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John W.

Smoking Ban in DC

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There is a hearing this Wednesday, December 3rd at the City Council at 10 AM.

Two smoking ban proponents, Breathe (a non profit group made up of bar/restaurant employees against tobacco), and Smoke Free DC, will be in attendance. Apparently there are quite a few ban proponents on the list to attend, and not many who oppose it.

I don't smoke, but I can't imagine many people employed in restaurants who would be in favor of this. I certainly am opposed to it. I have no facts to support this but it seems to me that attendance at this hearing has been stacked in favor of these two organizations. I do know for a fact that the RAMW (Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington) does oppose such a ban, and is currently trying to organize support for Wednesday's hearing.

Apparently the ban in Montgomery County is causing multiple places a month to close their doors. I would guess ditto in NYC, but without hard facts I will not elaborate.

I see this ban spelling instant death for many places, especially the BDC.

What's the consensus in e-gulletlandia?


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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No, not the BdC! The French embassy will have to annex it and declare diplomatic immunity.


Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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There is a hearing this Wednesday, December 3rd at the City Council at 10 AM.

Two smoking ban proponents, Breathe (a non profit group made up of bar/restaurant employees against tobacco), and Smoke Free DC, will be in attendance. Apparently there are quite a few ban proponents on the list to attend, and not many who oppose it.

I don't smoke, but I can't imagine many people employed in restaurants who would be in favor of this. I certainly am opposed to it. I have no facts to support this but it seems to me that attendance at this hearing has been stacked in favor of these two organizations. I do know for a fact that the RAMW (Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington) does oppose such a ban, and is currently trying to organize support for Wednesday's hearing.

Apparently the ban in Montgomery County is causing multiple places a month to close their doors. I would guess ditto in NYC, but without hard facts I will not elaborate.

I see this ban spelling instant death for many places, especially the BDC.

What's the consensus in e-gulletlandia?

Why do you feel that employees of restaurants would not be in favor of this?

I don't know of any businesses in NYC which have closed as a result of the smoking ban. I know that I, for one, go out a LOT more often now that I can do so without going home reeking of smoke.


Sherri A. Jackson

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Why do you feel that employees of restaurants would not be in favor of this?

I don't have a high horse on this one, but the simple answer is that restaurant employees like money, and this would remove some of that.

My main reason for this post is that I work in a restaurant, as do many of my friends. No one knew of this hearing and that scares me. For or against the ban, I was hoping for some opinions here. I'm sure I'll get 'em too.

If it goes into effect, it's something that I could live with, I just want to ensure that it's a fair fight.


Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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I'm in favor of the ban for the aforementioned reasons (smoke stinking up my hair and clothes) plus what it does to my poor asthmatic lungs.

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I have to claim ingnorance on the rules as they are right now. What are the standards.

Obviously I don't smoke or I would know the rules. And I can't think of any instances where I was bothered by smoke in a restaurant here in DC.

Are there currently smoking / non-smoking sections? Smoking only in the bar? Would this eliminate bar smoking entirely?

I'm full of questions.


Bill Russell

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As a non-smoker, my position is that it should be up to the restaurant/bar owners.

It seems like many restaurants in DC are already smoking only in the bar areas, not in the dining area. I'm not sure if this is by law or by not...anyone have any have info on this? In any case, there seems to be a reasonable compromise, no smoking in the dining area, smoking in the bar area, many restaurants seem to be able to implmement this with enough of a barrier between the two so that both sides are happy.

As for bars, let's face it, people at bars smoke, even people who aren't regular smokers. I personally feel that if someone opened a nonsmoking bar with a nice atmosphere, good drinks etc. people will happily patronize the place to avoid smelling like smoke. I personally feel that bar owners who are investing their money to open an establishment should have the right to dictate whether or not there is smoking. Patrons can vote with their dollars.

I know in the case of NYC, bars/clubs have been forced to open outside areas where people can smoke, which has only generated further complaints from nighbors about noise and litter on the streets. And in San Fran one club was told that the police would go into the club afterwards and collect and count any cigarette butts found on the dance floor and levy a fine accordingly. This all seems pretty excessive to me.

On the otherhand, many years ago I was in Tacoma and some one had renovated a old fire station into a non smoking bar, exposed brick, excellent microbrews etc. and the place was packed, and this was well before the anti-smoking in bars/restaurants movement started. so it can be done.

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FWIW, Rockville, MD is considering following Montgomery County's lead and banning smoking in restaurants and bars. Isn't it usually confined to the bar area in most places?

I'm asthmatic and smoke occasionally (yes, I know), but truthfully, the only time it's an issue is when I go somewhere like the 9:30 Club where several hundred people are smoking at once. Are nightclubs included in the legislation?


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Why do you feel that employees of restaurants would not be in favor of this?

I don't have a high horse on this one, but the simple answer is that restaurant employees like money, and this would remove some of that.

How? Are the restaurants selling cigarettes?

It's not like smokers are going to stop going out as a result of the ban. Look at NYC. You can't smoke ANYWHERE -- restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. (except for outside), and places are still packed to the hilt.


Sherri A. Jackson

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I would support a ban in restaurants, but then I'm asthmatic and can have a hard time around cigarette smoke. While smoking bans can hurt business (and they have in MoCo), if DC pushed through a ban I bet a lot of the other local jurisdictions would have an easier time banning smoking. I think the dining scene in DC is important enough vis-a-vis dining in suburbia that it wouldn't cause smokers to go dine in the suburbs en masse.

While bartenders in particular enjoy better tips when people smoke, it's a health hazard to have to breathe secondhand smoke all day every day in your workplace. This is why most other types of workplaces ban smoking at work. I know that my breathing difficulties due to smoke is one of the primary reasons I've never waited tables. I imagine this is also why there are some industry workers who are behind the ban.

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Look at NYC. You can't smoke ANYWHERE -- restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. (except for outside), and places are still packed to the hilt.

There is a long and perhaps notorious thread on the NYC ban here for people who may be interested.

I'd be interestred to hear whether and to what extent the NYC and NYS smoking bans affect business overall today (I say "overall" because places that depended heavily on heavy smoking clientele are likely still suffering whereas I am sure that some places are seeing an increase in business due to the bans).


--

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Why do you feel that employees of restaurants would not be in favor of this?

I don't have a high horse on this one, but the simple answer is that restaurant employees like money, and this would remove some of that.

How? Are the restaurants selling cigarettes?

It's not like smokers are going to stop going out as a result of the ban. Look at NYC. You can't smoke ANYWHERE -- restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. (except for outside), and places are still packed to the hilt.

People smoke in bars.

I just looked at scientific data (ie the NY smoking ban thread). Lots of indie places are either empty or closed according to that thread.

Again, I am opposed to it in a business sense. I don't smoke. That's my opinion.

If it passes in a fair fight, then so be it. But what really gets me on this is that a whole lot of proponents of the ban know of this hearing and not a whole lot of ban opponents, if any, knew of it. That doesn't sound like a fair fight.


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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I just looked at scientific data (ie the NY smoking ban thread). Lots of indie places are either empty or closed according to that thread.

John... AFAIK there is not a lot of scientific data in that thread as to the economic impact of the bans -- only some anectotal evidence, and most of that from partesans. My own anecdotal experience -- and I am sure my impressions would be different had I frequented serious smoke-holes pre-ban -- is that business seems to be generally up to the levels one would expect given the economic conditions here in the City. I find myself in bars without much more "scene" to offer besides a malfuctioning TV and a crusty old Irish guy pushing drinks -- places that were always filled with smoke pre-ban -- around 2-3 times a month on weeknights, and I always have a hard time getting a seat at the bar.


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Unscientifically, I would imagine that that would be the medium term trend at bars and restaurants...ban passed, a short term fall off in patrons as people gripe about the ban, and then a gradual increase in patronage back to pre ban levels. People still want to be social and go out to eat and drink, and given the choice between staying at home or going out they will eventually pick going out and just dealing with the smoking issue.

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I don't know how long the California ban has been in effect, but by all reports both bar and restaurant business are thriving over there.


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My bottom line here is this:

If there is possible legislation that could possibly affect my business, I would like to know about it.

John... AFAIK there is not a lot of scientific data in that thread as to the economic impact of the bans

I was being a bit sarcastic. Apologies to any and all. I'm always a bit skepitcal about special interest groups. There certainly was not much scientific data, although there was plenty of comedy.


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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If there is possible legislation that could possibly affect my business, I would like to know about it.

It sounds like the Government affairs people at the Restaurant Association are slipping up. Restaurants are one of the biggest industries in any town and could likely generate a sizable contingent at a hearing like this - chefs to waiters.

Granted the meeting would be during dinner time, but what isn't during a mealtime for a restaurant.


Bill Russell

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My bottom line here is this:

If there is possible legislation that could possibly affect my business, I would like to know about it.

Well... how are smoking permissions currently implemented in your business? What percentage of your business would you estimate goes to people who smoke while in your establishment? What percentage of those people do you think you would lose as customers if DC implemented a smoking ban? Do you think you would gain any customers as a result of a DC-wide smoking ban? These are the questions I would think you, as a potentially affected businessman, would want to answer.

I get the impression that Firefly is a fairly upscale place, and I also get the impression that upscale places as a group have been the least affected by the bans here.

I, for one, would love to see some actual hard data on how and to what extent smoking bans have affected bars and restaurants, plus how and to what extent those effects are distributed across the different types of such businesses. All one generally sees are comments like "I hear that the ban in XYZ is causing a 20% drop in revenues and places are closing right and left" while other people say "everything seems mostly the same in XYZ after N months." I wish we could see some numbers. All I can go on are my observations that A) NYC establishments do not seem to be closing at a greater than normal rate; and B) N years after the California ban was enacted, both restaurant and bar business seem to be thriving.


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I would expect that the size and location of the jurisdiction enacting the ban has a significant effect. When Montgomery County adopted its ban, patros could easily slip across the line to DC or a neighboring county -- or move to one of the independent jurisdictions within the county itself. If DC enacts a ban, it will reinforce the Montgomery County effort while MC reinforces DC's legislation. If you can't smoke anywhere in California, most people aren't likely to drive to Oregon or Nevada just to light up.

I wonder, too, if the effect on DC will be less because it has a greater percentage of "destination" bars, restaurants and neighborhoods. Anecdotal evidence in DC and the NYC thread suggests that neighborhood spots are hardest hit -- if you can't light up in the "common" living room, why not stay at home in your own living room. But very few people, I think, are likely to decide to stay in Gaithersburg, because they can smoke there rather than make a night of it in Adams Morgan or Georgetown. The effect on the local dives is the most profound and, to many, the most unfortunate.

That being said, screw the whole idea. Most restaurants already ban smoking; there ought to be a place where non-violent cretins (like myself, after six or eight beers) can have a smoke without having to inhale lectures and condescention along with our nictotine. It's still, they say, a free country.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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My bottom line here is this:

If there is possible legislation that could possibly affect my business, I would like to know about it.

Well... how are smoking permissions currently implemented in your business? What percentage of your business would you estimate goes to people who smoke while in your establishment? What percentage of those people do you think you would lose as customers if DC implemented a smoking ban? Do you think you would gain any customers as a result of a DC-wide smoking ban? These are the questions I would think you, as a potentially affected businessman, would want to answer.

I get the impression that Firefly is a fairly upscale place, and I also get the impression that upscale places as a group have been the least affected by the bans here.

I, for one, would love to see some actual hard data on how and to what extent smoking bans have affected bars and restaurants, plus how and to what extent those effects are distributed across the different types of such businesses.

For this exercise:

Firefly consists of three distinct sections: A lounge area where smoking is permitted, a bar adjacent to the dining room, and the dining room itself. Smoking is not permitted in the bar and dining room. Most nights the whole place is full, bar, lounge, everything. Luckily, airflow in the restaurant keeps the smoke in the lounge, as to not affect dining patrons. A substantial portion of our revenue is derived from the lounge, especially in (very) profitable liquor sales. My guess would be that we would lose a portion of that revenue due to people not lingering, but I have no evidence of that. I think having read the NY smoking thread and my time spent living in CA, we would lose a little bit of business overall, but not much. As for gaining any customers, at this point that is almost impossible as we are at (knock on wood) or near capacity almost every day of the week. My concern would be for the bars (which I have responsibilty for Topaz, Rouge and Helix lounges in DC), as most restaurants already don't allow smoking.

I was made aware of this hearing by a friend of mine at a well-known three star restaurant in DC. The business at his sizeable bar is quite dependent on smoking, especially cigar smoking. He is quite concerned about this passing for obvious financial reasons.

To respond to your earlier post slkinsey, about the bars you find yourself in, I generally prefer the crusty old Irish guy pushing drinks as my choice of boozer. Walking home today (after lunch at the smoking capital of America Bistrot du Coin) past the crusty old Irish guy bars in my neighborhood, I wonder how many could survive a ban? Again, I don't smoke, and most nights in these places I am usually the only one not smoking.

Again, if such a thing passes, then so be it. I was just very surprised how something so fiercely debated in CA and NYC among other places could have a go at it here and no one knows about it.


Edited by John W. (log)

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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[

To respond to your earlier post slkinsey, about the bars you find yourself in, I generally prefer the crusty old Irish guy pushing drinks as my choice of boozer. Walking home today (after lunch at the smoking capital of America Bistrot du Coin) past the crusty old Irish guy bars in my neighborhood, I wonder how many could survive a ban? Again, I don't smoke, and most nights in these places I am usually the only one not smoking.

Timberlake's and Childe Harold? Or am I missing one?

Mr. Eagan's, RIP.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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To respond to your earlier post slkinsey, about the bars you find yourself in, I generally prefer the crusty old Irish guy pushing drinks as my choice of boozer. Walking home today (after lunch at the smoking capital of America Bistrot du Coin) past the crusty old Irish guy bars in my neighborhood, I wonder how many could survive a ban? Again, I don't smoke, and most nights in these places I am usually the only one not smoking.

Timberlake's and Childe Harold? Or am I missing one?

Mr. Eagan's, RIP.

Fox and Hounds, the LB (Lucky Bar), to name a few. I didn't stop in any of these today, mind you.


Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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To respond to your earlier post slkinsey, about the bars you find yourself in, I generally prefer the crusty old Irish guy pushing drinks as my choice of boozer. Walking home today (after lunch at the smoking capital of America Bistrot du Coin) past the crusty old Irish guy bars in my neighborhood, I wonder how many could survive a ban? Again, I don't smoke, and most nights in these places I am usually the only one not smoking.

Timberlake's and Childe Harold? Or am I missing one?

Mr. Eagan's, RIP.

Fox and Hounds, the LB (Lucky Bar), to name a few. I didn't stop in any of these today, mind you.

Ah, yes. I was thinking to linearly along the Connecticut Avenue strip.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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