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DC Council Passes Smoking Ban

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Thoughts on this new means of clearing the air in DC restaurants/workplaces?

Frankly, I hope it works. Trying to eat near cigarette smoke is foul and it is a tremendous relief to go and visit family and friends in NY where I don't have to be hassled by the smoke. Not to mention being able to go out in the evening and not wake up coughing the next day as if I was lighting up myself.

I'd really like to know what restaurant owners/managers think about this notion that they'll lose customers. If it's banned in DC, can we really expect this mass migration away from District restaurants and into Virginia and PG county? I don't believe for a minute that smokers will boycott DC venues and run out of town to smoke with the meal.

It's only a matter of time before smoking regulations like this are passed. And not just in DC, but eventually Congress will act on it nationally. ("We won't give your state any highway/health funding unless you pass this smoking ban.") It may take ten or twenty years, but it's a question of when and not if it will happen.

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we can only hope - to echo your point, being in bars in NYC (or anywhere in Ireland for that matter where there is a nationwide ban) is such a pleasure these days - no need to burn clothing after a night out :lol:

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I think that where there are negative effects from these bans they tend to be border issues. For places in, say, Rockville, I don't think the ban hurt too much because it's a long drive to get to a county/state where you can smoke. For places in downtown SS where both the district and PG county are 5 minutes away there may be more of a loss.

One interesting note -- I remember reading in the SS Gazette that membership at the fraternal lodges (Elk, Moose, etc) has gone way up. Private club = smoke 'em if you got 'em.

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I will definitely go out more once a DC ban is passed. I can't stand to be around cigarette smoke and so my ventures to bars (particularly to eat) is greatly limited.

I think the Montgomery Co ban was tough on the border bars - and has been a boon to DC bars - which makes a business case for a DC ban slightly tougher. I work in Friendship Heights and the bars on the DC side along Wisc Ave have been noticeably busier - and smokier - since Mont Co started their ban.

Of course, it wouldn't be an issue if there was a ban throughout the jurisdictions of our metro area.

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Grrrr...

There's got to be some kind of distinction drawn here. Smoking at a restaurant during a meal, in dining room -- gross. Smoking at a bar -- no problem.

I like the way its done at Halo, or Martys, or Palena, or Spices, or Saint Ex pre-11, or sections of any number of other DC restaurants: leave it up to the proprietor. If they want to allow smoking, let them. If they want to be smoke free or have their own smoking restrictions, that's cool too.

And if Congress ever acts on this nationally, I'll be surprised. Its a fundamental violation of State's rights at the very least.

Yes, I'm a smoker (a light one). I have no problem with non-smoking establishments; in fact, I enjoy them. But a bar is a bar, and a beer and a cigarette is a nice combination. I'm all about encouraging non-smoking bars, but forcing every bar to follow the rule is going overboard.

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If I'm a bar/restaurant owner and I want allow smoking then that should be my right to allow it. If you as a patron don't want to be in a smoke filled environment then go some place else.

However, it seems to me that fewer and fewer restaurants are allowing smoking, maybe at the bar area, but even that seems to be less these days. So really it boils down to bars and smoking. Personally I think that if you opened up a smoke free bar that served good drinks, nice decor, good music etc. then people will come. I remember going to a smoke free bar in Tacoma (way before these bans started), converted firehouse, nice exposed brick, great microbeer list, place was packed.

These blanket no smoking in bars/restaurant laws piss me off...and I don't even smoke.

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If I'm a bar/restaurant owner and I want allow smoking then that should be my right to allow it.  If you as a patron don't want to be in a smoke filled environment then go some place else. 

However, it seems to me that fewer and fewer restaurants are allowing smoking, maybe at the bar area, but even that seems to be less these days.  So really it boils down to bars and smoking.  Personally I think that if you opened up a smoke free bar that served good drinks, nice decor, good music etc. then people will come.  I remember going to a smoke free bar in Tacoma (way before these bans started), converted firehouse, nice exposed brick, great microbeer list, place was packed.

These blanket no smoking in bars/restaurant laws piss me off...and I don't even smoke.

I agree. By the way, Tacoma's my home town. Engine House No. 9 is a great place. BUt things like that are easier to do in the Northwest because so few people smoke there anyway.

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I think these smoking bans are good for business - even for bars. I enjoy my meal or night out much more if I don't have to cough my way through the night or go home reeking of smoke. That being said I have the choice to frequent smoke-free places which I do and which is one reason I go to less bars in DC.

One thing to also bear in mind is the health effects on servers, bartenders and others who work in restaurants and bars that permit smoking. While some of these staff might be able to get a job in other smoke-free establishments, others I'm sure might have trouble - especially bartenders. One of the main pushes behind these smoke-free laws is to protect the health of the workers who are subjected to smoke all day and night and who can't just leave when the person next to them lights up.

While I don't work in the food industry, I have great sympathy for those who must endure second-hand smoke at work. I hope the ban passes soon and then more bars will likely have my business.

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I agree with the comments about the effects of smoking on restuarant employees. Responsible establishements that permit smoking will limit it to a certain area and have special ventilation equipment installed. Ocenaire and Shelly's Back Room are two places that come to mind that have special ventilation equipment that accomodate cigar smoking.

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The only thing that annoys me more than smoking in a restaurant where I am eating, are laws and regulations that take away the right of the proprietor to determine if they want to allow smoking.

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As a patron, as much as I dislike being around excessive amounts of smoke per se, I think that smoking and drinking is pretty much what bars are about. Taking smoking away from bars makes them something entirely different. I think that those who want to enjoy a smoke-free outing should stay away from bars.

I agree wholeheartedly that you should be able to enjoy your food without smelling smoke, but I don't see bars as eating establishments - they are watering holes where food is an afterthought. I go to bars for drinks and socializing, and yes, sometimes a cigarette or two. I don't HAVE to smoke there, and I don't always, but I'd be bummed if I couldn't. If a bar owner wants to ban smoking in his own establishment, that's his right and he should be able to do that, but he shouldn't HAVE to.

As a restaurant employee, yes, I do get bummed out by the end of the night sometimes, but it's not like it was a surprise to me. There are occupational hazards in any profession, and talking about the rights of bar employees to enjoy smoke-free air is like insisting on the rights of office employees to have non-sedentary lifestyles. Or the rights of miners to work in daylight. Or the rights of gym workers not to see fat people in spandex.

Edited by Nadya

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My quick points;

I'll take this either way it goes. I don't smoke, think it's a pretty stupid habit, but that said, am concerned what this does to revenue of the restaurant industry and also the DC govt. Although somewhat heresay, tax revenue analysis of Montgomerey Co. and that of NYC has shown a dropping off of tax $$$ somewhat to somewhat drastically (depending on who you believe), showing that it could in fact affect businesses negatively. Could it be the border syndrome we speak of above, as people will just go to DC to smoke and booze? If smoking is banned everywhere, will these revenues be restored to their normal levels?

The thing that pisses me off though, is some so-called PACs that are "bartenders against smoking (sic)," that are seemingly really pushing this. Working in restaurants my whole adult life and never seeing any evidence of these concerns me.

In addition, Mayor Williams has said that the DC voters will not alter the tax landscape of Washington, DC. So I guess it goes through the city council (which will be amazing to watch that one).

Again, I'll take this how it goes, but let's hope it's a representation of a lot of people instead of the tax revenue needs of the DC govt. vs. the views of few activists. I'm concerned because it could directly affect my livelyhood.

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I guess I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with that statement.

Although when you think about it, it is the exact opposite to smoking bans, where if you want a smoke-filled outing you can't have it in a bar :lol:

I think that those who want to enjoy a smoke-free outing should stay away from bars.

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My quick points;

I'll take this either way it goes. I don't smoke, think it's a pretty stupid habit, but that said, am concerned what this does to revenue of the restaurant industry and also the DC govt. Although somewhat heresay, tax revenue analysis of Montgomerey Co. and that of NYC has shown a dropping off of tax $$$ somewhat to somewhat drastically (depending on who you believe), showing that it could in fact affect businesses negatively. Could it be the border syndrome we speak of above, as people will just go to DC to smoke and booze? If smoking is banned everywhere, will these revenues be restored to their normal levels?

The thing that pisses me off though, is some so-called PACs that are "bartenders against smoking (sic)," that are seemingly really pushing this. Working in restaurants my whole adult life and never seeing any evidence of these concerns me.

In addition, Mayor Williams has said that the DC voters will not alter the tax landscape of Washington, DC. So I guess it goes through the city council (which will be amazing to watch that one).

Again, I'll take this how it goes, but let's hope it's a representation of a lot of people instead of the tax revenue needs of the DC govt. vs. the views of few activists.  I'm concerned because it could directly affect my livelyhood.

John: An excellent articulation of the varying political forces at play here. My bet is that the city council does not have a good handle on how the electorate feels about this. Having information regarding the impact on tax receipts could also factor into how they vote; I wonder if they have any sort of revenue estimate.

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I'm concerned because it could directly affect my livelyhood.

So which is it, livelihood or lively hood? I can see it going either way...

syntax - n. a levy on alcohol and cigarettes.

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So which is it, livelihood or lively hood?  I can see it going either way...

syntax - n. a levy on alcohol and cigarettes.

Sue me Rocks. I can't spell.

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And if Congress ever acts on this nationally, I'll be surprised. Its a fundamental violation of State's rights at the very least.

I agree that they won't be able to pass it as a national law, but what I do think they'll do eventually is "coerce" states into doing it like they did with the drinking age 20 years ago. States that did not raise their drinking age to 21 would not receive federal highway funds. Every state can probably still choose what it wants its drinking age to be, but......

So that's how I think Congress would act on national smoking regulations. States wouldn't want to turn their backs on the cash. Although it would be interesting to see if the tobacco companies would make up the difference in places like Virginia, North Carolina, etc.

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I agree that they won't be able to pass it as a national law, but what I do think they'll do eventually is "coerce" states into doing it like they did with the drinking age 20 years ago.  States that did not raise their drinking age to 21 would not receive federal highway funds.  Every state can probably still choose what it wants its drinking age to be, but......

So that's how I think Congress would act on national smoking regulations.  States wouldn't want to turn their backs on the cash.  Although it would be interesting to see if the tobacco companies would make up the difference in places like Virginia, North Carolina, etc.

It'll never happen.

1)The tobacco companies are paying out too much money to the states right now for their settlement to risk cutting off that cash cow. The states are, one might say, addicted to tobacco.

2)The tobacco companies donate HUMONGOUS amounts of money to campaign committees. The American Heart and Lung people can't even dream of matching the levels. Money talks.

Edit to get rid of extra line spaces so Don doesn't get all pissy at me. Again. :lol:

Edited by JPW

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Sue me Rocks. I can't spell.

Y wood eye one two Sue ewe four knot bee ying Abe bull two's pell? Eye yam knot sew tear rib Lee were reed uh bout torth ah gruff hee, sew mutt Chaz eye yam uh bout thee uh Bill lit tea two pro deuce sum taste tea yap pitt eyes hers.

Eye knee tooth ink Cirius Leah bout chain jing sig grrr rets,

Rachs.

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So true Nadya. A bar is a place to do unhealthful things. Drink, smoke...gosh I bet some bartenders even sell drugs :lol: Bars are not restaurants, where non-smoking areas are a great idea. Bars make their money off drinking and if you think that having people smoke less will make them drink more? No way.

Nadya, thanks for a lovely time at Bis last week. Now tell your bosses that any self-respecting French restaurant that does not allow cigar smoking? Quelle horreur!

As a patron, as much as I dislike being around excessive amounts of smoke per se, I think that smoking and drinking is pretty much what bars are about. Taking smoking away from bars makes them something entirely different.  I think that those who want to enjoy a smoke-free outing should stay away from bars.

I agree wholeheartedly that you should be able to enjoy your food without smelling smoke, but I don't see bars as eating establishments - they are watering holes where food is an afterthought.  I go to bars for drinks and socializing, and yes, sometimes a cigarette or two.  I don't HAVE to smoke there, and I don't always, but I'd be bummed if I couldn't.  If a bar owner wants to ban smoking in his own establishment, that's his right and he should be able to do that, but he shouldn't HAVE to.

As a restaurant employee, yes, I do get bummed out by the end of the night sometimes, but it's not like it was a surprise to me.  There are occupational hazards in any profession, and talking about the rights of bar employees to enjoy smoke-free air is like insisting on the rights of office employees to have non-sedentary lifestyles.  Or the rights of miners to work in daylight. Or the rights of gym workers not to see people in spandex.

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If you've been reading the Post on this issue, you would know that a majority of the City Council is for the ban EXCEPT for the one person who chairs the committee dealing with it. She has been sitting on this issue for some time now.

The first smoking bans on airplanes were in response to some flight attendants who sued the airlines over health consequences. This more or less jump-started the whole movement to ban smoking in offices and other public buildings. Bars and restaurants seem to be the last bastions where indoor, public-space, smoking is still allowed.

As one who has never been able to quit smoking for very long (I am sucking on a nicotine lozenge as I type this), my sympathies lay with the waitrons and bartenders who are trying to quit, while others are smoking around them. That is nearly impossible.

The fact that most folks on this site don't smoke make it possible for me attend such events as the Don Rockwell HH at Corduroy. As long as nobody lights up, I'm fine. However, . . .

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As a libertarian -- I oppose legislating behavior. Prefer to allow the market place to do it. There are several fine eating establishments in DC that have completely banned smoking and don't seem to have suffered. I vastly prefer living in a society where a choice is available -- smokers can do what they they wish and non-smokers likewise. I also still believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus.... :lol:

Edited by FunnyJohn

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I agree wholeheartedly that you should be able to enjoy your food without smelling smoke, but I don't see bars as eating establishments - they are watering holes where food is an afterthought. 

What I'd be curious about then is where the line is drawn between what is a bar and what is a restaurant. For instance, on egullet, I railed into Vermilion (deservedly) for what I considered to be a wholly unacceptable ventilation system. The "restaurant" floor was separate from the "bar/lounge" area, but it seemed as though the air from the latter was being pumped into the former. (And yes, I know it's not in the District, but it serves as a good example).

Another place that comes to mind is Ella's Pizza. Clearly, Ella's is a restaurant, a pizza joint, but it does (I haven't been there in a while, so perhaps this has changed) draw in a pretty good bar business, particularly for happy hour. There really is no true physical separation between bar and restaurant space there. That's another place where smoke really carried.

I have no objections to smoking and smokers. I just don't want to be a part of it when it ruins an experience for me. Restaurants like Vermilion or Ella's may be concerned that they'll lose business if there is a ban on smoking in restaurants, and of course RAMW will come up with all sorts of doomsday figures to back it up. But there's also the serious chance that people who avoid certain restaurants because of the smoke will start going there again. I mean, you couldn't pay me to go to Vermilion again until it becomes smokefree. I'd hope owners/managers would be looking not only at numbers of people that might be lost by such a ban, but also at the numbers that they could gain.

And John, thanks for the insight from Firefly.

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CF your point is well-taken. I don't want to see smoking taken out of bars (Stetsons, Irish Times, etc) clubs (Red, ESL) and cigar smoking centric places (Les Halles, de Coin). But, at the many places which are both restaurants AND bars it gets more tricky. Sadly legislators are probably not smart enough to craft a workable law in this regard.

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