It's almost impossible to remember a time when one was asked whether they'd prefer the smoking or non-smoking section—these days, most places don't give the option, thanks to anti-smoking bans that went into effect over the last decade.
But as Douglas Quenqua of the New York Times notes, New Yorkers are already ignoring the bans, smoking in establishments where the owners give them the opportunity to, despite laws that make such actions illegal. "Plenty of New York City bars have thumbed their noses at the smoking ban for as long as it has been the law," Quenqua writes, "As early as 2004, The New York Times wrote about neighborhood bars that allowed friends and regulars to light up after closing time. In 2008, at the opening of the Libertine, a Todd English restaurant in the financial district, cigarette girls handed out free smokes that guests consumed liberally."
While Quenqua claims that the NYC Health Department isn't just letting these things go unnoticed (and that most of this law-breaking smoking takes place in swanky bars, by elite patrons, naturally), he also notes that it isn't just New Yorkers breaking anti-smoking bans, and as author Christopher Snowdon tells the Times, most bans "usually end with the same kind of passive resistance you see here."
As a non-smoker, I don't miss the smoking option in bars at all. I don't miss the smell of smoke in my hair or on my clothes or the secondhand floating through my lungs. But as much as I hate smoking (ask my dad, who has been dealing with my Ramona Quimby-esque antics to get him to quit since approximately 1987), I'm not sure the bans will last forever, or that anyone should be surprised if they ultimately fail. Cigarettes are really the issue, and as long as people are still buying them (and companies are still making billions off of them), they'll surely find a way to smoke them where they please. Well, except maybe on airplanes. Or at the movie theater. Or at an elementary school production of "Where The Wild Things Are." But you know what I mean.
What do you think, commenters? Are you pro or anti-smoking bans? Do you think the bans will hold? Have you already sidestepped them? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, as always.