Issue September 26, 2006

The Bar Belle: The tobacco tango

Yes I smoke. There, I said it. But I’m a social smoker. Only go through a pack of Marlboro Lights every other week. Only smoke when I drink. Does that make it OK? Obviously when I get myself on the treadmill Monday morning, my lungs tell me it’s not. I started this awful(ly satisfying) habit in college, and to my credit, have kept it to only when I’m drinking … or bartending. OK, so when I’m inside a bar, I smoke. It just kinda goes hand and hand, like marshmallows on hot chocolate. But I’m going to quit soon. I swear. When I actually turn 30 next month. It’s not going to be pretty, but I’m prepared. Say hello to cold turkey.

Although the timing of this proposed smoking ban would do wonders to help me kick my habit, I’m still against it — not as a weekend smoker, not as a weekday non-smoker, but as an American bar-goer who enjoys the freedom the seedy underworld of pubs provide. Do the politicians who proposed this ban actually hang out in bars? When’s the last time they chased a shot of Rumpleminz with a Blue Moon and discovered a mighty fine new flavor, or swirled their bourbon on the rocks while watching a local band jam on stage? Is it just too obvious to let bar owners decide for themselves if they want their establishment to be smoking?

I used to find it hard to believe Prohibition happened. There’s no way the government could outlaw alcohol, was there? Just the thought of it leaves me shaken. How did people get to sleep? What did they do for fun? How did they justify one-night stands?

I know it’s an extreme leap from the outlawing of smoking to drinking, but how do we know where it’ll stop? Yes, it sucks to come home from the clubs smelling like an ashtray. And I know how dry your contacts get in all that smoke. But it’s part of the going-out experience — it’s what makes bars great places to escape, relax, socialize and come undone. What makes your habit more justified than anyone else’s?
Now, anyone got a light?

Send your best quitting advice to shavens@leoweekly.com