… And Smoke, It Goes

DSCN2168.jpgThe vox populi have spoken, and they want to ban smoking in bars. Well, 51.8% of them want to, which is a higher percentage than George Bush received in either election, and enough to snuff out smoking in Austin.

The City issued a press release on Thursday that City Hall would be open for viewing election returns. Thinking there might be some action at “Austin’s newest community gathering place,” the wife and I walked downtown to watch events unfold. The City might want to review their PR strategy, because City Hall saw less action than Ron Jeremy in a convent. We sat outside City Hall with Eric the bicycle activist and Arnold the new downtown resident, and the four of us watched the events unfold from an underwatched battery of flat-screen monitors. Although hardly a groundswell of activism, it was a nice moment of impromptu civic socializing.

As for the smoking ban, I voted against it, primarily due to a dislike of further sanitization and homogenization of the Austin bar and music scene. But I also recognize the substantial benefits to those who patronize and work in what will now be a smoke-free environment. Now that it’s law, the remaining question is how many non-smokers will indulge in this benefit, and whether it will counterbalance any drop-off among smokers. Despite the hyperbole on both sides, I imagine the impact will be relatively subtle. Some smokers will get sick of ducking outside for a toke every few minutes, but mostly they’ll just deal with the situation. Conversely, most people who voted for the ban won’t actually spend more time or money in bars because things other than smoking kept them out of bars in the first place. The smoking ban may seem severe, but I doubt it will easily overcome the inertia of social habits among either group.

4 Comments so far

  1. wae (unregistered) on May 9th, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

    Dead horse beating commences:

    Apparently eight restaurants will continue to allow smoking based on their existing permits and separate room filtration systems. The list includes:

    Shoal Creek Saloon (N. Lamar)
    IHOP (I-35 and Cesar Chavez)
    Trudy’s North (Burnet and 183)
    Trudy’s South (Brodie Oaks)
    Iron Cactus (Stonelake)
    Cool River (Parmer)
    Hooters (183)
    Bennigan’s (I-35)

    Smoke up Johnny, it’s Christmas!! (at least until 2012 when the permits run out)

  2. Kapt Kaos (unregistered) on May 10th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    Looks like Austin is alining its politics with that of Cuba and Castro.

    Cuba’s smoking ban takes effect

  3. Eric (unregistered) on May 16th, 2005 @ 7:40 am

    Houston is doing the same thing. Fortunately, we are still allowing smoking in “bar areas.” That is, any resteraunt with a bar, OR a night club/bar establishment. But the writing is on the wall, everywhere. It really is a shame. On the upshot, it’s kept me at home a lot more.

  4. jray (unregistered) on February 21st, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

    Months later, it’s actually pretty nice here at the bars in Austin. I thought I’d be pissed. I thought no one would go out anymore. But it hasn’t dropped the numbers from what I can tell, and I actually go to bars more ’cause I come home fine. You know, I’ve been on smokes hard-core and off again a couple of times, and I see now the transformation that happens to your nose and eye tolerances to smoke when you start to smoke a lot. And I think us smokers (well, I’m off now for 3 months) really can’t tell what a huge impact smoking has on those non-smokers around them. Hell, if thye want clean air inside, fine. We just have our little club that meets every 15 minutes 15 ft outside the door.

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