Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 5, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

2 YEARS, 167 DAYS AGO....Here is my very first blog post ever, written shortly after New York City banned smoking in bars and restaurants:

This is old news here in California, where smoking has been banned almost everywhere for years, and the arguments coming from restaurant owners and tobacco flacks are old news too. Think what you will about whether smoking in bars is a reasonable thing for the state to regulate, but it didn't have any impact on the restaurant and bar business here on the Left Coast and it won't in NYC either.

Of course, this is just common sense. After all, how many people are going to schlep through the scenic Holland Tunnel to visit a bar in Jersey City just because they can't smoke at their favorite watering hole in Manhattan? Approximately none.

Here is the New York Times today:

Back in 2002, when the City Council was weighing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate smoking from all indoor public places, few opponents were more fiercely outspoken than James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association.

....Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr. McBratney sounded changed. "I have to admit," he said sheepishly, "I've seen no falloff in business in either establishment." He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.

....A vast majority of bar and restaurant patrons interviewed last week, including self-described hard-core smokers, said they were surprised to find themselves pleased with cleaner air, cheaper dry-cleaning bills and a new social order created by the ban.

Can I call 'em or can I call 'em?

The whole story is pretty interesting. I read similar sorts of pieces in California after our smoking ban took effect in 1998, and the upshot is that even lots of smokers have ended up liking the ban. "I'm all for it. My dry-cleaning bill's gone way down," said one. "You realize you stop stinking, you don't smell like an ashtray," said another. "You can meet a girl out here. Strike up a conversation," said a third.

Just another triumph of pragmatism over libertarianism.

UPDATE: I notice that I was also right in the second post of my career. And I still hope that I eventually turn out to be right about the third.

Kevin Drum 10:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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