"But far more uncool...

[than opposing smoking in a cocktail culture] is closing down every night disgusted with the odor of cigarettes wafting from my clothes and hair, even my skin, and trying to stanch my dread about whether this is, in fact, killing me."

The guy knows what he's talking about. He works in a bar of which he is part owner eight blocks below us in Chelsea.

When at last the crowd subsides around 3:30 a.m., I duck around the bar to pull down the shutters on the window and the fire door. The freshness of the air outside is shocking, bracing. It frightens me to consider that if the air on an industrial block of Manhattan's meatpacking district in August seems utopian compared with what I've been breathing all night, what on earth have I been breathing all night?
The New York smoking law is almost certainly about to be changed, and it may soon be safe to go to a bar--even a small restaurant, goldarnit! And no, they won't disappear if smoking is prohibited.
This town is built around connecting with people, and New Yorkers use their myriad nocturnal playgrounds as the living rooms they can't afford. Smokers can raise all the fuss they like about the ban, but show me one who will actually stop going to bars and restaurants if it is impossible to light up.

Can no one pick up a phone and call friends in California, where a similar ban has been in effect since 1994? A musician I know in San Francisco said: "It's not like anyone even thinks about it anymore. Clubs are still hopping, bars are still jammed."

Now, maybe we could get the City fathers to let us dance legally in New York bars. Is that too much to ask, especially since we can argue that it too would contribute to a healthier lifestyle?

And let us buy wine on sundays, as long as we're not christian, and....

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Published on August 19, 2002 1:36 AM.

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