a shout-out and a word for the State of New York: Hey! All you New
Yorkers, before you pass that No Smoking ordinance, you better
listen to this:
I have spent the better part of a year hanging out at many
various nightspots in Southern California, doing research for the
novel on which Im currently working.
As you know,
Californias no smoking in bars and restaurants has been in
effect for several years and the argument still rages on.
Despite the belief by some that the law has been a success, I
dont believe either side is seeing the whole picture.
under the sham of The health and
well being of the general public,
the debate still revolves around two issues: the health of the
workers and patrons inside versus the revenue lost by the
proprietors owner and the tips lost by his employees.
What hasnt been addressed is what is now going on outside
of the establishment, i.e. the smoking section.
As a pipe smoker, it takes me much longer to enjoy my habit
than those who smoke cigarettes.
Because it takes about an hour to properly enjoy a bowl of
tobacco, I spend about six times longer at a time outside than the
average smoker. It gets
rough in the winter, and I often need to stuff a copy of LAWeekly
under my jacket in an effort to stay warm.
But I reap the benefits of my patience by overhearing some
They usually come out of
the bar in pairs, lighting up quickly
and sucking in the smoke they crave.
They also have lots to say to each other and, because they
know their time is limited, they soon disregard the man with the
pipe, who seems preoccupied with the flowers in the planter or some
other distraction. I
have overheard the discussions of budding romance, arguments over
who was supposed to be the designated driver, to confessions of
eminent divorces. While
all of this may sound like harmless chatter, I have also noticed
other things that arent near as innocent.
For one thing, Ive noticed that there are people out there
who never go inside the establishment.
These people arent here to listen to a good band or have a
drink or maybe a bite to eat. These
people have their own agenda. Californias
no smoking law has created an ideal environment for pimps, pushers
and hookers to ply their trade. This law has provided a legitimate
place to be. A place where the customer comes to them.
All they have to do is sit there, like me, and listen.
When they approach their victim, they know ahead of time that
they have what the customer needs.
As you read this, you are probably picturing a dark, seedy bar
patronized by bikers and low-life's.
Let me disabuse you of this notion.
The illicit goings on I have described are happening at the
finest, most prominent places in Southern California (The
dark, dingy bar patrons usually ignore the law and smoke inside!)
As a result of the artificial environment that this law has
created, youre health inside the bar isnt compromised, but
your safety outside the bar is.
Also, as a frightening footnote, Ive also noticed that the
smoking section is often frequented by underage youths, who
arent allowed inside the bar (where the smoke isnt) but can
stand outside (where the smoke, hookers, pimps and drug pushers
So, Ray, you ask me,
Whats the solution to this problem?
Well, lets see. The
owner could either hire security guards (at his expense) or ask for
more police enforcement (at the taxpayers expense).
In some cities, such as Anaheim, for example, the police have
thoughtfully found a way to offset the taxpayers expense by
arresting patrons who come out for a smoke and are busted for being
drunk in public!
But have no fear, and listen up,
New York, for your pal Ray does
have an answer. Its
really very simple: lets ditch this idiotic law!
Common sense dictates that we leave the smoking policy to the
discretion of the proprietor. Who
better than the owner of the bar to know his clientele and whether
or not they mind a room full of smoke?
Why force a bar owner to make his customers take it
outside when everyone in the place is a smoker?
There is a nice little Jazz club in Fullerton known as Steamers
that has been a no smoking establishment since it first
openedyears before the law was passed.
Why? Because the
owner had the foresight to realize that the clientele he was trying
to attract would appreciate clean air in the comparatively small
Well, thats my rant. If
you agree, or if you disagree and especially if you think you have a
better way to solve this problem fairly, feel free to respond to
this column by clicking.... Here.