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Ah, the fresh breeze...of the Smoking Ban [Feb. 6th, 2008|11:32 am]
Well, or the usual funk of too many people in one place. And spilled beer. But that might just make my stomach jump until it gets used to it.

But a brief wafting of sympathy is all I can do for you -- because well, I just suck at sympathy, for starters -- and, while at the expense of your convenience and even enjoyment, I can breathe again. And go to see shows and bands and performances that have been near off-limits to me for years.

Yeah, yeah, I know, your rights....they end where they infringe on mine, as far as I'm concerned -- because it IS all about me! And I'm tired of not being able to go see Trixie Little, Bonearama, another half a dozen acts/bands whose shows I've had to blow off because faced with the choice of going, risking needing to leave early because of an asthma attack and guaranteeing 24-48 hours of hacking up chunky snots afterwards...and going to see them, I usually have to bow out. Being able to see the Do or Die Mysteries or go to trivia night at Whispers (FABULOUS), without paying for it for 2 days later...oh, joy. (Note: for all I know, these places have invoked the hardship clause...idiots...so I may be celebrating prematurely) Although, all the bitching aside, restaurant and bar revenues rise in localities that ban indoor smoking. And if it's so bad for business -- well, trust me, I work closely with Marriott and they are all about what makes sense to the bottom line. (Marriott recently banned smoking in all US properties, hotels, conference centers, including rooms, bars, restaurants.)

Sure I could argue in your favor. If I don't like it, I can stay in Montgomery County. Although, I can argue that you can take your habit outside and my lungs pretty much have to stay with me, wherever I go. And an oxygen tank is not the best idea in a crowded place full of drunkards and lighters. And if I don't want to risk inhaling vast quantities of second hand smoke, I could work someplace else. Although when you're in a bar, you're only trapped in it for what, how many hours a week? Far less than 40-50, like the wait staff and bartenders have to endure, I'm guessing. Like farts, your own stink is always easier to take. Go work someplace else? Sure, that's easy for me to say, and probably for you. But for the single Mom who needs to be able to waitress or bartend someplace within walking/bus distance and doesn't have a lot of options -- that's a harsh call.

I would make one change -- that smoking establishments should be allowed AND licensed like liquor -- with only so many in a given geographic area (so that there would be plenty of options, say, to be a bartender without having to resign yourself in inhaling that crap unwillingly) yet there would be a majority of places that the rest of us could enjoy while letting the smokers envelope themselves. The extra money raised from licensing should go to fund the health benefits of the people who work there -- because they WILL cost more money than nonsmokers, who aren't exposed to 40 hours/week of smoke.

But really, when it comes down to it, I'm glad. Pleased as punch. Happy as a clam. I'll be able to breathe, I'll be able to socialize and let's face it, if I love you, I want you to quit. And I'm enough of a benevolent dictator-type to have no qualms about squashing your rights to do whatever you want to do wherever you want to do it. Quit panicking that this is just another step that will lead to the government taking away your right to eat a potato chip. Did abortion lead to euthanasia of old people (as a right-to-lifer told my high school civ class)? No. Not that I'm against that, either, frankly, but that my friends is another can of old worms.

Besides, if Ireland, Italy and France...three countries where I think you're born with a cigarette in your hand...can enact bans...well, hell, they made us look like pussies, afraid we'll catch a cold if we go outside for a smoke....

Refrain from posting if you're outraged -- I'm having a brief shining moment in an otherwise awful week (I got my contract done before the deadline and I wanna bask before I go back to all the stuff that has piled up) and I so don't want to hear it....

[User Picture]From: thewhitedragon
2008-02-06 06:11 pm (UTC)
I believe myself to be one of the more considerate smokers out there. That said, I've got a huge problem with the government dropping a blanket ban on smoking... not because I think they're picking on lil ol' me... but because I feel it should be up to the individual establishment as to whether allowing a smoking or non-smoking client list.

Let's face it, it would be much more profitable for everyone if this was a voluntary issue. If a restaurant wanted to self-impose a smoking ban, I'd support that decision and decide if I'd like to take my cigarette smoking somewhere else or just walk outside to have a cigarette. I'm sure you'll find that quite a few of these venues you mentioned will have two additions that weren't well thought out when they dropped the mandatory ban: 1) a dense cloud of smoke directly outside the door that you'll have to walk through and 2) a lot of cigarette butts just outside said door. Even so, the venue would be the one who decided and not the government forcing their hand.

One of the nightclubs in Montgomery Co was forced to close a few years ago because of the ban. Smokers were sick of being forced to stand next to a portable heater (which the club nicely supplied) and went across the county and state border. They couldn't make up for those lost clients. This fact was confirmed by both the doorman and the bartenders so it's not "theory"

At Dave and Busters in Bethesda, the last time I was there, I asked the bartenders and wait staff how business faired since the ban. They admitted, quite openly, that they lost quite a bit of money because of it. Sales are lost any time someone is forced to leave a point-of-sale location (ie, sitting at the bar or standing by a video game) were quantity of moved merchandise is the bottom line to decide profit. For a perfect example, just look at Vegas: they keep you at the machines by bringing you drinks and food... you just sit there like a trained monkey and drop your money into the slots.

If non-smoking (but those not troubled by cigarettes) friends decided to join me in a smoking-permitted establishment, they could. While there would still be used butts outside the door, the establishment could control the amount of litter quite a bit easier and would gain a lot of the profit that a non-smoking venue just lost. While the bartenders might be working in a smoke-filled environment, those smokers would sit at the bar and keep those tabs being filled instead of taking those 10-15 minutes to walk outside - a time period where that customer's purchaces is exactly zero.

Just food for thought... from a smoker's perspective.

PS: Not outraged at your opinion... but certainly so over "big government".

Edited at 2008-02-06 06:12 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: chellebelle74
2008-02-06 06:47 pm (UTC)
I'm with you Turnip. I can understand and even sympathize (to a point) with my smoking friends, but really I'm relieved about the smoking ban and finally being able to go wherever I want without having to weigh the health consequences. I've also put forth the idea of liscensing (similar to that for alcohol sales) for smoking establishments. Give the cosumer the choice. But I honestly don't think smoking should be the default setting for restaurants and bars.

Oh, and congrats on hitting the deadline. :-)
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-02-06 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Of course, hitting that one, I'm pretty sure, just ensured that I'll miss the next four...but hitting the one right before your 90 day review is probably more crucial than the one on your 96th day....
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[User Picture]From: majorchaos
2008-02-06 06:50 pm (UTC)
I agree.
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[User Picture]From: im_geva
2008-02-06 08:50 pm (UTC)
Because everyone is entitled to my .02...smirk.

I am thrilled that the ban is in effect. I want to come home and not drop my clothes in another room, and febreeze the smell out of my hair. (Really, it works!)

I completely respect the legality of smoking, and licensing smoking establishments is an interesting thought, but I don't think it would work. In every group, there might be one or two smokers, amid four or five non-smokers. The numbers don't add up, and I don't think the smoking-privileged places would make it.

I also think that those bars that said they'd lost money weren't taking into account that it was Super Bowl weekend, with Fat Tuesday two days later. And I believe that those smokers who sit at the bar will be right back out in a couple days when they get bored of sitting around at home.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-02-06 09:21 pm (UTC)
Well, the licensed smoking establishments would probably not be bars, so much as smoking clubs that serve alcohol. Let's face it, if you're catering to smokers...you're going to want to really carry items that your target audience is looking for -- a lovely humidor room, all sorts of funky brands...I could totally bring the idea to market. I could just never go IN the joint!

There are always going to be a couple of places that ARE hurt. But the vast majority do better. Sorry, but market data has borne that out over and over again. Marriott has data that shows for every loyal smoking customer who won't come back...there are way more non-smoking who will patronize. There are more non-smokers and more people who smoke but are willing to take a break so that they can hang out with their nonsmoking friends, than there are smokers. Sure, over a night a bar might lose out on a couple of drinks because smokers went outside for a break...although as a former bartender, I might question that...generally speaking, someone who drinks a cetain number of drinks per hour tends to drink that same number, night after night, no matter how many phone calls they get up to take. (I know, I'm revealing that I'm old enough to have tended bar BEFORE cell phones...) And, remember, a bar may lose a smoker...but they gain me. And we all know how much *I* drink! The Royal Mile has finally learned how quickly my nonsmoking friends and I will rip through a keg of Strongbow.

Do I believe that a nightclub got hurt? Sure. Hey, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, that's what Spock taught us, right? And things change in the bar and restaurant industry all of the time -- as an owner you have to be nimble, see what's coming and adapt. There are ways to ride out an outflow of customers -- I'm not saying it's easy, I'm not saying it will always work -- but I've been behind the counter and behind the line in places that have had to deal with declining sales.

And a lot of the griping comes from places that frankly were going down the tubes anyway and found that an easy thing to blame -- does the Anchor Inn in Wheaton ring any bells? Oh, the smoking ban killed them....puh-lease, they were on life support. The food was getting dreadful and their target demographic was so old, it died on them.

But like I said, I have some shred of sympathy...it's just powerfully outweighed by how much easier and healthier going out will be for me.

Now I can just DRINK myself to death!
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[User Picture]From: 3fingeredsalute
2008-02-06 11:29 pm (UTC)
To those who suggest that the smoking ban made a club in Montgomery County close, I'm sure there are LOTS of rumors about the closure of lots of things, because Aunt Shirley knows the bartender who was talking to the doorman who said he listened to all the smokers grumble.... it doesn't make them true. The clubs themselves either draw you in or not, depending on what they have to offer -- and smoking is hardly one of those do or die items. (Pardon the pun.) Bad clubs open and close. And quite honestly? I haven't found a "good club" in Montgomery County, anyway. Natch

On another note, Montgomery County's UNEXPECTED boon was the rise of karaoke nights. No more were the talented singers forced to decide if they wanted to risk their lungs or stay at home due to the levels of smoke. Now, granted, that's a pretty minor triumph for the smoking advocates, but it does show there can be hidden benefits, and I'll be damned if karaoke doesn't draw one heck of a dedicated fan-following. Go see it for yourself!

Now that Virginia is also contemplating a county by county smoking ban, the alternatives for smokers will be mighty fine pickings. Drive 3 hours, or butt-out. I agree it sounds harsh, but the bottom line is not that the government is scared for our safety -- it's that they don't want the publicly funded healthcare bills that go along with exposure to smokers.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2008-02-07 01:32 pm (UTC)
Wait a minute -- THIS is what's caused the resurgence in Karaoke?

I take it ALL back.
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[User Picture]From: 3fingeredsalute
2008-02-07 02:51 pm (UTC)
Well now, wait a minute. It's a byproduct! And now that all of Maryland and DC (and soon to be northern Virginian counties) will be smoke-free, we can export Montgomery County's 2nd most annoying excuse to sing-boisterously-in-public to outlying regions. *g*
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