Monday, November 30, 2009

No Smoking Ban

Tomorrow, on my Birthday, Virginia enacts a new law that will prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants (except in separate rooms with independent ventilation). News Channel 8 reports the story with this opening paragraph:

"Tuesday, Virginia's no smoking ban in most bars and restaurants will take effect. The ban will snuff out a tobacco tradition more than 400 years old."

It begs the question, what it a no smoking ban? Perhaps the Commonwealth of Virginia has decided it is time for all it's residents to contribute to the tobacco economy. From hence forth, all those wishing to dine out will be required to end their meal with the mellow taste of a cigarette. No smoking is hereby banned.

Despite the local news agency's poor grasp of applicable syntax, additional restrictions on where and when you can light up are due to go into affect at 11.59pm this evening. I was given a sneak peak into what a smoke-free pub would be like when we visited England almost a year ago. There, a smoking ban (that is: a ban on smoking) was introduced in 2007. It was...not very different, but I'm sure a breath of fresh air to those who detest cigarette smoke. Really it just allowed the smells of spilt beer, BO and vomit to shine through. A pub is still a pub.

I've always been relatively impartial to smoking. I spent most of my school years (16 year-olds can legally purchase tobacco products in England), my University years and beyond surrounded by smokers, and it has never really bothered me. I am of course aware of the dangers of passive smoking. Roy Castle was something of a hero of mine as he hosted 'Record Breakers'. He died of lung cancer, blamed on his playing trumpet in smoky clubs.

While I am not opposed to smoking, I have always tried to offer at least a little quitting encouragement to any friend who smokes. Undoubtedly one of the most difficult barriers to breaking the habit is the inextricable link between drinking and smoking. I'm sure the smoking ban offers a little incentive to making another attempt at quitting.

As for those who decry the erosion of freedom in this fair state, well, it's just pathetic, isn't it? This legislation in no way encroaches on anybody's freedom. If you wish to smoke, you may certainly do so at home, in your car, outside or at a private club, and I daresay at least a dozen other places if you put your mind to thinking of them. As it happens, I would rather like to smoke on the very day that the ban comes into affect. Being my birthday, it would be pleasurable to enjoy a fine cigar, with perhaps a glass of scotch or brandy. Maybe now is a good time to join a private club. Or better yet, establish one!

I would like to add one note on air conditioning. I haven't researched this exhaustively, but the average bar HVAC system is likely to perform about 10 room air changes per hour. It's unlikely that these are outside air changes, so the same air is filtered, heated or cooled, dehumidified and returned to the bar. But still, progress in air handling in recent decades has almost certainly reduced the risk and unattractive scent resulting from large congregations of smokers.

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