Smoking Ban Backlash
Walking down Boston’s Boylston Street at the late hours of the evening, the sidewalks are crowded with smokers taking their last hauls before entering the bars for a night of drinking.
Due to the smoking ban in all public work areas that has been in effect since May of 2003, restaurant and bar patrons of Boston bear the cold winter season approaching, and reminisce about the old days where it was legal to enjoy a smoke with a cocktail at a bar.
In May of 2003, Boston joined 90 other communities that banned smoking in Massachusetts, prohibiting smoking in all public establishments. There are certain exceptions to the smoking ban such as lodge halls, nursing homes, and businesses that obtain most of their revenue in the sales of cigars and cigarettes.
The ban has benefited the non-smoking customers of the Boston area, but many heated debates have ensued over the rights of smokers and of the bar owners of the city.
With the looming statewide ban, many smokers feel that they have had their rights taken away, and are left with very little options.
With the coming winter months ahead, smoking clientele feel it’s unfair that they should be forced to leave establishments in order to enjoy a basic freedom that slowly is being taken away from them.
“If it were a gym, I could understand,” said Ryan Lowell, a Northeastern student. “It’s not exactly like you are going to a bar to be healthy.”
Lowell added that smokers should be allowed to enjoy a cigarette and a cocktail because they go hand in hand. Rather then forcing establishments to ban smoking, he feels it should be decided by the private businesses themselves.
“There are already many establishments that don’t allow smoking as it is,” said Lowell.
Many family-style restaurants have been smoke-free for years. Before the Boston ban took place, the majority of restaurants did not allow smoking, and it was a rarity to find businesses with even so much as smoking allowed at the bar.
Only five months after the Boston ban took place discussions of a statewide ban immediately began, and as it gets closer to 2004,the state of Massachusetts inches it’s way closer to a statewide ban.
The Senate recently joined the House of Representatives in backing the statewide ban. The two branches of legislature will meet in January to revise a draft of the bill for the statewide ban, which will most likely pass in early 2004 and take effect July 5, 2004, making Massachusetts the 6th state to ban smoking statewide. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, and New York have already passed similar bans.
Governor Mitt Romney will ultimately decide the state bans fate, yet he has not confirmed which way he leans on this issue.
Many Boston bar and club owners who opposed a city ban now look forward to the statewide ban in hopes that clientele will return, but most owners had no problem with the smoking to begin with.
“I’d rather have smoking be allowed to make...