Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Do gay clubs now benefit from no-smoking local ordinances?

In 2007, Washington DC initiated an indoor smoking ban in bars and restaurants.  Many other cities (New York and San Francisco) have done so.  I noticed on a visit to Minneapolis in early June that the same policy seemed to hold (the Saloon had only a very small outdoor smoking area). Has this affected bar business in the gay community?

It seems to me that on most Friday and Saturday nights, with decent weather (which can matter) popular dance floors (which, in my personal experience, in DC seem to be Town-DC and Cobalt, the latter of which has specialized Saturday night events, and in Minneapolis, The Saloon and “maybe” the Gay 90s ) seem to become packed shortly after midnight (but sometimes not much before).  It seems as though younger people (especially men of college and graduate school age) prefer the smoke-free atmosphere for dancing.  They’ve grown up in a culture that now frowns on tobacco use, as a legal product, more than it objects to marijuana, which is still illegal (usually).   I don’t think there is a case that the indoor smoking ban hurts business, and it may help it.

In the old days, ventilation systems were usually good enough to take out the incidental smoke, but when I got home, I could still smell it (the second-hand smoke deposit) in my clothes.  They needed immediate washing. That’s no longer the case.

Of course, the libertarian position is that private businesses should set policies as they like. Probably now most of them would want to stick with no smoking.

As to the outdoor patio areas, no, I don’t bother to look and see who smokes.  I don’t want to know. “It’s depressing”, as a former boyfriend in Dallas used to say.

In older times, the 50s and 60s, nobody thought anything of it.  Now, in this “lookism-obsessed” society (call it body fascism) we know that tobacco use is very damaging to circulation and causes someone to age more much rapidly.  Don’t wear shorts if you smoke. 

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