Monday, January 8, 2007

dc's smoking ban starts war

I know that the smoking ban in DC started at the start of the year, but this Saturday was the first time I got to experience the beauty that is smoke free DC—being able to breathe in a bar without increasing my chances of getting lung cancer 10 fold, counting down the hours until I get home to finally remove my smoky-smelling bar attire, and coming home from bar hopping not having to take a shower right away to get the smoky smell out of my hair. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to go out in the city.

Saturday was my chance, as Jesse and I got together with George and Sara and watched the NFL playoffs at the Ugly Mug on Barrack's Row. It was my first time at the Ugly Mug and I actually liked it. Simply put, it is every bit the Hill's version of a sports bar. And the anti-Cowboys crowd was definitely there to represent.

Jesse and I managed to snag a table by the large double doors, which were open because it was such a nice night. Unfortunately for us non-smokers, the smokers were right outside those double doors and we could occasionally smell the smoke from their cigarettes. It was unpleasant at times, but doable considering the alternative is that they could be smoking indoors and standing right next to us.

George and Sara showed up a while later and we all watched the Seattle/Dallas game while munching on your typical bar food. At some point, there was a conglomerate of smokers located outside the double doors, trying to enjoy the game as well. One of them was literally right behind George (even though he was still outside the double doors) and blew the largest cloud of cigarette smoke I had ever seen. In fact, the cloud was so large a group of people two tables away saw it clear as day. As Sara and I started to cough (I'm still getting over the Strep and any little thing irritates my throat), George turned around and faced the smoker. Politely, George asked the smoker to move away and blow his smoke elsewhere.

Now, before I tell you the smoker's response, I should tell you that George is not someone you say "No" to. He's about the size of two NFL linebackers side to side. He's a pretty big, intimidating guy. So the smoker, who was probably 1/3 the size of George, said he would blow his smoke away from us.

A football quarter later, Sara started getting cold. She took the initiative of closing the double doors herself since she was freezing. The same group that noticed the smoker's large cloud of smoke applauded Sara's initiative. One of the guys in that group actually thanked Sara for closing the doors so that now we wouldn't have to smell the smokers' smoke. The sentiment expressed was "thanks for locking out the smokers so now they can't bother us non-smokers." Other people at other tables seemed to nod in agreement.

I then looked outside and noticed that the group of smokers had gotten larger. And now we shut the door on them. Considering how loud the bar was, I imagine that it was hard for them to hear the game outside, especially with the doors closed. For a brief moment, I found myself feeling sorry for the smokers.

Don't get me wrong. I am a big supporter of the city's ban on smoking. I had been hoping for a ban since I moved here over 4 years ago. After all, there was already a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Cali. It only made me want to go out more. I imagine that the DC ban will have the same effect on me. But it was sad to see that the bar experience had changed for the worse for these smokers. On Saturday night, the smokers couldn't even enjoy the game like we did.

And then I had an epiphany and stopped feeling sorry for them.

Why? Because I realized that if they just quit, they could come back in and have the full bar experience with the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

It's not a full bar experience without smoke.

lizzie said...

by your definition then...

RIP "full bar experience"

Law-Rah said...

I am so with you on this one! (And I smoked for 12 years)

gwadzilla said...

I am not a smoker...

I think the ban will a plus for their culture

in fact
it may increase the smoker population

as the smokers outside the bar will have the excuse to chat that the people within the bar lack

-can I bum a cigarette
-do you have a light
-doesn't this smoking ban suck

just as we will enjoy the smoke free bars
the smokers will enjoy the enhancement of their tribe
not to mention the opportunity for picking up a date!

lizzie said...

law-ruh, thanks for the comment

gwadzilla, your perspective makes it even harder for me to feel sorry for smokers. thank you for expressing your point of view.