn the smoking ban makes me absolutely giddy.

Posted by: Cleopatra | January 5, 2006 5:24 PM | Report abuse

So we're now drawing comparisons between of-age restaurant patrons and minors in day care service? I understand licensing, permits, and regulations, for base saftey/cleanliness standards. Even in this case, there is a certain assumption of the risk undertaken by a patron ... unless you're food's prepared in front of you.

This is indeed a slippery slope...one of private rights to own and operate a successful business free from undue government intrusion. Next, business owners will be required to remove heart-clogging red meat from their menus. Then mind-altering martinis. Then diabetes-inducing cheesecake. If you're a steak joint or pub owner, you might be troubled by this new law. Simple as that.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Here is the real issue: A bar is a PRIVATE business. It is not publicly-owned. A city council establishing a smoking ban in a restaurant is the equivalent of a city council deciding what a restaurant can serve on their menu. This is what they call the "tyranny of the majority". There were some other famous Washingtonians who were against that...
By the way, Go Carol Schwartz!

Posted by: Mole Hole | January 5, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mole Hole. Clear, concise, cuts to the issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

But seriously, folks, come on. Why try to turn this issue into something it isn't? Nonsmokers are as truly concerned about the health and welfare of bar and restaurant employees about as much smokers are concerned about the rights of private business owners. Which isn't much at all.

Posted by: rabbit | January 5, 2006 5:38 PM | Report abuse

There's nothing like tobacco; it is the passion of all decent men-a man who lives without tobacco does not deserve to live.

Posted by: Moliere | January 5, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely agree that smokers are people. I do not find them dispicable or disgusting. I have several friends who have been/are smokers.

Smokers deserve rights just as nonsmokers do. However, the ban does not take away a smoker's right to smoke. You can still do so in your home, outside, and anyplace that generates at least 10% of its income from tobacco sales. The smoking ban prohibits you from harming others. It is analogous to drunken driving laws. Drinking and driving is dangerous and can be fatal; there is no disputing this. Thus, it is illegal to do so. It's not illegal to drink unless you present harm to someone else by driving. When you smoke in a restaurant/bar, you are exposing workers and other patrons to a known carcinogen, subjecting them to danger. Thus, it should---and soon will--be, illegal.

Another comment regarding the assertion that people who don't go out to bars because of smoke are lame fatasses who are too cheap to pay for drycleaning. Most smokers have no idea how badly smoke affects some people. I love going out for a dancing, playing pool, or just hanging out with friends over drinks. However, after a mere one night in a smoky bar (and this is NOT exaggerated), I amlost completely lose my voice, I spend a significant portion of the next day coughing and wheezing, and my eyes are so red it looks like someone zapped me with pepper spray. A few times a year, I will suck it up and suffer through this, but most of the time, it's just not worth it. I am not lame. I am most assuredly not fat...or even an ounce overweight for that matter. I happily pay for drycleaning. I realize that not everyone is as affected by smoke as I am, but surely I am not the only one who suffers such effects from second hand smoke.

Posted by: Dancing in the Streets | January 5, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't smoke, but if someone wants to smoke in a bar - c'mon now! they should be allowed. And, who are the regulators/enforcers of the no smoking law - employees? what next? Can't leave the bar until taking a breathalyzer that says it's safe for you to drive? Handing out condoms to any inebriated couple heading out the door?

Drinking and smoking go hand-in-hand in bars. EVERYTHING KILLS. Let's enjoy our brief snapshots of time in a bar to have a few drinks, enjoy a cigarette, take in a game (regulating untaxed betting?), or coercing with the opposite sex.

BOOOO to that law!

Posted by: RadarPoop | January 5, 2006 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't smoke, but if someone wants to smoke in a bar - c'mon now! they should be allowed. And, who are the regulators/enforcers of the no smoking law - employees? what next? Can't leave the bar until taking a breathalyzer that says it's safe for you to drive? Handing out condoms to any inebriated couple heading out the door?

Drinking and smoking go hand-in-hand in bars. EVERYTHING KILLS. Let's enjoy our brief snapshots of time in a bar to have a few drinks, enjoy a cigarette, take in a game (regulating untaxed betting?), or coercing with the opposite sex.

BOOOO to that law!

Posted by: RadarPoop | January 5, 2006 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Does this law include chewing tobacco! Smokers should just shift to chewing.

Posted by: Red Man | January 5, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Regarding cigarette taxes, no one has mentioned that smokers pay an inordinate share of the tax burden, tax that has been benefitting all. The anti-smoking campaign people have been at it a long time now and many people have indeed quit smoking because of it and eliminating their share of those taxes. So who makes up the difference? I believe non-smokers will have to pony up a little more dough to cover that loss. I don't think for a minute that the government is going to lower taxes.

I just went to Ireland, where the smoking ban has been in effect for several years now. A lot of the bars and clubs have what were called "beer gardens" in pre-ban days, but which are now used as areas for their smoking patrons. There are chairs and tables, ashtrays, perhaps even a half roof or awning-type covering to keep you dry and in many, heaters to keep the smokers warm on cold nights. It was nice that the non-smokers could have their space and smokers could also have a place where they weren't hanging out on the sidewalk feeling in the way. There were also places that provided no such amenities for smokers, so smokers went elsewhere. The bars also have large "ashtrays" hanging on the wall outside their places so smokers have a place to put out their cigarettes. I saw they were well used and the sidewalks weren't trashed. There are many ways to make both sides happy and stop all this bitching.

Posted by: On and Off Smoker | January 5, 2006 6:56 PM | Report abuse

FANTASTIC!! No more disgusting odors, and sinusy nights after what one hopes to be a fun night out!

Posted by: Stacye | January 5, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

For those claiming that bars/clubs/restaurants are PRIVATE businesses that should not be subjected to government control, then do you NOT SUPPORT government health and safety codes mandating that these establishments are clean, safe and sanitized? Sounds like from your reasoning that you wouldn't mind moldy cheeseburgers or backed up sewage - just as long as the government doesn't interfere with the owner's rights to conduct his/her private business that way. For me, I like clean dishes, safe food, and clean air. Cheers to the council.

Posted by: Smoke Free | January 5, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

The analogy between factory smokestacks and smoke in bars doesn't hold. Outdoor air is a public space; it is shared by everyone and no one owns it. Bars are private property; no one is forced to walk into them and inhale. An externality similar to the smokestack situation would be if the smoke from a bar weaved its way into a neighboring establishment or seriously polluted the air outside of the bar. Think, people.

Posted by: rose | January 5, 2006 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled with the new law. The only problem is that it doesn't go into effect soon enough! Several people have said that non-smokers/ban supporters are whiny, but it's you anti-ban people who are the whiners! What's so hard about going outside?? It's not like they banned smoking entirely. (I can only dream of that day!) Non-smokers getting lung cancer from your habit is a much bigger inconvenience than asking smokers to step outside. Or perhaps you will just have to start doing your drinking in the cigar bars. We non-smokers (the majority) have been seeking out non-smoking venues for years. Now it's the smokers turn to search for a place to hang out.

Posted by: RS | January 5, 2006 9:45 PM | Report abuse

My only question is "why did it take so long?" -- Maybe more non-smokers should get involved in local politics?

Posted by: jeff | January 5, 2006 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the ban isn't a nanny "you shouldn't smoke no no no (finger wagging). You know better, that's bad for you" to just protecting the health of the other people (both patrons and employees) in the bar/restaurant/building, etc.

Red Man -- I think dipping would be ok as long as you wouldn't be spitting on people (referencing earlier postings comparing spitting to smoking).

Posted by: A | January 5, 2006 11:34 PM | Report abuse

That "choosing" to smoke is (b.s.)., You become addicted, and you can't quit. Plain and simple. Smoking is all some people have. They sit at the bar (mostly alone) and try to time the drinking and smoking, it's an oral thing. And at five bucks a pack! Come on. They should have a few giant smoking bars, just like those smoking rooms in the airport... Ever stepped into one of those?

Everything, and I mean everything is better once you stop smoking. As an ex-smoker, I have no pity. People that smoke are weak losers, that can't stop. And the punishment? Outside they go... Cry me a river.

Posted by: Richard Dallas | January 5, 2006 11:46 PM | Report abuse

This was the funniest thing I've read in over qa month. If only the following people could be included on the Comedy Channel;

Mind Freak - I love the cursing anology!

Psst off Bartender - Do you really think your customers in Union Stn are going to Virginia? If they had a choice of where to drink they would be in Union Stn!!!

DC - Bring back the whores to DC? Did they ever leave? (except when the DC cops dumped them in Va?)

William - What the heck is the Big Red Rabbit reference? I think there is already a ban on what you are smoking!

Yes DC LOVER is a tool!

That Fat people ban was funny. So was Wnag Chung with his Ugly People bars, although I would be affected. :-(

John - You're right, but I forgot about what, too many blogs....

Chris - Too much!

Thomas Jefferson - The slavery issue was already brought up, but I had to repeat it.

And everone else, thanks for contriputing to such gerat material, even the overly annal of you. You've made me feel so much better about myself, even though I have slowly come around to thinking the smoking ban isn't so bad.

Pat

Posted by: Pat in VA | January 6, 2006 12:14 AM | Report abuse

You are for more likely to get killed by a drunk driver when you're leaving a bar than by the second-hand smoke inside. By the Council's logic it would make far more sense to ban booze from bars instead.

Posted by: Ned | January 6, 2006 1:12 AM | Report abuse

"The seasick passenger on an ocean liner detests the good sailor who stalks past him 265 times a day grandly smoking a large, greasy cigar. In precisely the same way the democrat hates the man who is having a better time in the world. This is the origin of democracy. It is also the origin of Puritanism."

Posted by: H.L. Mencken | January 6, 2006 2:46 AM | Report abuse

WTF Che, your post has nothing to do w/ smoking.

Anyway, I agree w/ the very 1st post that the smoking ban in bars should be immediate. Why should I have to come home with my clothes and hair reaking of cigarettes when I just want to have a good time? And neither I, nor the employees should be exposed to the 2nd hand smoke. That's selfish of the smokers to put our health at risk. Make the smokers go outside!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 7:59 AM | Report abuse

A typical left wing approach. A heavy handed father knows best approach. Why not make the restaurants advertise whether they permit smoking or not. The public can then decide whether they want to use the restaurant. Those who want smoke free restaurants will have them, those that want smoke filled restaurants can have them. Second hand smoke for the employees? Let them make the same choice. Those who smoke can choose, those who don't can make the same choice.

It is always better to let the market work.

Posted by: Andy | January 6, 2006 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Non-smoker here. Doesn't anyone here have a problem with the "big-brother" aspect to all this. I live in VA, and many (if not most) of the restaurant/bars are non-smoking anyway. Obviously, this is the result of an economic decision of the owners -- more folks will be attracted to their particular bar environment. So-called smoking bars have made their own economic judgments. Both smokers AND non-smokers (like me) have tons of choices. This is America, and VARIETY is part of its charm. Personally, I simply do not like the government telling us what to do, and how to behave.

Posted by: Virginia Dude | January 6, 2006 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm thrilled! As a non-smoker but former bartender, I'm no prude about my smoking friends, even though I hate it. Its a pleasure to go to bars in NYC now and enjoy yourself without the smoke burning your eyes and coming home reeking. I don't think it actually hurt the bar business in NYC. After all, smokers are in a minority in our society and can just step outside for a while. What will be a pain in the ass is trying to walk down 18th street at night and dodging all the smokers on the already crowded sidewalk.

Posted by: Sarah in DC | January 6, 2006 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Does no one do laundry except when going out? Aren't you all washing your clothes on a regular basis anyway? Frankly, that is the lamest argument of all of them, yet you all keep repeating it. How about we ban running because it makes you sweaty and you have to wash your clothes?

Posted by: Ruby | January 6, 2006 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Ruby - You mean to tell me you wash your jeans after every single time you wear them? What about your jacket or coat? How about your suit and tie? - Do you dry clean those too after everytime you wear them?

And this is not BIG BROTHER!! The majority of people pushed for this legislation and we won. Majority wins here - that's what a democracy is all about.

And for those complaining that the government is nothing but big brother intruding on our lives - I guess you are against health and safety inspections of these places as well. "Block the fire exits and serve moldy burgers - just as long as the government doesn't tell you not to do so." You're not making sense. Smoking is a health concern and the people don't want to deal with it anymore. So now the choice has shifted - if you want to smoke, stay at home or go outside. If you want to own a bar, then make it non-smoking. If not, choose a different business. It goes both ways.

Posted by: Smoke Free | January 6, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Having worked in a DC bar for many years, I am thrilled this legislation passed. I used to come home every night, exausted but stinking of smoke, and having to take a shower at 3am before going to sleep because I couldn't stand the smell. Smokers can easily go outside and smoke or wait until they leave a bar. It's not fair to subject the rest of us to their smelly habit. It's not too much to ask for smokers to be considerate of others and not smoke in public places!

Posted by: Sylvia | January 6, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Smoke Free. It seems there is a lot of hypocrisy going on with the opponents of the ban. I don't see any of you chanting outside of city hall protesting the intrusion of government into the health and safety of these establishments. None of you seem to have an issue with the government inspecting these places making sure they aren't infested with roaches, and that the fire exits are working.

The fact is, to open and operate a restaurant, bar, or club, you must apply for a LICENSE to do so. This license is an incentive for the owner to abide by all rules/laws regardig the operation of such an establishment. If you fail to do so, your license is revoked. The owners go into business knowing the government can mandate what they wish regarding the safety of patrons. If the owners have such an issue with this, they should have never applied for a license in the first place. Running a restaurant or club is not a right, it is a privilege - one given by the government. This doesn't make it so private anymore, does it. No one is telling smokers to stop smoking in their own homes - that is an intrusion. The smoking ban in government licensed businesses is not an intrusion of property rights.

Posted by: KC | January 6, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the D.C. city council is the protector of upper-middle class white people.

If this was truly a public health argument, where's the outcry about lead and other cancer-causing agents in DC's public water supply? How about the WWI-era, unexploded ordnance in NW Washington? What about the public health of the thousands of homeless and indigent on D.C.'s streets?

I'm gonna start the organization lead-free D.C., maybe in a few years I'll have four other members.

This was not a priority and is very telling of who is in control of D.C.

Posted by: DCite | January 6, 2006 10:18 AM | Report abuse

DCite -

Please stop using the example of bad behavior to justify other bad behavior. Just because there was at one time reports of non-lethal doses of lead in the water doesn't mean other unhealthy activities, like smoking, should be ignored. And last time I looked, those incidents were highly criticized and plenty of work has been done to correct them. But let's stick to the subject - we're talking about the smoking ban, not water lead or unexploded bombs (BTW: when was the last time one of those things detonated?). You sound like one of those people who get pulled over for speeding and tell the officer, "Don't you have more important things to do?" No, he's doing what he is paid to do. The same way the government is doing what it is designed to do - legislate for the well being of society. This was an important piece of legislation. Good luck with your water protest.

Posted by: Jan | January 6, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I recognize that tens of thousands of African-American and other minority children in D.C. acquiring developmental disorders, not to mention the possible carcinogenic affects of lead, do not typically concern the average white suburbanite (why would it, when they can afford to buy bottled water for their kids?). But I tend to believe that the people most likely to patronize bars and restaurants in D.C. are those that need the least public health protection. It's those without money and without choices that the D.C. city council should be paying attention.

B.T.W. - the ordnance in D.C. won't explode, but the mustard gas and chlorinated solvents that seep into the groundwater do tend to have (in the words of Jon Stewart), uhh... slightly negative effects.

It's nice to see we have our democratic (small d) priorities in order.

Posted by: Jan | January 6, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Smoke Free, if you had gone to school, you would understand that the US is a "republic", rather than a democracy. One not-so-minor distinction is that minorities have rights, notwithstanding majority opinion. Little things like free speach and freedom of assembly are based on the concept.

Posted by: DC Resident | January 6, 2006 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I recognize that tens of thousands of African-American and other minority children in D.C. acquiring developmental disorders, not to mention the possible carcinogenic affects of lead, do not typically concern the average white suburbanite (why would it, when they can afford to buy bottled water for their kids?). But I tend to believe that the people most likely to patronize bars and restaurants in D.C. are those that need the least public health protection. It's those without money and without choices that the D.C. city council should be paying attention.

B.T.W. - the ordnance in D.C. won't explode, but the mustard gas and chlorinated solvents that seep into the groundwater do tend to have (in the words of Jon Stewart), uhh... slightly negative effects.

It's nice to see we have our democratic (small d) priorities in order.

Posted by: DCite | January 6, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"but officer everyone else is speeding." Yes that argument is lame. And apparently you have made the assumption that only "upper-middle class white people go out.

Posted by: DC | January 6, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

OK guys after reading all these post I do see and understand the argument for smokefree bars.... smoke is yuckie and its bad for you... that about right? well I understand that and I do realize that one person smoking in a bar effects all the nonsmokers too.
Is that really worth legislating?
Is the best solution to this problem crying to (Big Brother, Teacher, Mom, Nanny) AKA the city council and telling them "smoke is yuckie make them stop" why start at the government level?
I live in Arlington and I know that in Alexandria there was a campaign where patrons expressed their views on smoking and many bars and restaurants said, "ok, well put, we won't allow smoking anymore" but at the same time there were other bars who had the opportunity to say, "hey we don't mind smoke much, all are patrons smoke or don't mind it, so were not going to ban it."
That seemed like a pretty fair and reasonable way to do things. Secondhand smoke isn't going to sneak up on you it isn't a hidden danger such as asbestos lead paint or the cockroaches hidden in the kitchen. You can see it smell it taste it ect. and because it is so obvious you CAN avoid it.
This doesn't need to be a law, if anti-smokers take up their issues (and they do have reasonable issues) to the bars many would change on their own. And the ones that don't would be able to cater to guy like me, who thinks a shot a brew and a smoke should all be available at the bar.

Posted by: Colin | January 6, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the opponents. What really angers me about the ban is that we are slowly outlawing a legal product. If you are over 18, you have the right to buy and use cigarettes. Just like at 21, you have to the right to purchase and drink alcohol. Both can have very negative consequences.

We should either
1. Completely outlaw cigarettes
or
2. Allow individual owners of establishments to decide whether they would like to allow patrons to enjoy a legal product or not.

Posted by: DeFacto Outlaw | January 6, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Hey, while we're at it, I think it's high time we ban loud music from all DC bars. The adverse health consequences are readily apparent. Also, it's a public venue, and I have a right to be there without having my hearing damaged. In fact, let's not stop there! We all know that concerts at the MCI center are way to loud. Come on, majority, let's take action!!

Posted by: Idea Man | January 6, 2006 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I am so tired of government making these kind of calls. This should totally be up to the owner of the establishment. After all, like Defacto said, cigarettes are still legal.

Posted by: Tired of being Nanny'd | January 6, 2006 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, all establishments have to do to comply with the new rules is sell more cigarettes on site.

Posted by: RMAC | January 6, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

RMAC, I think you're on to something. All the small dive bars (which will be hurt most) at Dupont cirle and Adams Morgan need to do is require patrons to by a $3 pack of cigs for every 30$ of food/alcohol.

Posted by: Agreed | January 6, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

This bad is awful, and it looks like nothing can stop it. Congress needs to step in and get rid of it.... the question is how can I help make that happen.... Whatever happened to Phillp Morris and RJ Reynolds political influence? didn't they have more people on payroll than the mafia?
Hey BIG TOBACCO stick up for smokers and buy us some congressional action!!!!

Posted by: Cancer McGee | January 6, 2006 12:13 PM | Report abuse

So hookah bars, which I personally enjoy (the more authentic ones in Virginia, which have been around much longer, cost only a fraction of the price you pay in DC) are exempt from the ban. That is so hypocritical. You are practically smoking TOBACCO out of a bong. How is that different from a tiny pub where the clientelle wants nothing more than to drink and smoke cigarettes. It's pretty obvious the DC council is scared of losing business to VA.

Posted by: rcotten | January 6, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I read the text of the bill. To get out of this, DC bars won't likely be able to make 10% of their revenue in tobacco sales. If bars don't mind having a "loss leader" in cigarettes and sell them a bit cheaper than CVS does, then this could maybe happen. It would be a long shot though. The minimum price of cigs might be regulated though.

The economic hardship exception is crying out "bribe me." This is DC, after all. I believe the text mentions the Mayor's "satisfaction," (page 5, line 1) which cracks me up. DC had better keep an eye on its health department inspectors to make sure they aren't lining their pockets. The cost of a violation is $500 a day to a bar owner I believe. If people aren't calling in loads of complaints about a place, how much is it worth for the inspector and the bar owner to come to an agreement otherwise?

I think if anyone called the cops, they'd get laughed at, though the private cause of action for employees to sue their employers is no joke. Sure, it requires you to go through whatever dispute resolution your company has, but do most bars have an employee handbook? Maybe the big chains or more corporate joints, but the Black Cat or the Raven? Calling all ambulance chasers!

The economic impact on the area is uncertain, I think. Boston/MA and CA are entire statewide bans. The major cities there aren't on a border of 2 other states, so the studies that are touted by non-smoking activist types seem somewhat inapplicable. I think Montgomery County banned smoking and apparently, there was little to no economic loss. However, as a Virginian, I have to think that business likely wasn't that great before the ban either-it is Maryland after all. (Starting a MD vs. VA grudge match seems about as productive as smoker vs. non-smoker.)

Finally, DC smokers should start hanging in Arlington. Galaxy Hut is a cool joint, despite being surrounded by a sea of Clarendrones. Dremo's is a block from the courthouse metro for at least another year or so. This will do wonders for the tip jars of my service industry friends in Arlington. Cheers, DC Council.

Posted by: twopants | January 6, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

To the people who say they will come to DC now and spend there money or like going to clubs that don't have smoking. You are basically arguing the point that anti-ban people are making. Why not let the market work it out? If it is worthwhile for more bars to go smoke free and they see a large increase in business they would do it. In reality that doesn't actually happen so I guess people had to go cry to the council.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and does the "cigar bar" exception thing seem a little classist? Cigarettes are bad, but cigars are ok? In effect, being a cigar bar is all about revenue, so its just a name. But I think it actually is encouraging the sale of more tobacco. Bars might end up going all out to hit that 10% mark. If so, how does that jive with the purpose of the bill?

Posted by: twopants | January 6, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

To the proponents of the smoking ban:

Can anyone answer when is the last time anyone of you went to a bar or nightclub because you had concerns about your health?

You don't go to bars to drink organic soy protein shakes, you go to drink, and most bar food unhealthy as well.

Bars are by definition unhealthy places. They are generally packed full of people which raises the chances for catching diseases, especially when combined with alcohol which lowers the immune system.


Why can't we just let the market decide this issue? There are more than 200 smoke free establishments in Washington and more are going smoke free on their own every year.

Posted by: JJ | January 6, 2006 12:30 PM | Report abuse

In response to SmokeFree this morning, you said: "Block the fire exits and serve moldy burgers - just as long as the government doesn't tell you not to do so."

I really hate this anology. Smoking is different is because it's a known hazard. If you are visiting a new bar, and you walk in (or even use some common sense), there is a good chance that it will be smokey, and you assume that risk, or leave. The difference with the moldy burger/blocked exit argument is that you are unaware of those hazards. If you knew the bar was going to serve moldy burgers or have blocked exits, would you still order the meat, or visit the bar? Probably not, but yet you KNOW that going into that bar there will be smoke, and you go anyway. It would seem therefore, that when the patron is aware of the hazard, that it is their PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to decide if it is an appropriate venue.

The Nanny State has won this battle, and unfortunately, doesn't seem to be slowing down. As a non-smoker, I feel bad for those that will have to stop smoking their entirely legal, and heavily taxed tobacco.

One last thought -- For those of you who say it's not a big deal to stand outside, I'm from Upstate NY, and standing outside in -15 degree weather to smoke a cigarette, or to stand with a buddy, is miserable.

Posted by: Greg | January 6, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Agreed" is very crafty. I recollect a story, perhaps apocryphal, about a town in Scandinavia that passed a law requiring all bars to have a certain percentage of food sales. Bars began including a single egg with every beer, which nobody ever ate. Eventually they started giving out rubber eggs to waste less food. Similar things could be tried here.

Ultimately, it seems just as wasteful to me. For my beloved smoky dives, the economic hardship route seems easiest. Maybe providing survey data to the mayor's office of how much of a bar's clientele smokes is enough. It looks like you can do that before the ban takes place. I dunno. The present mayor seems sympathetic enough to smaller bars. Who knows who will be in office after Tony though.

Posted by: twopants | January 6, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Well, chalk up another step towards a totalitarian state/country. This is about choice and not about you whining about the smell of you Gap clothes. Last time I checked they had plenty of detergent stocked at the grocery stores. You tree-huggers are beginning to annoy me.

Posted by: Not a Commie | January 6, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm very happy about the ban, and also about the ban recently enacted in PG County. Now both of my favorite bars will be smoke-free. Yes, I've been going to the PG one more often already - and it's only been a week!

The ("nanny") state has to step in to protect people when individuals don't consider the impact of their actions on others. It is a fact that secondhand smoke is a carcinogen. Many smokers simply do not care that they are exposing others to this toxin. They will not stop doing so unless forced to.

Ban opponents argue that non-smokers have a choice, which is to patronize only non-smoking establishments. However, those are not very numerous because bar owners are afraid to go non-smoking (the smokers threaten to take away their business if they do so).

Like many things in our society, it comes down to two things - self-interest and pursuit of the almighty dollar, at the expense of just about anything.

When people consider the welfare of others about as much as they do their own, there won't be any need for a "nanny state." It's gonna be a long time coming.

In the meantime, smokers, please enjoy your cigarettes where they won't cause harm to anyone else. We truly appreciate it very much.

I'm going to the PG bar again tonight.

Posted by: Heather | January 6, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

There have been some pretty stupid things said here, but "If I'm allowed to smoke, I intrude upon you. If force me to stop smoking, you intrude upon me" is pretty much the stupidest thing I've heard so far. If you're allowed to smoke you are forcing me to breathe your toxic smoke, which has the potential to give me lung cancer. If I "force" you to stop smoking in my face you can still go outside, but I can't go outside for a drink because it's illegal to drink on the sidewalk. I'm an ex-smoker and I'm not a rabid anti-ex smoker, but it's perfectly acceptable for people to not have to breathe in fumes which make them stink and could potentially do them physical harm. No one is causing you any harm by simply asking not to be caused harm by you. The comparison is completely stupid.

Posted by: Charlie Gonzales | January 6, 2006 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to open a "Cigar Bar" where I sell cigarettes for $5/each. Each cigarette will come with the drink of your choice.

Posted by: Think it Through | January 6, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I have never been to US but any ways it's gr8 news that u ppl will have the whole city as smoke free area.But the question is will the Govt or authorities could stop these chain or once /twice in a day smokers from smoking at home?.Their children at home will definitly see them smoking & out of 10 5 might catch this dangerous "Disease of Smoking " from them.My opinion is to educate children to Educate their smoker parents to stop from smoking.I know some1 who stopped coz his young son forced him to do so If 1 child could do this i believe that every child has power over their parents to do so.Plz lets try it out LETS GIVE OUR CHILDREN SOMETHING GOOD & that GOOD IS NO SMOKING WORLD.

Posted by: Maliha | January 6, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

This is similar to the ban on smoking in airplanes: yes, people choose to fly for convenience just as much as they choose to go to a particular bar for entertainment or to socialize or to watch a game. Why should everyone have to suffer from the effects of smoke when most people choose not to do it themselves? People have dealt with that ban and will deal with this one as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Its nothing like the jet ban. The airline industry is heavily federally regulated. Bars and restaurants are private establishments where folks assume the risk of their behaviors and where the establishment owners reserve the right to refuse service to anyone on whatever terms they deemed appropriate under the law. Until now.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 3:46 PM | Report abuse

And, unlike bars, jets are pretty much the only way to effectively travel long distances. You can get drunk on your couch at home if you don't like smoke...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Smoking is cool and the people who support the ban are not. Those people are jealous and petty and can't stand to see me enjoying my super-cool smokes. They don't want to be reminded of how uncool they are when hanging out with me in bars---they'd prefer to force my outside so they can avoid having to have their lame non-smoking selves exposed so starkly and publicly.

I don't like it, but I can live with it, because even when I'm smoking outside, I know I'm cooler than you.

Posted by: Joe Camel | January 6, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

First, not everyone goes to bars to get drunk. Second, bars should be just as safe to all patrons whether it is from smoke, other people, slippery floors, clean glassware, etc. Our society has been changing to address the dangers of smoking and this is the latest step in the right direction. And restaurants ARE regulated, just not federally. There will still be places for smokers to go if they want to smoke at a bar. The burden has just shifted to the smokers being inconvenienced rather than the non-smokers. All my smoker-friends in CA and NY are fine with the bans in those areas. Not much actually changes. People will continue to smoke and people will continue to go to bars. Life will go on and everyone gets to be a little healtier.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 6, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Smoking is cool and the people who support the ban are not. Those people are jealous and petty and can't stand to see me enjoying my super-cool smokes. They don't want to be reminded of how uncool they are when hanging out with me in bars---they'd prefer to force my outside so they can avoid having their lameness exposed so starkly and publicly.

I don't like the smoking ban, but I can live with it, because even when I'm smoking outside, I know I'm cooler than you.

Posted by: Joe Camel | January 6, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Take it from this former Manhattan waitress -- the touristy and hotel bars are fine, but the "local" dive bars have lost their "edginess" and thus much business since the smoking ban. Atmosphere is everything to the young urbanite. If you don't see that, you never will.

Posted by: New York View | January 6, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I actually work in a bar. While I appreciate the pro-ban's concern about my health, I think it is a little bit much. Sure--bars are smoky and filled with somewhat inebriated patrons, but you know what---I knew that before I took the job. I was fully aware of my work environment and if I did mind the smoke, I would work at a non-smoking bar or in retail or some other industry. I'm happy that the bar that I work in is in VA, so all of the people who want a beer, a cigarette, and want to watch football will come to my bar and I'll make some more money.

Posted by: Happy for Arlington | January 6, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't smoke, but am strongly against the smoking ban. Bars are were you go to leisurely kill yourself... it's not the same if people aren't allowed to smoke.

Posted by: wte | January 6, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

The anti-ban poster attempts to paint the pro-ban poster as a radical, Big-Brother meddler.

Yet supporters of the ban actually are in favor of a reasonable, balanced policy decision: let smokers smoke, and let non-smokers avoid inhaling their smoke. The only price: smokers now have to walk a few steps outside before lighting up. The council has studied this matter, and decided that this is a far smaller cost to the city's citizens and businesses than continuing to condone smokers polluting the air of DC's bars and restaurants.

It is far more radical to insist that businesses open to the public and licensed by the government are somehow in fact entirely "private," that individuals somehow have an inalienable "right" to inflict cancerous fumes on others, that people who choose not to smoke somehow have nevertheless "chosen" to inhale the smoke of others, and that we should let the invisible hand of the "market" decide whether smokers can continue their reign, but that we should not allow the city's duly-elected council to make an informed policy decision through a transparent public process that the "smoker's bill of rights" is not without its limits.

Anti-ban posters: Somewhere thick with smoke, Timothy McVeigh smiles a crooked grin in delight at your ultra-libertaraian, anti-government position. Phillip Morris himself would be proud.

Posted by: NicoDerm-U.S. | January 6, 2006 6:07 PM | Report abuse

As a light smoker and former San Franciscan (a city that is generally health-conscious to the point of neurosis), I am ambivalent about the ban. My disappointment has less to do with the discomfort of being forced out into the cold to smoke and more to do with being deprived of the sublime pleasure of the cocktail and cigarette pairing. It may seem naive, but I don't smoke to satisfy some slavish addiction to nicotine, but because it's pleasant. Like coffee and biscotti, wine and cheese, or chocolate and peanut butter, there's just something about a martini and a couple Nat Shermans that's just a perfect combination. That said, I do understand how unpleasant second-hand smoke is to other bar patrons. But couldn't non-smokers settle for the compromise of legislation that requires stricter standards for ventilation systems in bars? It seems that this regulation, as opposed to a wholesale ban, would address your health or annoyance concerns without bringing the terrible spectre of an overly invasive government. In the big picture, a ban that invites pernicious excessive government involvement in the lives of citizens and small businesses is far more disquieting than the relatively smaller hassles that non-smokers tolerate when they go out. When you apply this kind of cost/benefit analysis, it becomes apparent that dramatically altering the relationship between government and citizen in this manner isn't justified by the desire to alleviate non-smokers' discomfort. Thoughts?

Posted by: ndaly | January 6, 2006 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to invent an adapter so that you can hook up a Marlboro Light cigarette to the end of a Hookah!

Posted by: Han | January 10, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

As for the drycleaning, I obviously wasn't suggesting the $1.25 it takes to dryclean a shirt would be

1. the difference between going out and not going out
2. the deciding factor in the smoking ban

Enough with this whole "the government is controlling us" stuff. We elected these people, they passed a law that they obivously felt had widespread public approval (they want to get re-elected, right?), gave everyone a year to get used to it, and that's that. For everyone who's planning a boycott of DC bars just to go to Arlington and smoke, please go right ahead. You'll probably fill their bars with so much smoke that they'll be the next ones to pass the ban. The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of the DC area doesn't smoke and is also very liberal, so if you don't like it, keep moving south until you find a place that will allow you to exercise your rights the way that you see fit. Until then, sharpen your pen, write a letter, and ask for a new jacket and gloves for next Christmas.

Posted by: CAS | January 10, 2006 12:17 PM | Report abuse

CAS -- you posted: "Until then, sharpen your pen, write a letter, and ask for a new jacket and gloves for next Christmas."

For your information, I have written to my Councilwoman, Sharon Ambrose, and she has yet to respond. That's some pretty good reprentitive government, eh? I did NOT elect her, others have, and she continues to completely neglect those who do not agree with her.

I wonder whether there are more anti-smoking folks out there, or they made the bigger stink about the issue. It seems like the Bar/Restaurant lobby fell kind of silent on the issue. Either way, I'm disappointed in the new legislation, and worry about how much control the DC Govt has over our lives.

I also appreciate the biggoted statement that anyone who doesn't agree with the ban should move south. Apparently liberty isn't much needed in the capital city of a supposed democratic nation.

Posted by: Greg | January 11, 2006 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I sincerely hope the nonsmokers put their money where there mouth is, so to speak, because I can think of several bar/restaurants that would otherwise see sales and tips decline with the ban. Get ready to pull out that wallet at least five days a week for happy hour, you nonsmoking folks, you! And don't forget to leave *good* tips for your bartenders and servers.

Posted by: Gina | January 11, 2006 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I am Cigar Smoker, so I have to deal with a ban already. Most restaurants dont allow Cigar smoking at their bars. So, one needs to frequent restaurants/bars that do. I feel sorry you cigarette smokers who are going to have to get your coats from coat check, dash outside during the winter for a few freezing puffs. Then check your coat back in. And repeat this silly scenario, over and over. Sounds fun.

Whats even more pathetic then that, the loosers smoking outside their office buildings because they cant go 8 hours without a cigarette.

Posted by: IT Exec | January 12, 2006 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Can we create a ban on Fat/Obese People?

Posted by: Thinking.... | January 12, 2006 4:56 PM | Report abuse

In nine months after enactment, this is so not going to be an issue anymore. Everyone gets used to it- smokers, too. If a city like Toledo, Ohio can have a smoking ban surely DC can handle it.

Posted by: boo | January 13, 2006 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Good news! A just released study shows smoking bans not necessary to protect public health!


Press Release

For Immediate Release: December 5 , 2005

Do Smoking Bans cause a 27 to 40% drop in admissions for myocardial infarction in hospitals?
December 5, 2005

Antismokers claim that studies have shown that bans bring about an immediate and drastic decrease in heart attacks among nonsmokers exposed to smoke at work.

This claim was never true to begin with - the cited studies never separated and analyzed nonsmokers as a separate group - and it has now been pointed out in the pages of the BMJ that even the claim of saving lives among the combined population of smokers and nonsmokers might be worthless.

While many making that claim may have believed their information to be accurate, it is now obvious that its basis has been thrown strongly into question. As Jacob Sullum noted in a December 1st reaction to the announcement, "An effect this dramatic (i.e. an immediate and pronounced drop of hospital admissions for heart attacks) should have been noticed all over the country..."

Just a week before the Chicago Aldermen were due to vote on a citywide smoking ban, two independent researchers working together, David W. Kuneman and Michael J. McFadden, unveiled a new study covering a population base roughly 1,000 times as large as the previous town-based studies. The new study indicates strongly that rather than a 30% decrease in heart attacks, statewide smoking bans seem to have literally NO EFFECT AT ALL on heart attack rates. Incredibly the data even indicates that California's statewide heart attack rate went UP by 6% in the first full year of their total smoking ban!

The data for the study and the basis of its design have been backed up and expanded by well-known antismoking researcher Michael Siegel who has come out in support of the researchers' approach as providing "compelling evidence that brings into question the conclusion that smoking bans have an immediate and drastic effect on heart attack incidence." His observation is echoed by researcher Kuneman who asks, "Ever wonder why you didn't hear about post ban heart attack declines in New York City? Or in Minneapolis or Los Angeles? Now you know!"

On December 4th the British Medical Journal entered the fray with the online publication of a Rapid Response by Mr. McFadden outlining the new research and posing sharp criticisms of the earlier studies and of the refusal of the authors of those studies to respond to previous criticisms and questions. McFadden points out that the data in the Kuneman/McFadden study are fully open for public examination and far less selective than the data in the earlier studies and notes with pride that he and his co-researcher have been quick to respond to all queries posted about their methodology on Dr. Siegel's web blog.

He also poses the wider ranging question of whether studies commissioned by the "Antismoking Industry" should begin to receive the same cautious reception accorded those commissioned by "Big Tobacco." The current study, as well as an earlier one by the duo, were unfunded and neither researcher receives grants for their work from either interest group. Kuneman sharply asks the question, "Why the difference between the studies? For one thing we weren't dependent on antismoking-targeted grants!"

At this point there appears to be very little, if any, real scientific support for the claim that protecting nonsmokers from normal levels of exposure to secondary smoke prevents any heart attacks. And it is this claim that has always provided the impressive numbers upon which ban advocates have pressed legislators to pass smoking bans.

Without those numbers proponents of extreme bans are left with little other than the widely discredited EPA figures relating ETS to lung cancer and a few isolated instances of hospitality workers who have come to believe that their own cancers were caused by working in smoking establishments. Samantha Phillipe, editor of the longstanding smokersclubinc.com newsletter, notes that while it's always a cause for sadness when someone becomes ill that it's even more sad when they are misguidedly advised to blame family and friends for their illness.

Without a compelling body of scientific evidence backing them up, smoking bans are an unnecessary and overbearing intrusion of government into the spheres of free choice, private property and free enterprise. And the Kuneman/McFadden study points up just how uncompelling even some of the strongest and most publicised evidence actually is.

References:

1) Article: A Preliminary Study

2) Mike Siegel's blog analysis and follow up comments:

3) BMJ Response: Helena 1000 Days

4) Jacob Sullum's REASON column: Hit and Run

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of SmokersClubInc.com
web page: http://pasan.thetruthisalie.com/
Email: Cantiloper@aol.com

Posted by: Bill Hannegan | January 23, 2006 12:29 AM | Report abuse

I already know my solution for when the smoking ban goes into effect. I will no longer go out drinking at 9-10pm on weeknights. Instead, I will be walking into my bars at last call. I will sit back quietly not smoking until my bartender friends kick everyone who isn't a regular out. Then we will all start smoking.

Posted by: smoker | January 27, 2006 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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