Friday, April 10, 2009

Blowing Smoke

Tonight, like every other Friday night, music fans will be heading to their favorite clubs, drinking beer, and checking out their favorite bands. But unlike most every other Friday night, one major ingredient will be missing: the cigarettes. Last night was the end of the smoking era for Dallas clubs. Now smokers will be relegated to smoking outside of the venues. I'm not sure how this will work; will smokers be allowed to smoke directly outside the club? I thought most businesses had a 15 feet rule, where you could not smoke 15 feet within the entrance to a business. I suspect that will not be the case here. Granada Theater already allows smoking in an outdoor area right next to the ticket sales.

Before I give my opinion out, let me get this out of the way: I am a non-smoker. On a personal note, I will be glad to not inhale other's smoke, and I will also be glad not to come home smelling like smoke. My feelings on the ban have always been mixed. A large number of those who go to bars to hear music are smokers. I am a firm believer that an individual has the right to do with his or her body as he or she sees fit. Unfortunately, the second hand smoke affects those around the smoker, many of whom are non-smokers. I also worried that this would have a serious negative impact on many music venues, and times are already tough enough for many clubs. Will people quit going to clubs if there is no smoking allowed? For some, the answer will be yes. For the bigger picture, however, let us look down south to Austin for our answer. Their smoking ban has been in place for years, and their music scene has not only survived, but thrived. The smoking ban may in fact bring individuals into the clubs who would otherwise not go because of the cigarette smoke. I hope this scenario will play out in Dallas.

That is my take on the issue. I wanted to get a variety of opinions from people I know within the local music scene. To my surprise, it was almost unanimously in favor of the ban. Only one individual outright opposed the ban, and a few others had minor complaints. Here is a small sampling of the comments:

"On the one hand, I don't agree with the ban, because I believe the club owners should be allowed the freedom to dictate their own smoking policies. But personally, I am glad I can go see a show now and not go home smelling like cigarette butts." - Brett Michael Strawn (Cocky Americans)

"Bars were the last bastion for smokers. Where does it stop. Will I no longer be able to smoke in my car? My house?" - Brian Nesbitt (producer, January Sound Studios

"I hadn't heard about that, but it's genius...maybe I'll start playing shows at bars again" - Cory Helms (Professional Juice, ex-Chemistry Set)

"I'm good either way. When I was a smoker, I didn't mind playing at the Granada and stepping out to have a cig and it was nice being in a room that wasn't a big cloud of smoke all the time. At the same time though, I can appreciate that bars are for drinkin and smokin! Woo! Party! The two go hand in hand." - Josh Hoover (Johnny Lloyd Rollins, Sunward)

"As a non-smoker, I say yay. As a photographer, boo. Some cool photos will not happen without the smoke, but my lungs are grateful. I might live an extra year or two without the second-hand smoke." - Kate Mackley (photographer)

"I could wear the same pair of jeans again the next day. I also wouldn't have to shower at 3 am. because my hair smells so bad." - Manya Repnikova (Blue Petal, Morning Elephant)

"I wish there could be a happy medium. Perhaps, some way to enforce rules about providing adequate ventilation in bars/clubs so that people could continue to smoke and the air could remain relatively clear. I have actually been to venues in Dallas where people are smoking and it’s not very noticeable at all. It’s too bad more venues can’t be like that." - Michelle Stockton (local music fan)

"I don't really mind a smoking ban in clubs. Yes, I am a smoker and this will be an inconvenience to me, but I also understand the need for non smokers to be able to go out and enjoy sitting in a bar without getting ciggerette smoke blown at them from every direction. I don't mind stepping outside to have a smoke if I have to. Besides, Austin has had a smoking ban for awhile now and it seems to be getting along just fine. After the initial shock I think Dallas smokers will be ok too." - Mikey (Obscenely Unseen)

"I'm coming from a very biased non-smoker point of view but, I like it. Sure, the bar owners and smokers are pissed. They should look to our friends in New York or California to see that it is not the kiss of death. As a musician with much travel experience in both of those states, it's easy to see even proper bars (w/out) live music continue to exist after several smoke free years. Austin has joined the game and I don't recall many bars closing because of a smoking ban. Even here in Dallas Granada and HOB seem to be doing OK while asking smokers to step outside." - Robert Anderson (Nervous Curtains)


Anonymous said...

I for one am excited about this role reversal! Usually I have to go outside to escape the smoke box that is most venues in Dallas, not only keeping me from being able to see parts of the show I paid to watch, but also keeping me from the bar buying drinks (which is how our lovely Deep Ellum pays the bills anyway).

Anonymous said...

as much as i respect the opinions of the contributors here. most of you are dead wrong. dallas will not do as well as ny la or austin because those are real cities with real scenes.its hard enough to force people to come out and see music in this godforsaken town without limiting there(and the small business owners) personal liberties. i for one call hypocrisy on all the drinkers who look down there noses at other patrons vices-i dont tell you you cant be a drunk you dont tell me i cant kill my self with smoke...the secondhand smoke issue is secondary to personal freedoms, besides when has anyone had too many cigerettes and killed someone on the way home.