I just figured Chicago would get special dispensation, kind of like the Pope allowing corned beef consumption when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday. In the immortal words of the late Alderman Paddy Bauler, "Chicago ain't ready for reform."
I can understand New York or London falling into this abyss of political correctness, but since when does a broad-shouldered hog butcher snub out his unfiltered Pall Mall because it's bothering the guy at the end of the bar? The year of our lord two thousand and eight, that's when, roll over Carl Sandburg.
I have a little joke I like to use when the smoking ban is brought up, it goes like this,
Me: "Boy is my wife mad about this smoking ban."
Person Tolerating My BS: "She smokes?"
Me: "No, she can no longer smell my shirt and tell that I've been drinking in bars."
Okay, I use the word "joke" fairly liberally, but there's some truth to it. My entire life, a bar has smelled a certain way, so I naturally associate bars and drinking with smoke. Bars and smoke just go together, like talcum powder in a barbershop, burning charcoal on a summer's day or urine in a nursing home. Unpleasantness doesn't really enter into it, it's tradition damn it.
I guess it's important to say that I don't smoke, never really have, unless you count my brief foray into cigar smoking in the mid-90s. That having been said, I don't mind having people smoke around me in a bar, it adds ambiance to my drinking adventures. Banning smoking in a restaurant is understandable, because there's eating involved, but if you choose to order food in an honest to goodness bar, you should expect a little nicotine chaser with your cheeseburger. If you can't stomach the smoke, eat at home, you'll have more drinking money that way.
And it's not only bars, sporting events went non-smoking years ago. I can still remember the first time I witnessed fans ushered out to the concourse to smoke at Wrigley Field; I was appalled. Not because it affected me personally, but because it affected the experience. I went to my first Cub game in 1974, they lost 96 games that year and I was there to see one of them. But I don't really remember the loss that much, the things I remember most from that day are the green grass, the smell of hot dogs and the wafting cigar smoke of the fan seated next to me. It was like being initiated into a club, a club where men (and some women) drank, smoked and swore their way through nine innings of heartbreak, it was glorious. These days, beer sales are limited, ushers warn people about heckling players, and I'm sure we're just a year or two away from banning hot dog venders, because they enable obese fans and provide an unhealthy snack for little ones…"apple dippers, get your nutritious apple dippers", screw that.
I know, I know, tobacco smoke causes cancer, I get it. And last time I checked, around 21% of adults smoked, so the ban is in the best interest of the 79% who don't. But maybe a little smoke every now and again isn't the worst thing for you. Most of my aunts and uncles chain-smoked their way through my childhood and adolescence, and the only ill effects I suffered were sporadic burns to my exposed flesh from aunts wielding errant cigs on holidays; "sorry honey, watch where you're going". In fact, none of the children who grew up in this den of Marlboro fallout has had any lung-related issues; maybe second-hand smoke makes you immune, kind of like a flu shot. Of course, I'm not a doctor, and if I were, I'd be a half-ass quack who amputates wrong limbs, so you might want to take that medical hypothesis with a grain of salt.
The bottom line is, banning smoking in bars won't stop people from smoking, it only forces them outside to do so, and this is actually more of a health risk to the general population. Think about it, the average guy in a bar really has to work to pick up someone. He has to screw up his courage, assess the likelihood of approach, walk over, utter a halfway decent line and even then, he's shot down 80% of the time, and that's on a good night. In this day and age of the smoking ban, he need only step outside, light up, turn to the girl smoking next to him and say, "This sucks, huh?" and he's off to the races. When non-smoking men get wind of this situation, they will immediately take up smoking, which will virtually double the single male smoking population overnight. This, in turn, will cause more women to take up smoking, because their girlfriends who smoke will be meeting all the newly converted smoking men.
This entire process will result in more smokers marrying smokers, who will breed even more smokers, because children from smoking homes are more likely to take up smoking. This new generation of smokers will not only be addicted to cigarettes, but they'll also be less intelligent, because their male ancestors will have avoided the crucial "opening line" test with their mothers. This domino effect need only run through two or three generations, before we're all living in caves and worshiping the giant backy leaf.
So I implore you America, world, universe, bring back smoking in bars. If not for my sense of nostalgia or the unborn generations that will lead us into the next century, then for my wife. She really does want to know if I've been drinking in bars.