Thursday 15 September 2011

Still smoking in New York

Great video from Reason about one of the smoker-friendly bars in New York City—yes, a few still exist and they're legal. A little sliver of free choice and liberty in Mike Bloomberg's nanny city.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Complete with inane YouTube commenters who refuse to accept incontrovertible logic on free choice in favour of their prejudices.

But they're not selfish, oh no.

Anonymous said...

A civilised, adult establishment in New York.
Who would have thought?

Frank said...

However meagre it may be, it's still a vast improvement on this bloody country.

Anonymous said...

Why is smoking legal in this and a small number of other bars (some mentined in the comments below the vid)? Any New Yorkers reading? If this were the situation in the UK, you can bet all the neighbouring pubs would be trying to get it shut down, yet this one seems to peacefully coexist. All very interesting. I'd like to know more.

Joe Jackson said...

There are in fact about 7 or 8 legal smoking bars in NYC. They were exempted when the smoking ban was passed in 2003, on the basis that a certain percentage of their profits came from the actual sale of tobacco. The exemption only applied to already-existing establishments, though, you can't open a new one. Most of them are cigar bars. Circa Tabac got their exemption from selling about 100 brands of cigarettes. Another one, Karma Lounge, from shisha pipes.

Even though this is less than one smoking bar per million New Yorkers, it's still better than England! However, most of these bars are expensive and also charge you an additional 'tobacco fee' if you don't buy any tobacco on the premises, so that they keep their exempt status.

Furthermore, it's quite hard to find anywhere in NY which will let you smoke OUTSIDE. It's technically only legal for places that have enough outdoor seating to provide a small, separate smoking area. Some places disregard this law but you have to look hard to find them. Likewise bars which let people light up after 11 or 12 . . . I always hear that there are lots of them, but when I ask people to name one, they can't seem to. The new ban in parks etc, though, isn't being taken all that seriously - it isn't being enforced and I've seen a few people smoking in parks and no one has said anything.

Of course it doesn't really make sense to exempt half a dozen bars. My theory is that it was done to defuse protest from a certain wealthy and/or politically-connected crowd who smoke cigars. One of the exempted bars is Grand Havana Room, a private club whose members include, for instance, former mayor Giuliani.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe. That explains why the other bars don't complain - there is no chance of more smoking bars opening so no significant distortion of the "level playing field" is ever going to occur.