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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 01/ 8/2007

Smoked Out

By Fritz Hahn

After the first weekend of life under Washington's new smoking ban, the verdict is in: Wait until it gets colder.

In Adams Morgan on Saturday, the Reef's rooftop was at capacity, so customers who wanted fresh air had to mill about in the second-floor bar, waiting for someone to leave. There were no tables open on Soussi's large patio, and people waited for spaces on Bourbon's back deck -- but that could have been because customers wanted to enjoy the unseasonably mild weather, not just due to the need to light up.

On 18th Street itself, the narrow sidewalks were jammed with crowds hanging out and smoking, and some barhoppers -- including me -- found it easier to walk in the street than try to fight through the congestion. (I have a feeling this could lead to problems in the future, but a pedestrian's probably going to have to get hit by a car before anything changes.)

Another consequence: Lines to get in and out of bars seemed longer than normal, as smokers had to get back in line to re-show their IDs or of-age handstamps to bouncers when they were ready to head back inside. (Drinks may have arrived slower, too, because I spotted at least one bartender outside having a quick cigarette.)

At the Black Cat, where there are now separate "in" and "out" doors to improve the traffic flow for smokers (and other patrons), the mood was more like a party, as hipsters gathered out front to talk about the band they'd just seen. The in-and-out process -- tell the door guy you weren't really leaving for the night, have a cigarette, show bouncer your admission stamp to reenter -- ran without any visible hitches. (One possible explanation: the combination of a midnight screening of "Heavy Metal Parking Lot" on the mainstage and the '60s DJ night the Wag on the backstage didn't exactly lead to record-breaking crowds.) Once it gets cold and -- heaven forbid -- snowy, though, I'm guessing there will be far more grumbling about having to go outside, and then waiting in the cold to reenter the club.

Smokers, how were your experiences this weekend? Did everything go smoothly, or are you already fed up with the system? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | January 8, 2007; 11:03 AM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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I've been to two bars--Nanny O'Brien's and Porter's--and both smell WORSE since the smoking ban kicked in.

Posted by: Petey | January 8, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree; its the smell of sweat and body odor -- I prefer the smoke to that please.

Posted by: SG | January 8, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

We are going out tonight for restaurant week. Personally, I am VERY happy that DC is now smoke-free. It's disgusting to breathe in that stench and go home smelling like someone dragged you thru a sewer. Not to mention feeling as though you need a lung transplant. Smokers need to gain some self respect and 86 that filthy habit!!

Posted by: Michelle | January 8, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Geeze, take it easy baby! Don't want to pop an artery with your super-clean lungs! Besides, you won, be gracious.

Posted by: Stick | January 8, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

With most smoke free work places, you have to be a certain distance (I think 50 feet) from the entrance. Is this the case with bars and clubs in DC?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 8, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I was at Rhino's for the Iggles game yesterday and while the air was noticeably clearer inside, there was a huge crowd outside spilling onto the streets at halftime, and also blocking the doorways. Management at all of these places will need to keep a good eye on this.

Posted by: Dakota Pants | January 8, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Love it, Love it! Went to Afterwards Cafe (the bar) for a drink yesterday evening...and no smoke! Not even the bartenders (the usual culprits) were smoking up. Great!

Posted by: BR in DC | January 8, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Management at all of these places will need to keep a good eye on this."

Why? Not their responsibility.

When this legislation passed, this problem should have been obvious. What did y'all expect, that we'd quit? No. You knew we'd go outside. Yet I've already seen and heard a lot of complaining about:

Messes on the ground (be sensible and provide an ashtray - buckets, flowerpots, those kinds of things work well for this. We'll use them.)

Crowds on the sidewalk (where did you think we would go?)

Inherent smell of bars (sorry, that's just how it is.)

And most annoyingly "Now we have to walk past smokers on the sidewalk! Well, you're the ones who forced us outside. You could have left us inside at our bars in peace. So shut up already.

Posted by: sfw_dc | January 8, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Flowerpots? How about taking your butt inside once you are done and finding a proper place for it instead? In some countries people carry tiny ashtrays the size of lighters - sometimes it is a combo - and take their butts away with them.

Posted by: Alice | January 8, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Michelle needs to listen to Stick and ...stick it!

She acts like it's ordering mayo on your sandwich "86 that habit". Do you really think it is that simple?

SFW makes a good point, management and the law force us outside, but makes no accomodations not even a flower pot.

And all you a**hats who turn your noses up, fake cough, and make nasty comments at the doorway save it for someone who cares.

I'm a smoker that does NOT make me evil.

Posted by: Smoker | January 8, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

1. it's impossible for a bar to smell WORSE than it did once smoking was banned. it's probably just the fact that because it's NOT smelling like the disgusting ashtray that is your mouth, you don't recognize any other scent. besides, you know you can't smell anything anymore anyway.

2. it's correct that it is not managements responsibility to clean up after filthy patrons forced out on the street because of the disgusting habbit which they choose to take part in. it is the responsibility of that nasty habbit-haver to clean up after themselves. "DON'T LITTER" didn't you ever learn that in grade school? so sad.

3. be gracious? how bout smokers be gracious to themselves and to others by quitting instead of complaining about unwarranted rights.

needless to say i think this is the best thing to happen to the dc restaurant/bar scene in a long time!

Posted by: Don't Kill me with your disgusting habbit | January 8, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Smokers, beware! Upon reading the above comments, I foresee requests for further bans coming on.

Posted by: mjb | January 8, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Many of my friends smoke (I do not). I found it so refreshing to come home not smelling like an ashtray. Having clean clothes, a clean smelling jacket, clean hair and not having inhaled 2nd hand poisons is well worth the inconvenience of smokers going outside. And none of my smoker friends have a problem with going outside. I do see how it could be a problem for places that have long lines to get in. I guess I am getting older, and don't go to places like Tom Tom anymore.

Posted by: mtp | January 8, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Cig Heil! The nannies are running things now so be good boys & girls & don't make a mess that the oh-so-caring city must clean up :-(

Posted by: don | January 8, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I'll echo what I've heard here... It was SO nice to come home and not smell like an ashtray. This weekend places seemed MORE crowded than usual. Could it be because more people are coming into DC to get away from the smoke in VA? Maybe, maybe not. Thank you DC for going smoke-free.

Posted by: BDC | January 8, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Simmer down, people! Yeesh. Look: someone is always going to be doing something you don't like. Accept it, learn to live with it, and move on.

BOTH sides of this need to be more considerate.

Smokers, your pack comes wrapped in cellophane. Field-strip your butts and put them in that cellophane until you can find a trash can. Aim your smoky exhalations upward, to avoid blowing it in other people's faces. That's just common courtesy.

Non-smokers, you might as well accept that people are always going to have this filthy habit. (That's one "b" in habit. You know who you are.) If smokers didn't stop you from going to the bars before the ban went into effect, then you have no right to complain about smokers on the sidewalks now. If it *did* stop you, remember this: you're only going to be breathing it for five minutes as you walk through it. Relax. Those five minutes probably aren't going to do you any harm, and we promise the smell won't stick very long.

In short: smokers, pick up your butts and try to keep your smoke out of other people's faces; non-smokers, accept the sidewalk smokers as a fact of going out and just be pleased that you don't have to share the air with them for very long.

Posted by: The Polite Smoker | January 8, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

So much nicer without the smokers. Within a few weeks or months, the smoke odors will clear out completely, and maybe the smokers will learn to be respectful of others by not crowding doors or throwing their butts just anywhere. In the meantime, i just rudely push past them to get in the door, and stare at them from inside just like i do the bums and homeless people who stand outside restaurants enviously eyeing my cheeseburger.
Next smoking ban should be sidewalks and public areas within a certain range of commercial buildings, until eventually smokers can only smoke in their homes. Then find a way to ban cigarettes altogether. I used to have no problem with tobacco, but i've developed a real disdain for buttheads who are not considerate of non-smokers.

Posted by: Jive | January 8, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to add that this DC smoking ban was just the type of kick I wanted to get me to stop smoking. I would never be successful if I had to go to my neighborhood favorite watering hole and be around all the smoke. Now, if somebody could just come up with a smoking ban for my CAR...I'd be totally set. Got my meds and my patch...come on Tuesday 1/9! :)

Posted by: T minus one day | January 8, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I am sooooooo glad when smoking gets banned!! Give the bars and restaurants some time, the odor will lessen. Unfortunately, the odor of the guests who have nicotene and smoke in their every cell and every thread of their clothing will not go away. Now maybe we can separate seating areas for them in the bars/restaurants!! And just because you've been sent outside to puff your life away doesn't give you any right to litter. I hope some cops out there are reading this -- you've got some violations to write - just walking down the street!!!

Posted by: cj | January 8, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I lived in Montgomery County when they instituted their smoking ban and it really helped me quit smoking.

It's now been 2.5 years and I am so happy that I quit. I'm also happy that DC is smoke-free and I can go out there now.

Posted by: bgrn | January 8, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

My friends and I were rejoicing this past weekend at Buffalo Billards as we played pool in the smoke free environment. Finally I can come into the City rather than hanging out in Bethesda.

Posted by: Wayne | January 8, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Was great to go out this past weekend and not come home feeling disgusting, covered in smoke, like I couldn't breath. Absolutely great. Going out on a Friday after work for a few beers, it meant that I didn't have to worry that my work clothes would need to be dry cleaned after 2 hours in a bar. And going out on Saturday, it meant I didn't have to play that silly game on the dance floor where you dodge a drunk smoker who sticks their burning cig frighteningly close to your clothes and skin. And going out on Sunday to watch a game, it meant that I could enjoy the bar without feeling like I was going to wake up on Monday with that nasty feeling that comes from breathing four hours of smoke.

Amazing to read all the complaining from smokers on here. In particular, learn some common decency and clean up after yourself. If you ate a candy bar or drank a soda walking down the street, would you just drop the wrapper or bottle onto the ground? So why the heck is it socially acceptable to flick your cig afterwards? Disgusting.

I'll tell you, not having to deal with cig smoke makes me MORE likely to go out after work on a weeknight for a beer and sandwich with friends. It's a much better, safer experience now.

Posted by: DCM | January 8, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I DJ at Gazuza in Dupont and the first thing I noticed last week when I went to spin was the noticable unsmokey odor. The fruity essence of the hookah smoke is noticable though. We still allow hookahs to be smoked on the patio (for now) so on weekends people clamor to get their smoking fix, even if it's flavored tobacco instead of cigarettes. As a non-smoker and someone that works in lounges and dance clubs it is a nice feeling to go home after a long night on the turntables and not smell like an ashtray. Also, I have been stuck with cigarettes several times over the years at clubs where I DJ - something that I am glad will never happen again while I am at work.

Posted by: om | January 8, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'll quit smoking if you quit driving like a 15-year-old, blasting Beyonce with your windows open, spitting on the sidewalk, and hollering into your cell phone in public places. Choose your social evil as applicable; you're no better than me.

Posted by: WDC | January 8, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The clearer air of a non-smoking bar is great, especially for not having your clothes and hair stink afterwards. Still, I don't have a problem with smokers, and many of the biggest bar-goers (and bartenders) are smokers.

Couldn't we have had some compromise solution? Say that restuarants must go smoke-free, as well as (for example) 80% of bars. Let the city auction off the "permits" for the remaining 20% of bars to allow smoking, which should raise money for some worthy causes. That way there would be plenty of choices for non-smokers, and smokers would still have a few places to go (although, believe me, I wouldn't want to hang out in any of the "smokers' bars" afterwards).

Freedom of choice, anyone?

Posted by: larrynorton | January 8, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you're right SFW, you're not evil, just an addict. We should have more sympathy for addicts. Of course, we shouldn't let their addictions effect our health. Since only one-third of adult US population smokes, you're in the minority too. If you'd like help the best way to quit is a combination of replacement patch and gum for the mornings to tide you over during that early craving. If you don't want to quit your addiction, not my problem unless you make it my problem and then I'll treat you like any other addict who doesn't want to quit.

Posted by: PK | January 8, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Nothing says "I don't give a damn about myself" like puffing on a cancer stick. Do yourself a favor and don't be a moron.

Posted by: Yuck | January 8, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

That horrible smell you now notice in bars is decades of accumulated smoke clinging to carpets and curtains and everything else. And complaining that Nanny O'Briens smells bad? Have you looked at the place in the light? It hasn't been cleaned since Clinton's first term.

As for the whiny smokers, you lost here, in CA, NYC, MD, Ireland, etc etc. The losses will keep coming. Rather than defending an indefensible habit, be thankful that you're probably polluting your body a little less each night cause there's a ban in place.

P.S. What is with hippie/anti-corporate cool kids who protest Starbucks and GOP conventions as they give Philip Morris/RJR thousands of dollars a year? Damned hypocrites.

Posted by: DD | January 8, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

You people make me want to take up smoking again. Come down off that cross, please.

Posted by: Ex Smoker | January 8, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I go out all the time and understand that a lot of people who go out as much as I do smoke, but I have to say that I am so pleased with this ban. The only thing that is not good is that I might have a few extra beers during the week when I normally would be put off by the thought of being in a smokey bar in a suit.

And to add, all of my friends who also go out a lot are all very happy with it.

But to get back to the point of the post, I think bars need to do what they do in NYC: stamp the hands of people leaving who want to return. Then when those people return, you don't have to re-check their IDs and make them wait in line.

Posted by: mcmc | January 8, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Uh, yeah PK good point. There are no non-smoking "addicts" frequenting bars...

Posted by: sbn | January 8, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I went to a place on U Street and it was great that smoking was not even allowed at the bar now. I left about 12:30AM Saturday night/Sunday morning and walked down 14th street and I also observed the hordes of people standing outside the Black Cat. I thought it was a line first, but I then I got closer and saw the groups talking and there seemed to be a smoker in every group. I am not sure if that is the normal atmosphere outside of Black Cat at that time. I seem to remember seeing crowds hanging out in front before the ban. But I wonder if that will be a small disadvantage of the smoking ban, that is smokers and their friends jamming up the sidewalk. However, I got through the jam of people fine and I think that's a small price to pay for being able to listen to live music and have drinks in a smoke-free environment.

I went to dinner at a place near the Courthouse Metro before heading to DC. They had live music also (though not my favorite style). The live music started up about 10 minutes before I left. The place was divided in half for smokers and non-smokers. Guess which side the musician was playing to. I won't be spending too much entertainment money in Virginia. But I'm sure Virginia is a great place for all the people who want to smoke and I doubt very much that state with a tobacco history like Virginia will be banning smoking any time soon. I encourage all smokers to go to Virginia. :)

Posted by: Manuel | January 8, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

The smoking ban makes me think of what would happen if we closed all fast food places. That stuff kills too. Hello? Ever heard of the "disgusting" obesity epidemic? People would go insane. But you know what... our fat friends have the right to kill themselves... and they have the right to kill themselves in public, at brightly-colored, kid-friendly establishments with drive-thrus. We are all human. Humans will always have bad habits. Some are socially accepted. Some are not. That's just life. We all have to live together. Compromise is always the answer. Not judgment.

Posted by: Idealists make me sick | January 8, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I will be out twice as much now that the ban is in place, and will be willing to stay much longer at places instead of getting that sick feeling after an hour or so from all the disgusting smoke and leaving.
Smokers - sure, your bad habit is mainly your choice/problem - but when it affects my health and happiness, then it's infringing on the work I put into being healthy and that is not one of your "rights".

Posted by: Nicole | January 8, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm a "social smoker." The only times I ever smoke are when I'm in bars, drinking. I get that it's not good for others, though, so I really don't mind the ban. I doubt I'll go outside to smoke, because that will cut into my drinking time. I do think, however, that I'm going to now focus all of my energy on getting DC to ban self-righteous jackasses and suburbanites from DC bars. Seriously, people. Y'all remind me of that South Park episode in which Stan's dad buys the hybrid car and suddenly loves the smell of his own farts.

Posted by: amused | January 8, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Compromise is indeed the answer, if you want to smoke, haul ass outside. The fast food comparison is ridiculous. Some guy eating a whopper has no effect on anyone else. He is not randomly polluting your world with trans fats. Get over yourself.

Posted by: Yuck | January 8, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

quitter, here. it's true - i went to an ex-smokey bar on friday and i could REALLY smell the stale spilled beer. some bars do smell worse. smoke smells good to me!

Posted by: Chiclet | January 8, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's a tip. Go to nicer places! Though ya do gotta love a cheap date.

Posted by: Yuck | January 8, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Haven't read many of the comments, so I don't know if anyone else commented about this, but I was at a the Price Cafe on Saturday night and that is one place where the cigarette ban makes absolutely no sense. It's a hookah bar, which means they serve shisha (flavored TOBACCO) in hookahs (large water pipes that have been in the middle east for millennia). The business primarily sells and serves tobacco for purposes of smoking IN the building, and yet for a cigarette, you have to go outside. I know smoking cigarettes while smoking shisha sounds like a peabrained idea, but it's something that is nevertheless still a habit for many people who go to these kinds of restaurants. I don't understand why you have to go outside to smoke a cigarette when the building is a place meant for smoking. Illogical? I know quite a few people who think so...

Posted by: Plato | January 8, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it would be nice if we could all be polite to each other on this issue. But us nonsmokers have suffered through astonishingly rude behavior from many(but not all smokers) for decades now. There is NO right to smoke on other people, just like there is no right to spray perfume on other people, to spit on other people, to urinate on other people, etc.

Smokers have had to either suffer through the ill health effects and sheer nastines of smokers habits for decades in DC, all because we had the nerve to expect to actually enjoy the social contract, to enjoy DC bars and restaurants. Smokers used to blithely and rudely tell us that if we didn't like it, we could go home. Now, the tables are turned. If they don't like showing even the basic civility of not sliming others with their smoke, then they can either go home, go to Virginia bars, or simply step outside.

Posted by: Hillman | January 8, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

SFW - you may have been at peace inside the bar, smoking. But you were not causing a peaceful atmosphere for all those that don't smoke. You were endangering their health, you were making their clothes and skin reek, you were causing them huge drycleaning bills, etc.

Posted by: Hillman | January 8, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

One day the government will decide your ideas or actions are harmful to others and try to bar them. I will be sitting across the Potomac in a bar laughing at you as I enjoy a cigarette.

I live in DC and understand the desire for non-smoking restaurants and bars. Non-smokers have always been free to open non-smoking establishments for everyone's enjoyment. This seems like a civil solution and a win-win situation.

Instead, a whole city has allowed two individuals with nothing better to do to influence an undereducated but probably well-meaning council to make choices for every citizen, business owner, and visitor in the district.

I will not spend another cent in a DC bar. I urge other smokers to do the same.

Posted by: Stay at home | January 8, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

i love how non-smokers act as though they're not going to die sooner or later. as though clean and richeous living will grant them immortality. good luck with that one. ever read about how much nastiness you inhale by standing on a busy street... let alone jogging along it.

Posted by: malloy | January 8, 2007 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Fritz - your article is too negative. Once DC gets used to the smoking ban, going out will be just as fun as usual. NYC banned smoking right before I moved from DC to NYC and it maes going to bars only abouut 10 million times better. And guess what - you will be able to wear your same pair of jeans the next day without having the whole world ask what you did the night before! Second hand smoke also worsens hangovers...just imagine waking up and being productive! The move to ban smoking in DC bars was the best idea that the city council has had in a quite a while.

Posted by: DC Native Moved to NYC | January 8, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Stay At Home - the smoking ban was hardly the efforts of two individuals, as you seem to think. Politicians realized that nonsmokers now outnumber smokers, significantly, and that we were sick and tired of being smoked on. As for staying at home, why should we? We aren't the problem. The cigarettes are. So, please, knock yourself out. Go right to VA and spend every dime you have there. Statistics have shown that you won't be missed.

Posted by: Hillman | January 8, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Malloy - I don't see any nonsmokers thinking they will live forever. We're simply tired of increasing our cancer risks for someone else's convenience. And we're tired of even minor respiratory conditions being made far worse because smokers are too selfish to stop smoking on us.

Posted by: Hillman | January 8, 2007 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Stay At Home - smoking on others is harmful, pure and simple. It causes cancer. It causes respiratory ailments. It makes our clothes and skin smell terrible. It causes huge drycleaning bills. If I took up a habit that caused similar things in those around me, I'd full and well expect the government to regulate that activity. It would be selfish, arrogant, and self-absorbed of me to somehow expect that I could act in that manner and not have my fellow citizens and government call me on it.

Posted by: Hillman | January 8, 2007 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Smoking in public (where other people must suffer your ill fate with you) will be okay when coughing repeatedly on other people and public urination become okay. Smokers, rejoice that you've been allowed to affect everyone else with your poor habit for all these years. Have fun in VA.

Posted by: Happy Non-smoker | January 8, 2007 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Hillman - I was suggesting I and other smokers stay at home. I don't really care what you do. Do you own this post or can others speak their mind? I am just suggesting that I have a place where everyone enjoys smoking freely and you have your very own fascist clean-air bar. I would even support tax breaks for non-smoking establishments to make them viable if it allowed both smokers and non-smokers to enjoy themselves.

Posted by: Stay at Home | January 9, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Let's see. D.C. has:

1.) No voting rights.

2.) Perhaps the laziest police force/code enforcement in the country.

3.) Pages upon pages of laws on the books that go unenforced by those mentioned in 2.) Except for bribes.

4.) Apparently, 100,000 people who didn't go out to bars until 1-2-07. You know, because they just hate smoking.

5.) Horrible automoblie-caused air polution that the smoking ban will only add to, now that all the smokers are forced outside.

6.) A smoking ban that, in the week since its enactment, has been ignored by the bars I've been to. That's five of them, by the way. To paraphrase the management at said bars: "The city is not going to enforce this."

Yeah, the smoking ban is a great idea.

Posted by: Andy | January 9, 2007 4:12 AM | Report abuse

YUCK - I think you missed my point on the fast food comparison. People who want to eat crap have places they can eat crap in public. Fine. By "compromise," I meant, smokers should have smoking bars and non-smokers should have non-smoking bars. As a matter of fact, there were PLENTY of non-smoking bars BEFORE the ban. People can kill themselves in McDonalds and that's their choice. I don't have to eat there. I can go to the cafe down the street. Was that so hard?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Stay At Home - If I misunderstood your post, which it appears I did, I apologize.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

All the nonsmoking posters on here seem to think they have a "right" to go to bars without smoke. Guess what? You don't. It's a privilege granted to you not by the government, but by the bar owners whose livelihood depends on running a profitable establishment. Some of those places previously chose to have nonsmoking rooms or go completely smoke-free in the past, and if you had chosen to patronize them in greater numbers, I bet there would have been a lot more bars that went smoke-free by choice in years past. But you didn't. And yet now you claim that the smoking ban means you'll be going out more. Forgive me if I don't believe you. Bar owners are rational people- if there was money to be made in going smoke-free, they would have done it in greater numbers, and they would have supported this law. But guess what- they fought it tooth and nail.

It's not about smoker's rights or nonsmokers rights. Neither group has any "rights" in this equation. It's about the right of a person to run their private business in a manner they see fit. The government took that right away to satisfy a whiny, finicky electorate that complained about smoking but never actually made the non-smoking bars that were already in existence more profitable. It's a shame.

Posted by: missing the point | January 9, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Missing the Point - your analysis is flawed on several limits. This is a health issue, just like, say, having to install a sneeze guard in a restaurant. Does the restaurant owner have a "right" to offer food without a sneeze guard? No. Basic health restrictions are in fact the domain of the government. And the behavior being regulated is not the behavior of the bar owner - it's the boorish and selfish behavior of individual bar patrons.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

There were plenty of nonsmoking bars in DC before the ban? Really? Name five, out of a city of hundreds of bars.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Stay at Home! Excellent idea. A smokers' boycott. Why, the power of your convictions will put DCs fragile economy on its knees. We will beg you to come back. In fact, we'll stand outside with free Marlboros to lure you back in. Cause we need you!

We could never compete with Fairfax's awesome bar scene.


Posted by: DD | January 9, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Hillman: shows you never tried to patronize any non-smoking bar - here is a list from directly from the post and add Busboys to that list:

1. Blues Alley

1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Don't be fooled by the name: this is a jazz club. All the big names play (or have played) this intimate Georgetown venue, which is pricey, but worth it if you're a jazz head. In May 2003, Blues Alley became a smoke-free venue.
Average Reader Rating: | Write a Review

2. Cafe Nema

1334 U St. NW, Washington, DC
A cozy U Street gem with live jazz, friendly people and terrific African and Middle Eastern food.
Average Reader Rating: | Write a Review

3. Mr. Henry's Capitol Hill

601 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC
Roberta Flack was discovered at this cozy Capitol Hill pub, and live music is still on the menu. The upstairs concert hall is non-smoking during performances.
Average Reader Rating: | Write a Review

4. Warehouse Next Door

1017 Seventh St. NW, Washington, DC
An eclectic performance space that books hip-hop, indie rock and punk bands but also showcases poets, visual artists and classic television shows like "Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp." The Warehouse Next Door is a non-smoking venue.
Write a Review

5. Wonderland Bar and Grill

1111 Kenyon St. NW, Washington, DC
Columbia Heights' neighborhood bar sports an excellent jukebox and edgy vintage decor. Get there early for cheap beer.
Average Reader Rating: | Write a Review

6. Z Lounge --

1170 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC
The Zebra Bar and Lounge can make a claim to be the healthiest bar in Washington. First, it's inside the tony Sports Club LA, mere yards from the gym and sauna. And it's nonsmoking. Period.
Write a Review

Posted by: Linda | January 9, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

i love the smoking ban.

the majority of my friends are social smokers, but they are also lazy (yay!), so this means many of them will stop lighting up when we go out. i LOVED not waking up smelling like an ash-tray. the trash/sidewalk crowding will work itself out. the city and businesses just need time to adjust.

smokers, i'm sorry. but i love it.

Posted by: i heart smoke free | January 9, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

This list that you just posted regarding smoke-free establishments is incorrect. Have you ever been to Wonderland?

As well, things that are only smoke-free on one floor or for part of the evening don't count. "The upstairs is non-smoking during performances" That's like having a peeing and non-peeing section in a swimming pool.

Posted by: MCW | January 9, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

To all the Non-smokers that posted something - FYI - the original question was posed to SMOKERS, so stop complaining and let them have there say? ?

Posted by: Andrew | January 9, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

To Jive:

"In the meantime, i just rudely push past them to get in the door, and stare at them from inside just like i do the bums and homeless people who stand outside restaurants enviously eyeing my cheeseburger."

Who are you? Do you really stare at bums and homeless people eyeing your cheesburger? These bums and homeless people, more than likely, did not choose this lifestyle. They are HUNGRY! You may want to consider spending a little less time rudely pushing and eating cheeseburgers and a little more time working in a soup kitchen.

Posted by: Jess | January 9, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

From Stay at Home: "Instead, a whole city has allowed two individuals with nothing better to do to influence an undereducated but probably well-meaning council to make choices for every citizen, business owner, and visitor in the district."

Didn't you just say you lived in DC? Then I guess you were one of the ones who allowed those two individuals to get the upper hand.

Fine if you want to stay in Virginia. I highly doubt this ban will change the amount of people going out in DC or the revenue bars make. Visit CA, Boston, Hartford and all the other places that are smoke free. Hardly anything changed once the smoking bans went into place.

Posted by: Evie | January 9, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes I totally agree with Jess.

To Jive: I can't believe that people like you exist. You need to rethink your priorities, especially if you enjoy humiliating homeless people. Can you say OUCH BAD KARMA!! I'm not worried about smokers, we can always push back and defend ourselves.

So why do you sit by the window eating cheeseburgers, watching homeless people... oh is no one willing to hang out with you? How am I not surprised.

Posted by: Andrew | January 9, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Henrys is nonsmoking? Not every single time I've ever been there.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

the worst part of the smoking ban: the FARTING.
when there was smoke in the bar, it covered it up. i was out this weekend & smelled nasty farts ALL NIGHT.
other newly uncovered smells i was subject to - B.O., urine, stale beer, disgustingly stinky bathrooms. gross.

people, stop the public farting, it's making me vomit.

Posted by: dceeeeeeee | January 9, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

DC - I'll agree with you about the bathrooms. True, some of these places are dives, but DC has to have the filthiest bathrooms in our bars and restaurants of any major US city. Some of them, even in pricey places, are stunningly filthy and decrepit.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Other nonsmoking bars by choice: Bar Pilar, Duplex Diner. And that's just off the top of my head.

The previous commenter is right- the fact that you couldn't list them yourself actually makes the point that this issue is a lot more important to you as a santimonious non-smoker than it is as when you decide to go out at night.

And the sneeze guard is a horrible analogy- health codes for restaurants generally exist to provide patrons with protections that they can't provide for themselves because they aren't aware of them or the dangers they pose (germs on the salad bar, for example). When the consumer doesn't have the facts necessary to make the rational decision, the government can and should intercede.

That's clearly not the case with smoking. Not only do non-smokers have the requisite facts (they can see and smell the smoke, as you all have made so clear), they also had the option to choose non-smoking at any of the listed bars, and didn't do so in substantial numbers. If they had, there would have been more non-smoking bars. Basic economic principle.

Posted by: missing the point | January 9, 2007 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Next to the issues of over crowded sidewalks in Adams Morgan that increase the risk of having a pedestrian run over by an inattentive driver; my other safety concern is that as a woman and smoker, who hangs out mostly on U Street and Adams Morgan. I'm worried of becoming a victim of random crimes. We've all seen the reports of random shootings and those of us who hang out in those areas also hear about the other crimes like robberies and such... I know I'm pretty street savvy, but I can't out run a stray bullet or a knife wielding crack head. What I suggest is if the government would consider letting establishments allow smoking after certain hours. This would increase safety for the smoking patrons, help alleviate the smell of body odor, stale beer and all the other smells building up in our, smokers and non-smokers alike, favorite hang outs.

Posted by: Linda | January 9, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Bar Pilar and Duplex Diner are primarily restaurants, with a side bar business. Duplex Diner more so than Pilar. As such they had to go smoke free last year when the smoking ban went into effect in restaurant areas, as a practical matter.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Missing the Point - you truly are missing the point. Why should the majority of city residents (and nonsmokers are in the majority these days) allow smokers to ruin their night out, period? Smoking on others is boorish, rude, selfish behavior. Period. And the sneeze guard is actually a spot on example. People eating at a salad bar without a sneeze guard know full well the danger. We don't allow them to do it (actually, the burbs are much tighter on this than DC). And other health regulations are in effect whether we like it or not, not based on the supposed knowledge of the patron but on the fact that they pose a danger, regardless of knowledge or lack thereof.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Allow smoking because of a fear of crime? Meaning no disrespect, but that's the stupidest argument I've heard to date. And quite the red herring. If you are that afraid of bars in DC, go to Virginia instead. You are far less safe walking home or back to your car parked in residential areas then you are clustered a foot from the entrance to the bar, as nearly all smokers are when they go out to smoke.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

MTP - Your dubious listings aside, is it safe to say that 90% of bars in DC are smoking? Would you at least admit to that? If so, why should rude, selfish people be allowed to make 90% of the nightlife of the city a miserable experience for the rest of us? From a health standpoint, why should they be allowed to legally? And from a simple 'social contract' viewpoint, why do they think they are morally justified in making the urban nightlife experience miserable and unhealthy for their fellow citizens?

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

It's funny how many smokers are now commenting on body odor and other odors in bars, and how horribly offensive those odors are, now that they aren't masked by the overwhelming odor of cigarettes. Well, welcome to how we've been feeling about your smoking odor for decades now.

Posted by: Hillman | January 9, 2007 11:47 PM | Report abuse

The fact that you continue to argue about your experience as if you have an unalienable right to it suggests that you are, truly, missing the point. Rude, selfish people weren't "ruining your experience"- bar owners who chose to permit smoking were doing so- and they should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bars, since they're the ones putting their money on the line to provide you with your "experience." If they wanted a non-smoking bar, smokers who wanted would respect that by not smoking, or take their business elsewhere. Not sure why nonsmokers were unable to do the same.

You seem to think that it's OK for the government to make all sorts of decisions about what business owners can do with fundamental aspects of their business (the sneeze guard analogy is absurd- they're required to protect from germs, which unlike smoke cannot be easily seen, plus they can be installed at minimal cost and without affecting the business's customer base). If that's your opinion of the government's proper role in the lives of its citizens, we'll just have to agree to disagree. Some of us believe in freedom of choice and the principles of the free market, and some of us do not. You apparently do not, at least to the degree that I do, and I can respect that position.

However, one last tip for you: with respect to the smokers complaining about all the other odors in the bars- that's called "sarcasm." They're making a point about non-smokers' general whininess, as well as the fact that the government can't solve all of your problems for you, and sometimes you just gotta deal (or, as I suggested, take your business to another establishment). Just FYI.

Posted by: missing the point | January 10, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I can't tell you how amazing the bars have been since smoking is no longer allowed. I had the most fantastic time in Adams Morgan and could stick around longer because there was no smoke getting me sick or my clothes in need of "emergency" cleaning so as not to stink up my place. THANKS DC!

Posted by: MPT | January 11, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thankfully now all the non-smokers can go to the bars and kill themselves with alcohol instead. Whew... my lungs are fine, but my liver looks like a raisin

Posted by: BG | January 11, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I was in Adams Morgan last night as well... and yeah if you like hanging out in empty places I guess you would have a good time...places that were once packed were allon the empty side ... I went to Saki which is usually packed... and at the peak of the night counted about 30 people at the most...

Posted by: Linda | January 11, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I was in Adams Morgan last night as well... and yeah if you like hanging out in empty places I guess you would have a good time...places that were once packed were allon the empty side ... I went to Saki which is usually packed... and at the peak of the night counted about 30 people at the most...

Posted by: Jane | January 11, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Linda, I'm sure it was all based on the smoking ban, not the fact that Saki is an old news same-as-every-other-place-on-the-street spot to hit up. Plus a Wednesday in Adams Morgan is always up or down. Has little to do with the ban. Do you go to Saki to smoke? I doubt it. People go there to get drunk, puke, and get into fights while the same 10 hip hop tracks are played over and over again.

Posted by: mcmc | January 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it funny how all the non-smokers are excited about not having to wash their clothes or pay for dry cleaning? And they want to bash smokers for a "disgusting" habit?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

We decided it was time to finally quit, with how much we go out. It's a pain to go in and out, and DC is not set up like NY to handle this (no, I am not saying NY is better, and I am from here, so . . .). I think clubs, like Black Cat, can handle it. But strips, like Adamns Morgan, cannot. Think about AM in the summer, WITHOUT however many thousands of smokers out front . . . the street is overflowing anyway. Result? GOOD FOR BAR STAFF AND SMOKE FREE PATRONS! BAD FOR PEDESTRIANS, COPS, STREET SAFETY, AND OVERALL FUN. Solution? USE ALL THE CIGARETTE BUTTS OUT FRONT OF THE BARS TO FILL THE POTHOLES ALL OVER DC.

Posted by: Stu | January 11, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

And another thing, outside of clubs with shows, my prediction is that come warm weather, any place without a patio or roof deck will suffer considerably.

The funny thing here is this. When I smoked, I would go to tha bar with a full pack. I might smoke 8 over the course of a long night, but would leave with none. Why? Because of bummers. I can tell you that those people bumming smokes were NOT regular smokers. Their teeth, skin, all said so. As well, HOW they smoked said so. But isn't it funny? Everyone is a non-smoker until they are 3 drinks in. Then it's "Excuse me . . . ?" And now we have this debate going on? Ridiculous. I guess the good news is NOW all the non-smokers who are jonesin' have to trek outside with everyone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

So, MTP, if a bar owner thinks it's ok for his patrons to urinate on others, or cough on others, or spit on others, or spray broken glass on others, that'd be ok? According to your view, apparently so. And, yes, it is astonishingly arrogant for any group of people to ruin a night out for others with their filthy personal habit, like smoking. You have no right to inflict a cancer causing habit that the majority of people despise. There is simply no right, frankly, to be wanker.

Posted by: Hillman | January 12, 2007 8:33 AM | Report abuse

So, MTP, I can open a bar and allow others to spit on unwilling patrons and this would be ok? How about a bar where I 'allow' my patrons to urinate on others? Would this be ok as well? Or why not just go whole hog and allow a bar where I allow one patron to just go ahead and attack another physically? Or break beer bottles over unsuspecting patrons heads? By your definition, this would just be the free market system, right?

Posted by: Hillman | January 12, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

So, MTP - a basic question. Do decent people inflict their personal habits on others against their will in public? Simple question, really. A lot of people despise smoking, and it literally makes us sick, makes respiratory ailments far worse, etc. I'm just curious as to why you think it's morally acceptable to inflict this on others because they have the audacity to want to go out and socialize. And I'm curious as to what your reaction would be if I inflicted a similar habit on you - like spraying you with cologne, or spitting on your, or coughing on you. Please, be specific. I'd like to hear why you are ok with being rude and selfish toward your fellow city citizens. I'm not asking if you think it should be legal or not. I'm asking why you think it's morally permissible for you.

Posted by: Hillman | January 12, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

And, MTP, you are forgetting that bar workers can't just go to another bar, which seems to be your solution when arrogance and selfishness dictates that bar patrons can't simply step outside for a smoke. What do you suggest bar workers actually do? Beyond that, in the overall scheme of things, why should nonsmokers have to stay home and not go to 95% of bars? Wouldn't it be much easier for you to simply step outside for a smoke? After all, it's your behavior that's causing the problem.

Posted by: Hillman | January 12, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

MTP - one more post.... your suggestion that nonsmokers be the ones to leave the bar is, of course, the height of selfishness and arrogance. But, beyond that, you seem to think that all bars are interchangeable. Not true. Bar patrons go to specific bars for a variety of reasons. Maybe they are there to see a particular band. Maybe they are there because their girlfriend works at the bar. Maybe they are there because it's the only gay bar in their neighborhood. Maybe they are there because they know the bartender. To suggest that they can just go down the street and have the same experience isn't really a solution, either practical or fair.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Hey, in all fairness, I kayak, but you don't see me complaining about the obnoxious power boats blowing by and filling my face with fumes. Maybe I should? Maybe I should b!tch and moan to government until they get all of the sinners off of the rivers. it's not like it's really a necessary thing, like driving. It's a choice, like smoking, an open choice to pollute the air and ignore the comfort of everyone else, right? So, now that the smokers have been ousted, how about the boat owners? Point being, anyone in a bar shouldn't be complaining that someone else is affectign their health, particularly when they're dumping drinks into their liver. I know the risks of kayaking on the Potomac (much less, falling into it). You should know the risks of carousing until the wee hours of the morning. The only losers here are business owners, who have lost the right to run a business as they deem fit. As far as smokers and non-smokers go, it's not really about us.

Posted by: Stu | January 12, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Stu: Your analogy isn't really on target. Power boaters rarely come so close to you in your kayak that they are going to 'fill your face with fumes'. And, obviously, the Potomac is an open air environment. And, no, one of the risks of carousing into the wee hours is not having some selfish people give me cancer, make me smell like death, and give me respiratory problems.

Posted by: Hillman | January 12, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

but not anymore. I quit years ago.

It never bothered me that much that other smoked around me but yet slowly it started to a couple of years ago.

I dunno what triggered or why, but I one day realized I that would come home with my cloths smelling like an ashtray due to someones inability to deal with their nasty habit. There was no way I could take my some of my suits back to work without dry cleaning them. Why did I have to deal with that just to have a couple of drinks after work? Why was that conditionally imposed on me (where else could I get drink without sinking up my cloths)? And what was all that second hand smoke doing to my lungs? God only knows.

Now today, I don't have that problem. Only the smokers do.

So that seems fair to me. I know put enough into my own lungs and those around me back in the day. No need to make it easy for smokers to continue doing the same.

Finally DC becoming a progressive city again.

Worked for New York, San Fransisco, shouldn't be any problem for us.

Posted by: Use to be smoker | January 13, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The question was, "Smokers, how were your experiences this weekend?" and then you get 20 posts by this obnoxious jackass Hillman who doesn't even smoke. You won, Hillman, now go shut up already. No one here asked for your opinion on anything.
I have been a smoker for 28 years and the immediate effect the DC smoking ban has had on me is to make me less inclined to cross Western Avenue to have a drink. I live in Bethesda, within walking distance of many bars and restaurants, and, until now, I almost never patronized any of them because of Montgomery County's smoking ban. If I am going to fork over $200 at Morton's, I'd like to at least light up after finishing my porterhouse.
Sure, you can still smoke in Virginia, but is it really worth the hassle to go all the way to Virginia just to sit in a bar where you have to listen to a bunch of 20-something idiots from Kansas talk about their first performance review just to smoke a cigarette? No. I can do that in Bethesda without the cigarette. So the immediate effect is that I will probably spend more time hanging out in my own neighborhood, which is exactly what the Montgomery County anti-smoking Nazis wanted when they forced the ban down DC's throat.
It's pretty clear from the posts that most people are happy with the ban. Or the people motivated enough to post an opinion seem to be happy with the ban. And we smokers will just have to adjust. Sure, it's wrong. It's objectively wrong on all kinds of levels. No one has ever put a gun to someone's head and forced them to go into someone else's smoky establishment. Nor, despite all the shrieking from the anti smokers, has anyone ever proven any concrete adverse health effects from exposure to second hand smoke. And there have been hundreds of studies. But none of this matters, because most people don't smoke and they don't like smoking and they are comfortable with the government telling other people how to behave. Period. This is the way things change.
I imagine in 20 years the idea of smoking in bars will seem as abnormal as it does now to smoke in bank lobbies, movie theaters, airplanes or offices, all of which were legal when I took up the habit. So, for me as a smoker, it just means that bars will just join the list of places where I don't even think about lighting up, like grocery stores or hospitals.
I just wish that the people who are so passionate about this issue could focus their energy on something important, like stopping the war or giving Americans universal health care.

Posted by: woody247 | January 13, 2007 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Hillman is a turd. You can't spit on people or urinate on them -- that IS against the law (regardless of whether a bar owner allowed it). You miss the point -- if everyone wanted smoke free environments, why weren't there more smoke free bars? It is the difference between government mandate and the market. The rest of your arguments are so silly, well, they are really not worth addressing.

By the bye, I have never had a smoke in my entire life and think it is a disgusting habit but, frankly, I would rather tolerate a bit of smoke than legislation that is over the top.

Posted by: Hillman Is A Turd | January 16, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Missing the Point: I am usually as staunch a supporter of the free market as you, but here I believe you are over applying a good idea. This argument actually involves property rights of individuals, and the externalities associated with the violation of those rights. The property in question is the ambiguous, "clean air", and is therefore even more difficult to allocate. While it is unfortunate that this regulation primarily affects the wrong people (bar owners, just as convenience stores bear part of the burden of a cigarette tax), it is wrong to say that the market for clean air is between the bar and the bar patron. The bottom line is that since smoke is considered a cost to a majority of third party consumers, it is oversupplied in the market. Thus the market is not actually working at peak efficiency. I'm not going to try to argue whether the ban is a better solution than the unfettered free market, just that we don't live in your fairy tale world of free market efficiency.

Posted by: Technically | January 17, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The question: "Smokers, how were your experiences this weekend?"

Answer: Given the option of going out to pay for an overpriced drink, people who have had too much to drink, unclean restrooms, and having to go outside to smoke or have a drink at home (where I could chose to smoke inside or outside), I opted to stay home as well as invite friends over instead of going out. As a caveat, I do not often frequent bars because I do not enjoy crowded areas, inconsiderate people (smokers and nonsmokers alike), overpriced drinks, unclean restrooms, etc. So, in short, this ban tips the scales that I will stay home or invite people to my house instead of going out. In my own home, I often smoke outside, especially when I have guests over. However, that's my choice, and not a mandate from the government.

I am sure that there will be many responses from nonsmokers, which, was not the original question. Feel free to respond how you like, even if your comments were not requested.

Posted by: Smoker in DC | January 18, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I have run Bars and Restaurants for many years in both DC and Virginia and I am thrilled as a non-smoker that this ban has been put in place and hope VA follows suit. I do however believe that establishments have the responsibility to provide proper facilities outside for their smoking patrons as they tend to be the bread and butter of the bar business. Face the facts, smokers drink. We sell booze. Have awnings and benches and ashtrays and have someone keep the areas clean as you would the inside of the establishment.

Posted by: Steve | January 19, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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