To Smoke or Not to Smoke…the Burning Question

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Ok, bad pun. When people ask me if I smoke, my standard response is, “Only when I’m on fire.” It’s cheap, yes, but effective.

The city of Houston, which already has a ban on smoking in restaurants is trying to expand it to include all public places including bars. As one might expect, bar owners aren’t too thrilled about this prospect. I guess I understand. In other cities, banning smoking has impacted some stand-alone bars.

However, here’s the big issue I have with the argument. Bar owners suggest that patrons, if unable to smoke, would travel to bars outside the city limits instead.

Here’s the question: is smoking so important to smokers that they would rather go 30 miles out of the way to a relatively un-popular bar just to smoke?

I’ve played music in bars for 20 years and I can tell you that there are three reasons people go there:

1. To dance or listen to live music (sometimes both depending on the club).
2. To drink.
3. To meet the opposite sex.

Most of the time, it is in reverse order. It’s the very reason why attractive women can get into any bar with no money and guys can’t without a lot of money. Guys will travel anywhere to have a chance at picking up hot, drunk chicks. It’s sad and pathetic, yes, but also totally true.

Reports are that bans don’t impact live music venues to nearly the degree they effect bars and dance clubs. No real suprise here. How many decent live music venues are there outside the city limits anyway in Houston? Not many. Even the Sidecar Pub, way out on Huffmeister, is inside city limits.

As someone who absolutely hates breathing in the toxic air in places like Rudyard’s, I’m all for the ban. This is one of those issues that I decide on for purely selfish reasons. I can honestly say that if the ban were in place, I would go out more often to see bands and I already go out quite a bit. The smoke is a huge deterrant for me because it makes me sick.

I understand the complaints and I respect the other side of the argument. I just don’t agree for myself.

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