Back to the Bars

This weekend, Austin voters went to the polls. A referendum was held to extend the current smoking ban in restaurants to nearly all establishments, including bars and bowling alleys. The measure was passed by a very narrow 52%-48% margin.

I suspect there will be a long period of contention over the ban, eventual grudging acceptance, and, in a few years, we'll have wondered what all the bother was about.

I've heard the claims that the ban will kill the bar and music scene. The data I've seen say in the long run, that won't happen. I do believe in the short term, however, the disruption will pose a challenge to Austin's bars and pubs. I think those of us who supported the ban should work to support these businesses, to help ensure they make it through the transition.

So to help do my part, I've started planning a non-smoking appreciation pub crawl for early September, once the ban goes into effect. The crawl will cover some of funnest-but-smokiest bars I've encountered in the city. Here is my tentative itinerary:

Anybody want to be my designated driver?

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re: Back to the Bars

i will be there with a lit cigar, blowing smoke in your smug, contentious face.

re: Back to the Bars

Ah, the anonymous troll.

You should include a live music venue in the crawl. Beerland, perhaps?

re: Back to the Bars

Oh, good one! I left off live music venues because I didn't want to pay a cover for one beer. Beerland is a good addition. I haven't been there since Burnin' Mike Vernon had his weekly surf showcase.

re: Back to the Bars

yes, i posted it anonymously. you want a name for my opinion to be valid?

you guys fucked up, and you're too arrogant to even realize it. let me enligten you:

1. you've taken away the rights of business owners to decide for themselves how to run an aspect of their businesses. not to mention that you already forced them to pay out at least 30 grand for ventilation systems not even a year ago. don't even talk to me about employees. there are other jobs, and texas is an employment at-will state, bub.

2. you've taken away the ability of a goodly number of those bars' patrons' to participate in a habit that is deeply ingrained as part of the bar experience. if you think that we really care if your sensitive moderate liberal eyes water a bit because of it, you're even more wrong now than you ever were.

3. you've potentially made the bars even more exclusive now. if i'm a bar owner, then i'm going to start charging membership fees in september. after that, i'm a private members-only business, which you can't do a damned thing about smoking in. i'll make the fee to join a dollar, and give new members $1 off their first drink or pack of smokes. hell, just to drive the point home, i'll even kick people out who voted for this inane ban.

so you got your ban. i hope it tastes like ashes.

re: Back to the Bars

Talk about making the best argument possible for your opponents.

And just responding to the only one of your three points which is even remotely valid:

"you've taken away the rights of business owners to decide for themselves how to run an aspect of their businesses."

Just like 'we' did with no-smoking-on-airlines, no-smoking-in-restaurants, child labor laws, the 40-hour workweek, the health and sanitation codes, building codes, etc.

re: Back to the Bars

I'm pretty sure the ban also precludes any private club from allowing smoking unless that club is run by a charitable organization.

re: Back to the Bars

The text of the ordinance is here. (398KB PDF)

Keith is right. The allowance for fraternal organizations is very specific. Unless the Elks want to open a lodge on 6th Street, I don't see it happening.

The anonymous troll is wrong many of the facts. For instance, the venues that were considerate of their non-smoking patrons and installed ventilation systems are granted an exception. Yay for good karma payback.

At this point, I'm not interested in debating the merits. That's nearly a decided issue. All that remains is for the lawsuits to be filed and dismissed.

The point of my posting is figuring out what we can do to make it work. The ban will be disruptive. It need not be harmful to business and live music.

re: Back to the Bars

No smoking in bars????
What's next? No Drinking and No Talking.
I'm going to open a private smoking only bar in my garage, At least their no one can tell me I can't smoke, but who knows maybe fun will be eventually banned all together everywhere.
Did anyone read the ordinance? Smoking will be banned almost everywhere except for Bingo parlors and Nursing Homes. Now that makes sense, I thought the issue was public health? I'm personnally encouraging all of my friends and co-workers, to not patronize the establishments they currently frequent after Sep 1st. I feel sorry for the owners because it isn't their fault, but the majority voted and they don't seem to care, so why should I? Our "free" country is becoming less and less free everyday. Conformity, now that sounds appealing....

re: Back to the Bars

Chip, I really like your pub crawl idea. However, I've been a proud patron of the Crazy Lady for many years, and I wouldn't expect a truly "smoke-free" experience there on September 1. So much smoke has embedded itself in the furniture and carpet over the years that the Lady will NEVER give up its title as The Stinkiest Bar in Austin. (That is, unless the owner guts the place and replaces every interior surface. But doing so would cost money -- so it ain't gonna happen.)

Then again, the smell is part of the Lady's ethereal charm. And it will be very amusing to see all the thong-clad dancers smoking outside the back door. Maybe I can be your designated driver and buy you a beer or two.