If anything, business in restaurants has seemed to increase. People who were offended at the stench of cigarette smoke seem to be once again enjoying eating out.
There have been a few die-hards who feel that their rights have been violated, but they have been shouted down by the vast majority.
Personally, I was delighted with the smoking ban. I guess you may say that I had the zeal of a convert, for there was a time when I would have been incensed by the ban. But I quit smoking about 16 years ago. Previous to that, I was an avid smoker.
In 1994 I had a mild stroke. That was the convincing factor that the habit was indeed detrimental to my health. Previous to that date, I estimate that I puffed my way through upwards of 330,000 cigarettes — not to mention a few thousand cigars and, for a while, several pounds of pipe tobacco.
While not the direct cause of my various debilitating illnesses (heart disease and peripheral vascular disease, principally), tobacco has certainly exacerbated them.
I was once an avid golfer; now I play once a year or so. I really miss golf, but I can’t walk. Even riding a cart tires me so that I can’t play more than nine holes at a time. This, I am sure, is due to smoking. But I thank goodness that I did quit when I did, or I’m certain I would not be here at all. I’m thankful for every day that I have.
I was an aggressive, even arrogant smoker — as most people who smoked at the time were. I didn’t care about those around me, for I wasn’t even aware that the cigarette smoke was as offensive as I’m now sure it was.
I had a bedroom I used as a study where I did most of my school work. My wife would complain that the clothes that I kept in the closet smelled of cigarette smoke. I didn’t believe her, for I couldn’t smell it, but I’m sure they did reek of smoke.
Then, one time about seven years ago (long after I quit smoking), I walked into the back door of The Rosebud restaurant. You must walk through the bar there, where there were several people smoking, as there usually were. It was in the winter and I could smell the smoke on my jacket for a week or so just from walking through the bar. So I’m sure that my own clothes must have had the stench of cigarettes from hanging in my closet during the time that I was smoking.
Previous to 1960, it was considered smart and suave to smoke. This is clearly demonstrated in movies of that era, when in restaurant scenes everyone was smoking and it was clear the room was blue with smoke.
By 1990, attitudes had changed so that people were beginning to look upon smoking with disdain.
I began to tire of my friends and colleagues and their sneering attitude toward smoking. So I quit. Cold turkey. That attitude together with my stroke was convincing enough to make it fairly easy to quit.
Nowadays, it seems that smoking appears to be almost criminal, and smokers know it. One never sees a smoker at a family gathering or at a party. Some attendees seem to disappear from the scene from time to time. They are outside smoking even in the winter, and they appear to be ashamed of it.
Thus, the time was ripe for the abolishment of smoking in public places, even in many private places. Had it been tried even as late as 1990, I doubt that it would have succeeded. There would have been a loud howl of protest (even from me) that it wouldn’t have succeeded. Enforcement doesn’t seem to be a problem and everyone seems to comply.
New York City has even banned smoking on its streets. I wonder how that is going, and if it is enforceable. It would be nice to see cigarettes disappear entirely — but then I suppose nastiness, sin and self-destruction will always be with us.
— By Ralph Wiltse