Vice Squad
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Uncivil Disobedience of NYC's Smoking Ban

Today's New York Times reveals (registration required) that many bars in NYC are ignoring the smoking ban when the conditions are right. Those conditions seem to have something to do with the time of night and the composition of the crowd. In one case, there is a British pub-style "lock in," where the door is locked and the crowd inside lights up -- a sort of informal transition from public house to private party. In other cases, the transition occurs without any attempt to preclude entry. Apparently winter also helps to bring about the right environment, in that the alternative of stepping outside for a smoke is less attractive in cold weather.

Vice Squad friend Will Pyle informs us of last Sunday's smoking-ban article in the Times, in which an unanticipated consequence was revealed: bartenders were cleaning off drinks from patrons whom were thought to have left, but in reality had only stepped outside for a smoke. (The bars then replace the drink gratis, cutting into profits.) Today's article notes that NYC smokers have adopted the Southern California custom: place a napkin over your drink when you leave your seat for a smoke break.

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