Based on My Experience Support Smoking Ban

RECEIVED Mon., April 18, 2005

Dear Editor,
    As a young professional that recently moved to Austin, I find your stance on the smoking ban to be incredible. In my own experience, smoking bans are not a death sentence for local bars and music venues. I've lived in Boston and San Francisco, before and after their smoking bans. For nonsmokers (these folks outnumber smokers in Boston and San Fran, my guess is they do in Austin as well), the smoke-free bar has become a much more attractive environment. My friends and I would routinely go to the sports bar in California on college football Saturdays starting at 9am to eat, drink, and watch the games (running up huge tabs for burgers, sodas, beers, drinks, etc.). When smoking was permitted, we would never have considered spending the whole day in a sports bar. Austin's population and San Francisco's share a lot in common – young, active, healthy people that enjoy outdoor sports and indoor drinking and music. We spend big money at bars, we just don't want to breathe carcinogenic air. We are happy to poison our own livers with alcohol provided we are personally deriving the (perceived) benefits of drinking. Moreover, I probably spent two times as much money in bars in Boston after the smoking ban went into effect. There are so many other arguments in favor of a smoking ban (safety of employees, helps people quit smoking by making it more difficult for them to do so, etc.), but I won't go into those now.
    The bottom line is that in my experience, the smoking ban causes nonsmokers to increase their patronage of bars, and causes smokers to spend less time smoking and about the same amount of time and money in bars. As such, the ban seems like a boon for Austin. It's just gonna be bad for dry cleaners, cause your clothes won't reek of smoke anymore.
Brian Spaly
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