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Stogie News: DC Smoking Ban Takes Its Toll

5 Jun 2006

On January 4, the DC City Council gave its final approval to a citywide ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, and other “public” places (never mind these establishments are privately owned and operated).

Although the ban will not be enforced until January 2007 – effectively stomping out individual free choice in the city where freedom is supposedly enshrined – it has already taken its toll on a once-magnificent Washingtonian symbol of power and prestige.

As of Thursday, June 1, the Town and Country Lounge in the Mayflower Hotel succumbed to the meddling, paternalistic city government and banned smoking. A bar once known for its hospitality towards lawyers, consultants, and lobbyists – as well as its tolerance for cigar smoke – is now a teetering has-been, a fossil in what was once a great cigar town.

As the Washington Post reports, attendance has been down significantly at the bar since the fascism set in. That article also printed this not-so-surprising paragraph:

“Oh my gawd. No one can know I smoke,” said a twenty-something woman, holding champagne with a strawberry perched on the rim of the flute in one hand, a cigarette in the other. “I work on ballot measures that ban smoking.”

Thank you, twenty-something woman, for so virulently demonstrating the hypocrisy associated with government-imposed bans on consensual adult behavior.

As a relatively new resident of the Washington metropolitan area, I must admit I have never been to the Town and Country Lounge. You can bet I won’t be going anytime soon.

One final note to our readers: Patrick and I are working to compile a list of cigar-friendly establishments in the Washington area (sadly, thanks to Draconian smoking laws, our list will probably be limited to establishments in the great Commonwealth of Virginia). If you have any favorite stogie hangouts, please feel free to contact us.

-Patrick A

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17 Responses to “Stogie News: DC Smoking Ban Takes Its Toll”

  1. The Stogie Guys Monday, June 5, 2006 at 4:06 pm #

    Jerry from Stogie Review emailed to remind us that the DC ban includes an exemption for businesses where at least 20% of sales come from tobacco related products.

    While he is correct that this exemption exists (so at least you can enjoy a smoke while shopping at your favorite DC cigar shop)I think this really points to the hypocrisy of the law.

    If the smoking ban is (as its supporters say it is) to protect workers from second hand smoke, then why can these employees choose to work in such an environment but those elsewhere be deprived of such choices just because their employer doesn’t make enough of their money from tobacco?

    Patrick S

  2. Jerry Friday, June 9, 2006 at 9:09 am #

    Maybe the Stogie Guys can confirm this "rumor" I've heard and that Shelly's backroom (the best place in DC to have a stogie) qualifies for the smoking ban exemption. I heard it from a few people at JR's saying they were able to document 22% of their sales are tobacco related.

  3. Anonymous Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 4:30 pm #

    Yes indeed, Shelly’s gains a smoking ban exemption. Not sure about Butlers in the Grand Hyatt though.

  4. Anonymous Thursday, September 21, 2006 at 7:54 pm #

    What about Bistro Du Coin in Dupont. Seems the owner, a stogie lover himself, loves other smokers to light one up at the bar. Does this mean this place will be smoke free?

  5. Anonymous Saturday, September 30, 2006 at 12:03 pm #

    Painful. Just painful. What I hate the most about these bans is that people who never step foot in bars are the ones leading the charge for banning smoking.

    There’s a bar in Bethesda – not far from Bethesda Tobacco – called Tommy Joe’s. It has a little outdoor area with an open roof. You can smoke in that area. Lot of young 20 something crowd though.

  6. Anonymous Sunday, December 10, 2006 at 1:29 am #

    I'm an avid cigar smoker and promoter of these bans. I find cigarette smoking beyond repulsive not to mention noxious. I also find the hypocrisy of so many establishments where I am kindly asked to stub out an expensive cigar while people huff on tasteless cigarettes, clouding the room with that dull stench, even more problematic. I also dislike that when I want to go out and not smell like cheap cigarette smoke, I have no choice. Second-hand smoke is a real problem, you guys just have to admit it. It's tough for cigar smokers because 99 pecent of this second hand smoke is from cigarette smokers. It IS bad for your health, period. All of your talk of personal responsibility completely misses the point. Should those of us who smoke cigars and detest its foul stench not go out at night because of cigarette smokers? The anonymous comment about how the smoking ban people don't go out is also patently false. There are people who choose not to go out on this basis, not because they lack social lives, but because they don't feel like ruining their brand new coat with a foul stink or the more probable cigarette burn (Oh I'm sorry, did I just burn a hole in your new shirt?). It's time to stop talking about this without any sense of subtelty.
    This point may lead you to assert something about minority rights, which I think would be equally flawed. Smoke is dangerous any way you carve it. If you want to pretend like the jury is out on that topic, then you are just isolating yourself in a rather myopic corner of the unreal.
    Yes, the truth is that people love sitting around a pipe smoker or a cigar smoker (provided it's a good cigar), and despise the smell of cigarette smoking. But I'm afraid this does not give us reason to reject the ban. Hopefully it will lead people to consider smoking something worthwhile when they get a chance, instead of huffing on a nicotine addiction-induced, tasteless, foul, far more dangerous, dubiously produced product.

  7. Anonymous Monday, December 11, 2006 at 8:44 am #

    These cursed smoking bans prove that people DON'T love sitting around any kind of a smoker. Most non-smokers do not make any distinction between cigar, pipe, or cigarette smoke. To them, any tobacco smoke is a health hazard and not appropriate in so-called "public spaces". Even if a fraction of these people chose to take up the finer art of cigar smoking, it would still be about as welcome in restaraunts and bars as pork sushi.

    And that's the point. The previous poster is under some illusion that people and government are sympathetic to cigar smokers. Truth is, they aren't. Even before the smoking ban frenzy, pipes and cigars were often restricted from bars and restaraunts. Now, I love a good cigar…but don't smoke cigarettes. Yet I stood up for the so-called socially unacceptable butt smokers because if their right to smoke goes – so does mine.

    Personally, what really stinks more about such legislation is that the communities contending that second hand smoke is a health hazard don't give up their claim to the excessive taxes they levy on those products producing it. Clearly, cities like DC enjoys it both ways – they restrict the use of a legal product…and at the same time, reap the profit from it. Smoking bans are no-lose for cities, only for businesses.

    See you all at Shelly's this January. And if the above poster swings by for a stogie, let's send him outside to smoke with all the butt fiends he sent there.

    PS- Of course, I'm only joking. This is the perfect debate to share over a good bourbon and a fine cigar…

  8. Original Anonymous Monday, December 18, 2006 at 8:00 am #

    Regarding my earlier post about being pro-ban and a cigar smoker:

    I see the point you are trying to make, but I don't agree with your interpretation at all of these events. Just today in a newspaper I read an article about how people who had promoted the bans had not considered that they would affect hookah smoking … this included people who themselves smoked hookahs. That's how much this smoking ban is a myopic reaction to butt smoking, to the point of igronance regarding oneself. I just think the small number of cigar smokers was easily forgotten in the process precisely because cigar smoking, in my experience, is quite rare in most public places, largely relegated to golf courses and high end restaurants. What is more, the bans on cigar smoking elsewhere, alluded to already in another post, made this ban on smoking pretty insignificant for me as a cigar smoker. I don't understand why someone would defend butt smokers when they never stood up or cared when restaurants had personal bans on cigars. And on a more speculative note, I question how much of these 'personal bans' that already existed are based on issues with cigar smoke, as opposed to concerns with cigar ashes, burns from cigars, etc. As the etiquette section in this site mentions, people frequently ash on the floor with cigars. I also think these bans were a reaction to how poorly executed non-smoking sections have been … the constant huffing of cigarette smoking does not obey how seating is arranged in a room without complete separation.

    That being said, I feel this position is perhaps not black and white enough to be easily understood. I think smoking isn't black and white – smokers and non smokers, I think it includes a much wider range of smokers. Tasteless cigarettes are typically enjoyed by addicts in a constant flow, and consequently, a constant flow of smoke, though I have a few friends who are "social smokers" … which typically means the drunker they get the more constantly they smoke other people's cigarettes. Then there are cigar smokers, most of whom, in my experience, smoke a few times per year, or mostly only when they golf. There are the very few daily cigar smokers I know. Then there are the zero current pipe smokers I know, people who tried it for a while only to eventually give it up. There is a lot of variety to smoking it seems, but the supermajority of people smoking indoors in places open to the public is definitely cigarette smokers, and it is this group of people that was targeted.

    Also, I suppose I believe that smoking is only a matter of personal choice when it strictly only impacts no one else or at least only other smokers of the same kind. No doubt there are butt smokers who hate cigar smoker, but vice versa is equally true. What is more, while cigar smoking has its dangers, I know many physicians (both men and equally many women) who smoke cigars irregularly and only a pair who smoke cigarettes. Second hand Smoke is second hand smoke scientifically, but smoking Habits are not all the same. If the point of this ban is to reduce second hand smoking, ward off the effects of the nearly complete disregard for non-smokers in nightlife venues, and confront an incredibly horrible addiction dominant among the populace, then I think it's worth paying the cost on our part, esp. when you consider that we are already banned most places anyway (where there is no official ban, there is the manager's threat AFTEr we light up an expensive cigar).

    Which is really what I want to stress. Cigar smoking is not a habit induced by seeing Joe Camel look cool at a young age, a habit that only ever becomes a habit because of how it looks and its addictive properties … rather, cigar smoking is about exactly what the wonderful criticism of my views espoused: its about a kind of meaningful leisure activity, a centerpiece for conversation, meditation, and refinement of taste in an age of high fructose corn syrup and sodium obsession. I think this forum shows this to be the case.

    regarding the hypocritical ballot initiave smoker, I think that is indeed just the point. She's ashamed because her actions are in conflict with her words. But if someone smoked butts but thought they shouldn't be smoked in public places, and desisted (unlike her), I don't see anything at odds there. When you consider that talk of butt smokers is largely talk about addiction, a daily addiction, with little occasional smoking, you can see that this woman probably is less a hypocrite and more just another addict suffering from weakness of will.

    I look forward to more criticism of my views … if anyone has the time to spare.

  9. Bumble Bee Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 9:04 am #

    I will be in Washington, DC come February. Does anyone know of a place to go to have dinner and a smoke, since the ban will be in effect. I saw that someone said that Shellys backroom you can still smoke. What about restaurants in Virginia, close to DC?

  10. The Stogie Guys Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 2:19 am #

    Shelly's Backroom will still be cigar friendly. And I've heard that two other places will also survive the ban…

  11. KXPCCSWO1 Sunday, December 24, 2006 at 6:30 am #

    Array

  12. Anonymous Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 5:07 pm #

    So what are the other 2 establishments that survived the ban?

  13. John Friday, January 9, 2009 at 2:28 am #

    I don't see why people have to smoke anything. Cigars, pipe or cigarettes, they all stink fowl, they're all tobacco products and they're all a health hazard. Cigar smokers try to sweeten the pill because most don't inhale the smoke, however, the nicotine is absorbed through the lining of the mouth.

  14. joe Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    A lobbyist is an activist usually paid by an interest group to promote their positions to legislatures. A lobbyist can also work to change public opinion through advertising campaigns or by influencing ‘opinion leaders’ or pundits, thereby creating a climate for the change his or her employer desires. The word lobbyist comes from the chambers in which the act of lobbying usually takes place, an anteroom near legislative bodies, for instance, or even the lobby of hotels where important people are staying. In American politics, most lobbyist organizations are headquartered on or near K Street in Washington DC, so “K Street” has become somewhat synonymous for lobbying.
    It is very easy for a lobbyist to stray into bribery — the most direct way to influence legislation, obviously, is to bribe enough law makers to ensure that the bill you support passes. Therefore, lobbying is heavily regulated. Of course, a lobbyist rarely makes the news unless he or she has transgressed the regulations, and as a result, ‘lobbyist’ has rather negative connotations these days. Measures to control the influence of lobbyists include campaign finance reforms, often promised but rarely passed.
    When legislators lose re-election or choose not to run again for office, they often find a second career as a highly paid lobbyist, meeting with their former colleagues and touting the positions they are paid to promote. Of course, these are positions they supported while in office, so such jobs are not completely mercenary, yet they are widely considered an abuse of one’s former position. This practice is, however, quite legal. Routinely, political scandals surface that have their roots in some lobbyist activity or other — usually unlawfully large gifts to lawmakers, or quid pro quos of some form. from – What is a lobbyist?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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    […] This also sounds an awful lot like that woman who was smoking at the Mayflower Hotel bar, but refused to give her name to the Washington Post reporter because she works on anti-smoking ballot measures. […]

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    […] – On June 5 we documented the first of many casualties of the Washington, DC smoking ban. […]

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    […] It has been over two months since the draconian smoking ban went into effect in Washington, DC and strange things are already happening. (Just two months in and it’s hard to remember that DC was once a thriving and happening cigar town.) […]