Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't smoke 'em if you've got 'em

Michigan’s smoking ban went into effect on May 1st and from what I can
tell, the world has not stopped. Oh sure, Touchdown Jesus bit it in a
freak storm, but for the most part, life has moved on with little
problem. I will admit that I am a former smoker, and we are the worst
when it comes to stuff like this, but with good reason. Smoking is a
very tough habit to break, and it is one that can be fought over and
over again until it is won. I was not alone in my excitement to have
the ban in place, as our notorious party animal friend Chuck said he
wanted to actually go bar hopping on the 1st to enjoy the bars smoke
free. Not sure if that ever happened, but rock on Chuckie!

When Anna was very young, I met up with a potential faculty member at
a local coffee house on my non-teaching day to discuss life at JCC and
what the job might entail. We were there for less than an hour at 9
am, but due to the constant stream of smoke from two vey caffeinated
smokers in the back, both of us smelled horrible and needed showers
and a change of clothes upon leaving. We purposely stayed out of
places we knew were smoky and would move if a cloud did come our way.
We weren’t pushy, nor did we ever throw water on someone smoking.

Tod and I went to New York in 2005 shortly after their smoking ban
went into effect. The change was amazing. In previous trips, we packed
double the clothes since going out to ANY bar or restaurant meant
coming home smelling like smoke. The spaces in NYC are notoriously
small and you just couldn’t hide. Imagine our surprise when we could
actually wear clothes a second time. Packing was a lot easier last
time we went.

I have talked with several restaurant owners here in town and they
both admit that business has gone down, mostly after the dinner
rush. The one restaurant, a fun and family-friendly Mexican restaurant
has actually seen their numbers go up since the ban, as more families
are coming in now that they don’t have to go home smelling like a bar.
But the bad news is that the dinners don’t pay the bills, it’s the
alcohol sales that foot the budgets in most places. The other place,
an Italian-bistro/bar has seen a marked decline, as their bar was THE
BAR to hang out at and smoke. The owner said that he is certain that
they smokers will come back once their pouting is done. Prior to the
ban, there was one smoke free place in town, and I am happy to report
that their business has not declined at all, and us non-smokers remain
loyal and true to those that look out for us.

So why am I writing about this on my family blog? I wouldn’t have
given this a second thought until a few days ago when I stopped in a
cigar shop to browse through their piles of discarded cigar boxes for
future art projects. I talked with the gentleman behind the counter
and asked him how business was. I prefaced this question with the fact
that I didn’t smoke, but I was not a fan of the government telling me
what I could and couldn’t do. I then told him that I was happy that I
could now go out with my kids and not have to worry about the smoke
getting to them (I know, I am a conundrum!).

His response is not what I expected and I was taken by surprised by his comments. He said that
there were plenty of “other opportunities” for us as a family and that
there didn’t need to be a statewide ban to protect my kids. I
mentioned that there was one smoke free place in town and he looked me
right in the eye and said, “What about all the fast food places? They
are smoke free, you could eat there.” Yes sir, we could,” I responded
and then remarked that it was nice to actually have a dinner where
someone brings you the food and the place is free of play structures
and clowns.

We never did get to the answer about how business was for
him, and at that point, I didn’t give a shit. There were a few people
in there during the 20 minutes I was checking out the boxes, but no
one seemed to be buying. Their sign out front defiantly reads: We’re
still smokin’! So yeah, the smokers are totally willing to throw us folks with kids
and those with a desire to remain healthy under the bus and relegate
us to the fast food joints so they can smoke while eating at all the
nice places. Note to smokers, FUCK YOU. You lost, stop whining and
good luck with quitting. It’s hard, I know, I did it and you can too
if you stop complaining about having to smoke outside and how your
rights are being trampled on.

My kids and their health come first and foremost when it comes to rights, so get over it and clean up your
butts when you are done smoking. Thanks.