All The More Reason


NO SMOKING PLEASE, WE’RE SKITTISH
August 31, 2006, 12:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The other day I had the chance to have a conversation in a bar with a pregnant woman as wide as tall at closing time. How shall ye name the child? An interesting conversation, to be sure, but one that never happened when I was younger. But then again, no-smoking bars in my neck of the woods were still oxymorons. However, since then no-smoking legislation has been applied with enough zeal to rule out smoking in virtually all public spaces including bars.

Of course, there’s one kind of bar that allows you to smoke without concern: the after-hours bar. This is the kind of bar that exists in a basement and can only be entered by furious knocking and the hope that those inside feel kind enough to let you in. The kind of bar whose liquour licence consists of a brave heart, a fat wallet and the perhaps-purchased indifference of the police. I can personally attest that the feeling one has entering a bar of this sort right after nursing a pint in an all too shiny legal bar is one of sheer exhilaration.

And I find that a little sad. Smoking, at least in Canada, has now been pushed to the absolute corners of public society: doorways, private residences and illegal bars. I can’t help but wonder what aspects of public discourse are pushed to those corners as well. For myself, after the initial thrill the other evening of having seen grime and filth back in its rightful environnement, I wondered if it really wants to share its new home with curtained off areas for smack users and a bathroom stall filled with teams of men stuffing their noses full of snow.

Jonathan Smith

(As an addendum, it’s interesting to note that some university campuses are trying to make their lawns all no-smoking on, I presume, the grounds that it’s private property and thus they have the right to enforce that kind of compliance. At some point surely this private/public property distinction should be exploited by bar owners.)

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