Sunday, October 19, 2003
In Halifax, there's a no-smoking bylaw. It's a fairly recent change, but it's no longer "brand new".
This has made bars much more pleasant for the majority of the population. Now, I never took offense to smoking in bars when it was legal. I didn't like it, but I didn't take it personally. Waking up the next morning with a sore throat, stinging eyes, and smelly clothes and hair was just part of the price of going out. It did mean that I went out less often, but I didn't hold it against the smoking patrons, who after all had a right to smoke inside, back then.
Now they don't have that right. Whereas I used to go to a bar accepting the risk and unpleasantness of second hand smoke, now I no longer have to accept that risk. But sometimes I still run into second hand smoke. Well, it's illegal to drive drunk, but I occasionally do encounter drunk drivers on the road, risking my safety through their irresponsibility. I feel more or less the same way about smokers in bars, now that bars are supposed to be smoke free.
Some bars, like the Old Triangle, do a really good job of upholding the smoking bylaw. Others, like Cheers, do a lousy job of it.
In fact, last time I was at Cheers, I saw one guy smoking in plain view of several staff, standing not 10 feet from the bar. Painted on the wall, right where he was standing, was a no smoking sign. I don't know whether he chose that spot specifically to make a point, or whether he didn't notice the sign, but either way, he had to know that smoking was not allowed. He was not the only person I saw smoking in the bar that night, either.
I guess the thing to do in a case like this is to hold it against the bar for not being pro-active about enforcing my right to healthy air.
Aside from the bars friendly to non-smokers, like the Old Triangle, and the bars that pay lip service to the bylaw like Cheers, there are also some bars that are taking advantage of a loophole and calling themselves cigar bars. The loophole exists so that the cigar bars around town won't go out of business. That wouldn't be fair. But I'm not sure how I feel about a pub suddenly claiming, "Oh, but we've just changed our business plan and now our core business is smoke. So we must be exempt from the smoking ban or else we'll go out of business." So far, the bars that have done this are a small minority, just as smokers are in the minority. I hope it stays that way.