Jump to content

DC Council Passes Smoking Ban


CrescentFresh
 Share

Recommended Posts

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 247
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

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:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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, . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as the market, it is adjusting to the smoke-free demands of patrons. People have cited restaurants that have banned smoking--on the smokefreedc website there is a listing of 193 (though some such as CF FOlks and Firehook bakery shouldn't be that surprising).

Several bars are now open that advertise the fact they are smoke free-- such as Halo the bar across from Whole Foods and Clardendon Ballroom (though that is across the river).

If people really want smoke free bars they will "vote" with their pocketbooks, propreitors will notice this fact, and more smoke free bars will open.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another solution - drink Nicotinis. :lol:

"As I write this, I am guzzling something called a Nicotini, which, as the name suggests, is a cocktail with a smoker's cough—an ethereal blend of vanilla-flavored vodka, the coffee liqueur Kahlua and a splash of tobacco juice.

And later, when I looked back on my increasingly seismic handwriting, it appeared I enjoyed it. According to my notes, the Nicotini had a pleasing taste, which I described as either like a Maryland crabcake or a vanilla cupcake that had been sitting near an ashtray for an hour or so." Gersh Kuntzman, "Tobacco in Your Tiramisu?," Newsweek, May 19, 2003:

Edited by crackers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another solution - we all drink Nicotinis. :lol:

"As I write this, I am guzzling something called a Nicotini, which, as the name suggests, is a cocktail with a smoker's cough—an ethereal blend of vanilla-flavored vodka, the coffee liqueur Kahlua and a splash of tobacco juice.

And later, when I looked back on my increasingly seismic handwriting, it appeared I enjoyed it. According to my notes, the Nicotini had a pleasing taste, which I described as either like a Maryland crabcake or a vanilla cupcake that had been sitting near an ashtray for an hour or so."    Gersh Kuntzman, "Tobacco in Your Tiramisu?," Newsweek, May 19, 2003:

Didn't Bourdain write in one of his books about a meal that featured tobacco as an ingredient?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

the Nicotini had a pleasing taste, which I described as either like a Maryland crabcake or a vanilla cupcake that had been sitting near an ashtray for an hour or so."   

Do those two things really taste alike?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another solution - we all drink Nicotinis. ;)

According to my notes, the Nicotini had a pleasing taste, which I described as either like a Maryland crabcake or a vanilla cupcake that had been sitting near an ashtray for an hour or so."    Gersh Kuntzman, "Tobacco in Your Tiramisu?," Newsweek, May 19, 2003:

Do those two things really taste alike?

I was having a hard time imagining eating anything that was sitting near an ashtray and having it be enjoyable. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

watching the 10PM news last night and was amazed at how quickly the idea is moving along. Funny though, while the reports show that in larger cities such as San Fran and NYC, where there is a smoking ban, that the restaurant business wasn''t affected. I wonder who they relied that info on, the high end restaurants where it generally isn''t an issue, or the seedy bars of the east village where its their life line to have smokers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First and foremost let me apologize for your previous experience at Vermilion. Second, thank you for giving us a try.

My name is David Hammond, I am the general manager at Vermilion. Smoke had been an issue in our downstairs dining area in the past. I am pleased to let you know that we have remedied the situation. We have installed a filtration system that is extremely effective.

While we are not a smoke free restaurant and unfortunately I'm not in a position

to pay you to return :lol: , I would love the opportunity to make it up to you. I can assure you that your experience last September is not typical of our establishment and in no way indicative of our goal. Please feel free to contact me either here at the restaurant (703.684.9669) or through our website (vermilionrestaurant.com).

Cheers -David

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First and foremost let me apologize for your previous experience at Vermilion.  Second, thank you for giving us a try.

My name is David Hammond, I am the general manager at Vermilion.  Smoke had been an issue in our downstairs dining area in the past.  I am pleased to let you know that we have remedied the situation.  We have installed a filtration system that is extremely effective.

While we are not a smoke free restaurant and unfortunately I'm not in a position

to pay you to return :lol: , I would love the opportunity to make it up to you.  I can assure you that your experience last September is not typical of our establishment and in no way indicative of our goal.  Please feel free to contact me either here at the restaurant (703.684.9669) or through our website (vermilionrestaurant.com). 

Cheers -David

David, Thanks for your post. There are a lot of things that I think I can like about Vermilion, particularly the food, but was always hesitant because of the smoke situation. Not only am I appreciative of your acknowledgement of the problem, but also to hear that you've remedied it. We'll definitely pay a visit again in the coming weeks.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did anyone read this Letter to the Editor in last week's Washington Post from the GM at Finn MacCools? My first thought when I read that was, "are you kidding?" It doesn't surprise me in the slightest bit that customers who smoke stay longer and spend more money. But I was left with the impression that he thinks that this is some sort of a demographic rule of law that non-smokers don't hang and spend.

I wonder if Mr. Wright has considered that perhaps the non-smokers are leaving sooner because they don't want to be around the smoke anymore? Go smokefree and maybe the non-smokers will actually stick around longer and spend more money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can happily report that while dining upstairs at Vermillion I had no clue that people were smoking away downstairs. Once you get downstairs it doesn't smell worse than any bar or lounge in DC. Actually, the only real smoky part was by the bar. The tables up front were fine.

For what it's worth, I'm ready for smoke free USA. I'm tired of going home with my hair smelling like somebody elses habit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DC Council Passes Smoking Ban

I'd love to hear what folks think about this.

Personally, I think it's a good thing. But, I do accept and recognize that when I go out to certain types of establishments smoking is to be expected. That being said, it's always a pleasant experience to go to places that opt to be smoke-free - such as Restaurant Eve (I can't imagine what the bar there would be like if people were firing up big stogies after dinner...)

Let's hear what all of you think - diners and industry types alike!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with all the nuances of the issue, but what was the objection to the Schwartz amendment that would have permitted smoking in places that had high-capacity smoke removal equipment? Oceanaire permits cigar smoking but you'd never know it because they have such equipment. And I wonder if the exception discussed in the article would cover Shelley's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a grand idea, although I think if restaurants want to have a separate, sealed 'cigar room' where people can go smoke (a la Angelo and Maxie's), they ought to be allowed to do so. Servers don't have to go in there at all (the goodies being sold out in the bar area), so no employees are being needlessly exposed to smoke. Even better, you don't end up with an army of smokers loitering outside the front door and making a gauntlet that nonsmoking clients have to wade through just to get inside.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not familiar with all the nuances of the issue, but what was the objection to the Schwartz amendment that would have permitted smoking in places that had high-capacity smoke removal equipment?

Ditto. As I mentioned in the Bourbon thread recently, their system sucks all the smoke away impressively, so my dinner was eaten in smoke-free peace while people who wanted to smoke could do so. I'd like that option available.

Edited by jm chen
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And who, pray tell, is going to be able to enforce it. I know, we could recruit the thought police...12-1 vote, huh? So many hurtful thoughts, so little time. So much poverty, traffic, crime, stadium disputes, hunger, racial tensions and infastructure issues. Hey, lets ban smoking in bars and clubs, great use of you time and our tax money. :lol: Screw you guys, I'm gaoing home.

D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And who, pray tell, is going to be able to enforce it.  I know, we could recruit the thought police...12-1 vote, huh?  So many hurtful thoughts, so little time.  So much poverty, traffic, crime, stadium disputes, hunger, racial tensions and infastructure issues.  Hey, lets ban smoking in bars and clubs, great use of you time and our tax money.  :lol:   Screw you guys, I'm gaoing home.

D

Come on Dave, tell us how you really feel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...